Name: Renee Leigh
Where are you from: Kentucky
A little about yourself `ie your education Family life etc:
I write contemporary, stand-alone erotic romance novels. I’ve always been a sucker for a good romance movie or novel – a happy ending, everything tied up neatly into a bow!
In my “spare” time, I’m also an attorney, wife and mom. I have two doctorate degrees.
I enjoy reading, researching, writing, and college basketball.
I live in the South with my husband, children and dogs.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?:
My second book in the Smile series, Sunlit Smile, is going through the beta reading stage right now. I’m shooting for a February release date. I’m currently writing the third novel in the series, Lance’s story.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I’ve written for as long as I can remember. Words have always been my outlet. I began writing contemporary romance novels about four years ago because I had all of these stories swimming around in my head and wanted to put them on paper.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
At first, I just wrote these stories for me. I thought they were quirky and fun and I enjoyed writing them. When I first decided to publish You Should Smile and found that others liked it, too, is when I first realized, “Hey, I can do this. I can be a writer.”
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
The entire Smile series had been in my head for years. I started with Thad’s story, You Should Smile, first. All three of my main male characters (Thad, Chris, and Lance) have been a part of me for so long. I feel like I know all of them well!
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
I tell people that I’m a “binge writer”. I have to wait for the inspiration to hit and then I can write for hours and hours. If I try to push it, it won’t work. Thus, I just have to be patient and wait for those moments to come.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
“You Should Smile” are the first three words that Thad says to Shay when he sees her at a gas station. (Of course, he doesn’t realize at the time that she’s about to become his graduate student).
“Sunlit Smile” is Chris’ story. The title comes from the fact that these two knew each other since they were 18 and he always thought her smile lit up a room.
I’m still thinking about the title for Lance’s story. It will probably have the word ‘smile’ in it, too, but the title is still being debated in my mind. Ha!
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Yes. My books are a reflection of me in that I don’t take myself too seriously. My writing can be very tongue-in-cheek in that it often makes fun of the traditional romance ‘formula’. The main female character in You Should Smile, Shay, is quirky. She’s not your typical heroine in many senses. Her character ‘voice’ is very self-deprecating and sometimes even strange. She, and her supporting characters, often make fun of her. For example, I took the ‘stupid nickname for the hero’ and the ‘naming of your libido’ aspect of contemporary romance novels to the extremes. Yes, the nickname is really dumb. Yes, naming your libido is also really dumb. That’s the point. Some people think it’s funny and ‘get it’ and some don’t. And that’s okay. I get tired of the same ol’ romance plots and predictable formulas anyway, so if mine is different and some like that, those are the ones I will continue to write for. I often compare the type of humor as along the lines of Alice Clayton, for a comparison.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
I think Thad and Shay’s story could certainly happen in real life. The sexual harassment Shay goes through in the book is based upon my experience as an attorney and seeing sexual harassment cases.
Sunlit Smile is loosely based on a real-life story about a friendship that spanned many, many, many years. There were miscommunications, heartbreaks, looking back and asking ‘what if?’, regrets, etc. I think the quote on the first page of the book says it all: “To the lost moments, the what-ifs, the almost kisses, the shared laughter and tears…to the memories of what might have been.”
It was probably the most painful for me to write at times for a number of reasons.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most? a mentor?
I love The Long Haul by Myles Horton. It’s about about how individuals can influence social change. That book has probably impacted my life in more ways than any other book I’ve read. It’s an amazing and inspirational book.
I have had mentors in law and they have impacted my life in such positive ways. Mentors are important, no matter what you do.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest and who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
I love MA Lee, a new author. My favorite established authors are Alice Clayton, Cherrie Lynn, Pamela Clare, and Mia Sheridan. They just can’t go wrong!
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
The indie author community on Facebook. The support that new authors are given is so appreciated and helpful.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Yes and no. I will continue to write in my free time and will continue to publish as I can. I actually love my day job, though. I may be rare in that sense. I’ve got the best of both worlds – a career I love and a writing habit on the side that I love.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Yes. I would’ve gone through the BETA process with You Should Smile and published it correctly. I seriously had no idea how self-publishing worked or even how to perfect the publication outcome. I wish I had known more back then!
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
No. I’ve always written, for as long as I can recall.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
The Smile Series consists of:
Thad (You Should Smile), a currently released book about a professor and his graduate student who fall in love – with some very steamy scenes thrown in!
Chris (Sunlit Smile), a best-friends-to-lovers story that spans the course of a lifetime. I am shooting for a release in February.
Lance (Title TBA), a story about a playboy manwhore who finally meets his match in his attorney. She’s got her own reasons for not giving into the temptation between them. This third book has been the most fun to write so far.
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Finding time to do it!
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
I use bookcoverdesigner. They’re great!
Fiona: If any of your books was made into a film who would you like to play the lead?
Sandra Bullock would be Shay, without a doubt. William Levy is Thad in my mind (GORGEOUS!).
Marlee is more Natalie Portman type, I think.
As I say in Sunlit Smile, Paul Walker would’ve been perfect to play Chris. 😦 Since that can’t happen, Kellan Lutz is a good choice, too.
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies?
I love college sports, especially college basketball. March Madness, baby!
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?
Here are my social media links:
Renee Leigh Author Facebook page:
Renee Leigh Twitter:
Renee Leigh Amazon author page:
You Should Smile
By Renee Leigh
“You should smile,” I heard him say.
Unsure, I squinted my eyes from the sun, used my hand as a shade, and turned toward his voice. “I’m sorry?”
“You should smile,” he stated louder. “It’s a beautiful fall day. Summer’s wrath is left behind. So smile.” He stepped out from the shadows and into the sun where I could see him clearly. My lord. I’d heard the phrase ‘sex on a stick’ before, but never knew what it really meant. I did then.
A smile slowly crept across my lips. “You’re not supposed to tell women to smile. It can be offensive,” I said, teasing him.
“But you are smiling now, aren’t you?” he teased back.
“True. Any more advice for me?” I met his eyes. They were deep blue.
He nodded his head slowly. “Yes. Ditch that guy and come with me….”
Graduate student Shay Elliott gets hit on by a sexy stranger in a gas station parking lot – and the sparks fly immediately. She’s there with her boyfriend, though, so she declines the man’s invitation to leave with him. She thinks she’ll never see him again….
She was wrong.
He’s just been hired as a professor at her university – and she’s about to become his student.
* Amazon link
* Goodreads link
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/24941769 -you-should-smileCover Art: