Award winning, bestselling author, actress and playwright Leanna Renee Hieber grew up in rural Ohio inventing ghost stories. She graduated with a BFA in Theatre from Miami University, a focus in the Victorian Era and a scholarship to study in London. She has adapted works of 19th Century literature for the stage and her one-act plays such as Favorite Lady have been produced around the country. Her novella Dark Nest won the 2009 Prism Award for excellence in Futuristic / Fantasy / Paranormal Romance.
Her debut novel, The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker, first in her Strangely Beautiful series of Gothic Victorian Fantasy novels, landed on Barnes & Noble's bestseller lists, was named a favourite of 2009 by 14 genre blogs, won two 2010 Prism Awards for Best Fantasy and Best First Book, the 2010 Orange County Book Buyer's Best Award (Young Adult category) and has been optioned for adaptation into a musical theatre production currently in development with a team that includes talent from Tony Award winning shows like Memphis, Wicked, Tarzan and more. In November 2011 Leanna launches Magic Most Foul, a new Gothic Paranormal Young Adult series with Sourcebooks Fire.
Welcome back Leanna! I appreciate you taking the time out to visit P.S. I Love Books. It is such a pleasure having you here.
Thanks Mishel – thrilled to return!
Can you tell us a little bit about your newest release The Perilous Prophecy of Guard and Goddess?
It’s a Strangely Beautiful prequel, releasing on May 3 in trade paperback and digital, this is an epic tale of love and sacrifice, with a large cast of familiar characters. This would also be a fine place to begin the series if you’re unfamiliar, as it can carry you into the series. This book shows the how and the why of a complex Victorian, Fantastical world, through the eyes of average humans chosen for an extraordinary calling, and the aching heart of a deity struggling to find her way when she’s falling apart. It begins in 1867 Cairo and presents a multi-cultural Guard tasked with plenty of ghost-busting between Alexandria and their transfer to London.
From the cover:
In the beginning, there were lovers: a winged deity of power and light, and a queen of grace and beauty. Phoenix was murdered, his beloved stolen away to the Whisper-world. But their passion inspired the Muses. Through great sacrifice, it could live again.
There are always six, mortal hosts for the divine. Battling spirits through the ages, they defy Darkness, Lord of the Dead. In 1867, a shadow rises. The tide turns against them, and all hope falls on a child of prophecy, an eerie, snow-white girl yet to be born. But her path must be cleared. A Great War is coming, and song, wind and stars whisper that the eighteen-year-old Beatrice Smith must give everything to prepare.
What was one of your favorite and least favorite things about writing this installment?
Favorite things: getting to know and loving the Goddess for everything she is and everything she lacks. She became as captivating to me as the rest of my beloved Guard characters. Spending brief but meaningful time with Iris Parker, Percy’s mother, was incredibly special to me. A dearer soul could not be found. Planting tiny detail seeds- like where Alexi’s scarlet cravat and feather engagement ring came from- was a real treat. I love realizing things about my own world I hadn’t realized before until I asked myself and the characters the right questions. That’s thrilling.
Least favorite thing: Timelines. Ugh. Timelines. I’m fairly “Doctor Who” when it comes to timelines; its “Timey-wimey stuff”…
If you had the chance to do it all over again would you change anything in it?
I don’t think so, I am actually very proud of this prequel. I’m leery of looking back with any regrets on a book. I know I’m honing my craft and becoming a better writer with every book, and this novel addresses some of the most important underpinnings of the series, and offered me a chance to lift up new aspects of characters and a world that I love more than I can say. I feel this is a novel that could introduce people into the Strangely Beautiful world and also satisfy a lot of questions and showcase new and exciting layers for existing fans. It’s more than a prequel telling us events we already know, it’s a journey that surprises everyone along the way.
What do you think of the cover?
I LOVE it, it’s my favourite one, it’s exactly what I hoped and asked for, and that’s rare as we authors typically don’t have a lot of sway over book covers, but my publisher has been awesome about taking my input and ideas.
Well, when I began the series a decade ago, it is no secret that I envisioned Alexi as Alan Rickman. But were it to be made today, I’d cast Richard Armitage. Alexi has to be compelling, magnetic brooding, he must dominate the screen yet retain the ability to be kind and passionate, with an oft quirky sense of humour. As for Percy, I confess, considering I’m an actress, I had a hard time envisioning someone other than myself. *grin* - There are many lovely and talented actresses who could play her, but I’d be interested in discovering an unknown debut with the capability to be shy and radiant all at the same time.
What are some of your favorite things to do when given a break from the writing life and other work-related things?
I live in New York City – just experiencing this glorious city and everything it has to offer never gets old- I’m an eternal tourist. I have very talented friends so I love going to their musical events or art shows or dance concerts, etc. I love a good meal and glass of wine, and for that there are thousands of choices. I’m never at a loss for entertainment. (If I’m in the mood to stay in, I’ve been a Doctor Who fan since I was seven years old, so I love catching up on my favourite Timelord. Convincing my beloved to watch the old series episodes remains an ongoing mission.)
Are you currently working on any projects that we may see from you in the future?
Yes, I’m writing the final installment in the Strangely Beautiful saga and getting ready to launch a new YA Gothic Victorian series full of black magic in 1880 New York City, the Magic Most Foul series, releasing 11/11 from Sourcebooks Fire. I’m very excited about it. And of course, there’s the musical. Last year The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker was optioned for adaptation into a musical theatre production. I’m pleased to say nearly the whole show has been scored and composed, the script is in its first drafts and we’re looking to do staged readings and bring investors on board this year. From here we’d do a workshop production outside of NYC and then, hopefully, bring it to Broadway in the next couple of years! But in the meantime I’m just trying to write the next books in both of my series.
Thank you so much for stopping by Leanna! Where can readers find out more about you and your work?
Thanks for having me! My website is: http://leannareneehieber.com/. Stay tuned via Twitter http://twitter.com/leannarenee and FB: http://facebook.com/lrhieber
May 3 - 10 will bring the return of the Haunted London blog tour, this time with new ghost stories and new giveaways! (Schedule is listed on my website and I’ll be tweeting and Facebooking the progression). Strangely Beautiful blessings!
Check back tomorrow for my review of The Perilous Prophecy of Guard and Goddess!