22 May 2014

A chat with The Funeral Singer author Linda Budzinski

I'm delighted to be interviewing Linda Budzinski on Fiction Dreams today. I contacted Linda after she submitted her YA trailer to the YA Trailer Park. I loved the look of the book so much that I invited her for an interview. Speaking of which, let's get on with it!

Can you tell us a little about your latest book, The Funeral Singer?
The Funeral Singer is my debut novel, a young adult romance published in September 2013 by Swoon Romance YA.
Melanie Martin is a junior in high school who sings part time in her father’s funeral home. One day, a video of her singing “Amazing Grace” goes viral on YouTube, transforming her into an overnight star.
The book is about Mel’s rise, fall, and redemption. It is about her friendships, her ambitions, and of course, it includes a romance … or two!

What inspired you to write it?

I wanted to write a book about the differences between real-life heroism and pop-culture heroism. At the time I wrote it, I was working for a non-profit organization in the funeral industry, so I know a lot of funeral directors and I know what a tough job they have.
Imagine working every day, all year long, with people who are having one of the worst days of their lives. But they get up every morning and go into work knowing that is what lies ahead for them. To me, that is real-life heroism, so I decided to set my novel in that world.

How did you come up with the idea for the cover?

My publisher created the cover. Honestly, I had something totally different in mind, but as soon as I saw the design they’d created, I loved it. It was so much better than anything I could have come up with on my own. It’s intriguing and eye-catching and sets the right tone for the book.

If it was made into a movie, who would you like to play the main characters?
I think I would want them to be totally unknown actors and actresses—and singers, because there’s a fair amount of singing involved.
If I HAD to pick someone famous, I would want Zooey Deschanel to play Mel, because she’s fun and sweet and has a gorgeous voice. And Zed, the hot bass player Mel snags once she becomes famous, could be played by Matt Barnes, who plays bass for the UK band You Me at Six (so cute!).

What is it about the YA genre that appeals to you so much?

The teen years are filled with uncertainty and insecurity and conflict—which are not so great in real life, but are lots of fun to read and write about!
I also really enjoy the challenge of creating teen characters that defy the stereotypes we see in so many movies and TV shows: the mean girls, the jocks, the nerds. The teens I know aren’t “types.” They’re people, and they have minds, personalities, and desires all their own.

What made you want to become an author?
I’ve always loved to write. In fact, in the second grade I told my parents I wanted to be a paperback writer, just like in the Beatles song. As I grew up, I left behind that dream and pursued a more “practical” writing career—majoring in journalism in college and eventually going into a career in non-profit communications.
Then, about 12 years ago, I took a community continuing education class called “The ABCs of Writing for Children and Teens.” The first night, our instructor gave us some fun writing exercises, and I could literally feel a part of my brain that I hadn’t used in years. I could feel it physically tingling. I loved that class and couldn’t wait for Tuesday nights. After it ended, I kept going until (voila!) a dozen years later, here I am with an agent and a publisher and a real-live novel.

How do you come up with character names?
For the most part, my characters already have names—meaning, their names are a part of who they are when I first imagine them. I don’t have to come up with them.
The exception in this book was for the band members’ names. I did have to think about those. I found a fun website, www.rockstarname.com, to help generate their names.

Name one of your all-time favourite books?
Charlotte’s Web. I still ugly cry when I read it.

Who, or what, inspires you?
My faith.

Where is your favourite place to write?
In my bed, with my chihuahua, Demitria, by my side.

What is your favourite movie that was based on a book?

Catching Fire. I loved the entire Hunger Games trilogy and loved both of the first two movies. I think the Catching Fire movie may have actually improved on the book.

Name two of your favourite authors.
C.S. Lewis and Gary Schmidt.

If you could have a dinner party with any authors from any time in history, who would you choose and why?
Maybe the American Gothic authors—Poe, Hawthorne, Irving, Salinger—just because it would be cool to see what happens when you put so many brilliantly creepy minds together in the same room.

Tell us a random fact about yourself.
The only “C” I got in college was in phys ed … badminton/volleyball. Hand-eye coordination has never been my strong suit.

Who would play you in the movie about your life?
Creative Commons Image courtesy: David Shankbone
No one would ever want to watch, much less produce or star in a movie about my life. The excitement of reading, writing, and solving crossword puzzles simply doesn’t translate to the big screen. But if I were to pick the actress who most looks like me, I would have to say Amy Poehler.

Tell us an interesting fact about where you live.
I live about 30 minutes west of Washington, D.C., so of course there’s tons of history here. People who live in this area are so lucky, because we’re within a couple of hours of D.C., Baltimore, the mountains, and the water. And we’re about a two-hour train ride from New York City. So many options, and so of course, as I mentioned, I spend most of my time reading, writing, and solving crosswords.

What are your (writing) plans for the future?
Currently I am working on another young adult novel, something very different from The Funeral Singer. I am about two-thirds of the way finished and hope to have it ready for submission to my publisher in late summer.
Beyond that, I plan to continue writing YA books for as long as people will keep reading them.

Tell us one thing that's on your bucket list.
When my ancestors—the Eichorns—came over from Europe in the late 1700s, they first settled in Prince Edward Island in Canada (where Anne of Green Gables was set). It’s not particularly easy or cheap to get there, but I would love to make the trip someday and explore the island.

Favourite myth / fairytale?


Who did you want to be when you were a kid?
A prairie girl, like Laura Ingalls Wilder.

Linda Budzinski's debut novel, THE FUNERAL SINGER, was published in 2013 by Swoon Romance. She is represented by Andrea Somberg of Harvey Klinger Inc. Linda lives in Northern Virginia with her husband, Joe, and their chihuahua, Demitria, and she has two grown step-daughters, Eris and Sarah.

Get your copy of Linda's book right here:


  1. Fun interview! I don't know, Linda...a movie about a crossword puzzle fanatic has potential. :)

  2. Ahaha, thanks, C.J.! I will say that if anyone could make that seem entertaining, it would probably be Amy Poehler!


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