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Posts Tagged ‘The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker’

First we have three copies of Mike Resnick’s The Buntline Special to give away.

David mark brown

Riva Laughlin

Joan Gallo

Congrats!  Please email me at suzannelazear (@) hotmail to claim your prize. 

Didn’t win?  We still have books by Tim Akers,  or Ren Cummins up for grabs and a prize pack of goodies including a copy of Blameless and a fan autographed by Gail Carriger.

Today we welcome back one of my favorite people, author Leanna Renee Hieber. She’s also giving away a copy of Strangely Beautiful 1 or 2 (your choice). 

Award winning, bestselling author, actress and playwright Leanna Renee Hieber grew up in rural Ohio inventing ghost stories.  She graduated with a BFA in Theatre from Miami University, a focus in the Victorian Era and a scholarship to study in London. She has adapted works of 19th Century literature for the stage and her one-act plays such as Favorite Lady have been produced around the country. Her novella Dark Nest won the 2009 Prism Award for excellence in Futuristic / Fantasy / Paranormal Romance. Her debut novel, The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker, first in her Strangely Beautiful series of ghostly, Gothic Victorian Fantasy novels, landed on Barnes & Noble’s mass market and overall Bestseller Lists. The book was named a favourite of 2009 by 14 genre book review blogs including Publishers Weekly’s Beyond Her Book and Smart Bitches/Dear Author’s book tournament, won two 2010 Prism Awards for Best Fantasy and Best First Book, the 2010 Orange County Book Buyer’s Best Award (Young Adult category) and option rights have been sold for adaptation into musical theatre production currently in development with a team that includes talent that brought Tony Award winning shows like Memphis, Wicked, Tarzan and more to the Broadway stage. In November 2011 Leanna launches Magic Most Foul, a new Gothic Paranormal Young Adult series with Sourcebooks Teen Fire.

My Non-Traditional Heroines: The Joys and Struggles of Being Different
by Leanna Renee Hieber

Firstly, thanks Suzanne, I am thrilled to return to this festival of awesome.

This topic is one of the most near-and-dear subjects to me and to the books I write, it also a subject I’ll be presenting several times this year at conventions and conferences. It’s also a topic that goes really well with the themes of Steampunk.

One of the great values of this genre: You get two fantasy worlds in one; a historical setting/world we do not live in yet have some sort of touchstone to, and yet different from what you’d see in a textbook or on the History channel. That being the punk part – and I think that’s what draws people to alternate history, taking known historical facts and asking ‘what if’ – it’s a wonderful challenge to the imagination that so many wonderful writers have risen to. Disclaimer: In regards to my work, I have to be careful saying Steampunk straight up, though I’m happily active in the Steampunk community, my books are technically Gaslight Fantasy as I’ve no tech or gadgets in my story; i.e my ghost-busting Guard uses holy fire, not contraptions. For me, what I love most about Neo-Victorianism and Gaslight Fantasy is re-envisioning it, but yet still putting my characters in a ‘realistic’ Victorian world. There were so many issues and injustices inherent in the Victorian age, and I’m not interested in writing books where those conflicts are not present, but rather how my characters must deal with them. And while we have some ‘advances’ in our society, we can’t cast stones today. There are just as many present injustices and social issues taking different sheeps’ clothing. But by presenting a fantasy world – we can present an enjoyable rather than didactic way of examining what we find troubling, interesting, or needing fixing about the past or present society. We can also challenge the normative.

The thing that draws me time and again to storytelling are tales of underdogs and outcasts struggling to find a community, working to find a place where they belong and where their particular gifts and talents are valued. The heroines of my two series, The Strangely Beautiful and forthcoming Magic Most Foul series are examples of this.

About Miss Percy Parker:

18 years old, Miss Percy is entirely without colour. She surpasses pale, she’s without colour. She looks, for all intents and purposes, exactly like a ghost. She can see and speak with ghosts, and feels often as if she belongs more with them than the mortal world. She’s lived clinging to the belief that her abilities and crippling visions mean she’s fated for something specific, and the series is about finding out that purpose,.

Speaking just about Percy, solely, as a character, I suppose every author hopes her heroine will be loved and adored, so when my awkward, timid Percy is loved, I rejoice more than anyone. But I’ve also discovered that my books are not for everyone, not everyone is ready to go on the ride that the Gothic novel style requires, nor is everyone ready for Miss Percy. Perhaps they think she should be stronger. If you were told you were a freak every day, if people shuddered and started when they looked at you, would you feel very confident? You might, like she did, think yourself the freak the world thinks you are. It’s a brave act for her to face the morning every day, and to interact with the world at all. Still, I’d never write a story where a character simply stays in the uncomfortable place they’re in, and Percy goes on quite the growth journey in the series. And it’s growth she as a character and we as readers can take joy and pride in.

Some aren’t exactly sure what to do with Percy, how to think about her. Far from typical, she looks shockingly different than your average person. I’m not sure people quite understand that on a visceral level, even though I describe her often. One reviewer who rated the book poorly mentioned that she didn’t understand how a pale girl with blue eyes would be treated poorly in Victorian England – evidently she simply did not internalize how different Percy is and what that truly, realistically would have meant for her. Still, I want her not to be criticized for her difference but accepted regardless. I’m so grateful so many readers do just that; accept her and champion her. But for those who may wonder, it’s why I have the picture of her on my website, for reference. Personally, I think she’s beautiful but in no way could someone say she’s ordinary. This is a distancing quality for some readers; we’re used to seeing ourselves as the protagonist in some ways, relating to her, rooting for her on a deeply personal and relatable level. I think her sweet nature, her awkwardness and passion is something everyone can relate to, but visually it’s hard to capture that same relational quality. And yet, I think we should challenge ourselves to relate.

She is the woman she is because she came into my mind just as she was, and I was captivated by her from the start. I felt presented with an exciting opportunity to make us all think about beauty and its limitations through the character of Percy, through the eyes of us; the beholders. The Victorians had a very strict notion of beauty, and it was limiting to women. Present day is no exception. Yet there are plenty of ways to go against the grain. I’m a Goth girl, I think a lot of things are beautiful that other people might think are strange, and I find it a freeing and envigorating way of life. It may be a bit lofty, but I’d love for the character of Percy in the Strangely Beautiful series to encourage us to redefine beauty, as the narrow definition of beauty is so limiting from past to present, it is confining and damaging to so many people in the world. Let’s find something we might once have dismissed as strange, in fact, beautiful.

Miss Natalie Stewart:

17 years old, Natalie lives in 1880New York City, lost her mother as a child, the trauma of which led her to suffer from Selective Mutism, a condition where she does not speak. She communicates through a mixture of Sign Language and note-writing. The story is told through her diary.

I’ve always been interested in giving a voice to the voice-less. So much of Victorian society muffled most women, speaking for them and speaking about them, never did the society really interact with them and their best interests. The society stifled their sexuality, their intellect, their abilities and their rights, across all classes, and far worse treatment was offered to non-white races.

I wanted to think about a girl who was still subject to the rules of this muffling society having to exist further muffled. With a sharp wit, a fiercely intelligent mind, but this frustrating condition that wasn’t one that she could simply ‘snap out of’, Natalie is additionally oppressed. Though the book does see her speaking by the end, thanks to supernatural circumstances, it isn’t an ‘easy out’ for Natalie. She has many social and physical constraints to overcome as she struggles to regain something she lost. Yet, like Percy, there is such pride in overcoming her battles, all the more fierce pride for having been written off as an ‘unfortunate’ and pigeonholed into nothingness, to then rise to heroic heights no one would have expected of her. In my world, I empower Natalie with a few awesome and open-minded helpers along the way. The reality for a girl like Natalie in that time period, though, was much less optimistic. I make Natalie aware of this so that we, the reader, may be aware of her particular advantages amidst her struggles.

I’m not interested in non-traditional heroines as novelties or plot points. I’m interested in them as people. I’m interested in all persons being able to see themselves as heroines of fiction, no matter their body type, mental type, physical type, etc.

Beauty for the freaks, a voice to the voice-less. These are my small, tiny hopes for love in a world full of difficulty and pain.

Something that I have not mentioned yet is something that must be mentioned: Multi-culturalism in our work and the work of our genre. The ‘traditional’ heroine in our Western fiction is just that, traditionally Western. I don’t personally have an example otherwise, though my upcoming Strangely Beautiful release, The Perilous Prophecy of Guard and Goddess, has an Egyptian hero and several Egyptian characters from several different religious backgrounds. For greater, ongoing discussion on the multi-cultural front as it is always an ongoing discussion, I’d like to turn you to two of my very favourite resources in all the world: Beyond Victoriana http://beyondvictoriana.com/ and Silver Goggles – http://silver-goggles.blogspot.com/ – Please do yourselves a favor and have these sites on your radar and check them often.

I’m giving away a copy of either Strangely Beautiful book 1 or 2, winner’s choice, to a random commenter chosen by the Steamed! Staff – So tell me, What about you? Please share your favourite non-traditional heroines!

~Leanna Renee Hieber

http://leannareneehieber.com

http://twitter.com/leannarenee

http://facebook.com/lrhieber

http://leannareneebooks.blogspot.com

The Strangely Beautiful series: The Perilous Prophecy of Guard and Goddess (A Strangely Beautiful prequel) arrives May 3 in trade and digital

The Magic Most Foul series: Darker Still  (Magic Most Foul #1) arrives November 8 in trade and digital from Sourcebooks Fire

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Today is the last day you can enter to win a copy of Arthur Slade’s new steampunk Tween thriller “The Dark Deeps.”

Also, tune in Monday, October 4th, 2010, when we announce the lineup for our 2010 Halloween Author Invasion (and what exactly the author invasion is.) Be very afraid (but be excited, too.)

Today we welcome Lolita Leanna, aka Leanna Renee Hieber, author of the “Percy Parker” Gaslamp Romance series.  “A Christmas Carroll” aka “Percy Parker 2 1/2” will be featured in the anthology A MIDWINTER FANTASY which is an ebook to be released by Dorchester.  At the moment Dorchester has delayed the ebook’s release, but if you follow Leanna on Twitter, she’ll let you know when the ordering link goes live.

Gaslight Musings: Building on Your Atmosphere – Leanna Renee Hieber’s latest Strangely Beautiful venture:

It should be no secret that what draws readers to Steampunk, to Gaslight and also to the Gothic is atmosphere. Our favourite works are full of rich atmosphere and intense world-building. One of the important yet tricky things in writing series fiction, particularly if it’s fantastical, paranormal or all of the above, is coming up with ways in which your world still maintains its conventions but also grows in richness, complexity, conflict and intrigue. I think one of the best ways to do this is to make sure that if you introduce a new convention, to be sure that it comes from within the world you’ve already built rather than tacking on something new. Also, the beauty of series fiction allows us to dive deeper into secondary characters, and deeper into the world’s details, where these new flowers can really bloom.

In thinking of new aspects to introduce in “A Christmas Carroll” which serves as Strangely Beautiful series #2.5, featured in A MIDWINTER FANTASY anthology, I knew I needed something new within my spirit world, what I call the Whisper-World.

What I came up with was The Liminal. You’ll see it described in the brief excerpt below, and I didn’t realize until I wrote it that it’s a very Steampunk detail. The Liminal clock keeps magic mortal time; its hands are vast and the barrel tells the year, shifting its great lens to show its charges the necessary scene in any moment in time. But it is still a part of the Whisper-World; a place I’ve described as mysterious, vast and shifting, beholden to powers over life and death that mere mortals can only guess at. The Liminal fit into that premise smoothly.

I love writing series fiction for all of the reasons I’ve mentioned. I love getting the chance to give secondary characters their due, and I adore taking the world I’ve built and simmering further in it; not just the skin and bones but the marrow of the world. I hope you’ll enjoy A MIDWINTER FANTASY, which just released on the 28th! Each of the stories in the anthology features a respective world that the author has built upon for at least two series books. Please note, due to changes at Dorchester Publishing this is a digital / eBook release ONLY. Future books will be released in Trade Paperback, but the transition at Dorchester has caught this book without paperback printing of any kind.

Here’s a tiny excerpt involving The Liminal, Strangely Beautiful’s new world-building detail:

From “A Christmas Carroll” featured in A MIDWINTER FANTASY anthology:

Prologue – December 1888, at the edge of London’s reality

Three spirits murmured to each other, standing in the luminous Liminal that separated the waiting Whisper-world from the dazzling, drawing light of the Great Beyond.  The Whisper-world was quite the grey purgatory, while the Great Beyond, well…who possesses the words to describe Paradise?

The Liminal is a place where magic is discussed and made, from whence spirits receive duties and inspiration, where dreams are both created and abandoned. Where those who are worthy might become angels. It is a place where time is porous and malleable; it keeps its own clock. Here pasts are recaptured and futures glimpsed; here spirits from every walk of death—those still invested in parties on Earth—discuss their current designs on the living, for better or for worse.

The present trio at the Liminal edge was shrouded in shadow, and they contemplated parties in London, England, under the reign of Queen Victoria. Their clothing, too, represented various decades within Her Highness’ extensive reign, long may she live. The spirits stood before a living portrait rendered by exquisite hands: the vast proscenium of an elaborate stage dwarfed their spirit trio. The set scene laid wide before them was a stately school on a moonlit night, dim, eerie, engaging…and awaiting its players.”

For more about Leanna Renee Hieber, the Strangely Beautiful saga and A MIDWINTER FANTASY:

www.leannareneehieber.com

www.twitter.com/leannarenee

Facebook: http://tinyurl.com/sbsfan

– Strangely Beautiful Blessings!

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Today we welcome back O.M. Grey, author of Avalon Revisited. She’s going to review The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker for us.

The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker by Leanna Renee Hieber

There are few books that captivate my attention so completely that I’m not only so enthralled with the story that I can’t put the book down, but where I’m also so emotionally wrapped up in the characters that I deeply feel every ounce of their emotions. Where I cry and laugh and even scold them out loud. The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker by Leanna Renee Hieber is one of those books.

It’s about a young girl named Percy who is brilliant in mind and rather bizarre in form. She keeps her deathly pale skin and long white hair as covered as possible, always hiding away to avoid ridicule. Although brilliant, she does have trouble with one subject: mathematics. Her professor, Alexi Rychman, begins to tutor her in the subject. He, unbeknownst to her at the time, is the leader of The Guard, a group of people who are possessed by muses and other supernatural creatures giving them the power to keep order between this world and the Whisper World, a Hades-like underworld. This is all based in Greek Mythology which Ms. Hieber brilliantly weaves into her Gothic tale.

Once hooked, I quite literally could not put the book down. I had to keep reading to experience the love between Alexi and Percy unfold. That ever-forbidden love between professor and student. That line that blurs between duty and ethics because of what the heart and soul desire, and in this case, fate demands. Percy, who had lived a live in a convent because of her shocking, ghost-like pale appearance, was so very lonely that she never knew the kind touch of anyone, let alone a man. Her life was one where if someone were to just touch her hand or hold her to dance was just a thrill beyond anything she had ever dared to dream. Then she meets her Alexi, professor and math tutor. Ms. Hieber lyrically describes their unfolding love and Percy’s longing to not only fit in to some small part of society, but to also be loved, body and mind and soul. It was all beyond Percy’s wildest dreams.

There was a particularly poignant scene where Percy, who can see and hear ghosts, watches a ghostly couple meet over their graves and waltz on their wedding anniversary. My heart ached for her as she watched this couple, now long dead, still meet and celebrate their love. A love she was certain she would never know.

This book is the quintessential Gothic Romance. If you are a fan of Gothic Romance, Steampunk, or Gaslight Romance, I strongly suggest you pick up The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker and follow immediately with its sequel The Darkly Luminous Fight for Persephone Parker. Leanna Renee Hieber makes it impossible for the reader to do anything but completely fall, head over proverbial heels, into her darkly beautiful world of Gothic Romance, ubiquitous ghosts, and discovered dreams.

~O. M. Grey

Thank you so much for for your review and thank you for coming back to Steamed! and visiting us.

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Today we welcome the extraordinarily talented Leanna Renee Hieber, author of  The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker and the newest book in Percy’s saga The Darkly Luminous Fight for Persephone Parker, which comes to bookstores April 27, 2010.  Also, Percy Parker is now going to be a musical!  Isn’t that amazing?

Lolita Suzanne: Hi Leanna, thank you so much for dropping by and helping us celebrate Steampunkapalooza! Your second book is released at the end of the month, how excited are you?

Leanna Renee Hieber: Hello Suzi and esteemed Steamed followers! Thanks for the opportunity to be here! Oh, I am SO excited for the Strangely Beautiful saga to continue I can hardly stand it! The first novel isn’t complete without this one, and I’m thrilled for the pair to be out in the world.

LS: Where did the idea for the “Strangely Beautiful” series come from? What came first, Percy or her world?

LRH: Percy came first. Like an angelic herald, and nothing else would ever be the same.

I’ve always been captivated by the mythos and archetype of the brooding, dark, Gothic hero and what it would take to get inside his head, his heart, and open him up, like shining a ray of sunlight inside. Percy was the answer to that question and to that experiment. Percy is the exact opposite of that Gothic hero archetype and is instead, his foil, and the traditional Gothic heroine (though she contains a few of my own inventions along the way). The first element of Strangely Beautiful came to me in a delirious vision, one night after play rehearsal while I was working terribly long hours as an acting intern for the Cincinnati Shakespeare Company, nearly 10 years ago.

The 19th century, since childhood, has been my mental playground. So into that familiar setting stepped a death-pale, ghostly, eerie young woman. She walked into Professor Rychman’s grand, richly-appointed office, stared achingly across the room at her brooding professor lit by candlelight. The tension between them was so distinct and so powerful, I was obsessed with them immediately. I was so busy that I didn’t have time to write down any notes, however while driving to rehearsal I recorded a voice memo that began with: “My life has just changed.” And then I described these two characters, and started daydreaming.

I knew from the moment I met Miss Percy that my life would never be the same because of her. I knew she would be the one to launch my career as a novelist. I didn’t know when, how, and I couldn’t know how terribly long it would take, but I knew she was the one.

LS: You mentioned to me once that “Percy Parker” was a labor of love some nine years in the making. Can you tell us a little about the whole process? It’s such a unique blend – a little gothic romance, a little adventure, a little magic…did the story’s uniqueness impact your ability to find a home for it? How would you classify the series, genre-wise, anyway?

LRH: Indeed. It was a long, hard road. I could have likely sold this story more quickly had I made it one genre rather than several, and reconciled the adult with the YA cross-over appeal, but it simply wouldn’t be my style. From agents and editors, I got a lot of “it’s good, but we don’t know what to do with it. We don’t know where to shelve it.” And so I had to wait (after more rejection letters than I care to recount) for an agent and a house who would find my cross-genre nature a strength rather than a hindrance. Dorchester is known for taking chances on distinct new voices, and I landed an agent who was looking specifically for the magical and lyrical voice my book(s) offers. And so I’m living proof that as long as you “know thyself”, and how to brand, even if the branding is cross-genre, you can find a good fit, so long as you persist and stay true to it.

However I must also say that you have to be flexible. The manuscript had countless revisions under my own hand, and then I had two revise-and-resubmit situations, one for my agent, one to gain my contract with Dorchester. These revise-and-resubmit revisions dealt with structure, pacing, and made the book a better book. These revisions did not compromise the book because both agent and editor loved the ideas, characters and tone, and that’s the true identity of a book. So as an author, knowing what can and can’t be changed is important, and being able to be flexible will make you easier to sell and keep selling during your career.

If I could pick one word by which to describe the first Strangely Beautiful, I would call it a Gothic novel. Gothic novels have a precedent for dramatic stories, for the supernatural and paranormal, as well as the fantastical. However in order to let readers know just what they’re in for, and will be in for as the series progresses, I also use all those above adjectives you used. Now it might seem at first like it’s a nonsensical jumble, but what makes these disparate elements work is the Victorian Era itself.

The Victorians were ardent spiritualists, loved ghost stories and the supernatural. Look at the literature of the time, which remains my direct source and inspiration for my work. In addition to the supernatural elements, I use Greek Mythology in my work (while taking great liberties with it). The Victorians were ardent Neo-classicists and referenced mythology in their art, architecture, literature, theatrical revivals, etc. This is the era that birthed the classic “Bulfinch’s Mythology” a standard Greek Mythological enthusiasts continue to use today. And so I pull my themes right from the fascinating Victorian psyche.

I would recommend to anyone looking to genre-blend that they see what precedent might already exist for those disparate elements coming together under a thematic whole.

LS: What’s with the long titles?

LRH: Heh, that’s all my agent’s doing. He suggested a long and descriptive title for the first book to really ‘sell’ the book from word one. And it worked, it got editors’ attention. So now it’s a matter of maintaining the brand with similarly long, descriptive titles. The marketing department both loves and hates this and my titles end up written out in-house as TSBToMPP and TDLFFPP and such.


LS: In the past decade there’s been an explosion of sub-genres. Has this growth made it easier or harder for “out of the box” stories to find homes? Are you excited with the whole movement towards genre-blending? How do you think this will influence the types of stories we’ll see on the shelves?

LRH: I’m so thrilled by the expansion of the genres. It’s an exciting time to be in the industry. I can attribute the sale of the Strangely Beautiful series to the growth of sub-genres and thank all my genre foremothers and forefathers for charting brave and wondrous new territory.  I do think the industry, readers and authors are all getting more adventurous. I love weaving genres together into a work I find stronger for the various aspects included, and I think the trends are following that desire. And I’m grateful, because frankly I don’t know how to write a book that isn’t in some way ‘cross-genre’. I think the influence will result in more and more cross-over between genres, which I think is a great thing; so long as authors still stick to the types of stories they themselves love and believe in, and don’t just cross genres haphazardly.

LS: Was “Darkly Luminous” easier or harder to write than “Strangely Beautiful?” Can you tell us anything about what happens in this next installment?

LRH:  Darkly Luminous was easier, in many ways. I was a far more disciplined writer than I was during the process of the first novel. I had the momentum of selling book 1, though it came with the pressure of expectation (and writing a book on deadline for the first time).  There are strange new nerves and neuroses with every new project, so there’s always something different to face and every book will have its obstacles.

But I knew the characters so well that they sort of poured themselves onto the page. We ‘settle in’ to all the characters more in this second installment and see much more of them all, but they don’t get any rest – it’s a high-stakes and high-passion novel. Allowing Percy and Alexi to begin a life together was a special, delicious, sweet, sometimes funny and often difficult exploration. I am endlessly compelled by their dynamic. Darkly Luminous picks up exactly where the first book leaves off and introduces us to Beatrice Tipton, who factors strongly into Strangely Beautiful #3, a prequel. The action rouses to a huge, epic, spectral battle, and where everyone goes from here will be an interesting journey for me to write.

LS:  “Strangely Beautiful 2 ½” comes out in an anthology in the fall, right? Can you tell us a little about it? When will book three be released? How many books do you have planned in the series?

LRH: Indeed! “A Christmas Carroll” (Strangely Beautiful #2.5) will be included in Dorchester’s A MIDWINTER FANTASY (October) and stars Headmistress Thompson and Vicar Michael Carroll.   While Darkly Luminous picks up exactly where the first book left off, so does the novella pick up where Darkly Luminous leaves off, and fills in the gap between the last chapter of Darkly Luminous and the epilogue of Darkly Luminous (which needs some explaining as it’s a bit too tidy without the novella to put those two characters through the necessary ringer to really earn their story).

Book 3 will be a prequel shifting from 1860s Cairo to 1860/70s New York and will feature Beatrice Tipton’s Guard passing the torch to Alexi’s Guard and preparing for Prophecy in ways Alexi and his Guard never know. I deal with “The Goddess” and Phoenix directly as they nearly (and painfully) lose their grip on their plan. Writing the teenage Alexi Rychman (and a teen Elijah Withersby) is proving to be great fun. Book 4 will continue forward in time, crossing the 20th century, focusing on the Rychman family legacy. I don’t have any more Strangely Beautiful books planned after that, though I’d like to give Elijah and Josephine their own novella like Rebecca and Michael have been allowed.

LS:  Do you have any non-Percy projects in the wings?

LRH:  My agent is currently shopping around my Historical Paranormal YA series set in Victorian NYC. *crossing fingers* I’m also doing some neat Fantasy fiction work (with a touch of horror) on a gaming project that’s still in development.
LS:  You’re an actress and a playwright, how does that influence the way you write stories?

LRH:  Absolutely. My process is entirely theatrically related. I think of books like a Cinematographer thinks of setting up a shot, like a Director thinks about making choices about movement, structure and point of view and as an Actor when I think of getting into my characters and their dialogue. I teach a workshop called “Direct Your Book: Theatrical Techniques to a Blockbuster Novel” because I realized I have a unique theatrical perspective to offer in the way I literally see my books and create them.

LS:  Did you always want to be a writer? When was that defining moment, when you sat down and said, “I’m going to do this, no matter what anyone says?”

LRH:  I’ve been writing and telling stories since I can remember. I began my first novel (a Gothic novel, actually, my themes have long been with me) when I was about 12, and tinkered with it for nearly a decade. I earlier described how once I met her, I knew Miss Percy would change my life, but I kept her on the back burner for years as I worked as a professional actress. I moved to New York City to see whether theatre or my books would win out. One day I was in the middle of a Broadway callback and all I could think about was Percy and Alexi. I was terrified to walk away from what I was “trained” to do. Yet I refocused, stopped auditioning and dared a homecoming to what had been that first childhood love-affair; writing books. My contract certainly didn’t happen overnight, as I’ve said, but I knew when I started taking my writing seriously that I made the right decision.


LS:  What sort of writer are you – a pantser? A plotter? Do you write in spurts or slow and steady? Do you like to write to music or in silence. Do you work at a desk or on the couch? (etc…)

LRH:  Cert-i-fied Pant-ser. I plot rough outlines because I (well, and my editor) need some vague idea of where I’m going. As for how to get there, the characters tell me as I go and as I daydream. I need music in the background – something atmospheric, classical, evocative (no words). And I write where ever I have my laptop and the ability to concentrate. Non-negotiable ritual: must have cup(s) of tea on hand.

LS:  Is there anything else you’d like to share?

LRH:  Do you like a good ghost story? Please join me for my Darkly Luminous Haunted London Blog Tour where I’ll be talking about all the real ghost stories I use in my books! All the ghosts in the Strangely Beautiful series thus far, save for the ghostly residents of my fictional Athens Academy, are all documented London haunts. Learn all about them on the tour, starting the day before release day – April 26th – and running release week! Schedule is here: http://www.leannareneehieber.com/haunted-london-blog-tour/ Not only will you hear a neat ghost story and get excerpts from the book, but you can enter to win books – there’s a new giveaway included on every tour stop!

And then, on April 27th, release day, join me via the contest page of my website (http://www.leannareneehieber.com/contests ) to see the neat Darkly Luminous contest I’ll be running through May!  I’m giving away a necklace featured in the book as well as a Barnes & Noble gift certificate – all you have to do is answer an easy Darkly Luminous pop quiz question to enter to win!

I’d love to see you on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/leannarenee

And on Facebook: http://tinyurl.com/sbsfan
LS:  Do you have any upcoming appearances/signings?

LRH:  Yes! I have a ton, I’ll be everywhere this year!  Release day for Darkly Luminous, April 27th I’ll be at my hometown Barnes & Noble in West Chester Ohio, then I’ll be at the RT Book Lover’s Convention, readings in NYC, a Guest Author at the Steampunk World’s Fair, at the Phoenix Comicon, DragonCon and many more – check out my schedule at http://booktour.com/author/leanna-renee-hieber

Lolita Suzanne: Thank you so much for coming by, we really appreciate it, and congratulations on your upcoming release.  I can’t wait to read it.  I’m still squeeing over the idea of you getting to turn your book into a musical, that is just so amazing.  I hope I get to see it one day.

Leanna Renee Hieber: Thanks so much Suzi, fellow Lolitas et al! Strangely Beautiful blessings!

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I have the results for the Clockwork Couture ensemble contest and will announce the finalists and winner on Saturday, April 17th.  On Saturday we also welcome EJP Creations, who makes Clockhand Tiaras (among other things.  Sunday, April 18th we’ll learn about upcycled designs with Creative Habits.  Monday kicks off an amazing week with John from Steampunk Tales.  Hold on to your fishnets, the Smuttketeers invade Steampunkapalooza on Tuesday, April 20th.  Artist Simply Willow stops by on Wednesday, April 21 and young adult author Scott Westerfeld joins us on April 22, as the guests, prizes, and mayhem continue all month long.

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Our own Lolita Leanna’s The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker has made the Sci-Fi Romance/Paranormal category of the the DABWAHA Smackdown! It’s a contest for the greatest book of 2009 with 64 books total in 8 categories and everyone votes in various rounds until only one winner remains. Voters have the chance to win many great prizes including an iPad. Another Steampunk fave of 2009, Soulless is up in the Urban Fantasy category. There are a lot of great books fighting for the title and I with everyone, especially Lolita Leanna, all the best.

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A super big congrats to Lolita Liane for making the top ten for Dorchester’s America’s “Next best Cellar” Contest.

Meet the top ten finalists:

Enchanted Season by Alicia Pace
Stay by Candi Wall
How to Lose a Demon in 10 Days by Saranna DeWyld
Confessions of the World’s Oldest Shotgun Bride by Gail Hart
The Hooded Man by Courtney Sheets
Primitive Nights by Candi Wall
Courting Demons by Kerri Nelson
Tossing the Gloves by Christy Finn
Vampire Vacation by C. J. Ellisson
Muse Struck by Liane Gentry Skye

We wish you the best of luck!!!

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Lolita Leanna’s fabulous book The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker was recently profiled by the folks over at True Blood   as a great book to read while waiting for season three — complete with an interview. If you haven’t picked it up, you should. It’s not quite steampunk , it’s more gas-lamp romance, but it has a great story, an amazing world, and characters that will leave you wanting more.

Great job, Ladies!

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