So get to know the author and enter this weeks contest for the chance of winning a signed copy of her new release!
Amber - Welcome to Amberkatze's Book Blog! It is great to have you as a guest here and I hope you will enjoy your time here ;) Maybe you can start things off for us by telling my readers a bit about your books?
Leanna - Thanks for the opportunity join you, Amberkatze! I'm thrilled to introduce my debut novel, The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker, releasing August 25th from Leisure Books / Dorchester Publishing. It's the first in the Strangely Beautiful quartet of Gothic Victorian Fantasy novels. I'm honored to report that my novella Dark Nest recently won the 2009 Prism Award for excellence in the genres of Futuristic, Fantasy and Paranormal Romance.
Amber - What is your process for writing a book? Do you get an idea and expand on it? Or do you brainstorm?
Leanna - Characters appear in my mind, their setting and circumstance almost immediately evident. It’s like watching film stills or movie trailers. I start writing down this movie in my mind, catching snippets of dialogue, trying to set the dramatic stage I see before me. I love intense characters and intense settings. Plot begins to fall in line once I’m hooked on the characters or a particularly compelling place/setting. Stories unfold before me piece by piece, it's very hard for me to plot a novel before hand, I can try but it will always change. Knowing an overarching idea and trajectory is good, lest I write myself up against a wall or down a dead end, but new twists and turns keep surprising me along the way.
Amber - Are you anything like your characters? Are any of them based on people you know?
Leanna - *grin* One of my favourite moments in the offices at Dorchester was when the director of sales sat me down and asked: "How autobiographical is this book?" I blinked. "I didn't live in the 19th century, Tim...." I replied. We laughed. "There's so much of you, your sparkle, your drama and your energy in this book," he clarified. I took his sense that there was a synchronicity between artist and art as a great compliment. Truly, I'd love to live this novel, though I'd hate to go through everything I put my characters through! I have a flair for the dramatic, having come from a professional theatre background that deeply informs the book, as does my kinship with genre fiction.. This book is my 'love letter to the world' - blending what I love about Gothic novels into fantasy, historical, horror, suspense, gaslight, paranormal and romance novels- all into one book. This genre-mix made the novel hard to sell, but in the end, my publisher and I believe in the cross-genre appeal of the book.
I think we all have to start with characters that we can relate to personally. However, Percy Parker became a legitimate heroine and an interesting character only when she became her own being rather than my alter ego. Marianna is a composite of many high-school and college friends I remain close with to this day. The Guard are archetype characters that took on unique lives of their own inside the nine year journey from idea to publication. Alexi is the culmination of all my literary love affairs (I have this habit of falling in love with literary characters) all wrapped into one character and because of this, I'm not sure I'll ever love a hero as much as I love him.
Amber - What projects are you working on at the moment? What releases can your fans expect in upcoming year?
Leanna - I'm thrilled that the next book in the Strangely Beautiful series, picking up exactly where The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker leaves off, is scheduled for 2/24/2010. I'm keeping the sequel title quiet until the series launches. The plan is to have all four books in the quartet out by 2011, one every 6 months. That means I have to be very disciplined! That’s daunting. But there isn't a single artistic project that I love more than this series. I'm currently a third of the way through my rough draft of Strangely Beautiful III, a prequel novel, and enjoying the paces my characters are putting me through.
Amber - How did you end up being a writer? Was it something you always wanted to do? What other jobs have you had?
Leanna – I was a storyteller as soon as I could form a sentence. I started writing short stories as soon as I could hold a pen. I loved writing, art, music and theatre. I went to school for theatre but never stopped writing. As a ‘starving artist’ I’ve had so many different jobs. I had the blessing of a good run of professional theatre gigs out of college but between shows I’ve been any number of the following; Starbucks barista, paralegal, freelance writer, playwright, the Pillsbury Doughboy (in the suit and everything), promoter, tour-guide, administrative assistant, stage manager, stand-in and a background extra for film and television. I still work in television and remain a proud member of the performers’ unions AEA, SAG and AFTRA.
Amber - How did you end up writing paranormal genre books? Was it a genre that always interested you?
Leanna - I often say "Para" is my "Normal." Some of my earliest childhood memories are of inventing my own ghost stories. Before I ever knew what "genre" was, paranormal and fantasy subjects were a part of my identity. There’s simply no substitute for the magical, mythic and supernatural.
Amber - What books do you like to read when you have time? Do you have any must read authors/series?
Leanna - I support books written by friends and I try to keep up on my genre(s), but I admit my reading pace is not keeping up with my expanding TBR pile. At the moment I'm switching between research books for upcoming Strangely Beautiful books and picking up my go-to Mystery writers; Anne Perry and Elizabeth Peters and their 19th century set books. They help keep the period vernacular in my head while still attending to a modern audience. I find if I'm in the thick of writing I don't want to read anything too fantastical because I'll get so wrapped up in another author's world that it becomes hard to attend to my own.
Amber - What do you like to do to relax?
Leanna - Adventure about my grand, adopted hometown of NYC, dance at various Goth clubs, dine and drink with friends and watch episodes of Dr. Who with my sweetheart.
Amber - Lots of authors have playlists for their books. Do you have any specific music/artists that you like to listen to when you are writing?
Leanna - I must have music on while I write. I listen to Philip Glass soundtracks, (Particularly The Hours, The Illusionist and Dracula as well as his symphonies) Linford Detweiler's gorgeous piano music, classical music from composers like Dvorak and Tchaikovsky (contemporaries to the Strangely Beautiful setting). I can’t have music with lyrics playing while I'm writing but bands/lyrics influence and inspire me. On the subway I listen to my favourite Goth/Electronica band, VNV Nation, and dream up new moments for my characters.
Amber - If you could be any paranormal creature what would you be and why?
Leanna - A Sorceress like Galadriel. Because she's an elf and a witch and the coolest ever.
Amber - You are stranded on a desert island. What 5 things do you hope to have with you?
Leanna - 1. Some sort of writing device (endless pads of paper? Computer with generator?) 2. The Oxford English Dictionary - all the time in the world to learn new words, plus the magnifying glass is useful in capturing the sun to start a fire! 3. My iTunes playlists 4. All the Harry Potter books. 5. Hacking code to get into the entire archives of the BBC. (This would require the computer, I suppose, and some fancy wireless that could eventually track me as not stranded but in fact just on vacation and enjoying the quiet...)
Amber - Thank you so much for being a guest on Amberkatze's Book Blog. I hope you will pop by again sometime!
Leanna - Thanks for the opportunity, Amber, most certainly!
Leanna has kindly said she will send the winner of this weeks contest a signed copy of her book!
All you have to do to enter is name her series and a series you can't live without!
No Series = No entry!
The usual rules apply!
Earn another entry for each place you link this contest on the net. Make sure you add links here for me to confirm your entries!
You can also earn extra entries by emailing your friends about the contest. Just make sure you send a copy of your email or receipt to me at Amberkatzes_book_blog at gmx dot net.
I will offer more prizes if my Amazon Associates account gets more money!! So please make sure you order at Amazon.com through the links around the site and help keep the contest coming!
The contest will stay open until Sunday 16th of August 2009 4pm CET and the winner will be picked by a randomizer. Entrants should check back to see if they have won. I do not hunt down winners and will pick new winners for any prizes not claimed within 7 days.
If you are claiming a prize, have emailed me and have not heard back before the 7 day limit is up then post a comment here on the blog. Your email may get sucked into my spam filter.