Interview with Linda Kovic-Skow, author of 'French Illusions'

Linda Kovic-Skow resides in Kirkland, Washington. She earned an Associate Degree in Medical Assisting in 1978 from North Seattle Community College and a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration from Seattle University in 1985. She has been married for 27 years and has two daughters. An enthusiastic traveler, Linda also enjoys boating, gardening and socializing with friends. French Illusions, her debut memoir, is the culmination of a three-year project.

You can visit her website at

Q: Welcome to The Writer's Life!  Now that your book has been published, we’d love to find out more about the process.  Can we begin by having you take us at the beginning?  Where did you come up with the idea to write your book?

About four years ago, after my husband and I dropped our youngest daughter off at college, I went through a sort of mid-life crisis. I missed being a mom and I wondered how I would fill the void. Sure I had my part-time bookkeeping business, but it consumed only a few hours a day and it wasn't interesting to me any more. Something was missing, but what?

This prompted me to review what I like to call my "mid-life list." This is similar to a "bucket list," with an important twist. The idea was to refocus myself and figure out the things I wanted to do with my life in my fifties - while I could still do them. My list was short.

-Learn to play the piano
-Travel to Africa to see the elephants
-Travel to Tahiti and see the island of Bora Bora
-Travel back to France (with my family this time)
-Write a book

At the time, I didn't own a piano and, with two daughters in college (out of state no less!), I couldn't afford a trip to Africa or Tahiti. I had already traveled back to France in 2001 with my family, so that left me to examine the fifth item on my list more closely.  If I did write a book, would it be fiction or non-fiction? What genre would I choose?

The answers to my questions came to me in the shower (which is where many of my ideas seem to materialize, strangely enough). I decided to hunt down my diary from my au pair adventure in France and compose a memoir. It took me three years and countless hours to write French Illusions, but now I can scratch another item off my mid-life list.

Q: How hard was it to write a book like this and do you have any tips that you could pass on which would make the journey easier for other writers?

I have to admit writing my memoir was a lot more complex than I initially imagined it would be. My diary offered a great outline, but I realized early on that I would have to change the names of people and places in my story to protect their identities. This was especially true with regard to my host au pair family. Acquiring permission from them was out of the question. Totally out of the question. I mean it. Read my book and you'll understand. Additionally, over thirty years had passed since I spoke with anyone I'd met in France. I no longer had any contact information for them. With this in mind, I researched common French names that might match my characters. I tried them out and retained the ones that were a good fit.

Other decisions haunted me during the writing process. From the beginning, I struggled with how much French to incorporate into the story and whether or not to include translations. My editors gave me guidance here. We decided to keep most of the French and bring in translations only when it was absolutely necessary to the story line. Another challenge was finding data from 1979 on the Loire Valley, the Loire River and the town of Tours. It took hundreds of internet searches and numerous travel books to supply this information. The most challenging dilemma of all was how much detail to include in my own love scenes? Wiping the sweat off my brow, I wrote and then rewrote these scenes until I could read them without squirming in my seat.

Q: Who is your publisher and how did you find them or did you self-publish?

I chose to self-publish my paperback through Dog Ear Publishing. They gave me control over design, editing, pricing and allowed me to retain all the rights to my book. Then, I contracted with BookBaby to create my eBook, which I published using my own Limited Liability Corporation called Dreamland Press. They charge a fee to create the eBook, but they don't take a percentage of the royalties.

Q: Is there anything that surprised you about getting your first book published?

Yes! Everything took longer than I thought it would. French Illusions was a highly complicated edit given the foreign setting. It took three different editors nine months to complete the process. Three more months passed while Dog Ear Publishing created the cover and produced the interior parts of the hard copy book. Another month slid by while BookBaby created my eBook file. Formatting issues ate up another month. It was a long, drawn-out process that kept me up nights.
Q: Can you describe the feeling when you saw your published book for the first time?

My pulse accelerated as soon as I identified the package sent by my publisher.  Rushing to get scissors, I cut open the box, lifted the flaps and pulled out the top copy. Caressing my book, turning it from side to side, my heart filled with pride. My book was gorgeous. I couldn't believe it was mine.

Q: What other books (if any) are you working on and when will they be published?

I’m currently outlining the remainder of my diary. In a year or so, look for French Encore, the sequel to French Illusions. Readers can visit my website and watch my progress.

Q: Fun question: How does your book contribute to making this world a better place?

My memoir is filled with detailed descriptions of remarkable places, customs and foods from the Loire Region in France. Readers will be able to experience this beautiful part of the world even if they are unable to travel and see it for themselves.

Q: Finally, what message (if any) are you trying to get across with your book?

French Illusions, my remarkable true story, will remind readers what it was like to be young, adventurous and filled with dreams. It's not too late to create  your own memories so go out and explore the world. Life's for living, after all.

Q: Thank you again for this interview!  Do you have any final words?

For more information, visit Watch my book trailer - it's a lot of fun!

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