Handbags, Books...Whatever

Handbags, Books...Whatever (http://www.vickibatman.blogspot.com) is the website of Vicki Batman, sassy writer of sexy and funny fiction. Handbag lover. Avid Jazzerciser. Mah jong player. Yoga practioner. Movie fan. Book devourer. Choc-aholic. Best Mom ever. And adores Handsome.

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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

April 22-23 Author Interview with Kathy-Diane Leveille

Welcome to Kathy-Diane Leveille who is here to talk about Let the Shadows Fall Behind You and writing.
Tell us about yourself. I’m a former broadcast journalist with CBC radio. Seventeen years ago, when I was home on maternity leave with my youngest son, I dug out an old file of story ideas and started scribbling. By the time the date arrived when I was supposed to return to work, I had already decided that I didn’t want to keep putting my dream of writing fiction on the back burner. Since then I’ve done different jobs, including being a janitor and typing medical transcription, to give me the time and energy to pursue my passion. My first book, Roads Unravelling, a collection of short stories set on the Kennebecasis River where I live, was published a few years ago. Let the Shadows Fall Behind You released this spring is my first suspense novel.
How did you get from a journalism career to writing romance? I loved journalism because it allowed me to tell people's stories. I always thought I would still have time to write my own stories, but along came the mortgage, car loan and kids. Life was just too busy. My job in journalism, while very exciting, was stressful. I found I was exhausted at the end of the day with no energy to write. Shortly before I got pregnant with my second son, my father passed away. During that time of grieving and reflection, I realized life is too short. I had to stop putting my dreams on the back burner. I decided to look for a job that would take a back seat to my fiction writing and give it priority. It was a long haul. I wrote fiction for ten years before my first book was published. Thank God for my husband. He's my number one cheerleader and always reminds me that the joy is in the journey, not necessarily the destination. (though it's fantastic when you get there!)

Tell us about your new book, Let the Shadows Fall Behind You - which is a very intriguing title. I've always been fascinated by disappearances, ever since I read C.S. Lewis's Narnia Series. When the children stepped inside the wardrobe and vanished, I was hooked. So it's no surprise that in my first romantic suspense novel, the action begins with a disappearance.

What is the appeal of writing contemporary romance? I am a big fan of contemporary romantic suspense in the style of Joy Fielding and Erica Spindler. I love romance mixed with suspense because you get a double whammy of tension. I love the challenge of plotting suspense and researching behind-the-scenes crime investigation.

What kind of writings turns you off? Gratuitous sex or violence used as a gimmick simply to grab attention.

How do you get your ideas? What is your writing day like? I walk along the river every day and somehow connecting with nature brings me to a deep place within where questions arise that trigger stories. I usually start with a character question, and then an outside event that moves the character toward answering that question. My writing days are each different. I really have to take it 'one day at a time.' Because I have a day job, I have to carve out writing time wherever I can. I usually buy a large calendar at the dollar store and mark bi-weekly goals that will bring me to the completion of outlining/researching/writing/editing a novel within a certain period of time. If some days are too busy to get much done, I make the time other days, no matter what, in order to meet the outlined goals. It took me a while to get my rhythm in place, but it's there now. Like running a marathon, I know when to remain slow and steady, and when it's time to push forward with every ounce of energy I possess.

How do you deal with rejection? Rejection of the work you’ve spent so much time on is always a blow. The only cure for my disappointment has always been writing. Before you know it, I’m caught up in the characters and the excitement of their journey again. Sometimes it helps to work on a completely different project. If anything, I figure I must have learned something by now to make this one come closer to the mark.

How did it feel to become published? There is no feeling like it. Picture the arrival of Christmas morning, the thrill of hearing a newborn baby’s cry and the rush of your first kiss all rolled into one. My husband and I went out for dinner. He’s my number one cheerleader and gets more excited than I do!

Is there anything that could have made it happen sooner? I think if I had had access to seasoned professionals in the industry sooner, I might have learned a lot faster about what it takes to survive and thrive in today’s publishing world. Living on the Canadian east coast, it’s pretty isolated from the hub of the industry. You absolutely have to know the business, how it works and its current needs to give yourself a leg up. I think I was too na├»ve in believing that all I needed to do was write well and the work would find a home on its own. In some instances this can happen, but the greater reality is that selling books is a business, and one that is constantly changing. I romanticized the industry when I needed to view myself as a business woman.

What advice would you give to writers who dream of dream of being published? Rule number one: Write. Rule number two: Write. Rule number three: Write some more. I think it’s really important to exercise your true voice, test it, settle into its strengths and weaknesses, and learn to trust it BEFORE you attend workshops. If you attend how to sessions too soon, the tendency is to try and act on the information with the left brain and copycat what is being taught. If, however, you already write in your true voice, you will trust your gut instinct to take the information taught and adapt any parts of it to your style to enhance it, and discard the rest. How do you know if you’re writing in your true voice? The words catch fire on the page, the room disappears and you are humming along on that magic carpet ride in your imagination.

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