Please welcome Leah Grant to BookLikes! Leah is a romance writer, known under two pen names -- you can meet both ladies on BookLikes, have a look the author pages of Leah Grant and her YA alter ego Anne Wentworth. And to be up to date with Leah's upcoming releases, make sure to follow her BookLikes webpage at leahgrant.booklikes.com
Leah aka Anne agreed to talk with us about her upcoming debut young adult release (the book is released with Finch Books), baking and wild animals in her countryside. Ready? Here we go!
Have you always wanted to become a writer? How did it all start for you?
I started to writer very early at around age nine. Stories just came to me and my father encouraged me to keep writing. It has always made my heart happy. Characters even wake me up in the middle of the night to tell me their stories. If I'm working on a book - it plays like a movie in my head and I try to type as fast as I can to keep up.
You’ve mentioned that you’re using pen names: Leah Grant and Anne Wentworth. Can you tell our readers more about the ladies inside you.
How they are different and what their contribution is to your writing process?
I am an intensely private person - so when I decided to take the plunge into the publishing world I wanted to use a pen name. For romance I chose Leah Grant. I've always loved the name Leah and Grant is a connection to someone very special.
Anne Wentworth came about for Young Adult as I needed to keep the two kinds of writing separate.
The two names are just fronts that enable me to be creative and tell my stories. Both Leah and Anne drink far too much coffee and tend to have a sweet tooth. I'm not judging them though...
Your new young adult novel will hit bookstores September 2015. Congratulations! Can you tell our readers more about the book and how the idea was born?
Shake The Spiders is my first YA to be published (Finch Books - a division of Totally Entwined Group UK) and I am very excited. When the story for this young adult book came to me, I wasn’t surprised. The book is about Kim, a fourteen year old that has suffered for years trying to live around her alcoholic mother. She is tired and damaged and I needed to tell her story. There are so many teens/kids out there that live through this. Some make it and some don’t.
When her mother drops her off for the summer at her grandma’s place – it’s almost like she’s been left at that final bus-stop. It ends up being the best thing that could have happened for her. I know so many never get that chance – someone reaching out to help. More often than not
the alcoholic manages to ruin not only their life, but everyone around them.
You can see the cracks in Kim’s person – she drifts, doesn’t trust people, has had to take on the role of parent from a young age, continuously has to cover and clean up the messes her mother makes – leaving her a shell – someone desperate inside for love and belonging.
This book is about her journey of healing and taking chances on people. It is about Kim drawing a line and choosing not to be hurt anymore. Kim does this in the book when she decides she just doesn’t want to have to deal with her drunk mother any longer. I set the story in small-town Manitoba and had a great time conjuring some interesting if not ‘flawed’ characters.
Being a real lover of paranormal, I wove a ghost legend into the storyline and also gave it some historical elements. I wanted to tell the story from the other side - the person that is trying to rebuild themselves and their life after the fallout from being around someone with an addiction.
Leah Grant writes fantasy romances, Anne Wentworth goes for young adult novels -- how do you find yourself in those genres? Did you pick them or did the genres pick you?
The books just happen. I don't really know how else to say it. Literally the book will just begin in my head. I don't have a clue where it will go or what will happen. Essentially, I'm really the 'first reader' and just go with it. When people ask me 'how does it end?' I often have to say, 'how would I know?'. (you should see the looks I get with that one) It is a different way to write, but it works for me.
You live in Canada, you love the Prairies and the wildlife that surrounds you, and even call the place “magical”. Can you tell our readers how does the setting influence your writing process? We guess that such a spectacular place just must have an influence on an individual.
The peace and beauty here is amazing. I love living out in the country, being surrounded by trees and critters of all kinds. The seasons and weather here are extreme - summers have massive storms (can be tornados) and winter can hit with temps falling to -40's. When I first walked on this land, I knew we had to buy the place. I felt free here and this is the place where my writing has been most prolific.
If I am tired or need a break, I just go outside to watch deer feeding in the trees across from our place. Sometimes there will be twenty or more hawks flying over in the later afternoon. Watching a fox scamper through the property just after midnight or a lone wolf making its way along the edge of the property - I feel so lucky to be able to experience all of this. It leaves me refreshed and must feed my imagination - as ideas for books are non-stop here.
You’ve mentioned you’re a cat owner. BookLikes community as well as the BookLikes team adore cats :) Does Miss Fish has her appearance in any of your stories?
Miss Fish was a rescue in 2012. She had been abandoned (not very nice when you think of a prairie winter) and a very kind soul fed her until a home could be found. When I saw her picture on the rescue web site - it was LOVE! She now is part of our family and very well loved and cared for. She is our heart.
Miss Fish may have been some of the inspiration for 'Jammer' the huge black cat in Shake The Spiders. She is a very loving and amazing companion. She sits beside me as I write each day.
Your motto is: Don’t be afraid to step into the storm. What does it mean to you?
I believe a person has to go out and live - sometimes life can throw difficult circumstances and trials at a person. I've lived through many and the only thing I can tell others is that you can't be afraid to move forward. Sometimes the crazy/difficult/unhappy times in our lives can sweep us along to what ends up being an amazing place. If we don't step into the storm because we are afraid, we might lose out on something really good.
You’re a coffee & chocolate lover with a twist for cooking. What’s your best and favorite recipe? Would you mind sharing it with our readers?
I do love to cook and bake. Best and favorite? Ahhh... How about I list a few: roast beef and popovers (Yorkshire Pudding done in muffin tin), lasagna (very rich and layered - I always eat far too much), apple/pear pie, cheese and basil biscuits, roast stuffed chicken with vegetables, homemade bread (loaves and rolls) - hungry yet? I am. Now see what you've started? ; )
Best tip for popovers - heat the pan until the lard is almost smoking (handle carefully) then fill with batter and get it into that oven! Don't open the oven door until they are done.
From your point of view: is it easy to be a writer nowadays?
Yes and no. With the ebook industry - many more people can get their work out there, but that means there is so much more competition.
Do you have any writing habits which help you keep the story going?
The stories don't stop or slow down. I have to make notes to keep up with it as things unfold/characters tell me more before it is at that point in the book so I can remember to include it.
I drink coffee +++++++ I snack and I soak in the beauty here.
Could you tell our readers which authors inspire you and your works?
Just a few books come to mind - there are so many more. Eclectic would be a good word to keep in mind here.
Just read Chris Ledbetter's Drawn (YA) - loved it. Also read The Cat and Mrs. Cary again (Doris Gates).
I read. One of my favorite things to do was go to the library and just pick books out - historical/biography/anthropology/WWII/paranormal/cooking - you name it.
What are you reading now? How do you like it?
Just finished reading Drawn by Chris Ledbetter - loved it.
Do you read when writing a new novel?
Are you a book collector or a book recommender?
My husband is the pack rat - he has boxes of books.
If I like something, I'll pass it on
Paper books or e-books? Why?
I like holding the book. Besides, what would shelves look like without books?
What are your favorite quotes?
When life gives you lemons, make lemonade and then drink it!
Don't be afraid to step into the storm...
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Write! Don't write to fit into what is popular. Write from your heart.
Don't give up - ever.
What’s your favorite writing and reading spot?
(our readers would love to see some photos)
My office. Miss Fish has her basket behind me and naps while I write.
Isn't that smile adorable?
Outside is my rock garden and I can watch as the birds and deer come to feed.
Baltimore Oriole came by. Our feeder is busy year-round.
The 'trio' come to our feeder and often empty it out in winter
for the black sunflower seeds.
Thank you, Leah!
Leah Grant's books on BookLikes:
see more on Leah Grant's author page
Anne Wentworth's book on BookLikes
See more on Anne's author page
Read other talks on BookLikes: