Thursday, May 2, 2013

A Heroine for the Ages Meets a Bizarre Loner by Linda Rodriguez

I first read Rivka's Place by Linda Rodriguez a few weeks before Feeding Kate went to print. I was inspired by the story, and the characters, especially Rivka's willingness to treat all of the people within her neighborhood, and those she employs, as her own children. She's a protector...  and I can only hope to be as strong as her some day. I'm thrilled to have Linda with us today to tell us a little more about her story and the amazing characters she's created.

A Heroine for the Ages Meets a Bizarre Loner

When a group of writers decided on Twitter to put together an anthology to benefit our friend Sabrina and the Lupus Foundation, I was in on it from the start. After all, I love Sabrina, and I deal with lupus every day myself.

The two main characters in my story, “Rivka’s Place,” could hardly be more different. They are a true odd couple of disparate ages and experiences and yet with great respect for one another and love. I’m a big believer in courage and in love.

One, Rivka, is an elderly Holocaust survivor, a woman who refuses to be bullied as her shop’s neighborhood becomes more and more dangerous and insists on helping everyone around her. The other, C.J., came of age many decades after World War II by killing two men as his father had trained him to do, only to learn that everything he’d been taught was a lie, a man who wants nothing more than to be left alone in peace to do his work, read, and hide from his memories and those who hunt him.

Where did this bizarre partnership of Rivka and C.J. come from?

I gave Rivka a background similar to that of a well-known Kansas City woman, who had escaped from the death camps of Nazi Germany twice as a child and had indeed insisted on continuing to run her bakery in a deteriorating neighborhood, feeding many who couldn’t afford to buy her goods. She’s dead now, and Rivka looks and sounds nothing like her. Rivka came out of the folds of my brain, but her background owes a debt to this remarkable real woman I never met. I have always found her story inspiring. As I have found the stories of so many who live with lupus an inspiration.

To my knowledge, however, there is no one anywhere remotely like C.J. He sprang full-blown into my mind and demanded to be written. I have often wondered what would happen with a young person who’d grown up in one of these cults or cult-like families, indoctrinated in fear of civilization and government, trained to defend the family against that “dangerous” government, if that young person later learned that everything he or she had been taught was a lie. C.J., I suspect, arose from these idle wonderings.

Bringing the two of them together left me in a quandary when I first tried to write this story. Where could it go? How could it end? I didn’t want to lose either of these people I had come to value as I created them, but I didn’t see any way that this could end well. These two characters were on a collision course with tragedy. Eventually, I wrote the ending scene through tears. Yet in some ways it is a happy ending because each person is true to her and his inner self.

Do you like to read of characters who make difficult choices? Are there people you’ve known or just heard about who has inspired you with their courage or their love?

Linda Rodriguez’s second Skeet Bannion novel, Every Broken Trust(St. Martin’s Press/Minotaur Books), will be published May 7. Her first Skeet novel, Every Last Secret, won the Malice Domestic Best First Traditional Mystery Novel Competition, was selected by Las Comadres National Book Club, and was a Barnes & Noble mystery pick. For her books of poetry, Skin Hunger(Scapegoat Press) and Heart’s Migration(Tia Chucha Press), Rodriguez received the Midwest Voices & Visions Award, Elvira Cordero Cisneros Award, Thorpe Menn Award, finalist, Eric Hoffer Book Award, KCArtsFund Inspiration Award, and Ragdale and Macondo fellowships. She spends too much time on Twitter as @rodriguez_linda and on Facebook at She blogs about writers, writing, and the absurdities of everyday life at

Feeding Kate: A Crime Fiction Anthology is available from Amazon.  All proceeds from Feeding Kate benefit the Lupus Foundation of America.


Linda Rodriguez said...

Thanks for the kind words, Sabrina! I love being this anthology of such high-quality stories by great writers.

Sabrina E. Ogden said...

It really is an amazing anthology... so many original pieces. I love reading about your characters and where they come from. Thanks so much for being my guest this month, Linda.

Linda Rodriguez said...

Thank you for having me, Sabrina!

Clare2e said...

Nice to get the backstage view, Linda! It's funny how those stories, even at a distance, of certain unique people stick with you until a place for them in your writing appears.

Linda Rodriguez said...

Yes, Clare! Some people become iconic for some of us, especially if we're writers.

Steve Weddle said...

Great to get the inside scoop. Thanks for sharing.