Those are not PJ’s, they’re a superhero costume! Read on and find out more…
If you were to write the ‘origin’s episode’ of your writing what would be the most important scenes? What did your early efforts look like? Are they still around to be used as bribes and blackmail material?
My first attempts at writing are very public and for everyone to see. I joined most of the JAFF fan boards because I was reading a novel every day or two and my husband began to complain about the cost of my habit. I had never intended to do more than read and comment on stories. I happened to hop into a chat room, and it was the other “chat chits” who convinced me to give writing a try. I posted a few playgrounds at A Happy Assembly first (Consequences of a Day in the Park and its sequel, Consequences of a Christmas Scheme), but Rain and Retribution was my first full-length story.
All super heroes have their mild-mannered secret identity, what is yours? I promise we won’t tell.
I suppose my mild-mannered secret identity is that of mom and artist. I write mostly while my children are in school and juggle extra writing time around their after-school activities. I sometimes carry my laptop or a sketchpad with me to work depending upon whether I am at the swimming pool or the local youth center. I recently completed a degree in studio art, and I do like dabbling in design, photography, sketching, and painting when I get the chance.
Who are your partners in crime? What are their superpowers?
My partners in crime…I guess I would say my betas are my partners in crime. They back me up and make sure that what I write is the best it can be. Lisa always has first crack at my manuscripts and checks them for continuity and stupid mistakes. I would have to say her superpower is her humorous comments. Editing is not one of my favorite jobs, but those help break up the continuity, and sometimes it gives me an idea of how the story makes her feel. If it wasn’t what I was going for, I can change it. Kristi’s superpower is phrasing and on my new story, my timeline! She will go through and mark sentences that require attention. She also tries to steer me away from using common phrasing that you often see in JAFF if I happen to blurt one down while hurrying to get everything out into a document. Suzan joined the beta crew for A Matter of Chance and is betaing my new work, and her superpower is attention to detail. She brings up little bits that I would never have thought of without her. She does a bit of grammar, but she’s good at editing out those unneeded tidbits we sometimes put in and she helps with some of my Regency language. Janet is joining me for my new book, and she will be the grammar guru! A must-have partner for me! I get the ideas out in a document, but I always have someone fix my commas. I’m horrible at them!
Where do you get your superpowers from?
That is a mystery even to me. When I was a little girl, I hated bedtime and was scared of the dark. I used to close my eyes and make up a story, so I didn’t think about how dark it was in the room. As I grew, I remember imagining stories to go to sleep and even to pass the time on long road trips. I would bring a book, but I would also spend part of the time daydreaming. When I read Romeo and Juliet in high school, I despised the ending. I was mad they both died, and quickly imagined a new ending that I found much more to my liking.
Where is your secret lair and what does it look like?
I am actually between secret lairs at the moment. Until the move, I had a sitting room off of my kitchen with this wonderful, plush chair and a half with an ottoman. There was even a gas fireplace framed with built-in bookshelves. My ottoman was often a mess with a notebook for writing and various pieces of paper I needed for my classes, but I usually knew exactly what was in every pile. At the moment, I am mostly working out of my bedroom, which I do not like, but we only had a certain amount of time to find a place to live when we moved. So, we’re kind of packed into this house like sardines in a can. I hope to find a house when this lease is up where I can once again have a secret lair of my own!
What kind of training do you do to keep your superpowers in world saving form? How do you insure they are used only for good?
I wish I could say that I have taken a writing class or at least a grammar class since I began writing, but I have been busy other places. I have a bachelor’s degree in biology from way back when, and as I said earlier, I now have a bachelor’s degree in studio art. I did use some of my art knowledge for Lizzy in A Matter of Chance, but most of the ‘training’ I get these days is through research.
I write with multiple windows open on my computer, and I am always looking for new reputable sources of Regency information.
Now that I am in England, I enjoy anything historical, particularly Georgian or Regency, and anything related to art. We have attempted to visit as much as we can in the last six months and plan on continuing. It’s given me a much different perspective than just reading facts off a website. I purchased a book on Jane Austen that includes copies of many of her letters. So far, I have been too busy writing to finish reading it. When I have completed writing this one, my intention is to read that book, and then to re-read Pride and Prejudice. I used to re-read it every year, but I didn’t have time last year.
Granted, you probably don’t get to wear your superhero costume a lot, but if you did, what would it look like?
Pajamas!!! It’s horrible, but my favorite thing to wear while writing is my pajamas, which are usually a fitted tank top and a pair of baggy sleep pants. They may not seem very ‘super’ but when I do not have to leave the house, I will indulge and wear them all day long!
What is your kryptonite? What are the biggest challenges faced with in your writing?
Biggest challenge on some days is my children. Love them dearly, but they can kill my concentration quicker than anything. I try to write when they are in school. I also rarely write on weekends, so they have my attention. The summer break and sick days seem to steal writing time from me most of all.
What was the supervillian that threatened to stop your latest project and how did you vanquish it?
I have to say school and moving! School was able to derail my writing more than once. I had to break during one semester because I tried to take more hours than usual, and then my final semester simply because I had to finish my thesis project while I prepared my house in order to move. Once school was over, I did begin writing again, but the actual move and being in temporary housing made me crazy. Vanquishing it was simply a matter of moving into a more permanent home and getting settled again.
What important lessons have you learned along the way?
I’ve learned plenty! But the most important thing is that I will never please everyone. It must seem pretty obvious to most, but it’s hard when you put so much of yourself out there for others to criticize. It can be very disheartening when someone thrashes something you’ve spent a year of your life dedicated to. I know some authors avoid their negative reviews, but I will read through them unless they are…how shall I say this…not written constructively. Sometimes there are aspects I can work on in the future and sometimes people simply disagree with character choices or plot direction. That’s when I have to remember that it is my vision-my story, and some people aren’t going to like it.
What have been the best/most memorable experiences along the way?
I think probably the best experience was posting the first chapter of Rain and Retribution. I was very nervous and was petrified everyone was going to hate it, but the comments began rolling in and as the story went by more people joined the comment thread. It was a wonderful experience to see the reader’s reactions. I am always amazed when someone messages me or leaves me a comment telling me how much they enjoy my books. It means a lot!
If you did this again what would you do differently and what would you not change?
Wow, that’s a tough one. I’m not sure if I would do anything differently. I am not saying that the journey has been perfect, but I am happy with where things are, so I’ve never looked back and thought that I wished something was different.
What is the best (writing or otherwise) advice you have ever gotten and why.
Hmmmm…I’ve received a good bit. All advice is welcome and appreciated. I suppose the best bit would be to get a beta! My writing was so much better after I had someone to point out mistakes that were obvious to the reader, but not so obvious to the writer. I think every writer should have an editor or beta they trust to read his or her work.
Tell us about you new book and why we need to drop everything and get it now.
My new book begins as a sort of antithesis to Rain and Retribution in that Darcy is the one being forced into an unwanted marriage by his father. He has a fortnight to find a way of avoiding the situation before his father announces his upcoming nuptials in the paper. So if you want to find out how he avoids marriage and to whom he is supposed to be marrying, you simply have to buy the book!
What’s in store for you in the future? Do you have any other big projects on the horizon?
I tend to work as the muse dictates and depending upon whether I have a book cover or design work I have upcoming.
At the moment, I contribute one short piece every month to the Peculiar Ramblings newsletter, which is fun. The articles are short, but I have attempted to keep everything light-hearted.
This month I have a guest post at Austen Variations, which I am super excited about. I’m completing this interview in early November, so I am not sure which idea will be posted yet. I have a rough draft of one concept already. It should post at AV around the same time as Maria Grace posts this interview.
Cat T. Gardiner has asked me to write a guest post for her blog, which I’m looking forward to writing. It is currently supposed to post sometime in January.
On top of those projects, I also have a full plot bunny folder to filter through unless the muse gets particularly attached to something new.
You can find Leslie at: