Monday, September 7, 2015

Leah Atwood

My day with Leah Atwood:
But first, a peek at her newest release: 

Come To Me Again

Dominic Sellers dreamed of escaping a life of poverty and making a living playing music. On the brink of giving up, he’s offered the chance of a lifetime to be the new guitarist for Bryce Landry. His life finally aligned with his goals, but something was missing.

Four years ago, Maisy Rothchild walked away from her fiancĂ©—her best friend and the only man she’d ever loved. She’d give anything to go back and change that day, but that wasn’t possible. There were factors that complicated the situation, things she couldn’t tell anyone.

When she makes a bold move to restore their friendship, can the same love that tore them apart bring them back together?

What a privilege for me to hang out with Leah for a little while and chat with her about her books. I’m so proud for this opportunity.

Q. How many books have you published? How many series?

Oh man, you didn’t tell me I’d have to do math. J  Let’s see.   I began with the Mail-Order Matches short stories.  There are nine of those.  The Brides of Weatherton series currently has three book, but will have five total and the Come to Me Series has three, and will get a bonus Christmas novella. Last but not least is the Freedom Bride series on which I collaborated with Susette Williams.  There are six in that series, three of them from me. So let’s see—that’s eighteen that I’ve published and are available.

Q. What do you enjoy most about writing historical fiction, and how did you get started in that genre?

They say to write what you love and the period of American westward expansion has always fascinated me.  The men and woman who pushed west and paved new roads for everyone else have such stories or bravery, courage and perseverance.  I would love if time-travel existed so I could experience it firsthand, but since it doesn’t, I have to live vicariously through my characters.

Q. You excel at historical fiction. Why did you decide to venture away from that and start a new modern day series?

Contemporary romance was always part of the equation, but the story I was working on never felt right.  A conversation with a friend was the catalyst for Come to Me Alive and the characters came to life, begging for more stories.  Funny, that series had spurred new ideas for the original series I planned but could never get the plots where I wanted, and it will now be a spin-off from the Come to Me books.

Q. You have a unique talent for making your stories light hearted and charming. Is that something you do deliberately, or do you even realize you do so?

Is there such a thing as a deliberate subconscious?  I write “inspirational romance to make your heart happy,” so there is a definite decision to keep them light-hearted, but I let the characters write the story. Seriously.  If you ever see me talking to no one in particular, I’m not crazy, but probably talking out a conversation between two characters.

Q. You have a series about mail order brides. How did that come to be?

Again, the idea absolutely fascinates me. Marriage is hard enough under normal circumstances, but to a complete stranger? And to move clear across the country in many cases?  My husband (then fiancĂ©) and I knew each other a very short time when I moved across the country to stay near him when he transferred, and even though I knew him that was scary (but very rewarding!).   I don’t know that I would have had the courage to make that move had he been a complete stranger.

Q. You have been transitioning several of your novels into audio books. Do you plan to make all of your novels available with audio?

I do. I actually made a contract offer today for another one.  It’s not a quick process, but hopefully by next summer my entire backlist will be available and all new works will have an accompanying audio version within two months.

Q. What is next for you?

Right now, I’m working on two Christmas novellas that will tie up the Brides of Weatherton and Come to Me series.  I have a fun little contemporary series planned for this winter about modern day marriages of conveniences, and then next year, the to-be-titled Come to Me spin-off and a new historical series set in South Dakota.

Q. You are completely a self-start author, beginning with your first book, and you are very successful. Why did you choose to be self-published, knowing that you had opportunities to be traditionally published?

For me, this was the best choice. I have the freedom to write as I please, juggle contemporary and historical series.  I have full control over everything I put out and I can get it to my reader’s in a quicker timeframe than traditional publishing would allow. Each person has to make their own decision based on what’s best for their goals and needs—which might be going the trad pub route for someone else, but for now, I’m very happy with my choice.

Q.  How much discipline does it take to be a full time writer? Can you describe your ordinary work week?

It takes a lot! I don’t have a set schedule because I try very hard to maintain a balance between work and family. Until the last few weeks, I still had a child home with me, so it meant a lot of late nights and early mornings to maintain a full writing schedule. Now it’s a bit easier and I can do a solid six hours during the day and only a few in the evening.  On any given week, I probably put in about fifty hours, but not all of that is strictly writing.  There’s a lot of behind the scenes work that also comes with the territory, but those tasks help break up the mental wear of straight writing.

Q. Who is your favorite writer?

Other than you?  Haha.  Let’s see, that’s another toughie.  I absolutely love Rosanne Bittner’s books and really hope she publishes more faith fiction.  Where Heaven Begins is one of the most beautiful stories I have ever read! It stays with you long after you read it.

Q. What advice would you give an emerging writer who wants to follow in your footsteps?

Writing is a fun and rewarding job, but it requires a tremendous amount of work and dedication. Learn your craft. Find a network of other writers from whom who can learn and grow.  Always be willing to learn, and in return help others who are just beginning.

Bonus round:
Q. What was your favorite Christmas present ever?

I’m not sure that it’s my favorite, but it’s the most memorable. Back in the day when Nintendo first came out, my parents bought it for me and my brothers to share. For some reason, we were allowed to open it Christmas Eve. (Generally, the Christmas Eve present was reserved for pajamas, but knowing how my mom, she was super excited to give it to us.)  At some point during the middle of the night, my brothers and I all woke up and sat in front of the TV playing Super Mario Brothers.  My dad came in sometime around three and made us go back to bed, but I still look back with a smile every time I think of it.  It’s one of those fun memories we still joke about. By the way, Santa’s cookies were still on the table when we first started playing. 

Q. How can readers keep up with what’s going on in your world?

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What a great interview with a top notch writer! I deeply respect Leah’s writing craft and I look forward to what she has in store for the future. Leah has a very positive and light hearted way of expressing herself and those qualities define her characters. If you’ve never had the opportunity to read her books, I strongly encourage you to do so—sooner rather than later. Leah delivers time and again, and I think she will continue to improve her flawless method as she goes. Perfection being perfected.

You’ll see!


Ann Ellison said...

I have loved her Come to Me series and I really enjoyed her interview.

Travis said...

Thanks, Ann!
Leah is one of my favorites, in case you couldn't tell!