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Archive for August, 2013

I have the pleasure of hosting the talented Peta Crake on my blog tonight to talk about her new book, Revelry and all things paranormal – a special love of mine.  Welcome Peta. Thanks for being a guest. It’s really exciting to have you here.Peta Crake author pic

PC: Thanks, Leisl. It is always nice to chat with another paranormal fan and author.

LL: I really loved your debut novel, Harbinger – for me it was a mix of Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Dark Hunter series with a touch of the quirky yet butt kicking heroine, a la Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse. Your new novel, Revelry, is set in a different ‘world’ of shifters. Tell us a little bit about it and your new kick-arse heroine, Revelry Bell.

PC: Awww thank you. I love Sherrilyn Kenyon and Charlaine Harris’s work. You’ve made my day.

Revelry CoverIn Revelry’s world, shifters and other paranormal beings are known to exist but are not openly acknowledged. They are policed by the Preternatural Council and its Enforcers.

Revelry Bell, a wolf shifter, is on the run from her pack which has treated her so badly she would rather die than return to it. She takes refuge in a small town which coincidentally happens to also be the home to a lot of shifters. She only intends to stay for a few months, long enough to earn some money to top up her empty coffers, then move on.

Unfortunately, trouble seems to follow her around as she immediately attracts the attention of the local Enforcer who has the power to arrest her and send her back to her pack or sentence her to death.

LL: Ooh, that sounds amazing. Now I’m struggling to finish this interview and not go and pick up my copy (it’s next in my TBR pile). But, I’ll control myself and get on with the questions. What inspires you to write paranormal romance? Where do your ideas come from?

PC: I love the world and character building of paranormal romance. I love being able to create worlds that could co-exist with our own. Worlds that create that whole “are they real or aren’t they?” mystique. It is like when I was a child, I loved the idea that fairies might be real, that they could be living in my garden. Or all those urban myths like alligators living in the drains below New York or a black panther living in the south west of Australia. It appeals to the side of me that loves mythology and folklore. As for the romance part, even when I start out writing a story with no intention of it being a romance, my characters often have other ideas.

I get my ideas from all over the place – documentaries, news stories, scenery, and people walking down the street. But I would have to say my biggest inspiration comes from music. Sometimes a song I have heard hundreds of times will all of a sudden trigger an idea or a character in my head. One of the scenes in Revelry (and her name) was inspired by the Kings Of Leon song, Revelry. I have a whole tragic scene mapped out for another story set to Ed Sheeran’s The A Team.

LL: That sounds fascinating. Can’t wait to see what comes of that. I love stories about Weres and shifters – they are so raw and passionate and ruled by their senses. What do you think is their appeal to lovers of paranormal romance? What’s their appeal to you?

PC: I think the biggest appeal for me is the added element characters have to deal with giving them both internal (fighting natural instincts that may not be appropriate at the time) and external (having expectations placed on you for what you are rather than who you are) issues. There is also the whole dilemma of when a character’s animal side is attracted to one person but their human side is attracted to another. Part of me also loves the idea of being able to change into another creature so I could fly, run really fast or swim underwater for a long time.

LL: I’m with you there, Peta. I also love that added dimension to the conflicts of a shifter character. You have mentioned that you lived in Japan for some time and your love of the paranormal was fed by their wonderful mythology. Why do you think these mythologies are so enduring and speak to so many people on so many different levels? Why do they speak to you?

PC: I think the thing I loved most about the mythology in Japan is how alive it still is. It is an active part of their culture. For example, there are manekineko (good luck cats) in many shops, and statues of Tanuki (shape changing racoon dogs) are often seen in front of shrines.  Not to mention, practices such as Setsubun, a custom where, at the beginning of February, people walk about their houses throwing roasted soybeans and calling for good fortune to enter and evil spirits to leave. I enjoy mythology from around the world as it helps me understand the people who created the mythology in the first place. I love seeing how the environment and natural forces played a part in people’s beliefs. Mythology teaches us life lessons through example rather than telling us what we should or shouldn’t do.

LL: That is so true. I’ve always been drawn to mythologies for that reason. They are endlessly fascinating. So, aside from being a writer drawn to mythologies, who is Peta Crake? What do you do? What hobbies do you have? What gets you up in the morning and going every day?

PC: Other than being a writer I am also a mum to a tween and a teen and I work part time in retail. I also dabble in polymer clay creations and art clay silver. Although I haven’t practiced for a while I also like Japanese flower arranging (ikebana) which I studied when I was in Japan and officially reached the basic level necessary to teach it. What gets me up in the morning? Usually a cat demanding food.

LL: LOL. Both my cat and dog do that – and they know they don’t get fed then. Bottomless stomach, both of them. And wow, art clay silver and Japanese flower arranging – you are one talented lady. But enough gushing and on to the interview. I know many authors of paranormal fiction do a fair amount of research into various mythologies, while others pretty much make everything up. What camp do you lie in? Do you research current mythologies and use the gods, creatures, spirits etc. that are already known, or do you prefer to go with something fresh and new and just out of your mind?

PC: I do a bit of both. For example, Harbinger features gods from Greek, Norse, Egyptian and Celtic mythology as well as a few of my own creations. Sometimes I do not have a clear idea of the mythological creature/god I am after, rather, I know what the character represents or can and cannot do, then it is just a matter of a lot of research to find the creature or god who fits those characteristics the best.

LL: What’s Peta Crake’s pet peeve? What’s your favourite thing?

PC: My pet peeve would have to be the amount people are disrespectful towards others. I am very much of the “treat people how you wish to be treated” camp.

LL: Me too. I’m always saying that to my boys. And your favourite thing?

PC: My favourite thing? I am not sure I have one favourite thing and if I do I think it changes all the time depending on my mood.

LL: I love hearing other author’s call stories, so, tell us about when you got ‘The Call’ for your debut novel, Harbinger.Harbinger Cover

PC: I pitched Harbinger to Penguin at the Melbourne RWA conference in 2011. They requested a partial, then the full then sent back a very thorough “revise and resubmit” letter. I stewed over the changes I needed to make for a few months. I had just finished the final edits of Harbinger and sent it off for the second round of the Emerald awards when I got an e-mail from Penguin asking if I had made the revisions and would I like to resubmit the manuscript to them. I sent it off. Not long after I received a lovely phone call from Sarah Fairhall saying they were setting up a new imprint, Destiny Romance, and would love Harbinger to be one of the launch books. *cue running around house madly giggling and shrieking*. So within a year of attending my first conference and pitching for the first time I became a published author.

LL: What a great story. After all that happened, what’s been the most surprising aspect of getting that call and being a published author?

PC: I think the steep learning curve. I thought I had done a good job of editing Harbinger before I submitted it but there was so much more to do before it could be published. I learned so much during the editing process that I think my writing has slowed down a little as I now think differently than I did before. I am constantly asking myself about character motivation and consistency.

LL: What’s up next for you? Any projects on the boil? I’m hoping for a follow up to Harbinger – there’s a tease for that on your website – any news there?

PC: I have just finished a story which features a mixture of Asian mythological creatures, fairies, vampires and were-cats which I need to find a home for. I am also working on a sequel to Harbinger as well as another project which I am unsure how to categorize just yet, maybe a gothic paranormal romance.

LL: Sounds fascinating. Well, thank you so much for being a guest on my blog today, Peta. It was fun finding out a little bit more about you and your writing.

PC: My pleasure. I’d also like to give away an Kindle copy of Revelry to those who comment and answer the following question:

In a paranormal world, what kind of shifter would you be?

LL: Great question. I think I’d like to be some kind of predatory cat – a tiger maybe. They’re beautiful and you know what they say about cats – they have nine lives. Also, they’re graceful. I’d like to be more graceful. Thanks once again, Peta. You can buy Peta’s new novel, Revelry, from:

Destiny Romance: http://www.destinyromance.com

Amazon: http://amzn.com/B00DW1MICC

Kobo: http://tinyurl.com/k3fucm2

Apple: http://tinyurl.com/k5psyvq

Google Play: http://tinyurl.com/mkzm895

Author bio:

Peta Crake grew up in a small town on the south coast of Western Australia, where the idea of fairies and monsters residing in the thick forests was perfectly believable. After spending nearly a decade living in Japan and revelling in its culture, she turned her hand to writing. Now living back in Australia with a husband, two kids, a cuddle-addicted cat, and a thoroughly confused dog, she writes urban fantasy and paranormal romance full of strong sassy heroines, surprising heroes and disturbed side-kicks.

You can find out more about Peta at:

Website: www.petacrake.com

Twitter: www.twitter.com/PetaCrake

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Peta-Crake/134686450045477

Dark Side Down Under: www.darksidedownunder.com

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6518162.Peta_Crake

 

Check out my guest blog on the fabulous and talented Cathryn Hein’s Friday Feast blog today.

http://cathrynhein.wordpress.com/2013/08/23/friday-feast-with-leisl-leighton/

I talk about my love for winter and soup. There’s a recipe for my favourite minestrone soup, some of which I’m taking skiing next week when me and the fam go up to Mt Buller – snow is up to 1mtr; YAY!Minestrone - bowl

There is also a chance to win a copy of Killing Me Softly and a link to my video interview with Carol George at Destiny Romance, so if you haven’t checked that out yet, here’s your chance.

Join me and Cathryn for a chat and let me know your favourite winter food.

Riding the waves bannerI’m heading off to the Romance Writers of Australia annual conference tomorrow morning with my dear friend, Marnie (a talented writer from one of my writing groups who has taken this year off to write and is going to pitch pitch pitch at the conference. Lots of fingers crossed for Marnie. 🙂

I, like many other romance writers, look forward to this conference all year. It’s our chance to mingle with others who know I’m not insane when I mention that there’s a bunch of characters talking in my head, catch up with friends made from previous conferences and events, network and learn, learn, learn. The workshops usually give me at least one lightbulb moment and have been an essential part of this writer’s journey – there is always something new to learn (this journey is far from over!)

This will be my 5th conference and this year, for the first time, it’s being held in WA – Fremantle to be precise at the lovely Esplanade Hotel (image from the Esplanade Hotel website).Esplanade Hotel Freemantle

I’ve never been to WA, so I’m really looking forward to having a little time to look around on Thursday afternoon and Friday before the conference starts.

This year is a little bit more exciting for me than previous years, (although, it’s always been exciting). For starters, I’m going to my first conference as a published author. I will be getting my ‘First Sale’ ribbon, a coveted ribbon in RWA and one I’ve been wanting the thrill of receiving for years. Secondly, after many wins and places in competitions in the US, I finally managed to crack a place in a RWAustralia competition this last competition year and will pick up my certificate for a 3rd place in the STALI on awards night. Also, a dear friend of mine, Anita, placed first in the Selling Synopsis contest after years of just missing out in the comps (rather like me) and she is also up for the Lynne Wilding Meritorious Award, which is given out to an RWA member who has gone above and beyond in their capacity of a volunteer. So I will be absolutely cheering Anita on and am so thrilled for her.

Then there is also the fact that Penguin and Destiny Romance – my publishers – are having a cocktail party to celebrate Destiny’s first birthday, which will be fun and exciting to be there and part of it all. Then the Destineers (that’s what they call us Destiny authors) will be having a catch-up dinner after. I’ve got postcards for my novel, Killing Me Softly, Killing me softly lo resto hand out, new business cards and posters to put up on the ebook wall – all very exciting. I’m looking forward to all of it. And I’m also joining the RWA committee this year as Contest Co-ordinator – something I’m looking forward to as a big learning curve-journey into insanity kind of thing. I have to stay an extra couple of days for my first ever committee meeting. I’ve been told it’s a mind-blowing, full on day that will leave me exhausted – I know it’s crazy, but I’m really looking forward to being a part of all that!

Then, to top off my lovely time away, for the very first time at a conference, I am not pitching! Yay. Pitching has been a wonderful thing – preparing a pitch really makes you dig deep, understand your story, it’s themes, concepts and conflicts and can massively help iron out problems in a manuscript. I know I will pitch again in the future – I’m an author who wants to make a career of this writing thing, so I can’t avoid it (and I shouldn’t try, because it’s good for me!) but this year, I decided to give myself a little break and just enjoy the conference, rather than spending half of it wired on adrenaline and nerves, feeling like I was going to yak, not being able to eat properly for fear of said yakking, and mumbling madly to myself in a corner (along with all the others who are pitching) as I try to practice the perfect logline and elevator pitch.

I’m going to help my friend, Marnie, with her pitch, (and try to encourage her to eat and drink and not yak) but then I’m going to sit back and have fun, soak up the atmosphere, learn lots of stuff about being a published author (I can now go to the published author workshops!), celebrate with my friends and drink lots of cocktails and champagne – because hell, this has been a year to celebrate!

RWA Riding the Waves Conference – here I come!

A writer I know, M.J Scott, had a wonderful rant yesterday about people who tell you what you should love and that what you do love is wrong – it was really quite special, you should check it out http://blog.mjscott.net/2013/08/01/on-liking-stuff

Anyway, the gist of this rant was that people should be allowed to love what they love and not be made to feel stupid about it. I have to say, I wholeheartedly agree. A great majority of people, when I tell them I am a writer, are amazed and impressed and enthusiastic when asking me about it, even if they don’t read in the genres I write in. They share in the love, and make me feel special. love-wedding-card-two-diamond-hearts-vector-illustration-32538039But there are people out there who, when I tell them I am a writer, and they ask me what I write, the look on their face when I say ‘romantic suspense, paranormal romance and fantasy’ says quite clearly to me that they think all of these things are stupid and it is a waste of their time to ask me anything further. Of course, what they say next (always along the lines of, ‘Oh, that’s good, I guess’ or ‘I don’t read that’ (which really means, ‘I don’t read that shit, so don’t expect me to be impressed))’ doesn’t really alleviate that impression at all. It’s like they think it being in those genres makes it less real than if it was say, a literary work of some kind.

It isn’t that they don’t like romance or fantasy or paranormal that upsets me – it’s the fact the general impression I’m left with is that they think I shouldn’t like those genres. And not only that, they’re often quite pushy and loud in the way they make it clear that it is a waste of my time because it is a waste of theirs.

I’m really quite okay with them thinking what I do is a waste of their time, but to try to push that onto me is what I object to. None of us are carbon copies of anyone else. Why should I like what other people like? I don’t expect them to like what I like – they are free to follow their own hearts and minds with no reference to me at all. I just wish these kinds of people would treat me and those like me with the same courtesy. But if wishes were fishes…

The thing is, while I have studied literary novels, (I did a BA majoring in literature) I don’t really enjoy them. I’m sure they’re wonderful and have great meaning and make people think deeply and all, but to me, I don’t want to read something that’s going to make me feel depressed at the end of it, or thoughtful, or like I’m a great big smarty pants because I managed to wade through it and mostly understand what the hell the author was on about, or even worse, not a big enough smarty pants because it completely escaped me what the whole novel was about. When I was studying, the books I would curl up with at the end of the day were always a romance of some kind, fantasy or sci-fi. There is nothing so wonderful to me as to be carried away into a world of unreality, to let my mind and imagination free range to conjure up whole worlds of people and scenarios that have come out of someone else’s imagination. It frees me. It picks me up out of my day. It makes me happy.

Don’t get me wrong, I admire literary writers, (I work with a few in one of the writing groups I am a member of and their work is wonderful). I think there there is great value in that kind of novel for many people, but I’m not one of them. And I don’t think I should be made to feel wrong or stupid or dirty about that.

Romance readers and writers suffer from this kind of prejudice all the time and have done so for years. Admitting to reading romance was always tantamount to admitting you read fantasy and sci fi, that you watched Star Trek and Dr Who and have watched Star Wars more times than you could count and liked (god forbid) to read as much or more than you liked sport or having a piss up with your friends. If you did all these things (or even only a couple of them), you were considered a nerd. And when I was growing up, the term nerd was permission for someone to treat you like you were some kind of weird bug they just needed to step on.

Well, the term nerd has changed. Shows like ‘The Big Bang Theory’ has been wonderful for making nerds claim their nerdism with pride.Big Ban Theory My son calls himself a nerd (and by any definition, he is), but he calls himself that with pride. And I’m proud of him too. He has inherited his nerdism from me and his father (my husband), and he wears it with aplomb. Nerds are no longer universally looked down upon as socially inept inferiors, but as people who can and are, ruling the world. Much of the social media and technology that are integral to so many people’s existences is created by ‘nerds’. They have a right to be proud of their accomplishments and their nerdism. They’ve got to where they are because they love something so hard and there is nothing wrong with that (and if you need proof of this, watch this video of Wil Wheaton from Star Trek, Eureka and The Big Bang Theory, talk about being a nerd. Check it out, it’s pretty special.) http://www.upworthy.com/this-is-what-it-looks-like-when-the-king-of-the-nerds-gives-your-infant-daughter-a-pep-talk-7

I think romance readers and writers can be just as proud of our love. We are romance nerds. We want love to be the answer. We want everyone to have a Happy Ever After. We want people to come to understand themselves, to learn to be better people, so that they are ready to love and be loved by others. Killing me softly lo resWe’re happy to talk with anybody about who has the same love, to share, to go to conferences, to book clubs, writing meetings, join associations like RWA (Romance Writers of Australia) and ARRA (Australian Romance Readers Association) and generally own our love of love. We don’t, and shouldnt need, anyone else’s approval of what we love and as long as we’re not shoving that love down unwilling throats, we should be allowed to stay happy loving love.

When I wrote Killing Me Softly, it wasn’t because I was trying to make some big statement or change someone’s life with my profound thoughts, I wrote it because I wanted to share a story about people overcoming adversity and growing stronger together, connecting, falling in love, and beating the odds to get their happy ever after. And quite frankly, I don’t think there is anything more profound than finding self fulfilment and love. If we could all do that, we’d all be a lot happier. The world would be a lot happier. That’s all I want for my children. Self-fulfillment, love, happiness. If that is my only gift to them, then that is enough for me. And if the way I choose to share this with the world is by reading and writing romances of all kinds, then what’s so wrong with that?

Nothing. And I’m here to say to those people who think it is wrong, perhaps the problem is not with me or those who love love like me, but with your feeling like you have the right to tell me what I should love; what is right to love. There is no right or wrong. There is just personal preferences, and a right to be happy having them.

Embrace what you love, no matter what that is (as long as it doesn’t hurt others is my one proviso). And if what you love is love, then I think you are pretty special and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

Romance Writers of Australia