Sunday, February 26, 2023

THE STORY BEHIND THE STORY - The Mateguas Island Series by Linda Watkins

The Mateguas Island Series

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Mateguas Island is the story of the Andersen family who, after a series of devastating setbacks, find themselves in a new home on Mateguas. One of my blurbs goes like this:

On a remote island off the coast of Maine, a troubled young family is trying to pick up the pieces of their shattered lives and start over. But unbeknownst to them, the property they have inherited is steeped in ancient Native American magic - magic that could seek to destroy and devour them.

An arcane locked box, a strange and foreboding trail leading deep into the woods, a seductive young woman, and tales of a malevolent Native American spirit are just some of the perils Karen and Bill Andersen must face in order to find a way to save their family.

Book One in the series, follows the journey of Karen and Bill to Mateguas Island and introduces the legends that will overtake their lives. Book Two in the series, Return to Mateguas Island, chronicles Karen’s return to the island with her now grown daughters, who seek to find the truth about what happened ten years before. Book Three, Ghosts of Mateguas, traces Bill’s dark and desperate journey into madness, fueled by the ever-present Native American forces that are part and parcel of Mateguas.

 Mateguas is the first novel I ever wrote. It was published in 2014 and I am proud to say that it won several awards and became, for a brief time, a bestseller on Amazon.


What is the sub-genre and trope?  Did your characters lead you to this genre or was that decided before the story began?

Sub-genre could be supernatural suspense or romantic suspense.

Trope: A woman, torn between duty and desire…a man, drowning in a sea of lies, seduction, and dark magic…

When I began writing, my initial concept was that it would be a horror story in which one of the main characters would be the house itself. The house in the Mateguas is based on the one I lived in - a 150-year-old money pit situated on a hill on the largest unconnected island in Casco Bay. Intimately knowledgeable of what it was like to live on such an island, I chose to create a fictional one to serve as the backdrop for my story. But, as I wrote, the plot changed and took on a life of its own. The Native American presence on the island became the prominent focus, putting my protagonists in uncanny jeopardy.


Are you more character or plot driven?

Character-driven, definitely.


With many main and secondary characters, how do you keep them separated in your mind?  Do you have a story/vision board above your workspace?

No, I don’t use a story board or outlines or anything like that. Everything’s in my head. I sometimes have to search through previous books to find a minor character’s last name or the name of a town. Stuff like that. But mostly, everything is there in my little brain.


I know from previous interviews that characters take on a life of their own.  Were any of the characters in this series determined to take their own direction instead of where you initially wanted them to go?

Karen and Bill wrote their own story. Actually, in my original concept their roles were reversed. Karen was going to be the sympathetic character and Bill was going to be the evil one. But, as I wrote, things changed. Both characters became flawed, each driven by their backgrounds and past experiences. The Native American mysteries that are inherent in the land they have inherited became more prominent and the driving force in the paths they choose to take. Karen, especially, becomes involved in the legends as the spirit of Mateguas, in the form of his totem (the rabbit) begins to appear before her.

In addition, each book in the series has what I call a “lore master.” In Mateguas Island, it’s an old woman, Madge Parker, who used to live on the island, but is now in a nursing home on the mainland. In Return to Mateguas Island, the lore master is Mekwi Mikoa, also known as Charlie Red Squirrel. He is an antiquarian at the local Native American Museum. In Ghosts of Mateguas, Charlie reappears, but the real lore master of that book is Harry Three Feathers, an Abenaki shaman. These characters serve as guides for Karen and her daughter, Terri, as they seek to unravel the mysteries that are Mateguas.


Are any of the male/female POVs based on anyone you know?

No. Everyone is fictional.


Was there any one character/scene that was harder to write about than the other?

The children (twin girls) were the hardest mainly because I don’t have any children of my own and I don’t really know much about little kids. I struggled with them a bit and was very glad when they grew up!


What is your favorite book in the series? (if applicable)

I love them all, but if I had to choose, I’d say the 3rd book, Ghosts of Mateguas. Ghosts has just about everything in it. Supernatural suspense, mystery, murder, unrequited love – the whole enchilada. Also, probing the psyche of a loved character who is descending into darkness was wonderful to write. Bill was so complex, one day you hated him and the next you loved him, and the next, you pitied him, then hated him again.


I know that we aren’t supposed to have “favorites” as far as our children, but seriously, who’s your favorite character and why?

In this series, it would be a toss-up between Karen and Bill. I love them both in different ways. Karen is not a very likable character in the first book, but she grows and is a formidable protagonist. She develops into a very strong woman. Bill, beset by his own failings and by the circumstances that surround him, is sometimes a pawn and other times quite noble. They’re both complex characters driven by needs that are seeded in the past. I love their victories as well as their defeats. Neither of them are all good or all bad. They are flawed like everyone in real life, yet they strive to be better.

Series question - Who is your favorite couple and why did you decide on their dynamics?

Again, Bill and Karen. Both are complex characters, shaped by their past and the events that are occurring around them that appear to be beyond their control.



How do you get inside these characters’ heads to find their perfect HEA?

By the end of book 3, neither Bill nor Karen have achieved a happily-ever-after. But, each in his or her own way strives to find one. The fourth book, which I have yet to write, will determine their outcome.


What scene in this book/series sticks out the most for you?  Why?

There are plenty of horror scenes that stick with me - the Algebemu (giant toad) in Ghosts is one of the most prominent. Also, the scene in Return where Terri is beset by specters while walking the streets of Portland, stands out. I also love my lore masters and the wisdom they impart. But if I had to choose, I think the ending of Ghosts where Bill must decide the trajectory of his life is the most meaningful for me. After all, The Mateguas Island Series is, at its heart, a love story.


Series - Were any of the books harder to write than others?

I think the 2nd book in the series was the hardest. I started it one way, then abandoned it and began again with a different premise. I think it worked.



This question is if you write in MULTIPLE POVs not just the hero and heroine - I love the multiple POVs in a book.  It’s not just the hero and heroine, but we get inside the heads of multiple characters throughout this series.  I feel that it gives the story further depth.  Do you think you will write another book or series following this multiple POV outline? (if applicable)

I write in multiple POVs. I was criticized by some purists for doing this in Mateguas, but I like being in everyone’s head, too. In my Kate Pomeroy Gothic Mystery Series, every book but the first one uses multi POVs.


How long did it take you to write this book/series?

I started Mateguas Island in 2011, I think. I didn’t publish it until 2014. Return to Mateguas Island was published in 2015 and Ghosts of Mateguas in 2016. I still need to finish the series - one last book, Dreams of Mateguas.


How did you come up with the title for your book and (if applicable) series?

Mateguas is the Abenaki (Native American tribe) God of the Dead. This entity is an important part of the legends that fuel the interpersonal relationships in the books. Naming the island after this god made sense and I used it in the title, too.


If you met these characters in real life would you get along?

Karen - maybe. She can be testy.

Bill - probably. I like him despite all his faults.

The twin daughters - Terri - a definite yes. Sophie - not really.

Harry Three Feathers and Charlie Red Squirrel - definitely yes. They are two of my favorite characters.

Dex Pierce - I liked him in book I, but not in book 3 when the secrets of his past are revealed.


Series question – Did you know in advance that you were going to write this as a series or did one of the characters in book one demand their own story?

I set out to write a novel, just one. But the story had to continue.


If your book/series were made into a movie, which actors do you see as playing your characters?

I don’t really keep up with movie stars anymore, so the names I would put here would probably be too old to play them now. I always thought of Cate Blanchette as Karen. She has that haughty quality. Maybe Ryan Gosling as Bill, Chris Hemsworth as Dex, and Emma Stone as Maggie.


Can you give us a hint as to what we can expect next?  Whether a new book and series or a sequel to an existing series?  Can you share a small tease?

Like I said above, I need to finish the series with Dreams of Mateguas or Mateguas’ Dreams. This book will settle Bill and Karen’s future once and for all. It will be dark and dreadful and, perhaps, someone will die. Who, I don’t know yet. There will be a love interest for Sophie - the grandson of Harry Three Feathers who is called Hawk. He is an attorney who works for a Native American casino network and he is totally hot!


Check out all my interviews/reviews for Linda Watkins:


USA Today bestselling author, Linda Watkins, who resides in Sedona, Arizona, is the author of the multi-award-winning Mateguas Island Series and the critically-acclaimed, award-winning, Kate Pomeroy Gothic Mystery Series. 

In addition to these novels, she has also penned the award-winning contemporary romance, Summer Girl, A Novel and three novellas (Sarah & Zoey, A Story About the Power of Unconditional LoveThe Night of the Sciurus, A Western Michigan Tale of Terror, and The Witches of Storm Island: Book I, The Turning), all of which have received excellent editorial and customer reviews. Tainted Wine is the second book in a new series (The Steve Daniels Mystery Series) set in the days following WWII. 

Linda is a voting member of the Horror Writers AssociationThe Authors Guild, The International Association of Crime Writers (N.A.) and The Great Lakes Association of Horror Writers. 

Passionate about animals (especially dogs), Linda volunteers with the local Humane Society and with Sedona Rescue, an animal rescue group.

 Connect with Linda:


Website: (author website) (mateguas island series website)


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MATEGUAS ISLAND by Linda Watkins
The Mateguas Island Series - Book One

Available in Kindle Unlimited!


What could be more idyllic than to live on an island off the coast of Maine? That's what Bill Andersen thought when he moved his family to Mateguas. But Mateguas is more than just pristine beaches nestled between rocky shores. No, Mateguas is really something quite different….

The Mateguas Island Series - Book Two

Available in Kindle Unlimited!


A young woman, searching for answers ….
A man, trying desperately to remember what he has forgotten ….
What secrets lie buried?
What mysteries are waiting, patiently, beneath this island's pristine exterior?
Come back … back to the mythos, passion, and magic ….

The Mateguas Island Series - Book Three

Available in Kindle Unlimited!


The body of a young girl, found floating in the icy waters of Scarborough Marsh...
Six men, over a span of thirty-five years, disappear without a trace...
A harbinger of evil, so ancient it defies memory, surfaces on the rocky shores of Mateguas...

Journey, with Karen and her family, back to the mythos, passion, and magic, and join her as she seeks to finally lay to rest the ... 

SECRETS by Linda Watkins
The Mateguas Island Series - Book Four


Karen and Bill Andersen are living the “American Dream”. Beautiful and successful they seem to have everything until a foolish indiscretion on Bill's part results in the loss of his job. Thus, begins the unraveling of their charmed existence. As their financial condition deteriorates, so does their relationship and Bill, keeping his misdeed a secret from Karen, becomes more and more consumed by guilt. Karen intuiting that he’s hiding something from her, becomes angry and bitter as the discord in the family escalates. In danger of losing their home and with her marriage crumbling around her, Karen must make a choice and, by doing so, has her own little secret – a secret that could eventually destroy them all.

SECRETS is the prequel to MATEGUAS ISLAND.

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