“We were all children once…” says Linda Ridley. This is why we can all relate to her book, The Journey of Lucinda Jane . This touching tale follows a beautiful, hand-finished doll as she embarks on a 140-year journey from beloved plaything, to damaged toy, to an exciting rescue and resurrection. I hope you enjoy getting to know Linda and The Journey of Lucinda Jane.
Linda, tell us about your book, The Journey of Lucinda Jane.
The Journey of Lucinda Jane is my first book. This story is about a beautiful, wax over paper mache doll which was not very beautiful when I found her several years ago in an antique shop. I fell in love with her even as she was being made fun of by a young male clerk in the store. I wanted to rescue her. I purchased her for $10 and began to do some research on her. I also researched how to best restore her without destroying her value. Then I went to work on restoring her. As I worked on her I began to imagine what her story might have been and this is how she came to have a story.
What inspired you to write a story about a rescued doll?
I grew up in a home where I saw my parents rescue; they rescued anything from animals to useful items to people. As an adult I realized that my parents were acting out their Christian love in this way. This was something I wanted to emulate. I too like to rescue animals, plants, useful items, people, and now dolls.
I have always loved dolls and still have my childhood dolls. I began collecting special dolls once my children were grown and gone from our home and I had time and space to do so. My mother collects dolls and often would purchase a doll that needed “fixing up”. It was fun for me to see how she could restore damaged dolls to beauty once again. Once when I a young child I was so distraught over a doll that had been damaged at a family gathering, I recall that my Dad brought the doll home and repaired it for me.
I have also always loved to write. For me it was very natural to put together my restoration of a doll with imagining and writing a story about her life.
Did you have a special doll as a child?
My special doll was Cissy. She was a soft vinyl stuffed doll and was a life-sized baby that was my Christmas present when I was 4 years old. I once traded her to my older sister for a glass beaded necklace; I was so miserable over it all day that my sister gave her back to me and let me keep the necklace as well. I played with her for hours and hours and still have her, back in her original clothing.
They say writers leave traces of themselves in every work of fiction. Did you leave traces of yourself in this story?
I can say “yes” to this on so many levels. First of all, obviously, I am the heroine in my story who rescues poor Lucinda. I am a doll lover and it’s easy to see that through this story. But the trace of myself which I hope to leave my readers with is the idea that we are, all of us afraid to be damaged, abandoned, alone, unloved. As a Christian, I know that I am loved and that I have been rescued by Jesus, my Savior. I know that I have an eternal home that He has made for me and that I will be loved eternally in that home with Him.
How long did you carry this story around in your head before getting it down on paper?
Not long at all. As I said, I love to write and am always writing something so as it came to me as I worked on the doll I just wrote it down. I first wrote this story with pictures just for myself. Because I wasn’t worried about writing to please anyone except myself the story flowed quite quickly from my head to my journal.
What message do you hope readers will carry away from this lovely story?
I taught Home Economics in the public school system for a number of years and one thing I noticed was how very difficult it was for middle school and even high school girls to believe that they were acceptable; Especially if they were not “perfect” in the world’s eyes. My hope is that young people who read my book will see from it that they are of worth no matter what they look like. That they deserve love and attention; that knowing that they are loved is enough and will make them beautiful.
What does your writing process look like?
I use a lined journal and pencil and as I write I sketch photo ideas I have. I then go to the computer and rewrite. I get my camera out and take photos and also search for photos on-line to add in. Although my initial story gets done quickly, the tweaking takes long as I re-write and re-do often until I am happy with the result.
Do you have any crazy writing habits like standing on your head or wearing a funny hat?
Not really. I find that my creativity seems blocked if I try to write at the computer. I prefer to sit down in a comfy spot with a cup of tea and use actual pen or pencil and paper.
Are you currently working on any new writing projects?
I hope to write a series of 4 or 5 Rescued Doll stories. I have written a second Rescued Doll story which I need to whittle down before I can work on publishing it. I am also working on a story about my ancestors coming to America in the 1800’s.
What books are on your personal “waiting to read” list?
A complete list would be far too long! To name a few: Jan Karon’s next book which comes out soon! Anything Amish related. I have read most of the classics but enjoy reading the best ones over again. I love Biographies and Historical fiction. I believe that I have read everything that my favorite authors have written to date but enjoy reading and often re-reading anything by Ruth Bell Graham, Catharine Marshall, Marjorie Holmes, Joni Erickson Tada, James Herriott, and George McDonald.
What’s something you’ve always wished someone would ask you about your book, but no one has?
“Isn’t it a waste of time to write about something that is as frivolous as a fictional story about a doll?”
My answer would be that as someone who LOVES to read, I am always interested in finding new stories to read which are on topics that I am interested in. I have learned from the input I have received from people who have read my book that almost EVERY ONE had one special toy or doll that they cherished as they grew up. The idea that our beloved doll or toy might one day be abandoned tugs at our hearts. It is uplifting to think that there is still love available for such a toy.
I have had many women tell me that they cried through the whole book because they lost their cherished doll, lost and found their doll, or still have their childhood doll. It is an easy story to relate to because we were all children once and because we have the Spirit of God available to us which encourages us to love and to rescue.
Linda Ridley has been married for nearly forty years and lives near Toledo, Ohio. She holds a bachelor’s degree in education and taught in the public school system before homeschooling her four children. She is an avid doll collector who loves to research the history of these wonderful toys. A devout Christian, she believes that anyone, no matter how damaged, can be redeemed through God’s love.
Thank you, Linda!