Welcome to the Author Spotlight, Leisl Leighton, and congratulations on the release of ‘Dark Moon’! Can you tell us a little bit about it, please?
Lately, Skye Collins has been unable to shake the feeling that she’s being watched. After a lifetime spent hiding her true nature, she knows that any unusual attention is something to be wary of. And the only attention she’s been receiving lately is from the intense and attractive Jason McVale.
Jason claims to know things about Skye that can’t be true, and it’s obvious he’s hiding secrets of his own. Yet despite herself, Skye can’t resist the attraction between them, and her surrender will set in motion a chain of events that will have consequences for everyone she holds dear.
Gradually, Jason convinces Skye that she has to trust him if she is to solve the riddle of her past and learn the truth about her power. But believing Jason means that her entire life has been based on a lie.
As her enemies gather strength and the danger increases, Skye is forced to accept who she really is. Will she risk everything and fight for those she loves? Or save herself and let them be destroyed by the forces of darkness?
Your debut novel, Killing Me Softly, was a romantic suspense, while Dark Moon is a fantasy. Do you have a soft spot for either genre over the other?
I read a number of genres: fantasy, sci-fi, historical romance, paranormal romance, romantic suspense, YA, contemporary romance, chic lit and women’s fiction, but when it comes to writing, I do tend to stick to the urban fantasy romance, paranormal romance and romantic suspense. I have tried other genres, but they just don’t flow for me as well as these three. At the moment I am writing more paranormal romance and epic urban fantasy than romantic suspense, but that’s mostly because those are the stories coming to me, not because of a preference. If I had an idea for a romantic suspense right now, that’s what I’d be writing.
Are there any other genres you would like to venture into in the future?
Maybe sci fi with a romantic bent. I have a story in my mind that’s tumbling around – nothing specific right now, but if it plays out a bit more, I might sit down and give it a try.
Can you tell us about your world building in Dark Moon. Talk us through the process of building a world filled with not entirely human creatures.
I used to be an actor, so when I write, I tend to ‘become’ my characters much as I did when I was on stage and they very much tell me who they are and how they became that – which tends to mean they inform me about their world, the ‘rules’ so to speak. It’s never really a conscious thought process for me of me sitting down and making copious notes before I write and making my characters fit to that. As I write the story it all evolves more in my mind. I make lots of notes as I go and on redrafts and edits make sure those ideas and traits are played through.
You play a large role within the RWA as a volunteer. Can you tell us how you manage your time so that everything gets done? Are you a time managing supremo?
Other people tend to tell me I am, but I can tell you, at times it doesn’t feel that way. I try to do things as they come in so I don’t get a huge built up pile of stuff to do. There are times this doesn’t work though – things do have a habit of happening at once. I keep a list of things that must be done and tick it off as I go and I put deadlines into my email calendar so every time I open up my email, it reminds me what I need to do. I try to get up early in the morning to write and I have 1 day off per week that I spend mostly writing, which means I tend to get to everything else in the afternoon/night time or in spare moments on the weekends (like now – the boys are playing computer games after having their cousin over for a few hours, all the washing is done and the hubby is out doing the shopping – so I’m answering these questions.) In regards to housework, the essentials get done every week, but non essentials tend to get left to when people are coming over.
I hear you’re a lover of all things Jane Austen. Which is your favourite:
a) JA Novel,
b) Movie / television adaptation,
c) Mr Darcy.
Ooh, hard one. Can I say d) all of the above? I studied Jane Austen at university and have read all her books a number of times and watched many adaptations of her works. I do love the novels – I fell in love with them first. But a good adaptation of her works is pretty special too. And Colin Firth was pretty special as Darcy – both the historical one and the modern one.
How do you think Jane Austen’s work has shaped contemporary romance? What can romance writers learn from Jane Austen?
I think she made writers and readers see that an ordinary life and existence is special and can be written about. I think she was an expert of ‘write what you know’ and she wrote about it with fondness and love. She was also excellent at putting her characters through the wringer in regards to the lessons they had to learn to end up with their HEA. She wrote simple stories, but they were full stories. I’ve heard lecturers go on about her use of irony, and how that makes her a special social commentator – which is important because she saw her world for all its faults, and much of this brought essential humour – but for me, what shines from these stories is the fact she loves her characters and their stories and that is why they still feel real for us all these centuries later. I think that’s the most important lesson – be real to yourself and love what you write.
Can you tell us a little about your WIP?
I am currently working on the 2nd and 3rd in the Witch-Were Chronicles, Healer Moon and Blood Moon, and am making notes for the 4th one, Ghost Moon. Healer Moon takes place directly after the Dark Moon ends and picks up the romance between two of the other characters and keeps following the overall arc in regards to the nemesis in Dark Moon. Each novel adds to the history that backs up the mythology of the series, as well as giving other characters a HEA.
What would we find on your book shelves/ereader?
You would find all of Raymond E. Feist’s series as well as Katherine Kerr, Anne McCaffrey and some Jany Wurtz. There is also Anne Gracie, Georgette Heyer, Joanna Lindsey, LaVyrle Spencer, Austen, Bronte and Shakespeare. And for something more current, lots of Nalini Singh, M.J Scott, Rachelle Meade, Stephanie Myers, JK Rowling, Sherilyn Kenyon and a bunch of other paranormal and YA paranormal authors. Also, there is a lot of Nora Roberts and JD Robb. And all the Anne of Green Gables series – I relate strongly to that red-headed girl with the large imagination.
You’ve entered into a lot of writing competitions, and have done very well. How important do you think it is for writers to participate in competitions? Any tips you’d like to share?
I think it is essential to a writer’s journey – just like having a critique partner or belonging to a writing group is. You NEED to get your work written by people who are not family and friends. They will give you their honest opinion and often a much needed dose of truth (no matter how painful that may be to swallow at first). Those first few comps really helped me to leap forward with my writing and brought to my attention the mistakes I was making.
In regards to tips – enter the ones that are appropriate to what you are writing and when you begin to do better in them, enter those ones with final editor/agent judges who deal with the kind of work you are writing. Also, read the scoresheets and comments, then put them away and don’t action them right away. Knee jerk fixing is sometimes more destructive to your work than helpful. Allow your ‘hurt’ to settle down to something manageable and after a few weeks/month, try to remember what was said on those scoresheets – the things that stick are most often the things you need to work on first.
Could you give us a sneaky peek at one of your favourite parts of Dark Moon, please?
People keep asking this, but I don’t have a favourite part. All of it is there because it is my favourite. But I will share with you part of the opening scene, because it is the first scene that ever came to me and it wouldn’t leave me alone, demanding to be written even though I was working on something else. Skye is skiing when a snowboarder crashes into her:
Despite the pain sparking through her body – damn, she was going to have some impressive bruises for show and tell on Monday – she became uncomfortably aware of the way their hips pressed together, legs tangled. She hadn’t been this close to a man in way too long. This wasn’t the way she’d imagined it happening again, though.
She tried to move. The action made his board – amazingly still attached to his feet – cut into her leg. She winced. ‘Well, this is a very charming way to meet and all, but can you get off, please? You’re crushing my legs.’
‘Sorry.’ He scrambled back.
‘Oh, fudgy-duck!’ She gasped as his board scraped over the bruise.
‘Are you hurt?’ He ran his hand ran over her leg, checking for injury.
Shivers chased across her skin that had nothing to do with the snow melting inside her jacket. Skye pulled away. ‘No. I’m fine. Just let me stretch it out.’
He shifted back. But instead of getting up and skiing off like most other people would, he stayed, kneeling beside her as she stretched out her leg.
‘I’m so sorry. I usually ski, but my brother talked me into trying out a snowboard this year.’
Rubbing her aching leg, her temper spiked at his words. Glaring at him, she snapped, ‘Are you kidding me? What the hell are you doing on Federation? It’s a black run – or didn’t you notice all the signs up the top, you irresponsible arse?’
His eyebrows rose above his sunglasses. ‘Wow. That thing about redheads and tempers is true.’
She bristled. ‘You could have killed yourself, or someone else. Namely me!’
He brushed snow from his hair. ‘For your information, I was doing okay until I hit that goddamned icy patch. I don’t know why I agreed to try a board,’ he grumbled.
He sounded so much like her twin, River, when he was pouting, that her flare of anger disappeared and she had to hide her grin.
‘So why did you go over to the dark side?’
‘My trickster of a brother said it would be a rush, but I think he just wanted to see me fall on my arse.’
Her lips twitched. ‘That would be okay, except for the fact you fell on mine.’
‘It looked softer than mine.’
She choked on a laugh. ‘Are you saying I have a fat arse?’
Rather than trying to back-pedal, his mouth curled into a lopsided smile – such a lovely mouth. ‘No. In fact, I was thinking how nice it looked before I smacked into you.’
Skye dragged her eyes from his mouth. ‘Is that why you took me for a toboggan ride, with me as the toboggan? To meet me and my nice arse?’
‘That, and the fact you stopped so suddenly.’
She snorted. ‘I thought you said there was an icy patch.’
‘Yeah.’ He laughed. ‘I did. Didn’t I?’ He pushed his sunglasses off his face to look down at her.
He had the most startling eyes. They were deeply blue on the edge, almost black, but lightened to an icy blue at their centre. Lightning bolt striations crazed through the iris, making it seem like his eyes glowed. They reminded her of a picture of a wolf River had put on his bedroom wall when they were young. She’d asked him to take it down. He’d thought it was because she was frightened of big dogs, but it hadn’t just been that. The wolf’s eyes had haunted her in a way that had confused her ten-year-old soul.
This man’s eyes were even more dangerous to her equilibrium. They pulled her in. Her chest ached like she’d been winded.
He broke eye contact and pushed to his feet, allowing her to catch her breath.
‘Here, let me help you up.’ He put out his hand.
Leisl is kindly gifting one Kindle copy of Dark Moon. Just answer the following question in the comments and you will go into the draw:
‘If you were a shape shifter, what would you most like to turn into?’
This competition is open world wide and will be drawn on the 28th of March, 2014.