Today we are chatting with Leanna Renee Hieber, announcing and celebrating this week's release of her debut Young Adult novel DARKER STILL: A Novel of Magic Most Foul.
Early reviews promise: "A lush, Gothic tale that begs for reading." "Spooky, tense, and wonderfully romantic." And look at this beautiful cover, luring you in to the portrait that imprisons Lord Denbury, falsely rumored to have committed suicide.
Leanna is a Renaissance woman, with a brush on several canvases--adult novels featuring gothic/paranormal romance, short stories, stage plays, and screenplays. She's been well recognized, with an RWA award, among others, for The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker. The other novels in the Strangely Beautiful oeuvre have won similar high accolades. Add to this her acting talent, her television, movie and stage appearances, and you've got the whole picture--an author who can make her stories come to life, and in her own voice.http://leannareneehieber.com
Leanna, first of all congratulations on crossing over into the world of YA literature. What tempted you to write specifically for teens?
LRH: It's where my voice was leading naturally, my first series is YA-friendly (pg-13 rated content) so I just wanted to continue sharing my love of historical fantasy and the Gothic style for the teen market specifically.
I've noticed that your titles have a common lyric rhythm to them, as if the title is almost the first line of a narrative. Can you tell us a bit about your creative process? Do you begin with title, character, or premise? Do you already know where you are heading when the story starts?
LRH: I begin with characters and premise hand in hand. Sometimes one drives more than the other, but they're entwined. For example, Lord Denbury's character was always entwined with the premise that his soul was trapped in a painting. The titles come much later and have always changed a lot, with each book. I tend to know the general parameters and then as I write, the characters actually tell me where to go and how to get to the end-point I have in my mind.
How about your writing process? Are you a disciplined outliner or a headlights writer? A procrastinator or a scheduler? Any special rituals to get you going for the day?
LRH: I am a "pantser" for life! (Writing by the "seat of my pants") I am very disciplined about writing consistently, but I don't write every day. I have target word-counts that help with progress. My ritual? Each of my series has a different tea I drink while writing, whatever tea smells like my hero. Lord Denbury is addicted to Earl Grey tea so thusly that's what I drink while writing, it's a little trick to keep me connected in a sensory way to their world.
Your website includes a wonderful portrait of yourself as the protagonist of the Strangely Beautiful series, Miss Percy Parker. As an actress, do you generally identify with your leading lady? Do you "method" write, living in her skin? If I peeked into your study, would I see you acting out gestures and scenes?
LRH: I totally use theatre in every aspect of my writing and all my heroines are some facet of me, none of them ARE me, though, maintaining some distance is important. But I do spend a lot of time thinking what they think and feeling what they feel, I don't act out scenes, but I imagine how I would. I also own a great many corsets and period clothes. So I also know how it feels to be in their physical world a bit, which is an important detail.
With several books under your belt, albeit in the adult market, what advice would you offer to authors hitting the world stage with their first books? What have we gotten ourselves into?
LRH: I wish you all the luck in the world! Stay sane! Rest! Steel yourself, it's hard to be sensitive in a tough business. It never gets easier to write a book. There are always challenges, but don't worry, it remains rewarding too!
One of our quirks here at The Lucky 13's is to confess a superstition to our blog readers. What brings you the luck?
LRH: I pray a lot but that's not superstition that's religion. : ) From all my ongoing work in theatre, I do not say the name of "The Scottish Play" as it's bad luck to say it. : ) If you don't know about this tradition, it's the Shakespeare play about the murderous Scottish king, and you can't say his name in a theatre (unless you are DOING said play) or it's major bad luck. Seriously.
Leanna was interviewed today by Liz Coley, author of Pretty Girl-13, coming winter 2013.