BOOK BEAT 31 – Linnea Sinclair

BOOK BEAT   Naples Sun Times   February 7-13, 2007

by Philip K. Jason

Linnea Sinclair knows the rules of the writing games she plays. She knows what her readers want – which is exactly what she wants as a reader. And she knows how to talk the talk and walk the walk of a successful writer poised to take some giant steps in an already remarkable career. Games of Command, which officially goes on sale February 27 but will premier a few days earlier at the Naples Writers’ Conference, is sure to be one of those steps. 

Sinclair’s earlier titles, all beneficiaries of critical acclaim, include Finders Keepers, An Accidental Goddess, and Gabriel’s Ghost. The latter title won the prestigious RITA award (given by the Romance Writers of America) for best paranormal romance of 2006, as well as a host of other awards. The preceding novels received only slightly less acclaim, building Sinclair’s reputation and readership. Linnea Sinclair is now among the top names in an increasingly important commercial niche – sci-fi romance – and she is redefining its potential. The promotional copy says: “What defines a Linnea Sinclair book? Kick-butt heroines. Science Fiction action. Steamy romance. And a good dose of fun.” Sinclair in person is at once forceful and funny, as those who attend her February 25th workshop, “Character Torture 101,” will discover.

Sinclair’s background includes a BA in journalism/criminology from Indiana University followed by graduate work in criminology at Florida State University. During and after her college studies, Sinclair worked in radio and television news in Tallahassee and later as a newspaper reporter and freelance contributor to newspapers and magazines in New Jersey and in the St. Petersburg area. From 1990-1999, while working as a private investigator, Sinclair freelanced articles for the National Association of Investigative Specialists magazine.

Sinclair claims the distinction of being a two-time Neapolitan. A regular visitor since about 1980, Sinclair moved here in 1999 and stayed for two years. She and her husband arrived from St. Petersburg, where she had just closed up her career and business as a private detective after a ten-year run. They loved it here, but Sinclair was caring for two elderly parents living over on the east coast and needed to live closer to them. So, they moved to Fort Lauderdale and stayed there until Hurricane Wilma chased them away from the devastated area near the Port Everglades cruise ship terminal. She and her husband moved back to Naples in March of last year after settling her parents in the Naples Aston Gardens two months earlier. The Sinclairs love the Fifth Avenue and Third Street night life, and they enjoy cruise vacations. Linnea is very active in the Southwest Florida Romance Writers group.

I asked Linnea Sinclair to clarify the distinction between Science Fiction and Fantasy. She was quick to explain that both fall under the heading of speculative fiction. In Science Fiction writing, the story involves more in the way of technology. Often set on another planet or on a future version of the Earth, the technology is an integral part of the story. Fantasy relates to dungeons and dragons. That is, we enter a world where magic, sorcery, and mythical creatures play important roles. Her own novel, The Accidental Goddess, combines the two streams of speculative fiction.

Sinclair feels that these genre distinctions (and other similar ones) mean far less to readers than they do to acquisitions editors, agents, and marketing people.

Sinclair was drawn to science fiction when quite young. She was an eager fan of the original “Lost in Space,” a dedicated Trekkie, and an avid watcher of sci-fi cartoons as a young girl in New Jersey. At five or six years old, she would sneak out of the house at night with her blanket and wait for the aliens to come and get her. Fortunately, they have not yet arrived or Sinclair would be writing on another planet in another language.

The other part of the equation, the romance element, did not attract Sinclair until she was an adult reader (though she found the young William Shatner as Captain Kirk to be quite a hunk). In college, she would write “trek fanfics,” which were interpolations of Star Trek episodes written by Star Trek fans. Usually, these were imitations or loving parodies. Sinclair’s included a romance element. And we can extrapolate from there and beam ourselves into what’s next.

Because of the power of the RITA award, Games of Command, published by Bantam Spectra, will be a dual-shelved book. Readers will find it displayed in the romance section of the bookstore and in the science fiction section as well. Later in the year, The Down Home Zombie Blues is scheduled to appear, and, after that, Chasidah’s Ghost. How has success changed Sinclair’s career? Well, her first three-book contracts depended on having three completed manuscripts accepted. There was little risk-taking on the publisher’s part; no agreement would be based solely on proposals or sample chapters. The second three-book contract was negotiated with the books not yet written!

Linnea Sinclair promises to bring her RITA award to the Naples Writers’ Conference so that we can all see it. Until then, learn more about this powerhouse writer at linneasinclair.com.

 Philip K. Jason, Ph.D., is Professor Emeritus of English from the United States Naval Academy.  A poet, critic, and free-lance writer with twenty books to his credit, this “Dr. Phil” chairs the annual Naples Writers’ Conference presented by the Naples Press Club. Send him your book news at pjason@aol.com.

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