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 www.lindakovicskow.com.
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 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 (on the east coast 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. Voila! I had found my passion and got to cross another item off of my mid-life list.
What was the experience like writing French Illusions? How did keeping a diary help you write this book?
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 had to research and fill in hard-to-find data on the Loire Valley, the Loire River and the town of Tours. Internet searches produced most of the information and travel books supplied the rest. From the beginning, difficult questions emerged, such as how to deal with the French, and whether or not to italicize my thoughts. Oh, and I really struggled with how much detail to include in my own love scenes.
My favorite chapters to write came in the last section of French Illusions. Throughout most of my memoir, I internalized my unhappiness at the Château de Montclair. Within these last pages, I finally had the opportunity to expose my true feelings in vivid scenes filled with passion and drama. It was a thrilling, rewarding experience.
I know memoirs can take a long time to write. How long did it take you to write yours?
It took me three years to complete my memoir. Initially, I wasn’t sure whether I had enough entries in my diary to produce a good book, so I outlined it. Once I determined that I did indeed have a story, I enrolled in some classes, studied some writing techniques and plunged in. Several rewrites later, after gathering input from my mentor and friends, I turned my manuscript over to the first of three editors.
Can you give us a passage from that diary?
Of course. Below is the very first entry in my diary dated August 22, 1979. I’m not sure who or what prompted me to keep a diary during my trip to France, but I’m sure glad that I did!
“Since a person does not take a trip to Europe everyday, I have decided to keep track of the time I spend in this foreign land. I have written not only feelings, experiences, and hopes; but informational data that many someday be useful upon my return to the U.S.A. This journal shall surely be a reminder of the good times along with the bad.”