Today, I am very excited to welcome author Leanna Renee Hieber to The Discriminating Fangirl for an interview! Leanna is the author of The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker, a wonderful Victorian fantasy that will be released on August 25 (but it looks like it’s available on Amazon right now, so go buy!). You can read my review here.
TDF Pamela: Are you planning to write more in Percy’s world, or will this just be a stand-alone novel?
Leanna: The Strangely Beautiful series is four (possibly five) books. Book II will be released May 2010 and picks up exactly where Book I leaves off. The fulfillment of Prophecy in gaining the seventh member is only the beginning, next up is an all out spectral war. The danger is bigger, the costs are bigger, the sensuality is bigger and while we continue on with Percy and Alexi in the main focus, the glimpses into the rest of The Guard are bigger too. Book III is a prequel, Book IV continues on with Rychman familial legacy towards WWI. If these do well, there’s a possibility of a 5th that could span the entire timeline and focus on a Guard member who I believe warrants his own book, Lord Elijah Withersby. So if you’re an Elijah fan, let me know you want to see that book. :)
TDF Pamela: I love the ghost story/mythology/romance hybrid you’ve created here. How did you come up with the idea for this novel? What were your inspirations?
Leanna: I’ve been obsessed with the 19th century since I was a kid. I can’t explain it other than it must have been a past life or something. I remember my mother saying something about a British accent making me pad into the room and stare lovingly at the television before I could speak. I was doubling skirts and making makeshift corsets and things, and speaking in a British accent often- which is odd for a kid in rural Ohio. I started telling ghost stories early in life. Some of my earliest and most fond and specific memories are of telling ghost stories to friends, girl scouts, anyone who would listen. I started writing my first Gothic Romance, also set in 1888, when I was 12 (don’t ask, it doesn’t still exist, thank God). But it did give me the discipline to sit and write often, and my grip on that time period never lessened.
In college I majored in theatre, got a focus study my beloved Victorian Era with a particular eye for my favourite: Gothic literature, and began adapting Victorian literature for the stage. I went on scholarship to London and I didn’t want to leave (I’d come home, it felt). I graduated and interned with the Cincinnati Shakespeare Company working crazy hours. I fell madly in love with all things J.K. Rowling and Neil Gaiman and somewhere, after having put down Alan Moore’s “From Hell” and after having watched Sense and Sensibility for the thousandth time, in the thick of a delirious 2am state 9 years agoâ€¦ In walks ghostly eighteen-going-on-nineteen Miss Percy Parker- into what would become Professor Alexi Rychman’s office and I was so taken with her, and with the super-brooding man that was sitting in that office, that I was done for. Percy is “the one”. This book is all my favourite things rolled up into one.
TDF Pamela: We’re all bookworms here at The Discriminating Fangirl, so I have to ask this one. What are your favorite things to read?
Leanna: 19th Century literature, Victorian mystery novels like those of Anne Perry and Elizabeth Peters and graphic novels. I’m a huge Neil Gaiman fan, he’s been greatly influential. I’m going back to an old favourite at the moment, Alan Moore’s League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, (I’d already mentioned how influential his From Hell has been, no surprise with the Jack the Ripper theme). Oh, and did I mention Harry Potter? *grin*
TDF Pamela: Your roots are in theatre and playwriting. Did you run into any obstacles when you began writing prose fiction, or was it an easy transition?
Leanna: I was writing prose fiction as a child long before I was acting, so it actually felt like returning to a long lost friend, my ‘natural habitat’. All the theatrical training and professional work has influenced and heightened my style, and dialogue remains one of my favourite parts of the process. Setting is also really important and I think of that in cinematic terms. I’ve been told my books are pretty ‘dramatic’. That’s part of my personal narrative as well as my artistic one. :)
TDF Pamela: Tell us a bit about Lady Jane’s Salon, your romance reading series.
Leanna: It started like all great things start; in a bar with wonderful company. I was the connective tissue who knew Maya Rodale, Hope Tarr and Ron Hogan, respectively. I know to always accept Ronâ€™s invitations, something cool always happens. Maya asked â€œwhy isnâ€™t there a reading series in NYC devoted to Romance Fiction?â€ We didnâ€™t have a good reason why not so that meant we had to start one. Lady Janeâ€™s Salon showcases readers on the first Monday of every month at a red-velvet drenched bar called Madame X and the proceeds raised from $5 admission or a gently used romance novel go to Mayaâ€™s Share the Love www.share-the-love.org which serves women in need / crisis / transition. Weâ€™re humbled and exceedingly proud of this venture that started as a dare of sorts and grew organically into a popular venue for bestsellers, debuts, all lovers of romance and most importantly a good cause. More at www.ladyjanesalon.com!
Huge thanks to Leanna for the interview! Now, go find yourself a copy of The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker! ;)