Wednesday, October 02, 2013
Leigh Evans
By OFW Editor: Michael Keyton
Published: June 22, 2013

Accomplishment: ‘A true storyteller with a tough heroine and an original and engrossing tale. Reader beware, if you pick up a Leigh Evans book, you won't put it down until the last page.’ Patricia Briggs on Leigh Evans.

Which author makes you jealous and why?

When I read a beautifully written book (for instance, Patrick Rothfuss’s The Name of the Wind), I don’t feel jealousy. Instead, I feel awe and gratitude. Thank you, dear author, for carrying me so effortlessly to your world.

Now if we’re talking teeth-clenching sour envy—that happens whenever I read an annoying tweet from a writer pal. “Great day! Got 3K down in the morning, did a half marathon, now charging ahead. Goal today: 12K!!!!” Oh, shut up.

Which fictional character would I like to date?

I’m always falling in love with guys on the page. There’s no laundry, no bits of beard clogging up the sink. What’s not to love? But to choose one? Well, right off the top of my head, I’d say it’s a toss between Horatio Hornblower and Richard Sharpe. My dearest Horatio is smart, brave, and opportunistic. Admittedly, he’s also arrogant. Though only about topics he understands well. Like boats and sails, courage and war. Who couldn’t feel a flutter for this stoic guy? Equally adorable, he’s endearingly hopeless with women, finances, and social graces.

Then there’s Richard. Tall, dark and hellishly good with a rifle. Irreverent and rude too. (I like that in a man.) If I had to sum up his personality, I’d say he’s clever, brave, opportunistic—wait a minute. I think I see a theme.

Has a book every made you angry. If so, which one?

I can’t read like I used to. I have a lousy neck and it’s come down to writing or reading. Since my publishing contract makes it very clear which one I need to pay attention to, I don’t get many opportunities to sink into a story anymore. When I do, I choose something light (because a lot of Hedi Peacock’s life is dark) and fast moving (because I read books in one swallow and need to get through it in less than three hours). That stated, here’s your answer: Oh yes, I have been enraged by a book.

Up to then, the historical romance in question had engaged my interest. The author’s dialogue was witty; there was good tension between the lovers; and the writing style was fluid. Then her character did something that pulled me right out of the story. I kept going for another chapter and then stopped, unable to turn another page. The heroine had done something so at odds with my internal convictions about her character that I couldn’t re-engage. I hadn’t seen the unseemly deed coming, and nothing the heroine had thought or done post debacle had convinced me that her action was based on a genuine motivation.

(Dear author: I don’t give a shit what your editor said about BDSM selling well. I don’t believe your heroine would have asked her lover to hurt her during sex. Why not? Because you didn’t set it up for me to believe that could happen.)

I was so annoyed by the novel I did something I rarely do: I deleted it from my e-reader. Thus, I can’t supply you with the title of the book that made me wish that I’d bought it in paperback just for the satisfaction of throwing it at the wall.

Is there a genre you dislike?

Suspense thrillers based on serial killers. There are evil people. Some of them may have poor imaginations. Let’s keep it that way.

Elmore Leonard listed ten rules, one of which is: 'Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip. Think of what you skip reading a novel.' What rule or piece of advice would you add to the list, and if you know his ten rules, which one would you break?

I’ve read the list and I can report that I’ve broken every single one of them. Obviously, Elmore Leonard, I’m not. But then again, I’m not a literary writer with a whole bunch of experience behind me. If Leigh Evans (She-Who-Knows-Next-to-Squat) were to write a list, it would read like this:

1) Tell your internal critic to shut the hell up. What you see is as valid as any other story.

2) Write what you see and feel.

3) Yes, somehow your words didn’t translate as well as you hoped. Yes, it’s crap. Keep going. You can   probably fix it later.

4) This is not the time to convince yourself that everyone else is a better writer. Stop comparing yourself to other people .

5) Seriously. Stop it. Pay attention to the next three points because they’re important.

6) Be brave.

7) Be bold.

8) Be you.

9) Now revise, revise, revise.

10) You’re not Patrick Rothfuss. Get over it.

All joking aside, Elmore Leonard’s list is brilliant. You should read it. Think about it. And then do what you have to do to write your own book. Leonardo DaVinci didn’t just stroll up to the mural and say, “Man, I’m in the mood for throwing paint on a wall.” He studied, he learned, he worked.

Let’s do that, okay? Hell, maybe we’ll get better.

Are you pessimistic or optimistic about the future – and why?

If I looked ahead to all the ways the world could possibly end—global warming, famine caused by the extinction of the honey bee, undetected asteroids or some dumbass with a grudge and a nuclear bomb—I’d say give me a bottle of Jack Daniels, hand me a carton of ciggies and get the hell out of my way. Screw the diet, I’ve got a box of bon-bons to devour. (Everything except the chocolates with the sickly sweet pink filling. Who the hell eats those? Maybe I’ll pitch those at the zombies).

Here’s the deal about the future—whether you’re talking apocalypse or the end of the publishing world as we know it—you need to stop paying so much attention to it. Life is now. Not in the past or the future. It’s right here in the now. You cannot change what’s behind you any better than you can anticipate what will happen ahead. (Really? I married that guy? Who knew?)

What you can do is be here—in this minute, doing something that you want to do. For me? It’s sitting in my office. On the corner of my desk, I’ve got two kittens curled up in their cat basket. Every so often I give them an affectionate glance. Later, they might fight, but right now they’re sleeping like the two angels they’re not. What else? I’ve got my manuscript open and I’m comforted by the knowledge that I’ll get to it soon. And I’ve got my coffee.

This is life—here in the now. And I like it.

How would you like to be remembered?

As a great Mom.

Sheri had that faraway look in her eyes. She might have been thinking of me. I knew it was that pair of damn kittens. Me? I was dreaming of Sheri as 'a great mom'. Knew it would never happen. Mother-hood and apple pie - and lilies. I sighed. Somethings you didn't complain about. Then I noticed Sheri had three books in her hand and was thanking Leigh Evans like women do: much cooing and kissing like they'd known each other forever. I picked up one of the books, ' A Thing About Weres'. I'd finished a chapter before I realised Leigh had gone and Sheri was standing, looking meaningful by the door. She had a book in her hand.

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