Friday, December 20, 2013

Interview with Linda Budzinski

Today on the blog I have the wonderful Linda Budzinski, author of THE FUNERAL SINGER from Swoon Romance. This is one of my top contemporary reads for the year and I'm so glad Linda agreed to do an interview for me. I'm going to start off with a little info about the book and a little of my thoughts.  ;-) 


Being a funeral singer was a dead-end job until it led her to him....
Seventeen-year-old Melanie Martin has witnessed her share of lame eulogies and uninspired epitaphs while singing part-time at her dad's funeral home. She's determined to be more than a funeral singer, more than someone's "beloved wife" or "loving mother." 
When Mel's impromptu rendition of "Amazing Grace" at a local rock star's graveside service goes viral on YouTube, she becomes an Internet sensation, gains thousands of fans and followers, and snags a hot rock star boyfriend - Zed Logan, bass player for The Grime.
But instant fame isn’t easy - and neither is love. Especially when Mel realizes she’s falling for another guy - one who may just want her heart more than her voice.…

My Thoughts:

I came across this book from seeing a fellow bloggers raving review on it. I personally love Swoon Romance books in general so I made a week long read-a-thon of all the books I had downloaded and this one just happened to be on it! I'm SOOO glad it was! This was a super cute read filled with so many feely moments. I loved all the self growth Melanie went through in the book and the building relationship with the unexpected guy! I wasn't a big fan of Zed, he just grated on my nerves and I felt like he was using Melanie and playing on her emotions, but you can be the judge on that one! This read is perfect if you are in the mood for a quick, cozy, feel good read! So go download it now!! 


C: Is THE FUNERAL SINGER the first book you have written?

L: It is my first published novel. I wrote one and a half “practice” novels before writing this one.

Q: Do you have other books in the works? If so what are they?

L: Currently I’m working on another YA contemporary. It is not a sequel to THE FUNERAL SINGER and in fact is quite different. The plot, the characters, the setting, and even the format are all different, though some of the underlying themes are the same, and of course, it does have some strong romance elements.

I’m about halfway through writing it, so I don’t think I’m ready to say much more about it at this point. I will give one teaser: The main character’s potential love interest is a nerdy pirate-loving football  superhero cowboy.


C: What made you decide you wanted to write books?

L: I’ve always loved to write. In the second grade I told my parents I wanted to be a paperback writer, just like in the Beatles song. I remember in the fourth grade, our teacher had these creative writing cards in the back of the room—basically a box full of writing prompts—and we could get extra credit for writing stories. I was a pretty good student, so I probably didn’t need the credit, but by the end of the year, I’d gone through the entire box.

C: Who is your favorite author?

L: Can I pick three? I’m going to go with Suzanne Collins because she is a master of storytelling, Ruta Sepetys because her use of language and rhythm make my heart hurt, and E.B. White because Charlotte’s Web.

C: What /who is your biggest inspiration when writing?

L: Wow, that is a great question! I wish I had some sort of dreamy, romantic answer for it, but if I’m being honest, I’d have to say it’s my own fears and insecurities. The good news is, there’s a lot to draw on there!

C: What gave you the idea to write about a funeral singer? What point did you want to get across in the book?

L: I first got the idea for THE FUNERAL SINGER at a children’s writing conference about six years ago. The keynote speaker was T.A. Barron, author of the very popular Merlin series. Barron made the comment during his talk that kids and teens today have a skewed perception of what it means to be a hero.

That comment really struck me, so on the four-hour drive home, I began formulating a story of a girl who experiences both pop-culture heroism and real-life, everyday heroism, and the differences between the two. 

At the time, I was working for a non-profit organization in the funeral industry. I know a lot of funeral directors, and they do a really hard job that most of us couldn’t handle. Imagine dealing with people who are having the worst week of their lives—the week they lost someone they loved—and doing that day after day for your entire career.

To me, funeral directors are real-life heroes, and so that seemed like a natural setting for me to tell Mel’s story. So it’s a story about what it means to truly be a hero, and also about not letting others define you, about creating your own brand of heroism.

C: This book touched on some very real issues for teens; did you intentionally want to make that a part of the writing?

L: Definitely. It’s been ... well, a while since I was a teen, but I remember what it felt like as if it were yesterday. Being a teen was hard, and one reason it was hard was because I always felt like I was being judged. What I said, what I did, what I wore, what kind of stuff I was into. It never ended, and this was before Facebook and Twitter and YouTube. So  I’m thinking being a teen probably hasn’t gotten any easier. And while most teens will never experience the level of exposure Mel does, I think they can relate to the FEELING of being exposed and all the fears and insecurities and struggles that go with that.

C: Who was the hardest character to write during this book? Why?

L: I had a tough time with Mel’s dad. People have a lot of misconceptions about funeral directors. Yes, they have an unusual job, but they are not the creep shows Hollywood makes them out to be. In fact, quite the opposite—they are normal, everyday business men and women who happen to work in a really tough profession. 

As I said, I have a lot of friends who are funeral directors, and I wanted Mel’s father to represent the people I know. I also wanted him to be a good dad. Children’s books and YA books are full of horrible parents, and I knew I wanted Mel to have good, caring parents. At the same time, he couldn’t be a cardboard cut-out, perfect in every way. He needed to have his share of flaws, and he needed to butt heads with Mel the way all parents sometimes butt heads with their kids.

C: Who was your favorite character in this book? Why?

L: This is like asking which is your favorite child! I love all of them in their own ways (even you-know-who!) but I’ll have to go with Mel’s best friend, Lana, as my personal favorite. 

Lana is the world’s all-time best BFF. When Mel goes from being a normal, everyday high school student to an overnight superstar, Lana reacts the way I hope I’d react if something unbelievably wonderful happened to one of my friends. She is as excited as if it were happening to her, without even a hint of jealousy.  She’s there to help Mel believe in herself … and to bring her back to reality when things get out of hand.  Also, Lana is funny, and she and Pete together especially crack me up.

C: I loved Lana too! She was an awesome BFF for sure! 

This or That:

C: Indoors or Outdoors?

L: Outdoors

C: Heels or Flip-Flops?

L: Cowboy boots

C: M&Ms or Skittles?

L: No contest … M&Ms!

C: Hey I've seen some crazy people think that chocolate isn't the best thing ever :-O

C: Bad Boys or Good Guys (referring to fictional characters only)?

L: Bad boys with hearts of gold, of course.

Find Linda Here:
Twitter: @LindaBudz
Goodreads: Linda Budzinski

Thank you so much Linda for doing the interview! 


  1. Great interview, ladies! And sorry, but I'm a Skittles girl myself! ;)

  2. Haha, Rachel, more chocolate for me!

    Thanks so much for the interview, Crystal! So glad you liked the book, and glad you loved Lana! :)

  3. Great interview! I love Charlotte's Web too!!

  4. Thanks, Erin! I still ugly cry every time I read CW.


I would love to hear from you! I try to always comment back :)