Scribal Love Welcomes Leah Leonard.
She is the author of several Romance, Paranormal Romance Novels and Young Adult Novels. Her Latest Work 'Love Letters at Sunset Hill' is coming soon from Red Rose Publishing!
Hi Leah! Welcome to Embraced: Scribal Love.
Leah: Thanks for having me, Clare!
Clare: When and why did you begin writing?
Leah: When I was a kid I loved to play imaginary games which I think translated into writing fiction as an adult. Since I started pursuing this full time four years ago, it’s become more of a compulsion. I HAVE to do it now. I always heard about artists who are obsessed with painting, or whatever art they create and I used to think how neat it would be to become so passionate about what you’re doing…I’m there now and it feels good.
Clare: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Leah: Actually I’ve been writing things most of my life, but I never considered myself to actually BE a writer or never called myself a writer until after I attended my first RWA conference. Luckily the first year I joined RWA the National Conference was in Dallas near my home. I will never forget going into the hotel and looking around at all the other ladies who I thought were just like me – all like to sit home in their jammies and make up stuff. I remember thinking, “These are my people!” It was quite an experience. I’ve had lots of jobs over the years – too many, perhaps, so to finally feel like I belonged somewhere was awesome
Clare: What inspired you to pen your first novel?
Leah: The very first fiction I ever wrote (but unfortunately tossed away, assuming it was not worthy of publication) was about a friend of mine who died suddenly. The second novel I wrote was one I dreamed up while on a cruise ship. The first was inspired by true events, the second was anything but. Now my books do a little of both.
Clare: Who or what has influenced your writing, and in what way?
Leah: I’m LOLing as I write this, but my major influence was Danielle Steele. Ever since childhood, my mom and I devoured her books. I know a lot of folks like to poo poo her stuff, but I loved it, still do. She knows how to do high drama as well as anyone, I think. In more recent years, I’ve admired Nora Roberts, for her prolific ability to crank out the books, if nothing else. My dear friend Vicki Lewis Thompson has also been an inspiration and has given me many words of encouragement through the years, and Jane Porter. Jane’s book Flirting with Forty was made into a movie starring one of my favorite actresses, Heather Locklear. That is exciting!
Clare: How has your environment/upbringing colored your writing?
Leah: I’ve penned a couple young adult novels about young girls and Native American tribes which were both directly influenced by my childhood growing up in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I also wrote a historical western romance called Dead Man’s Diamond for Devine Destinies which is about the 1880’s in Tombstone. I love the west!
Clare: How much of your work is realistic?
Leah: LOL Not much at all. In my romance Kiss at Blarney Castle (Red Rose Publishing), I went to Ireland and visited all the places mentioned, yes, but nothing else in the book actually happened. In my other book Road to Casablanca (Red Rose Publishing), I did go to Morocco in real life, and yes, there was a film festival which just ended before I arrived, but again, other than that, I made it all up. Sheik’s Design (Red Rose Publishing) has absolutely no truth to it, nor does the story about the singer and the psychic in my novel Country Gold, although I live in Texas, so needless to say, I’ve seen a few cowboys over the years. :)
Clare: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Staying focused, not doing more than one at a time and finishing what I start.
Clare: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
For the past ten years, I’ve traveled around the world lecturing about my non-fiction works which are under my real name. So now as a fiction writer, the book is born from the travel, not the other way around. Other than writing fiction, travel is my other greatest love so I plan to keep on going. There’s a lot more of the world I want to see!
Clare: What is the hardest part of writing for you?
Leah: Two things - Getting started, then finishing. Once I’m off to a good start, I generally keep going, but there comes a point sometime after the middle where I tend to grow a bit weary.
Clare: How do you get past that?
Leah: I make myself a phony deadline and pretend someone is waiting for the book, whether they are or not. I do my best to stick to the deadline, which is how I was trained years ago when I used to be in the newspaper business. It works!
Clare: How long have you been writing?
Leah: Scary, but over thirty years now.
Clare: How did you deal with rejection letters?
Leah: With chocolate. :) And lots of it….(seriously!) I’m doing better now than when I first started. I’ve realized writing is a numbers game. If you like what you wrote chances are somebody else will too. I’ve learned to keep going.
Clare: Tell us about your upcoming projects. What’s got you excited about 2011?
Leah: Several things. I have the second installment of my Natalie Locke YA series book called Natalie Locke and the Sundancer coming soon. This is a YA series about a young girl who is taken in and shown tribal secrets by a Native American tribe. She owns a rock shop in Albuquerque and has lots of fun adventures. The first book got really great reviews and my readers are anxiously awaiting part two and beyond. It’s one of the most enjoyable series I do. The other one coming out in 2011 is Nascha and the Medicine Man, also a YA novel, from Parker Publishing. It’s about a young black girl living in New York City whose mother dies and her grandmother is terminally ill so she is forced to go live out in the boondocks in New Mexico with the father she never knew she had – a Navajo Medicine Man. I really loved writing that one and can’t wait for my Natalie readers to get ahold of it.
Clare: How did you wind up writing a book like Nascha?
Leah: An editor at Parker read Natalie Locke and offered a contract on it, she loved the story so much, but to be a Parker publication, the girl needed to be of mixed race. I didn’t want to change Natalie’s character to fit because she is so strong, so instead I “met” Nascha, and the rest is history. I plan to make a series out of her too, I love her so much.
Clare: Any other new titles coming this year?
Leah: Yes! From Red Rose Publishing, some of my favorites are coming – Love Letters at Sunset Hill and Man of the Year will be out later in 2011. Not sure of the dates yet though on any of these…
Clare: Love Letters sounds interesting. What’s that about?
Leah: It’s really romantic! I think readers will find it compelling.
Here’s a blurb:
Nancy and Bill were high school sweethearts who expected to spend their lives together until
her family moved away and they thought they would never be together again. When a chance encounter at a high school reunion brings them back together, they engage in a love affair that threatens to tear her marriage apart until she decides to end things. Heartbroken Bill suffers a stroke and moves to a remote mountain cabin where he pens love letters to Nancy and still wonders if they will ever be together. When her husband dies of cancer, Nancy ventures to Sunset Hill to see her one true love. After all these years, will Bill welcome her with open arms, or has he moved on?
Clare: Sounds interesting, Leah. Thanks for being here today!
Leah: Thanks so much for having me, Clare!
Clare: Here are some links to Leah’s work:
Natalie Locke and the Shapeshifter
Or check out her many titles at Red Rose Publishing here: