Where are you from?
Michigan originally but I now live in Wisconsin
A little about yourself your education Family life etc
I grew up in Michigan with an intact family unit and lots of fun with two sisters and a brother. I attended Hot Springs Beauty Academy in Hot Springs, AR. Most of my life I’ve been a Customer Service Manager and have taken many courses in business. I have two children, one girl and one boy.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
I’m glad to report that I am working on the third book in the Inzared, Queen of the Elephant Riders trilogy. I’ve had a three-year break after suffering a concussion and subsequent problems. I am now anxious to write again and have assured my fans that the new book will be published in 2016.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I can’t ever remember not writing. At first it was rhymes, then long dissertations in my high school classes (in History and English). That morphed into songwriting, which I still do. One day while living in Mexico I just began writing about the circus. The rest is history. The first book was so much fun, but took over five years to re-write and edit. I had a fantastic writing group there and we all helped each other, so it was much easier than if I were doing it on my own.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
That one’s easy. When I got my first song accepted by a publisher I realized I was a writer.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
When I was a child I was fascinated when my grandpa took my sisters and I to the circus. (My brother was too little). I’m not sure why the first book I wrote was about the circus, but I know I always dreamed of running away to join the circus and be a star.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
Definitely a pantster! It’s hard for me to put everything down and write from an outline. However, I do start with my characters by writing brief profiles, names, and jobs. But when I sit down to write it’s just my computer and me.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
I thoroughly researched Gypsy and Roma names and each one I came up with was in another circus book. Of course I’ve read every one I could get my hands on. I made up the name of the main character of my book by putting different letters and sounds together and the name Inzared evolved. My writing group didn’t like it but I persevered and once the book was done they loved it as much as I did.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Yes. Inzared is a very strong woman and I believe women can do anything they set their minds to. She has disasters, heartbreak and situations that would crumble a lot of people but somehow she manages to accept those setbacks and determine to go on with her life while cherishing her only son and Cecil, the elephant she loves unconditionally.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic?
The book is fiction loosely based on my mother-in-law. Although she never yearned to join the circus, she lived in North Carolina all her life and I drew from her endless stories about her home and the hardships she endured growing up to include in the book.
Fiona: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
I guess I just answered that in the previous question. However, I will tell you that I also had many of the events in the book happen in my own life such as a house fire, hours bent over a campfire cooking, churning butter, milking cows and riding horses. I am an avid seamstress and have sewn costumes and clothes for people. My brother and his wife are Civil War Re-enactors and I’ve spent time in camp and picked my brother’s brain many times. Thanks to my mother-in-law I have eaten most of what Timmon hunts for in the woods and brings to his mother to cook. ‘Possum, bear, squirrel, venison, rabbit, crab apple pie, – you name it! I feel fortunate for the life I’ve led. Having the knowledge and love of research has helped me accomplish writing a series that I am proud of.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most? A mentor?
My songwriting mentors were all church members because I was always active in music there. My writing mentor was Leslea Newman, Prize-winning Author of many books and a college instructor in beginning and advanced writing.
I’m not sure that any one book influenced my life more than another. I was so curious and I was lucky in my youth to have a small-town librarian who recognized my insatiable thirst for the written word and she made sure I read all the greats. I owe her a great debt of thanks.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
A circus book, of course! The name of it is “Women of Illusion” by Donnalee Frega. It’s a great book that I picked up at a library sale. My favorite book of all time is “Tess of the D’Urbervilles” by Thomas Hardy. There are many others that could qualify, though. I read extensively as a child and still do today.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
Kim Cano is not only a friend but also a great writer. Roy Murray keeps your interest throughout his books. Kate Benzin has many true travel tales. Cherley Grogg is not only a great friend but also a wonderful writer and I love reading her books. Winslow Eliot writes books that make you happy for what you have and has a great website. There are many more, but I’d have to go on and on.
Fiona: What are your current projects?
As I said, I am starting the New Year by beginning the third book in the Inzared trilogy. I have a book that won’t get out of my head about my husband. He was adopted and his story is so unusual and interesting that I feel it needs to be shared, so I expect to write it on the heels of the Inzared book. I am doing a lot of art journaling right now and enjoying it very much. Sadly, I have lost my voice pretty much so the singing I’ve always loved isn’t possible, but I’m thankful for the other talents I have and can have a good time with.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
God has been with me throughout my life and I owe all my thanks to Him. My daughter and my husband have been my biggest supporters throughout the tears and the joys of writing.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Yes. I am retired and writing is a career for me. The three-year hiatus I had to take because of the concussion is pretty much over now and I can continue to do what I love.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
My parents read to me all the time when I was very little. My girlfriend and I wrote stories when we were in the third or fourth grade and it expanded from there.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
I am just formulating the plan now, and as I said, I’m a pantster. It will include a love interest, plenty of hardship and danger and maybe a few curve balls thrown in, just for fun. I don’t even have a working title yet, although it will definitely start with “Inzared,”
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Procrastination. I am easily distracted. My best time to write is in the early evening hours. By then I have most of the things accomplished that I want to and the house settles down. I bought my husband a very nice pair of headphones to watch television with so it’s very quiet!
Fiona: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
As I said, Thomas Hardy is my favorite author and I think what I loved about his writing was his style of merging romance and danger. I have read his books over and over throughout my life. Also, Margaret Mitchell, Daphne DuMaurier, Jack London, Charles Dickens, Zane Gray, The Bronte sisters, Jane Austen and many others are authors that I tend to read over every few years.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
These days I do most of my marketing and making contacts on the Internet, but I love traveling and speaking so those events are precious.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
Melissa Garlington, who lives in Ireland and has worked with me to design just the right cover for each book. I can’t wait to see what she comes up with for this third book.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Keeping my focus on the plot. It’s that old pantster thing again. Since I write that way I have to be sure the plot is solid and readable.
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
I learned to have a lot of patience. As I said, the first book took 5 years to come to fruition and I wrote it in less than six months.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Write what you know (or someone else close to you knows). By doing that you will find the process much easier. In the Inzared trilogy I’ve had to do hours of research, but I love it so it doesn’t really matter. Patience is important because things don’t always happen in the time frame you’d like them to.
Keeping an open mind is essential because often characters send you down an entirely different road and you have to either be ready to travel down that road and perhaps make the book better, or stick to your guns and write it the way you have it planned. That’s why I love writing by the seat of my pants. I cannot tell you how many arguments and fun Inzared and I had while setting her story to words. She’s quite stubborn and I have learned to listen closely to what she has to say.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Keep on keep’in on. It’s the only way you’ll get it done. Also, read everything on the subject you can find. I am a firm believer in Stephen King’s book on writing. I learned a lot from his wisdom.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
A book of nursery rhymes. I was about two and my mother would sit me on her lap and read to me. Then she’d encourage me to read. She always laughed and said I had every page memorized so it looked like I was reading. By age four I was reading to my siblings and I loved the book “Dick and Jane”, my first-grade reader.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
The best laughter comes from old family photos and my family has gone into hysterics when telling stories about them. Neglected animals, abuse, and a sad movie make me cry.
Fiona: Is there one person pass or present you would meet and why?
Absolutely! I’d meet John F. Kennedy. He was a brilliant man and I’d have loved to meet him and talk, if only for a few minutes.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone and why?
Here lies L.Leander, a pantster. Look for her next book in the millennium.
Because I’m such a procrastinator.
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies?
Lots. I am obsessed with Scrabble and jigsaw puzzles. I love to sew, read, crochet, knit, embroider, camp, spend time with friends, make jewelry, art journaling, quilting, playing my fiddle and guitar and a few other things that I can’t think of right now.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
I am obsessed with Survivor, The Amazing Race, Big Brother, and The Voice. Reality shows are fun to watch because you never know what will happen. I watched The Titanic so many times I wore out the VCR tape. I really am a movie buff and like to be exposed to different subject matter and make up my own mind about the film, rather than listen to a reviewer’s point of view.
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music
This one’s easy. Pizza is my favorite food. If I have to eat a real meal I love a good steak done medium rare. Lucky for me I have the best grill cook living with me. In the summer I don’t have to cook much, he loves it!
Favorite color is definitely green (lime is my favorite in that hue), but purple is pretty close on the ratings scale.
I have a very eclectic taste in music. I grew up on Country and Bluegrass and that’ll always be my favorite, but I love folk, people like Sinead O’Connor, Adele, Tracy Chapman, The Boss, Eric Clapton, James Taylor, and the list goes on and on.
My very favorite singer is and always will be Emmylou Harris.
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
I always thought I’d be a famous singer-songwriter, but I’ve been very fortunate to front for some pretty famous people, play live events to huge crowds, and have songs picked up by singers I admire.
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?
Look soon for the new one. I’ll keep everyone posted on my Facebook Page
Amazon Authors Page http://www.amazon.com/L.-Leander/e/B008IVRNU8/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1