Hi Leigh and welcome to my site! I think you are my first guest from New Zealand so it's super special to 'meet' you.
Hi Rachel – thanks so much for inviting me to be your guest.
1) Who is your favourite author and why?
I honestly can’t pin one down because there are so many authors I admire across different genres. Names that come to mind include Anita Shreve, Barbara Delinsky, Isabel Allende and Joanna Trollope, but you’re just as likely to find me reading Bill Bryson. Although I don’t envisage myself writing one, I love thrillers and have just discovered Paul Cleave, a New Zealand writer who writes an excellent yarn. It’s quite difficult to analyse the ‘whys’. I like writing that’s emotional with plenty of drama but is understated and about situations and people I can relate to.
2) When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I feel as if I’ve always been a writer. My short stories and poetry were singled out while still in primary school and at high school I won a couple of writing prizes. Over the years I’ve had short stories published in various magazines. I love the written language, using words and composing sentences. However, I wrote many partials over many years before I managed to complete a full-length manuscript (well, 50,000 words which is quite short for a novel but an arduous journey for me!).
3) Describe your writing space?
I write from a corner of our dining room. It’s not the best arrangement but it’s the warmest space in a rather cold house. The good thing is that it is MY corner! I’ve included a pic because it’s tidy at the moment – usually I can hardly find my keyboard. The pink heart on the wall was made at a meeting of our romance writers group where the facilitator got us all to write an affirmation on a heart and pass these around at the end of the session. My space looks kind of boring but I have shelving nearby for books, the coffee’s handy and I can look outside at trees and sky any time.
4) What are you reading now?
I’ve got caught up in medieval times. I’ve been reading about the Crusades. I had to rush a stack of books back to the library yesterday because my overdue fees were crushing.
5) How many books have you written? Which is your favourite?
I’ve written only one novel, a contemporary romance called ‘Kincaid’s Call’ released by The Wild Rose Press in May this year. It’s been an exciting journey for me, because my romance about Nathan Kincaid and Kate Summers hit the bestseller list on Fictionwise and a couple of other e-book sites.
I’ve also written and had published oral histories which were used in some NZ primary schools. I loved interviewing the old people and listening to their stories about when they were children.
6) What comes first, plot or characters?
Characters. People are endlessly fascinating to me. For me, plotting is the most difficult part of writing full-length fiction. This is something I’m working on and I read everything I can about plot construction. I hope it will all fall into place one day but I suspect plotting will always be something I have to work hard at.
7) Do you ever suffer from writer’s block?
I don’t know that I suffer from writer’s block. I suffer from lack of discipline and call it writer’s block.
8) What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
Reading – I’ll read almost anything. I started painting a few years ago, and I enjoy exploring different art-making practices. I love trying to capture our beautiful natural environment through art. Spending time with my family is fabulous. I think just sitting and staring into space is a kind of ‘work’ for writers so that makes me feel better about sitting staring into space (probably one of my most favourite things to do).
9) Tell us about your latest book?
I’m working on another contemporary romance set in the Hawkes Bay in New Zealand. The area was struck by a devastating earthquake in 1931 and rebuilt in the Art Deco architectural style of the time. The Hawkes Bay is also renowned for its vineyards, wineries, orchards and coastline so it makes a marvelous backdrop for romance.
10) What’s next for you?
In the near future I’ll continue to work hard at full-length contemporary romance. A bit further down the track I’m keen to explore a generational saga - and there’s that medieval romance shining somewhere in the shadows.
Great interview, Leigh! I love the sound of the book you are working on at the moment, make sure you let us all know when its complete and sold. Any questions or comments for Leigh??