Yes: I’m that Linda Richards

I wasn’t always a novelist. I always wanted to be a novelist, but it took me a while to figure out that I was missing one essential element: a novel.

Around the time my first novel, Mad Money, came out, I explained how I finally got around to writing one on MJ Rose’s excellent Backstory blog. No sense in me going over all of that here when I already covered it there. (The concept of the Web as the holder of all of our personal archives. An interesting idea.)

Before any of that, though, I did a lot of stuff. I’ve worked as a journalist and, obviously, as an editor. I’m a graphic designer and have done quite a bit of publication design. I’ve sold real estate and I’ve fed cats. Other stuff, too. But, for most of my working life, my world has revolved about putting words together in interesting ways, one way or another.

In the early 1990s, I was doing a lot of freelance magazine writing. When you do that, you’re always cooking up stories. (Kind of like being a novelist, I guess, but with a different focus, a different rhythm.) I had been an early adopter of online technologies. And I’m talking dark ages early, here, like the early 1980s when connectivity was a 300 baud (they didn’t even say bps then) acoustic coupler modem and big ol’ online services like The Source. (Who, as far as I know, has long since gone to high tech heaven.) By 1993, the Internet was just beginning to slide into people’s lives and consciousness and I was in the thick of it, genuinely excited about what this entirely connective technology would mean for our lives.

Because I was excited -- passionate, even -- and because I was somewhat knowledgeable, it was a no-brainer for me to want to sell a story about the Internet to one of the magazines I wrote for. So I pitched and I pitched and, to my surprise, no one bought. “Too out there,” I remember the editor of a business magazine I wrote for telling me. “Too sci-fi,” said another, who edited the lifestyle section of his newspaper. And so on. In 1993, the Internet, as a concept, was just too something for just about everyone I pitched it at. But I really wanted to write about it. So I got this harebrained idea to do a book. And so back to pitching. Only this time, to my surprise, the very first publisher I pitched it at bought the idea. Within a few weeks I had a contract to do The Canadian Business Guide to Using the Internet for Self-Counsel Books.

The book was a huge seller in Canada and -- to my constant surprise -- it’s still widely available in libraries throughout the country. (Which is sort of bizarre because the book was published in early 1995 and its like dark ages Internet. The ‘Net has changed a lot since then. To put it mildly.)

So I was an author. It wasn’t a novel, but it was a book. You could get it at the library. You could buy it in a store. My mother was proud. (Even though she was never really sure exactly what it was about. The whole time I was working on it, she’d call every few days and say: “Can you tell me what the book is about again?” so she could explain the concept of a worldwide computer network to her friends.)

The publication of that book led to my reincarnation as Geek Girl. With that book in hand I was able to get an agent who specialized in computer books. My next book was Teach Yourself Photoshop which was followed by Web Graphics for Dummies and I contributed in various weird ways to several others. For obvious reasons, I call this my geek book period. And the geek book period led pretty much directly to January Magazine which led me right here: novelist, the title of which I’m most proud.

So, yes: I’m that Linda Richards. Author of those geek books. I didn’t use my middle “L” until the novels, when I got it out of mothballs simply because I wanted people to be able to find me easily in a search engine or a library. Plain ol’ “Linda Richards” has gotten some use without me. Linda Richards was America’s first trained nurse. And Linda Richards is also a medium-well known fashion designer (and occasionally I get e-mail from someone wanting to buy one of her coats). She also has the dot-com. But there weren’t a lot of Linda L. Richards. Since I come by the “L” naturally -- it’s mine by birth, not just made up -- it seemed like a logical thing to do.

One last thing: I haven’t told you any of this in the hope that you’ll rush out and buy one of my computer books. In fact, I hope that you do not. They aren’t all out of print, but they’re all out of date. If, by chance, you happen across one at the library or gathering dust in some forgotten corner of your local bookstore, read the acknowledgments. I always have fun with those. And you can read those right in the store.

Now my novels... that’s something else. You can buy one of those any time you like!

Comments

SAND STORM said…
Welcome to the blogosphere, I'll check back often.
Anonymous said…
I loved Web Graphics for Dummies. It taught me a lot and I remember parts of it as being very funny. What a small, small world!

Brian Vance, Ann Arbor

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