Linda Mitchell: It’s cool to be an outcast

Today, my guest poster is Linda Mitchell, spec-fic author of Sitawan and upcoming sequels. As well as being a member of my weekly writer’s group, Linda used to teach literature at college. Now she’s retired and living the dream as a full-time writer. Over to you, Linda:


Part I—Outcast as college professor

“Why do you read fantasy and science fiction? It isn’t literature.”

I’ve heard this from people who’ve never read either genre, people who should know that an uninformed opinion is shallow, lazy thinking. These people are my colleagues, college professors, many of whom are fiction writers themselves.

What did I do? I ignored them of course.

In the mid 1990s when my coordinator learned that I was teaching The Hobbit in my English classes, she wasn’t pleased. A coordinator supervises a program but has little control over another professor’s teaching methods as long as the students exit the class with certain predetermined writing and reading skills. She said The Hobbit wasn’t literature and was inappropriate in a college classroom. Because I was newly hired at the time and admired this strong-minded woman that had recently helped me get the much coveted tenure track position, I might have gone along and stopped using any speculative fiction. However, there were two other colleagues: the department chair who taught the scifi/fantasy literature course, and another professor who had been a Tolkien scholar since the 60s who I have always suspected is secretly in love with Galadriel.

So I wasn’t a lone wolf, but that was just the beginning of my colleagues’ resistance.

English professors believe that students should read stories that are good examples of fine writing, that expose them to challenging ideas that improve their critical thinking skills, and that have characters that will be positive role models. As a result, students become literate, enlightened, and improved persons. Most of my colleagues fail to see those qualities in science fiction and fantasy (mostly because they have never read the good stuff, I suspect).

And The Hobbit, along with the best science fiction and fantasy books are all of that—stunningly thoughtful stories about the human condition. Bilbo Baggins transforms from being a self-centered xenophobe into one with a deep sense of responsibility to all of Middle Earth, so much so that that he betrays his misguided friends in order to try and stop the battle of five armies.

Part 2—Outcast as reader

I belong to the coolest book club on the planet: readers of scifi/fantasy. We don’t have meetings or pay dues and aren’t organized in the traditional way, but we talk about what we read and love (Yes, I know there are formal groups but I am talking about something much more viral here). We share with one another the awesome new story we just finished or have read for the 17th time. We are scifi/fantasy geeks. And it doesn’t take us long to spot one another.

For example, a few days ago, I made reservations for the Bracebridge dinner at the Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite. I tried to do it online, but ended up calling the reservation line and talking to a real person. Bracebridge is a formal medieval dinner complete with actors performing in period dress. The reservation clerk told me it was black tie formal, so I asked did some diners wear costumes? When he sounded startled by my question, I quickly explained that I attend ComiCon. He immediately knew where I was coming from with the costume question because…he had attended ComiCon and was a fan of science fiction and fantasy! With excitement in his voice, for the next five minutes he asked me what were my favorite novels and I know he was busily writing them down while I did the same from his suggestions. Just like that the best book club on the planet connected us.

We hide our love of those stories like a guilty pleasure, or we boldly announce to our parents, family, co-workers, friends, and random strangers that we are scifi/fantasy lovers, luxuriating in the knowledge that we know what they don’t. We may want them to join us so we can share and discuss remarkable storytelling that can help us view our world and the human condition through a different lens. We may simply want them to enjoy fascinating and fun reads.

In the end, whether they approve or not, we don’t have time to worry about it because we’re spending every spare minute in the world of our next story.





Most humans wake up to mice in their kitchens, Sitawan wakes up to Werewolves in hers. Pack Leader Lavaka pursues Sitawan’s talent for dream prophecy like he’s stalking an elk on a full moon hunt, her environmental consulting firm remains solvent mostly because of Werewolf business connections, and she dates a human cop at a time when Werewolves are no longer shot on sight as long as they live in the Texas Relocation Camp. All that is business as usual until another pack wants her dead.



The Author

linda_redwoodsLinda M. Mitchell is putting the finishing touches on her much-anticipated prequel to Sitawan: A Humboldt Pack Story. In Nightmare at Angeles Crest a terrifying vision of Michael being tortured sends sixteen-year-old Sitawan on a 1200-mile rescue with more than twenty angry Werewolves. She’s frantic their methodical preparations won’t save him in time and her agitation fuels their aggression. Available May 2014 at

Linda’s second Humboldt Pack novel is 50% complete. For her entire 30 years, Sitawan has successfully avoided Humboldt County’s arrogant, vengeful Witches. She’s relieved they’ve always seen her dream prophecies as “a little gift, more nuisance than a helpful predictable tool.” When the nastiest of them demands her help, she can’t refuse. Even with two Alpha Werewolves, Lavaka and Michael, watching her back, she fears not only for her life but also her sanity.

Visit her at and Facebook

Listen to this fascinating 30-minute interview with Linda on Through the Eyes of Women Radio where she talks about Sitawan, being an author and self-publishing.

Powered by WordPress | Theme: Aeros 2.0 by