Writer Wednesday Interview: Leanne Davis
Today I'm interviewing Leanne Davis, whose first novel, 'Poison' is just out with The Wild Rose Press and is free for download for a limited time only - if this interview whets your appetite, you can find a link at the end.
Welcome, Leanne! ‘Poison’ is a romantic suspense novel – what attracted you to the idea of writing romance with a villain?
I was on vacation in Long Beach, Washington, (the fictional town of Seaclusion, where Poison takes place is based on it) and happened along the North Head Lighthouse which stands over the Columbia River during a bad storm. It seemed like something evil should happen there…and I began thinking about what it could be. I had long before written about my character’s John and Cassie as a high school romance. I decided to re-visit them ten years later, and how they could end up reuniting after a bitter betrayal. In order to give them some drama, I had Cassie have a violent ex-husband who is hunting her and her son.
The cover is very dark, almost Gothic. How did you keep the balance between the challenging theme and the need for a romance to have a more positive side?
The romance part is always easy for me. The villain was singled out in his own point of view, and a few scenes go a long way…so it’s not that tough to create the creepy feel of the villain with the developing relationship of the hero/heroine.
The cover is designed by Debbie Tayler of DCM graphics off of a photo I submitted to my publisher. The photo which tags my website was taken in 2003, when I first thought up the setting and pivotal lighthouse scene for Poison. So to see what I pictured in my imagination reflected on the cover of my book…is still kind of déjà vu for me.
You describe your novels as ‘romance you can relate to’. What about Cassie and John do you think your readers will most relate to?
John is very angry at what Cassie did to him ten years before, and what broke up their high school romance. Many people deal with anger…but forgiveness is not as easy. But forgiveness can change lives…and I hope readers feel that between John and Cassie.
Also, Cassie believes she can never fully atone for the mistakes she made in her youth. Her struggle is to make up for all the wrong decisions she had made…and who hasn’t made bad decisions? It’s what we do about them that counts.
My novels are realistic, contemporary romances, so my tag line is to hopefully convey easily that my novels could theoretically happen.
‘Notorious’, the second book in the series, has also been contracted. What will readers find in common between the two, and how are you aiming to surprise us?
The surprise will be in that there is no villain in this one! No psycho ex-husband or creepy stalker. This novel came about unplanned at first. I was writing Poison and some secondary characters caught my eye…and soon I had a story for them. The commonality, well for one the next book is about John and Cassie’s brother and sister, Luke and Kelly. They meet in Seaclusion to watch Cassie’s son while John and Cassie are on their honeymoon.
How would you sum up the philosophy, or message, behind your books?
All of my fiction could happen. I love the chemistry that romance adds to any story, and the emotions that get stirred up. I bring in a variety of subjects and dramas to my novels and enjoy writing how my characters deal with them. There is some humour, some drama, and hopefully a reader can easily relate to who my characters are in the lives I have created for them.
What kind of research did you do for ‘Poison’ and ‘Notorious’?
I toured the area that my fictional town is set in. I added some real tourists spots to give it some authenticity. As with any novel there I often small details that need to be googled such a details about jobs. I also had to go to the library and check out a book about poisons and how they can kill people. Luckily I found one directed towards mystery writers that included more than a hundred different poisons and all their effects/results of taking them. Kind of gruesome but necessary!
You’d been writing for a long time before releasing your debut novel. Were there any moments when you wondered whether it was all worth it? And what advice would you give to a writer in that position?
I waited a long time before I tried to publish. I have always written. It was part of my life and my sense of self, and I have never needed anyone else’s opinion to validate that for me. So I never felt like I had to justify if it was worth it. I did most of my writing around other people’s schedules and raising young kids…so any time I snuck away to write was my escape …and I simply wanted to write! It will ALWAYS feel worth it…whether I become a bestseller, or it’s just my mom reading it.
There has never been a better time to be a writer simply because there is so many more outlets for publishing.
From Indie publishing to the Big 6 and everything in between I love that a writer finally has choices! Ten years ago it was scary to submit anywhere because if you were rejected, that was that, there wasn’t all that many places to submit to. Now writers, even new ones, actually stand a chance of getting to market.
To any writer I first say write, and spend as long as you need perfecting that writing until it is marketable…and then find your own path however and wherever you want, regardless what anyone else says.
What do you do when you are not writing?
I get outside. After too many hours in a chair writing…nothing feels better then to get outside. We have acreage I take care of (along with my young kids :-) ) And we spend a lot of time getting out of rain infested Seattle area to nicer weather.
Who is your favourite author?
She writes women’s fiction that I have always related too. In fact it was her writing that first showed me the vein of writing I wanted to focus on.
Where should we go to find out more about your books?
Poison is free from May 7 to May 11, so though I am new to you…I would love for you to download a copy and try out my debut novel!
Thanks, Leanne. I will definitely be grabbing a copy!