ARCANUM — Author and Arcanum High School graduate Linda Castillo made an appearance at the Arcanum Public Library Monday night to promote her latest novel, “Down A Dark Road.”
Castillo is the author of 10 novels in her ongoing series about Kate Burkholder, a small-town Ohio police chief and former member of an Amish community whose cases often bring her into contact with members of the reclusive religious group.
Castillo addressed a standing-room-only crowd at the library, telling them about the inspiration for her books and her early struggles to start a writing career. The first novel she submitted for publication, as it turns out, did not get a very encouraging response.
“I blanketed the publishing world with this book, and immediately got about a bazillion rejection letters,” Castillo said.
After that initial effort, Castillo worked at Domino’s Pizza for a few years, rising into management and writing four additional novels along the way.
“I’m a firm believer that the more you do something, the better you get at it,” Castillo said.
She eventually sold a novel to Harlequin Enterprises, a Canadian publisher specializing in romance novels and women’s fiction. She then quit her customer service job and went to work for Harlequin full-time, typically writing three or four relatively short series romances a year for the publisher.
In-between her work for Harlequin, Castillo sold a longer novel to Berkley Books, and soon found herself pulling double duty for the two publishers.
“It was very labor intensive,” Castillo said. “To be successful at Harlequin, you had to be able to do a book every three or four months. Then, at Berkeley, they wanted a bigger book every nine months. So I found myself sitting at a computer seven days a week. I had no life.”
And all the while, Castillo said, she found herself questioning whether the work she was doing really played to her strengths as a writer.
“My publishers basically kept telling me I needed to focus on the romance and quit killing people in my books,” Castillo said. “That was when I realized that maybe I was writing in the wrong genre. I really felt like I had a thriller inside me waiting to get out. I love scary, intense scenes, I love murder mysteries.”
This is what led Castillo, eventually, to create the Kate Burkholder series. But first she felt she needed to learn a little bit about what the life and work of a police officer is really like.
“So I went through a couple of citizen police academies,” Castillo said, referring to often free community education programs that aim to build better relationships between police and members of the general public. “It was fun. I loved every minute of it.”
Arcanum Library employee Holly Daugherty, who graduated with Castillo, was also on hand for the event.
“I’ve been trying to get her to come back for years,” Daugherty said. Castillo moved to Florida many years ago, and now resides in Texas. Daugherty spoke about driving her old friend around so she could see how much the area has changed in her absence.
“We took her through the new Arcanum High School. She said ‘I miss our old school,’” Daugherty said, laughing.
Arcanum was Castillo’s latest appearance in a tour that’s taken her across Ohio. She’ll be appearing at libraries in Sandusky, Barberton, and Wooster, Ohio over the coming week.
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