Lynda Allen: Flashes of Insight

I was recently at the Suffolk Mystery Authors Festival in Suffolk, Virginia, a yearly event I enjoy attending because it gives me an opportunity to speak with readers.

This year I had the good fortune to cross paths with Lynda Allen, who was there as an attendee, and we started talking about her new book, Flashes of Insight. It had such an original premise I wanted to share her idea with our readers. Please welcome Lynda to Miss Demeanors.

Marni Graff: Lynda, Your new book, Flashes of Insight, has a very creative idea and original protagonist. Can you tell us how you came up with this angle and ran with it?

Lynda Allen: They say write what you know. Well, I knew about hot flashes and the symptoms of perimenopause when I started thinking about this book. For years before the spark of the idea ignited, I was really struggling with the moodiness I was experiencing brought on by the hormonal changes in my body. I honestly hadn’t realized what was happening when it started in my mid- to late-forties. It got to the point where I didn’t recognize myself some days.

Once I figured out what was going on, I decided to give my moody perimenopausal personality her own name, Grumpy Gal or G.G. for short. That one simple choice really shifted things for me. Giving my moody personality her own name really allowed me to transform the experience. It helped me take some of the power back and helped make the whole situation a lot lighter. Humor is an important coping mechanism in my life!

At the time, I also found no one, not even my closest women friends, wanted to talk about the issues around perimenopause and menopause. So, when I decided to write a mystery and was thinking about the protagonist, I decided to write what I knew, but also to have a little fun with menopause. That’s when Liv was born with her own version of G.G. and with hot flash-induced psychic visions! I don’t know whether to say it’s fortunate or unfortunate psychic visions were not part of my own perimenopause experience. Sometimes they are helpful for Liv and sometimes they are unsettling.

Liv and her circle of friends discuss the symptoms of menopause with honesty and humor, which I truly hope will help spark conversations among women about the topic.

MG: What is the response you receive when you describe your book’s premise?

LA: It’s usually laughter, which I love! Women really respond to the idea of perimenopause or menopause giving them a superpower like Liv’s psychic abilities. I think it’s a time when some women, myself included, feel like they’re losing personal power because what is happening within their bodies is out of their control. The idea of regaining some of the power we feel we’ve lost is appealing.

People also love the idea of naming their perimenopausal personality! One cashier at the grocery store said she was going to call hers G.G. too. It makes me smile to know there are more G.G.s out there making people laugh and helping them cope with the sometimes very challenging symptoms women deal with as their hormones shift.

MG: Tell us what led you to write this kind of book. Do you read a lot of mysteries?

LA: I love reading and watching mysteries. The first mysteries I enjoyed reading were young adult books written by Phyllis A. Whitney. My mom introduced me to her books. I used to devour them. I think it’s possible my love of mysteries goes back even further though. My mom used to read me the Dorrie the Little Witch books by Patricia Coombs when I was a child and I think there were elements of mystery in those books too. I read them to my own daughters when they were little.

What led me to the idea for the particular mystery in Flashes of Insight was the time I spent working at the James Monroe Museum in Fredericksburg, VA, where the book is set. While working there I learned James Monroe burned all the personal correspondence between his wife and himself after her death. It was a common practice at the time, but it leaves a big gap in the story of their lives. We all wished someone would one day find a hidden cache of letters between the two them, which would allow us to learn more about their relationship, how Elizabeth influenced his decisions as a politician, their daily lives, and more. When I started writing the book, I decided to make our wish come true.

MG: Who else would you say were influences on your current writing? 

LA: My biggest influence as a mystery writer is Louise Penny. Her books make me both laugh and think. I admire her writing style and the characters she creates with such depth. The friendships and romantic relationships in her stories are beautiful but also show the complexities of human relationships. And most of all, I love the Inspector Gamache series for featuring a swearing poet! As a poet who swears myself, I have a particular love for Ruth, who, now that I think about it, is really an extreme version of G.G.! The mysteries are always so complex in Ms. Penny’s stories. I aspire to be able to weave a story as seamlessly as she does.

MG: What’s your writing process like most days?

 LA: I enjoy my writing days. I’m more focused in the mornings than the afternoons, but I can write either time of day. With the second book, I’ve been doing a fair bit of research on Edgar Allan Poe. Research can be a danger because it’s very easy to lose myself in it and find I’ve not been writing for an hour…or two. To avoid other distractions, I often take my computer to a different part of the house to write. The number of things piled on my desk in my office can be distracting. I know it says something about me that I’d rather move than clear up the piles on my desk!

I’m one of those people who loves a blank page. When I’m writing, I often feel like I’m listening to the story being told rather than writing it. I’m always excited to see what happens next. So, I’d qualify as a pantser. I don’t write an outline. A page waiting for an outline to be written on it would be a blank page I would find intimidating!

When I begin writing, I have a general idea of the storyline and some particular scenes. On any given writing day, I know what part of the story I want to work on, but I don’t know where it will take me once I start writing. The characters frequently surprise me. Writing this way requires a great deal of trust in the process. I have to trust the words will be there, and the characters and story will reveal themselves, which I find exciting!

MG: Whose books are on your nightstand waiting to be read?

 LA: I’m currently in the midst of reading G.G. Pandian’s A Midnight Puzzle. I always enjoy her books! Next up is The Maid by Nita Prose and Deanna Raybourn’s new Vernoica Speedwell novel A Grave Robbery. My husband and I are also listening to one of Louise Penny’s books together for the second time.

MG: Where can readers find Flashes of Insight?

LA: The ebook is currently only available through Amazon for the Kindle and for Kindle Unlimited subscribers. The paperback can be purchased through all the usual online retailers. For those local to Fredericksburg, it can be purchased at the James Monroe Museum or Barnes and Noble.

Thank you so much for the opportunity to share Flashes of Insight with your readers!

Lynda Allen began her career in video post-production and documentary filmmaking before focusing her knack for storytelling on writing. She is the author of four poetry collections, Rest in the KnowingIllumineWild Divinity, and Grace Reflected, as well as The Rules of Creation (nonfiction). Flashes of Insight, is the first book in her Liv Wilde mystery series.

Lynda proudly infuses her fiction writing with her Jersey Girl sensibilities and aims to create stories imbued with heart and humor. She lives near the banks of the Rappahannock River in Fredericksburg, VA with her husband, their cats, and the many incredible eagle friends who pay them frequent visits.



MIss Demeanors


Marni Graff is the award-winning author of The Nora Tierney English Mysteries and The Trudy Genova Manhattan Mysteries. Her story “Quiche Alain” appears in the Anthony-winning Malice Domestic Anthology, Murder Most Edible.  Managing Editor of Bridle Path Press, she’s a member of Sisters in Crime, Triangle SinC, Mavens of Mayhem SinC, the NC Writers Network, and the International Crime Writers Association.


  1. Thanks for stopping by Miss Demeanors, Lynda! Such an interesting premise, and given the approximate ages of the writers I saw at LCC last week, a very pertinent topic. Best of luck with the book!

  2. What a wonderful idea, Lynda. Also, thank you for reminding me about Phyllis Whitney. I so loved her books when I was young.

  3. Flashes of Insight sounds like fun.

    I remember those days. I’d wake full of ideas and energy and at the end of the day I would have accomplished nothing. After months of this I mentioned it to my therapist. She said it sounded like I was in menopause. I glared at her. “It can’t be. I’m only forty-seven.” But it was and it took a while (years) to get through it. I would have named my foggy, useless self, Ms. Where did the day go?

    1. Thank you, Catherine. I certainly had fun writing it! It was cathartic. 😂 The moodiness started for me in my late forties. It really was a challenging time. It helped me immensely to find a way to lighten it through G.G.

  4. Oh boy, that’s such a great premise! What will happen when her menopause is complete? No more visions? Or something else will take over?

    Thank you for stopping by and sharing!

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