Sunday, October 14, 2012

Talking With L. Leander

L. Leander is our featured author today. Linda's book, Inzared, Queen of the Elephant Riders, is available on Kindle and currently enjoys a rating of 4.6 from thirty-two reviews. Wow. Thirty-two! First, a little about the book:

Book Blurb:
Bertha Maude Anderson was born in the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina. Raised on a small farm, she lives a hard life far-removed from everything she craved. Misunderstood by her parents, her only confidante her brother Ezra, Bertha yearns for excitement. A Gypsy circus comes to town and her world changes forever.

Coaxed into joining the Romanoff Brothers Circus, Bertha’s name is changed to INZARED, Queen of the Elephant Riders. She learns to ride Cecil, the elephant, and the two forge an unbreakable bond. Inzared falls in love, learns to co-exist with the Gypsies, solves a mystery and grows into a woman, all the while searching for the life she has always dreamed of.

Welcome, Linda. Your characters sound fascinating. Are any of them inspired by real people? 

My main character, Inzared, was inspired by a woman who had a positive effect on me during my young adult life. She taught me that having little doesn’t mean being poor. She grew up in poverty in the Appalachian mountains of North Carolina. As a young wife and mother she moved to the Midwest and encountered hardships most of us never dream about. Through it all she remained true to herself and loyal to her friends and family. She is one of the people in my life I would most aspire to be. Her stories of growing up and being part of her inner circle taught me a lot about life and about following your dreams. When I began writing INZARED, Queen of the Elephant Riders, the main character took on a lot of her traits.

She sounds like an amazing person. What would your main character say about you?

Inzared told me more than once that I was a procrastinator and that I needed to get her story out. I put it off for three years until she drove me crazy, and I published the first book just to shut her up! (In actuality, I’m not so much a procrastinator as unsure of myself. I kept trying to tell her that but she wouldn’t listen.)

Characters. What are you gonna do with them. What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I tell everyone I can do a lot of things, but I’m not great at any of them. I don’t mean that to sound like I don’t think I’m any good. I don’t believe that. But I am a perfectionist and get mad at myself all the time for making what I call “stupid” mistakes. (I’m working on positive reinforcement.) So, here goes: I love to play the guitar, fiddle, autoharp and dulcimer, and write songs. (I play a lot of instruments, but those are my favorites, and I’ve been writing songs since I was in my teens). I have been sewing and quilting since I was very young, and it totally relaxes me. I’m on an apron kick right now, but I love to sew absolutely anything! Reading has always been my passion – if I could pick books or television, books would win hands down! I enjoy cooking and baking (especially campfire cooking). I love, love, love to go to the movies, especially if I’ve read the book! My husband and I camp in the summer and like to take walks and visit with friends. I am reality-tv obsessed! My favorite tv show is Survivor, but The Amazing Race comes in at a close second. I also like The Voice, American Idol, America’s Got Talent – you get the drift!

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
This one’s easy – Mexico! I live in Mazatlan, Mexico in the winter months, and it’s the best place on earth. Surrounded by the ocean, great food, wonderful events and fantastic friends – couldn’t ask for more.

Which author would you most like to invite to dinner, and what would you fix me? I mean, him. Or her.
Sorry darling. No room at the table. I’ve already invited Stephen King, Ann Rule, Amy Tan, and Harlan Coben. I’m doing research for my next novel – paranormal Chinese history true crime mystery with a surprise ending! I’d do a barbecue because my hubby is an awesome grillmaster. I’m the prep cook then, and I make drinks and desserts to go with whatever he has in mind.

Oh man. Are you sure I can't come? I'll be really quiet and eat just a little...okay, moving on. When you start a new book, do you know what the entire cast will be?

No. I’m totally a “pantster.” I have learned that I need to outline (dread the thought) my characters and flesh them out a little or I tend to think everyone understands them the way I do. The characters apply when I put out the call, and after I’ve interviewed them and chosen the ones I need, I write them in. It’s kind of like doing a jigsaw puzzle (another favorite pastime of mine).

What were your favorite books or favorite authors
a) as a child: There was an Americana series that I loved growing up. The books were based on real historical figures, such as Abraham Lincoln, Betsy Ross, Abigail Adams, Andrew Jackson, etc. I loved and read each one over and over. By the age of ten I graduated to Zane Grey and read every one of his books – Wildfire was my favorite. I also began reading Jack London about then and couldn’t get enough of his books – loved White Fang! Grimm’s Fairy Tales and Anderson’s Fairy Tales were my other favorites as a child.
b) as a teenager: As a teen I grew to love the classics. Thomas Hardy was my favorite, but I also loved Bronte, Dickens, Shakespeare, Austen, Poe, London, Longfellow, and many more. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn was one of my favorite books as a teen.
c) as an adult: I have pretty eclectic tastes in reading. I don’t read Sci-Fi or Fantasy, as a rule, although I have found a few in each of those genres that I did like. I absolutely loved the Harry Potter books. For a refreshing read I like Sophie Kinsella, Janet Evanovich, and Stephanie Weiner. I have read everything Ann Rule has written as True Crime fascinates me. I cannot believe people are so base. Harlan Coben and Michael Connelly are my favorite mystery authors. Stephen King cannot be beat as the most intelligent writer of all time, in my mind. He proved that perseverance does pay. Amy Tan is brilliant, as is Barbara Kingsolver. I love biographies and autobiographies, and just about anything non-fiction. I love learning things, and research is my favorite part of writing, so I haunt the non-fiction section of the library. INZARED, Queen of the Elephant Riders is the title of your book. How did you come up with it?
I didn’t come up with it - she did! I had a couple of other names in mind, but Inzared was adamant. Some writer friends thought I should change it. She had a hissy fit. So it stayed.

My characters have hissy fits with tails. They're so dramatic. Thank you, Linda, for talking with us. I'm looking forward to reading about Inzared tomorrow in the excerpt you're going to share with us. 

About the author:
L. Leander is an e-book author, freelancer, and songwriter. She writes for Yahoo! Content and does guest posts on author blogs and groups. As a child, L. Leander dreamed of running away to join the circus. Instead, she grew up to write about it, bringing the magic alive for all who read her work.

Ms. Leander currently resides between Wisconsin and Mexico. INZARED, Queen of the Elephant Riders is the first book in a series about a Gypsy wagon circus in pre-Civil War America.