Author Interview: Linda Shenton Matchett, Author of Under Fire
Today’s guest is Linda Shenton Matchett, author of Under Fire, a World War II historical. Linda is an author, journalist, speaker, and history geek. Born in Baltimore, Maryland, a stone’s throw from Fort McHenry, Linda has lived in historical places most of her life. She is a volunteer docent at the Wright Museum of WWII and a Trustee for the Wolfeboro Public Library. Active in her church, Linda serves as treasurer, usher, choir member, and Bible study leader.
Welcome, Linda. I have to confess that I loved your story when I read it before its publication, but I only recently learned about your flourishing career. Congratulations.
Thanks for your kind words. I’m glad we reconnected. You were a great encouragement to me when your publisher was considering my manuscript. I also learned a lot about craft from you, especially about how to look at story and character arcs.
Thank you so much. I am always humbled and blessed when someone says that the Lord used me in their writing career. I know our readers would love to hear a little about your novel, Under Fire.
Under Fire was the result of a lot of different experiences. I was an HR professional for many years, and I’m fascinated by the history of women in the workplace and their taking roles traditionally held by men which began en masse with WWII. I was enrolled in Jerry Jenkins’ Christian Writer’s Guild at the same time I was reading a biography of Margaret Bourke-White (WWII photojournalist). As part of my assignments, I devised the plot about a female war correspondent/amateur sleuth. In addition to being a mystery, Under Fire follows Ruth’s crisis of faith.
What drew you to write a World War II historical?
I have always loved all history, but because of the incredible Wright Museum of WWII which is located in my town, about fifteen years ago I began to focus my interest on the WWII era. I’m impressed by the stories of ordinary folks doing extraordinary things because their country asked it of them. I wanted to explore issues that people were experiencing because of the war: deprivation, women entering the workforce in droves (whether they wanted to or not), choices they were forced to make, etc. I also wanted to explore the concept whether it a valid assumption to believe that crime, especially murder, would diminish during wartime. Or does violence begat violence?
Your heroine, Ruth, is truly on an epic journey, both dangerous and one of self-discovery. Did you model her after a person you know or an historical figure?
Ruth is a composite of my great-aunt Dorothy Holland Hatter, my paternal grandmother Margaret Nagel Shenton, and my imagination. Aunt Dot lost her husband, Norman, a few years after he returned from WWI. He had been exposed to mustard gas and spent his last two years in a sanatorium. She lived her life with a quiet strength yet had an independent streak. She did a lot of international traveling by herself which was unusual for a single woman of her generation. She had a delightful sense of humor that often caught us unawares. My grandmother lost her father when she was five years old, but adored her step-father and would often talk about how grateful she was for him. She and my grandfather struggled through the Great Depression, and as a result, she was highly resilient and self-sufficient. I hope that I have captured some of their essence in Ruth.
I usually don’t get political in my interviews, but because Ruth has faced so much in her quest for justice, and she has seen war as a civilian, what do you believe someone like her would say in regard to what is going on in our football stadiums today?
Considering that in Under Fire Ruth covers union negotiations at a manufacturing plant and the issue of rights is a large part of the discussion, this is a very pertinent question for her. I think she would be conflicted about the situation. As a journalist, Ruth would defend the players’ rights to freedom of speech, and her own willingness to “go against the grain” by taking what was perceived as a man’s job would give her empathy for the men. But as product of her era, Ruth would disagree with their actions. In the 1940s (and before) there was a hierarchy and a definite “chain of command,” so for the players to go against the grain (and against owners) to protest, especially something as sacred as the flag, Ruth would say they have a right to their opinion, but not a right to display it on the job. And then she’d dig around until she got the full story!
Ruth, like so many Americans of that time, was etched with the scars of war. For her, those scars came in different ways. Do you believe that Ruth’s generation faced a greater threat then than we do today?
Perhaps because I didn’t live through the war, it feels as if we are facing a greater, multi-pronged threat today. Terrorism is attacking from without, but disagreement and leaders who seem intent on their own agendas rather than the greater good of the country are dividing (attacking) us from within. Ruth’s generation seemed to only have one common, obvious enemy that threatened.
Please tell our readers about your writing career. I’ll share your growing list of works in this post, but I’m excited to hear what’s coming next.
I have been writing since I was in elementary school, but I didn’t get serious about publication until about ten years ago. I stumbled into several freelance opportunities which awakened my desire to create stories again. I submitted a manuscript to Barbour and received an encouraging rejection letter from Senior Fiction Editor, Rebecca Germany. She took time to give me specific feedback on what worked and didn’t work with the story and also suggested that attending conferences or classes, reading books on the craft, and securing a critique group would help me improve my skills. She then indicated I was welcome to resubmit. That was the glimmer of hope I needed. Those words told me she thought I had what it took to get published. I spent the next few years studying. I enrolled in Jerry Jenkins’s Christian Writer’s Guild, attended ACFW and SinCNE writing conferences, subscribed to a couple of writer’s magazine, and devoured books about writing. After having Under Fire professionally edited, I researched publishers and began to submit. After almost three years of submitting, eLectio picked it up, and the book came out this summer. Prior to that I had a mix of experiences. A small publisher put out my contemporary novella, but closed the business a couple of months later, so I got the rights back. I independently published that novella and two historical novellas. Another small publisher published a historical novelette with a second on the way in November 2017. As far as what’s coming next, Under Fire is the first in a trilogy, and I’d love to see books two and three get picked up. Meanwhile I keep writing, and I’m now working on another mystery, tentatively titled Murder of Convenience about a young woman who joins the USO to get out from under an arranged marriage. When her fiancé is found murdered, she must prove her innocence.
Thank you for sharing today on Inner Source, Linda, and congratulations on your fantastic writing career.
More About Under Fire
Journalist Ruth Brown’s sister Jane is pronounced dead after a boating accident in April 1942. Because Jane’s body is missing, Ruth is convinced her sister is still alive and follows clues to war-torn London. By the time she uncovers the truth about Jane’s disappearance, she has stumbled on black marketers, resistance fighters and the IRA – all of whom may want her dead for what she has discovered.
As I noted, Linda has been a busy writer. Here are her other works:
Love’s Harvest, a Modern-Day Retelling of the Story of Ruth: Noreen Hirsch loses everything including her husband and two sons. Then her adopted country goes to war with her homeland. Has God abandoned her? Rosa Hirsch barely adjusts to being a bride before she is widowed. She gives up her citizenship to accompany her mother-in-law to her home country. Can Rosa find acceptance among strangers who hate her belligerent nation? Basil Quincey is rich beyond his wildest dreams, but loneliness stalks him. Can he find a woman who loves him and not his money? Three people. One God who can raise hope from the ashes of despair.
Love Found in Sherwood Forest: Award-winning Broadway actress Leighanne Webster has it all until an on-stage panic attack brings her career crashing to the ground. Returning to England to help produce the annual Robin Hood Festival play, could be the diversion Leighanne needs. But with ex-fiance, Jamison Blake, as the play’s director, focusing on her new job won’t be easy. Breaking his engagement with Leighanne so she could pursue her dream of being a Broadway star was the hardest thing Jamison Blake ever did. When she returns to Nottingham, his heart insists he made a mistake. Can he convince her to give their love a second chance, or will he have to let her go again? This time, forever.
On the Rails: A Harvey Girl Story: Warren, Ohio, 1910: Katherine Newman loves being a teacher, but she loves Henry Jorgensen more, which is why she’s willing to give up her job to marry him. But instead of proposing, Henry breaks up with her. Devastated, Katherine seeks to escape the probing eyes and wagging tongues of her small town. A former Harvey Girl, Katherine’s mother arranges for Katherine to be hired at the Williams, Arizona Harvey House. Can she carve out a new life in the stark desert land unlike anything she’s ever known?
Henry Jorgensen loves Katherine with all his heart, but as the eldest son of a poor farmer can he provide for her as she deserves? The family’s lien holder calls in the mortgage, and Henry must set aside his own desires in order to help his parents meet their financial obligation. But when Katherine leaves town after their break up, he realizes he’s made the biggest mistake of his life. Can he find her and convince her to give their love a second chance?
A Love Not Forgotten (part of The Hope of Spring collection): Allison White should be thrilled about her upcoming wedding. The problem? She’s still in love with her fiancé, Chaz, who was declared dead after being shot down over Germany in 1944. Can she put the past behind her and settle down to married life with the kindhearted man who loves her?
It’s been two years since Charles “Chaz” Powell was shot down over enemy territory. The war is officially over, but not for him. He has amnesia as a result of injuries sustained in the crash, and the only clue to his identity is a love letter with no return address. Will he ever regain his memories and discover who he is, or will he have to forge a new life with no connections to the past?
WWII Word-Find: Enjoy hours of fun with 78 WWII-themed word-find puzzles. Descriptive paragraphs include facts and information about each topic.
To read Inner Source’s interview with Linda’s heroine, Ruth Brown, from Under Fire you can find it here.