Please tell us about your latest book.
The title is Hopatcong Vision Quest. The book is what I like to call a past life mystery. It has two settings: present day Lake Hopatcong, a resort area in northern New Jersey and a Lenape Native American village in the same location during the early 16th century, when what is now a lake was two ponds.
Two drownings occur in the lake within days of each other. Diane, my main character, thinks these deaths were not accidents. She believes her mother and Ryan's wife have been murdered. When traditional methods don't help solve the crime, Diane and her friends call Glen Wiley, a regression hypnotist, who uses their past lives to seek clues to solve the current day crimes.
The souls of the characters are part of a spiritual family in the sense that they travel through lifetimes together, so each of the present day characters has a counterpart in the past. There's romance, of course, and mystery, but the book is also historical fiction. The past sections take place at the time when this Lenape village has just had its first European visitor. The nature of the Lenape people was very welcoming and peaceful, but some in the village fear this stranger because they've heard stories from other villages, stories that scare them.
How do we find out about you and your books?
I have a website, www.stevelindahl.com, where Hopatcong Vision Quest, along with my other books are listed. You just click on a cover to go to a book page. My books are also in Goodreads and Amazon.
Why did you decide to write past life mystery novels?
I chose the genre because it is a perfect way to combine modern and historical fiction, like time travel books without the dilemma of affecting the future by changing the past. I've always believed in the eternal nature of our souls, but it wasn't until I did extensive research for my novels, that I began to accept reincarnation as a real possibility.
Have you ever experienced a past life regression?
Yes. I thought I needed to -- for the novels to feel authentic. I went to a couple of group sessions. One of them was useless because someone in the group kept coughing and I couldn't relax. But in the other session I did feel as if I went back to a primitive time. I looked down and saw homemade leather shoes on the small feet of a young woman. I couldn't tell if it was real of just a memory of a character from a novel I'd read a short time before the session. But I will say the experience made me more of a believer.
Where do your ideas come from?
The idea to write about a particular area or time comes from my personal background and interests. In the case of Hopatcong Vision Quest, I spent the summers of my youth at that lake and I love it. As for the plot ideas, the characters control those. So first I have to have a good grasp on who my characters are: their strengths, weaknesses, temperaments. After that, I have to relax and think about them in particular situations. I don't outline from beginning to end, so this is a process I repeat often while writing. At most I'll plan a few chapters ahead. I have a few methods of relaxing. My favorite for this book was to go out on a lake in my kayak. That worked so well, I'm using it for my next novel.
Do you feel humor is important in past life mysteries and why?
My books are not meant to be comic, but there are always a few scenes that are funny. I'm thinking of one in particular in Hopatcong Vision Quest. I'll let people read the book to find it.
What are your thoughts on love scenes in romance novels, do you find them difficult to write?
Hopatcong Vision Quest is not a traditional romance novel, but it does have its love scenes. All I can say is, if my readers enjoy those scenes half as much as I enjoyed writing them, the novel will be a best seller.
What kind of research do you do?
I grew up at the setting for Hopatcong Vision Quest, so I understand the feel of life near a lake. I still visited places around the lake that I included in the book and read some of its history for my own enjoyment. The past life setting in the early 16th century required much more research. I listed my source materials at the end of my novel. Briefly, they include internet sites such as http://www.lenapelifeways.org and www.lakehopatconghistory.com . Also there were non-fiction books such as The Delaware People by Allison Lassieur and fiction books such as Mark Harrington's wonderful novel The Indians of New Jersey: Dickon among the Indians. I also visited the recreated Lenape Village at Waterloo, NJ.
Would you like to write a different genre than you do now, or sub-genre?
My next book is straight historical fiction with no regressions. So far it's going well.
What does your wife think of your writing?
She's my best critic. It helps to be married to an artist (check her work at www.tonilindahl.com ). I understand her work and she understands mine.
Who are some of your other favorite authors to read?
My favorite authors and my favorite books keep changing, but right now I'd have to list the top three as:
- Doomsday Book by Connie Willis
- Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy (One of our dogs is named Leo)
- The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
What do you think of critique groups in general?
I have a fabulous critique group that helps my writing tremendously. The people in the group offer three sets of fresh eyes on whatever I'm working on. They see things I need to focus on that I couldn't see myself. They're also some of my best friends.
What is the most rewarding thing about being a writer?
I love creating a fictional world, filling it with interesting characters, and living in that world for as long as it takes to create a work I'm proud of.
Are there any words of encouragement for unpublished writers?
Writers should be careful about what goals they set. They should try to be the best writers they can be and the best at marketing their work. Publishing is a part of that process, but not the only part. Beginning writers should join critique groups and attend open mic sessions, anything to get their work heard or read as they polish their craft. The trick is to fall in love with the process.