Linda Yoshida: Weaving tales from 'threads'
With the publication of "Twisted Threads" this November, Troutdale author Kaylin McFarren wrapped a four-part series featuring treasure hunters and deadly assassins. The Outlook recently talked shop with the woman behind the pen name — Linda Yoshida.
OUTLOOK: Your characters, even the heroes, are often cracked and complicated. Why?
YOSHIDA: I like the idea of redemption. My character (Akira), she is an assassin, someone you would normally hate. But by the end of the book, you find out that you really love her. When you write about someone who's 100 percent perfect, they're kind of boring (laughs).
OUTLOOK: How did you create these imperfect individuals?
YOSHIDA: When I started, I (had this) notebook. I wrote down all the characters, what they look like, their hobbies, their quirks — everything about them. I never really had to tap back into it because I already knew it in my mind.
OUTLOOK: You've published "Severed Threads," "Buried Threads," "Banished Threads" and now "Twisted Threads." I'm sensing a theme here.
YOSHIDA: A relationship is what I call threads. So it's a buried or a found relationship. It's all about how relationships develop and change. I was inspired to do that after writing "Flaherty's Crossing."
OUTLOOK: That was your first book. Can you tell us more?
YOSHIDA: I originally wrote that about 16 years ago, but I never finished. I got to the last couple of chapters and I put it away. It was a book too close to my heart, a book about the relationship with my father. With the help of my daughters, I finished it.
OUTLOOK: What else launched your writing career?
YOSHIDA: After (my daughters) were all gone, I was like, 'Jeez, I have to redefine myself and figure out who I am.' I have traveled so much and met so many amazing people and had unique experiences. I wanted to share those experiences and bring them into people's lives.
OUTLOOK: How has the publishing industry changed?
YOSHIDA: (Previously) you had to be so specific. You had to be a mystery writer, or a suspense writer or a romance writer. Now they allow you to mix genres. I call this an erotic, psychological thriller. People go, 'What is that?'
OUTLOOK: "Twisted Threads" is the fourth and allegedly final installment in the series. Will you miss it?
YOSHIDA: When I announced that I was finishing this series, I had about 20 different people beg me not to end it. They fell in love with all of these characters. It doesn't mean I couldn't revisit it in the future, but for now I feel like I'm ready to move on.
OUTLOOK: What's your new project, "High Flying," about?
YOSHIDA: I'm doing a time travel book. I have a girl, she has a damaged life... She's born to a mother who is in prostitution and drugs and so forth — her life is completely damaged because of what she's gone through. Her father, as far as she knows, has left.
So she becomes a stunt pilot. She flies to a show and on the way she scrapes the wing of another plane … Then she finds out she's been transported to another timeline.
OUTLOOK: What inspired the topic?
YOSHIDA: My father worked for United Airlines, when they had just started and had a headquarters in Chicago, but that was it.
I remember sitting on his shoulder on the tarmac and watching planes take off — and getting in them and handing out Chiclet bubble gum. So I grew up with airplanes, but I never considered writing about them.
OUTLOOK: Any advice for novice writers?
YOSHIDA: Everybody has a story that they can tell, but to be a really good author, you need to read consistently. Any time I go to a workshop, I grab as many copies of books as I can. I love hearing different voices and perspectives. They educate you.
OUTLOOK: Does your husband read your books?
YOSHIDA: He stays on the sidelines. He has about four ghostwriters who have written his stories … he autographs them, but he doesn't write them!
But he's one of our biggest cheerleaders and he'll rave about them. When he found out my books were kind of racy — Well, I don't think he can handle that part.
JUST THE FACTS:
Name: Linda Yoshida
Education: Majored in English at Highline Community College. Later studied writing at Mt. Hood Community College
Family: Raised three daughters — Kristina, Erika and Amanda — with her husband, Junki
Buy her books: At kaylinmcfarren.com or on Amazon.com.
Favorite Authors: Jodi Picoult, Lisa Jackson and her aunt, Bessie Cordell, whose memoirs about missionary work in China were published posthumously. "The church she was with chose to publish them," Yoshida says. "I thought, 'Wow, it's in my blood.'"