Monday, November 15, 2010

Author spotlight with Leah Leonard

Hello Leah and welcome! What has been your biggest influence on becoming a writer?
My mom influenced me more than anyone, without a doubt. When I was a kid, we used to read romance novels as entertainment and a few years ago, after penning my first romance, it was my mom, Gail, who said, “Hey, this is good. You should consider writing full time.” If not for her, I would never have found this career, which brings me more happiness than any other in my life.

How did you feel when you got your first publishing contract?
Shortly after my mom suggested I go for this full time, I bought a house where I could sit and be still, and I cancelled my regular busy touring schedule with my other career. I began writing fiction full time in June of 2007 and I had a lot to prove to myself and to my friends and family. I was determined to sit and write and to get a publishing contract before the end of the year. I’ve been pretty successful over the years with all the different things I’ve tried so I expected it would be easy to do, but I soon got an eye opener. The rejection was difficult for me to swallow, but I had that goal of getting a sale before December 2007, so I kept on going, sending things out, and finally wound up getting contracts for two novels that year. Since then, I’ve completed fifteen novels and several short stories and I don’t plan to slow down. I love writing fiction and the thrill of the first contract and the validation it gave me to persevere, despite rejection, was invaluable.

What makes a book great in your eyes?
Romance is a great genre because it shows us all that no matter how difficult our lives may be, there is a light at the end of the tunnel and happy endings are possible. I believe we subconsciously transfer those beliefs to our real life and it helps us when times are tough—the bigger the mess, the happier the ending, that’s what makes a book great.

Do you have any guilty pleasures?
I am an admitted chocoholic. When I attended my first Romance Writers of America conference several years ago, I was thrilled to see so many other chocoholics. Made me feel right at home! One of the funniest things was when I attended a fundraiser for literacy. We all paid $30 to get in for a meal, but all they served were chocolates and desserts! I still laugh about that and I said to myself, “These are my kind of people.”

Who is your favorite all-time author?
I still love Danielle Steele, although I must admit I haven’t read her latest books in a couple years. She’s still my favorite though because my mom and I ate up her novels when I was a kid. She does tragedy and drama so well and is the reason I wanted to write novels in the first place.

What’s your biggest reward in being a writer?
I enjoy traveling and doing many different things in my real life, and to me, fiction writing is the only profession I’ve found where I can do whatever I want and play out various what-if fantasies.

To date, which is your favorite story? Which one did you have the most fun writing?
I loved writing Dead Man’s Diamond, my historical Western about Tombstone, AZ, the year after the gunfight at the OK Corral. I grew up in New Mexico and Arizona and I love the west. I hope to write more stories about John, perhaps a full-length novel in the future.

If you had the opportunity to say one thing to your readers, what would that be?
Thank you for supporting my work and the work of other writers. I think fiction gives people the chance to escape daily life and is quite therapeutic for both readers and those of us who write, but none of it would be possible without your support, so thanks.

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