When work is your passion
By Denise Baran-Unland Correspondent January 17, 2013 11:44AM
Updated: February 19, 2013 11:44AM
Gina Linko’s novel idea that a young girl’s seizures could actually be time travel caught the attention of Random House, which recently published “Flutter,” Linko’s first book since her Christian middle school series in the early 2000s.
Random House will release Linko’s second young adult science fiction story, “Indigo,” this fall, and the publisher is currently reviewing Linko’s third book even as Linko is writing her fourth.
This could be the road to a full-time writing career that Linko, an adjunct teacher at Joliet Junior College and the University of Saint Francis in Joliet, has so long desired.
“There’s no greater challenge mentally than sitting down with an idea, outlining it and then fleshing it out; there’s no greater thrill than seeing it come to fruition,” Linko said. “I love what I do; it does not feel like work. To get paid for it almost seems like cheating. I love it so much.”
Although Linko has always enjoyed writing and easily composed school essays and reports, Linko had not considered writing actual stories for young people until she was a seventh-grade science and language arts teacher in Wheaton.
Her experiences became the inspiration for “The Seekers,” a six-book series each focusing on a particular child in a group as he or she navigated a life problem and found Christian answers for addressing it.
The publisher was Augsburg Fortress, the publishing ministry of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. The series did well, Linko felt, for one with a small, niche audience. At the time, Linko needed no agent; the query process occurred through traditional mail.
With “Flutter,” Linko hoped one of the “Big Six” publishing houses would publish it, which Linko knew would require an agent.
In six months, Linko had written a book and found an agent, a process made much easier now with the Internet and emailed submissions.
Linko considers this fortunate, considering she had stepped away from writing for a decade to have her children (a 10-year-old and 7-year-old twins) and earn a graduate degree in creative writing from DePaul University in Chicago.
The rewriting and signing a contract with a major publishing house, however, took another two years (Random House acquired “Flutter” in 2010). Part of the ironic fun with “Flutter” is that a teen artist participated in its concept.
“The cover for the photo was taken by a high school girl. The designer at Random House had seen it on her website and it fit Emery, the main character in ‘Flutter.’” Linko said. “We even had her do some of the video clips with her friend, the cover model, who actually dyed her hair red to be Emery. It’s a teen-powered book trailer for a teen book, which is pretty cool.”
For now, Linko said Random House is pleased with the response “Flutter” is receiving. Linko owes her current success to effort she put into find just the right agent for her book and she encourages other writers to do the same.
“Agents are so important in your career. It’s important to find a good one that fits you. Not just anyone should represent you,” Linko said. “What you write is so personal; it’s your baby. If I’m going to hand over my work and make editorial changes, I need to trust that person.”
For more information, visit www.ginalinko.com.