Sunday, August 30, 2009

Day 266 - Q&A with Author Leanna Renee Hieber (&& GIVEAWAY)



I'm so pleased to bring everyone an interview I did with author Leanna Renee Heiber. Not only is Leanna super sweet but she's a wonderful writer and storyteller. I feel so lucky to have read her book featuring Miss Percy Parker before it came out in stores =)

Check out my review for THE STRANGELY BEAUTIFUL TALE OF MISS PERCY PARKER.

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A little background info before we go on:

Award-Winning author, actress and playwright Leanna Renee Hieber grew up in rural Ohio where her childhood memories are full of inventing elaborate ghost stories. Graduating with a BFA in Theatre from Miami University, a focus study in the Victorian Era and a scholarship to study in London helped set the course for her books. The dramatic, historic, spiritual and paranormal are the primary forces in her lyrical, eerie, atmospheric fiction.

While performing in the regional theatre circuit, her one-act plays such as Favorite Lady, were published, produced, won awards and continue to be produced in colleges and festivals around the country. She has adapted works of 19th Century literature for the professional stage.

She hit the fantasy fiction scene with her novella Dark Nest which won the 2009 Prism Award for excellence in Futuristic, Fantasy and Paranormal Romance. The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker is the first in her Strangely Beautiful series of ghostly, Gothic Victorian Fantasy novels published by Dorchester Publishing.
When not writing or on set, she loves a good Goth club, singing soprano in choir and adventuring about her adopted hometown of New York City, where she resides with her real-life hero and her beloved rescued lab rabbit Persebunny, Queen of the Undereverything.

Check out her website here.

You can also follow along with Leanna on her blog!

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Me: Thank you so much for taking the time to answer some questions. THE STRANGELY BEAUTIFUL TALE OF MISS PERCY PARKER is indeed strangely beautiful! Can you tell us a little bit about the book?

Leanna: Thank you, Mishel, for your support and for this opportunity! Launching a new author and a new series needs all the help it can get, so you’re a real blessing to me.

This book is my favourite thing I’ve yet written, the closest to my heart. I’ve thrown everything I love most into one book. It’s cross-genre and has been described with any number of the following descriptors and/or genre tags: Historical, fantasy, dark fantasy, paranormal romance, mythic, suspense, mystery, Gothic, ghostly, Gaslight, YA cross-over, light Horror, and fairy tale. New York Times Bestselling author Alethea Kontis said in her glowing review at Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show: “The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker is Bulfinch's Mythology and Harry Potter and Wuthering Heights mashed in a blender.” And that seems about right.

Me: What inspired you to create such a unique story?

Leanna: I was writing since I could hold a pen and finish a sentence. I started my first novel around age 12 or so (don’t ask, it’s frightening and doesn’t still exist). But nothing ever hit me as hard, as desperately or as visually specific as Miss Percy Parker did. I knew she was “the one”.

I began working on this Tale about 9 years ago. At the time I was interning with the Cincinnati Shakespeare Company working insane hours on about 4 productions at once. Late one night, out of a swirling cauldron of influences including but not limited to: Harry Potter, Shakespeare, Victorian Literature, graphic novels like “From Hell” and Jane Austen movies, Percy Parker waltzed into my mind and I knew I would never be the same. She walked into Alexi’s office, with her ghost-white skin and sweet personality, and I had to figure out why she was the way she was. Alexi is a culmination of my every literary love affair, all wrapped up into one.

I’m fascinated by difficult and brooding heroes, and love putting them in situations where their stoic façade must crack. But I’m not interested in romance alone, I’m a fan of putting romance under duress with my favourite paranormal elements against an apocalyptic backdrop. *grin*

Me: Did you have to do any research to create Miss Percy’s world?

Leanna: I had to go to London, that’s for sure. Whenever I’m there I’m blissfully happy and at home. In college I studied the Victorian Era with a sequence of classes, and that allowed me a great deal of specific insight into the time period I’d loved since childhood. I also received a scholarship to travel to London and study.

I’d been reading 19th century fiction for a long time prior, but I had new resources with these classes and this travel opportunity. I also began adapting 19th century literature for the stage, and this helped me to really get a feel for the language. I watched a lot of British historical films, and surrounded myself with a slew of lovely tomes. Richard Jones’ Haunted London gave me wonderful ideas for all my London ghosts, so I was able to ground all the spectres to real haunts. (See my Haunted London Blog Tour!)

The London Walks such as the ghost walks and the Jack the Ripper tour proved very inspiring! The great thing about writing Historical Fantasy and/or Historical Paranormal is that you can use historical fact to your advantage, use it to create a rich and detailed setting, and if there are moments when you hit a wall, well then, there are fantastical solutions to all your historical limitations!

Me: Have you always had an interest in writing historical fiction? What’s your favorite time period?

Leanna: Indeed, I’ve always been a history lover, but the 19th century holds a particular, compelling, nearly obsessive charm for me. I’ve often said I credit my love-affair with the period- which goes about as far back as I can remember- to perhaps some sort of past life because I don’t have another explanation for why I’ve been so drawn to it since childhood. The mid to latter Victorian era, 1870s to 1890s in particular, is my particular fancy. The literature, art, music and sensibilities all feel so familiar to me.

Me: I’m sure all of your characters have a special place in your heart, but who is your favorite and why?

Leanna: Oh, no! Don’t make me pick! There is no single answer to this, but I do have a sort of hierarchy. I am in love with Alexi, it will be hard for Percy to ever meet her match in my heart, and I simply treasure Elijah for all the hell he gives Alexi. Alexi makes me swoon and tingle, Percy makes my heart soar and Elijah makes me laugh out loud.

Me: Your writing is fresh and poignant. If you weren’t gifted with the written word, what do you think your career would be?

Leanna: Why thank you! I’d have kept on as a professional actress, as I was for several years out of college. I’m still a member of Actors Equity (AEA) and the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) and I work in television and film as a background extra here in New York. Perhaps the lure of the stage will call me back again, but since childhood, the call of my writing has always been a more constant and consistent love-affair.

Me: What are you currently working on? Do readers have a sequel or a planned series to look forward to?

Leanna: Indeed! The Strangely Beautiful sequel (Title will be forthcoming) will pick up exactly where Book I leaves off. We meet new ghosts, we continue on with Percy and Alexi as hero/heroine so that we can enjoy the beginnings of their life together (and the conflicts and passions therein) and we get more of The Guard and their interpersonal relationships, with a particular eye on Rebecca and Michael. The danger is bigger as spectral war looms. Sensuality and passions, at last, are acted upon. Book III is a prequel, Book IV carries forward in Rychman familial legacy towards World War I.

Me: If you could write a book about absolutely anything with any other author, who would you choose and what would the book be about?

Leanna: I would love to write magical things with the exceedingly gifted Alethea Kontis because not only do we comprehend each others’ writing with a nearly preternatural sensibility, we’re fairy tale girls at heart and it’s hard to find a voice that feels so unique on its own and yet a part of your own heart and soul. Visit her at http://www.aletheakonits.com/ and fall in love with her.

Me: Are you currently reading anything at the moment?

Leanna: I’m reading one of my favourites, Elizabeth Peters. I started her Amelia Peabody series in the middle, so I’m going back to the first one, Crocodile on the Sandbank.

Me: Can you list some of your favorite authors and/or books?

Leanna: J.K. Rowling is my #1. I love Harry Potter with fierce fanaticism. Neil Gaiman, Stephen King, Tolkien and C. S. Lewis have been very influential, as well as Alan Moore’s graphic novels. I Loved Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell and Libba Bray’s Great and Terrible Beauty series. Elizabeth Peters and Anne Perry’s Victorian set mysteries are always a sure bet for me. I’m in love with all things 19th century, particularly Edith Wharton, the Brontës, Lewis Carroll, Bram Stoker, Gaston Leroux, Victor Hugo, Charles Dickens, Edgar Allan Poe, Mary Shelley & all the good fantastical and Gothic stuff of the age!


Leanna's Question for you!:
I’d like to know if your readers believe in ghosts. They’re welcome to share their own personal ghost stories if they like.

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And now for the GIVEAWAY!

In hopes of spreading the word on this beautiful tale, I will be parting with my gently read ARC copy of THE STRANGELY BEAUTIFUL TALE OF MISS PERCY PARKER.

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To enter:

-Simply leave a comment expressing you'd like to win the book. You must leave a valid email address so I can contact you if you win - No email = No entry!


For extra entries (you must leave comments telling me you've done so or they will not count. I prefer separate comments, but one big comment will be fine.)

+1 for answering Leanna's question above!
+1 for commenting on my review here!(<--click the link and post comment there)
+1 for commenting on Leanna's guest post! (<--click the link and post comment there)
+2 for linking to this contest (blog posts, sidebars, twitter, facebook, etc all count - leave a link or you won't get the extra entries)
+2 for becoming a follower of the blog (if you currently follow just mention it below)


The deadline is September 15th. One winner will be chosen and announced September 16th. I will email them and they will have 4 days to contact me back with their information.

**(U.S. Residents Only) Sorry =(

26 comments:

Kristen said...

-I want to win! (bittahsweetharmony@yahoo.com)

+1 I don't believe in ghosts personally, but that's because I've never had an encounter. I do however believe when my friends tell me the things they've seen in actual haunted houses.
+1 commented on your review
+1 commented on your guest post!
+2 tweeted! http://twitter.com/bookgoil/status/3648066851
+2 follower!

Memory said...

I'm not eligible for the giveaway, (non-USian, me), but I just wanted to say that every time I read about Leanna or her book, I want to read THE STRANGELY BEAUTIFUL TALE OF MISS PERCY PARKER just a little bit more. It sounds awesome.

emsjuarez said...

I def. believe in ghosts. My family used to rent an apartment more than 10 years ago and whenever I would wash the dishes I would see a shadow out of the corner of my eye. One time, I was alone in my room (I shared it w/ my sis, she had gone out w/ my cousin's) and was getting ready to go to sleep. I turned off all the lights, and all of a sudden the bed started shaking. I would turn on the light and it would stop. Turn them off and the bed would start shaking again. It kept doing that until I yelled "Stop it!" My sis and I were the only ones that ever felt that or saw things in that house. After we moved out, my cousin moved into that room and couldn't be in there b/c he would get major headaches.


Leanna, it's always great to hear where the story come from and more about who you are as a person.


I loved your review and would like to be entered in your giveaway. My e-mail is emmamelerojuarez(at)yahoo(dot)com



+1 for answering Leanna's question above!
+1 for commenting on my review here!
+1 for commenting on Leanna's guest post!
+2 for becoming a new follower

truedeadman said...

I'd love to win.

I def believe in ghosts..too many weird things occur not to

lastrideusa at yahoo dot com

following you on twitter

Leanna Renee Hieber said...

Kristen,
I understand completely. If I hadn't had inexplicable things happen to me, I can't say I would be a believer, but I also would believe my friends regardless, I think it's a very personal thing, actually.

Memory,
Thank you so much I'm so glad you're here.

emsjuarez,
Thank you so much for coming by, and thanks for sharing your own ghost story. The bed shaking is really scary. You instinctually as a kid did the right thing, it seems sometimes a verbal command makes a great difference. That's one of the main tricks of the Guard, a direct address.

Truedeadman,
Indeed, there is so much that cannot be explained, that I think there is every manner of room for the inexplicable.

Mishel - thanks for being such an angel and hosting this event! I'm very blessed that you've championed Strangely Beautiful.

I'll keep dropping in to answer any other questions or comments.

Cheers

Mishel said...

Leanna you totally rock! Just so you know =) Thanks so much for stopping by again.

Bridget said...

Hi! Just posted on Win A Book for you. Hope you get lots more readers!

ccqdesigns said...

I would love to read this book, I love ghost stories.
+1 Yes, I do believe in ghosts.
+1 I loved Leanne's guest post. I found it fascinating that she actually started writing at age 12 and that this book started 9 years ago. I can't imagine working on a book for 9 years.

I am already a follower of your blog.

rebecca dot cox at charter dot net

Becca said...

Please enter me. I'd love to read this.

I do not believe in ghosts.

I commented on the review.

I blogged about it here:
http://completepoppycock.blogspot.com/2009/09/strangely-beautiful-tale-of-miss-percy.html

thanks
rebecca.bradeen(at)verizon(dot)net

J.T. said...

Please enter me in this!

j.t.oldfield[AT]gmail.com

To answer the question: sorta. I can never really make up my mind. I used to think I could see them, but I also used to be a little bit crazy, so I'm just not sure anymore.

I'm following your blog with Google Reader now!

throuthehaze said...

Count me in please!

+1 I'm not sure of my feelings about ghosts. I don't think it is impossible but I do believe it is unlikely

+2 follower

throuthehaze at gmail dot com

donnas said...

+1 - I do believe in ghosts. My and my family have had different kinds of experiences.

+1 - commented on your review

+1 - commented on the guest post

+2 - linked on sidebar here: http://donnasbloghome.blogspot.com/

+2 - I am a new follower.

bacchus76 at myself dot com

etirv said...

I would like to be entered!

+ 2 - Follower

+ 1 - Yes, I believe in ghosts and enjoy watching Ghost Whisperers and other ghost story shows and films. I saw a ghost once when I was a child, showed itself only to me, never forgot it.

etirv said...

+1 Commented on your review, thanks, by the way!

delilah0180(at)yahoo(dot)com

etirv said...

Posted comment on Leanna's guest post!

delilah0180(at)yahoo(dot)com

Emma said...

THE STRANGELY BEAUTIFUL TALE OF MISS PERCY PARKER sounds wonderful.Please enter me in the giveaway.augustlily06(at)aim(dot)com.Thank you.
.

BUSY BEE said...

I want to win this book! Sounds fantastic!!

bsyb100 at gmail dot com

BUSY BEE said...

I have not had a personal experience with ghosts. So I can't say that I feel they affect my life in any way.

But I do believe in guardian angels.

bsyb100 at gmail dot com

BUSY BEE said...

+2 I am a current google follower.

bsyb100 at gmail dot com

dag888888 said...

Please count me in!

+1 - I'm a believer! Heard too many ghost tales that are for real.

+2 - I'm a follower.

dag888888[at]yahoo[dot]com

Paula said...

This sounds sooooo good. Thanks for the giveaway!!! A must read!!


ryspenc@yahoo.com

Debbie F said...

Please enter me! Thanks

+1 - I do believe in ghost. I believe that our spirits can stay around if we choose or have unfinished business.
+2 I'm a follower

Thanks
dcf_beth at verizon dot net

Shellie (Layers of Thought) said...

Yes, I believe in ghosts. I have seen one. Very scary! I tried to get him to tell me what he wanted but he just stood there.
I am already a follower.
I have linked your give away to my blog.
Layers of Thought
Thanks a bunch!
layersofthought{@}gmail{dot}com

Sue said...

This looks so great! I'd love to win

+1 I do believe in ghosts. I haven't seen one, but I used to live in a very old home and there were too many weird things that happened there I couldn't explain.

Thanks!!

s.mickelson at gmail dot com

Sue said...

This looks so great! I'd love to win

+1 I do believe in ghosts. I haven't seen one, but I used to live in a very old home and there were too many weird things that happened there I couldn't explain.

Thanks!!

s.mickelson at gmail dot com

Cherie J said...

I would love to win this book. It sounds fabulous. Thanks for the chance to win a copy.

cherierj(at)yahoo(dot)com

+1 Yes, I do believe ghosts exist. I remember visiting a plantation in St. Francisville, LA that was reportedly haunted and feeling this cold, creepy feeling. I could not imagine staying the night there.

+2 I became a follower.

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