Thanks Bernadette. It’s so lovely to be here.
Please tell us a little about your story and what genre it is.
Killing Me Softly is a romantic suspense and is about reclusive music producer, Alexia Deningham and rock star, Daemon Flagherty. Alexia guards her privacy fiercely. When she agrees to work with superstar Daemon and his band, it is on the condition that they stay with her at her isolated country estate.
Fresh from a messy divorce, Daemon is determined to focus on his music. He wants to work with the best and that means Lexi. He certainly isn’t looking for romance, but he finds himself intrigued by Lexi’s secretive behaviour.
Despite Lexi’s reservations, their attraction grows. But someone is watching Lexi. Someone who will stop at nothing to destroy the woman who has ruined his life. When his campaign of terror ratchets out of control, Lexi must fight for survival but who can she really trust?
Can you tell us about how Killing Me Softly came about?
I was thinking one day about how songs can mean different things to different people and then I had a dream about a music producer who was having difficulty with a rock star she was working with until he heard her music. The dream wouldn’t leave me alone, so I began to write. Funnily enough, when I sat down to write Lexi’s story, it didn’t even start with the rock star at the time, but a scene in an asylum where she was visiting her identical twin sister. The story blossomed from there.
I love the way music is so central and personal to them and yet it’s how they relate to themselves and others. It feels very true to me. I walk around singing all the time, I even sing ‘going to bed’ songs to my sons, or ‘it’s time to get dressed now’ songs etc. Music is a massive part of my life and I love that in this story that passion of mine came out in my characters. I also love the romance between Lexi and Daemon and how they get past so much to trust themselves and each other.
Tell us more about how you come up with your ideas?
As I mentioned above, I dream my stories. Sometimes the dreams are just about a character or characters who keep coming to me and won’t let go. Other times I dream a scene over and over. And sometimes, I dream a scene that then continues the next night and the next and so on, until I have the beginning of a story. Then, as I’m writing, the rest just comes to me. I’m pretty much a pantser, which means lots of re-writing, but I’ve tried plotting and it just doesn’t work for me.
What qualities do you see as most important in a romance hero?
I think he needs to be wounded or not whole in some way that only the heroine can help him with. And he needs to have something in him that is especially for her. He doesn’t have to be an Alpha, but needs to be strong within himself, but not so strong that he can’t be emotional and caring and listen. Listening is really important. Even if he doesn’t act on what the listening tells him or denies it at first, he is smart enough to let it sink in and eventually do something about it. And most of all, he doesn’t have to ‘rescue’ the heroine. I like a heroine who can rescue herself.
What genre/s do you like to read? Who is your favourite author?
My bookshelves are filled with fantasy, paranormal romance, romantic suspense, historical romance, YA and contemporary romance – so I’m a bit of a genre slut, sharing my likes around! I don’t have an all over favourite, but I do have favourites in each genre. My favourite fantasy author is Raymond E. Feist. Paranormal – Nalini Singh. Historical – Anne Gracie. YA – Richelle Meade. Contemporary and romantic suspense – Nora Roberts.
When and how did you get ‘the call’? How long have you been writing?
I’ve been writing forever, although up until about ten years ago it was mostly scripts for theatre and cabaret with a little dabbling in writing an epic fantasy novel I intend to go back to when I figure out how to weave all the elements together properly.
In regards to how I got ‘the call’, I pitched an epic paranormal to Carol George at the RWA conference last year. I met up with Carol at a Penguin workshop in January where she passed on the novel I pitched, but kept assuring me that they really liked my writing, and the ‘no’ was because the story I’d pitched just didn’t have a strong enough romantic thread in it. She asked me if I wrote anything other than paranormal and I mentioned I used to write romantic suspense. I pitched her one I thought was most ready and she said they’d love to see it. I rushed home, spent a few weeks polishing it up and sent it to her in mid Feb. I got ‘the call’ from Sarah Fairhall a few weeks later. I was so used to getting ‘we love your writing, but don’t have a place for that story at the moment’ or something similar, that it took a few minutes for it to sink in that she was saying they wanted to publish my novel. I kept saying, ‘Really?’ and probably sounded like I was away with the fairies, although I think Sarah is used to that. It took ages to sink in, but my family and writing friends helped there, as they each threw a party for me and my husband kept buying champagne, because there seemed to be something to celebrate every second day.
Do you have any words of wisdom for aspiring writers?
Firstly, write. Secondly, keep working on your writing – join a writing group, get a critique partner, enter competitions, read books (both in the genres you’re writing and books on writing techniques) and keep writing. Thirdly, write some more. You can’t improve if you don’t write. And fourth, don’t give up – aside from writing, perseverance is key.
What’s next for you?
More writing. Hopefully more published novels. I’m working on another romantic suspense at the moment and a paranormal series I’m excited about and there’s always that epic fantasy I first wrote that I want to get back to one day and do justice to, not to mention all the ideas floating around in my head for more stories. I’m a writer at heart and I would love to build a career out of that sharing what I love with other people.
Thanks, Leisl, for sharing so much of yourself with us today. Look out for part 2 of Leisl’s feature where she talks about the process of naming her book ‘Killing Me Softly’.
You can find Leisl at http://www.leislleighton.com/ and links to her book at http://www.destinyromance.com/products/9781743482612/killing-me-softly-destiny-romance