Hi Leigh and Welcome! Thank you so much for giving us the opportunity to interview you for Romance Junkies. First, can you let us know what projects you are currently working on? I’m happy to be here! My latest book is called Fear Of Flying, a contemporary romance featuring a book publicist who's afraid to fly and her difficult client, a travel writer. This romance is one wild ride! You can get a sneak peak on my website at: www.leighcourt.com
What does your workspace look like? Do you need absolute quiet to write or music in the background?
I’m lucky to have a designated home office where I can work. That’s not to say I don’t get interrupted all the time by my husband walking in and out, but it’s quieter than the kitchen table! To answer the second part of your question, I’m the kind of person who needs absolute quiet to write, so I can concentrate and lose myself in the story. But I’ve always been like that – even in college, I needed quiet to study.
Have you ever taken a writing course? What kind of advice would you give to a new writer starting out?
Actually, I’m an ex-television news journalist transitioned to public relations, so I’ve been writing my whole life (in one form or another). I graduated from college with a degree in journalism, so I guess I was well prepared for a writer’s life! Any advice I would give to a new writer starting out is this: pick up your all-time favorite romance novel, re-read it, and try to analyze why you liked it so much. I can guarantee it had great characters, an interesting plot, a few unexpected twists, a black moment when you thought all was lost for the hero and heroine, and then a happy ending. That’s really all you need!
How do you come up with your stories? Are you a plotter or do you write as it comes to mind? My story ideas come from asking myself a lot of “what if” questions, which is common for a lot of writers. When I start to write, I have a general idea of the plot outline, but often the characters don’t want to do what I had planned, so sometimes I wind up with an entirely different story! That’s one of the most exciting things about writing – when your characters start to talk back to you, and come alive right on the page!
Do your characters come with names or do their personalities have to emerge first? How do you pick their names?
Good question! For me, it happens both ways. Sometimes I have a character’s name in mind right from the beginning, but sometimes their name will change once I’m writing the story. I will say, though, that more often than not, the story usually determines the name of the character. If you could have lunch with one person to pick their brain, who would it be? It can be anyone in the whole world.
Wow, this is a tough one. Living person or dead? I guess Anne Rice would have to be at the top of the list, because of her commitment to her vampire stories. I think it was something like ten years between the time INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE and THE VAMPIRE LESTAT were published, but she kept writing, never giving up. I admire her perseverance and commitment. Hold on to your dream!
Did you have a favorite teacher in school? How about subject?
I don’t remember a favorite teacher, but Creative Writing was my favorite subject
How did you meet your husband? Is he more the romantic or are you?
My husband is English, and I met him in a bar in New York City (yes, it CAN happen)! Even from age eleven I dreamed that I was going to marry an Englishman, so when I met him I immediately knew that he was the one! I guess that makes me the more romantic…
What do you feel are your biggest life accomplishments? How about fears?
Certainly being a published author ranks right up there as one of my biggest accomplishments, since it was such a personal goal for me. My fear, I guess, is that I will run out of ideas for future books! But I have twelve stories out now (I also write under an alias) so I'm hoping my creative well will never run dry.
Of all the places you have traveled, which one was your favorite? Is there any place you haven’t gone but would love to?
My favorite place so far was Japan. I’m drawn to Asian things (I do Chinese Brush painting as a hobby) and the Zen gardens in Japan were just spectacular! Egypt is still on my list – I hope to get there someday. (As you can tell, I’m not done traveling the world yet!)
If you could be any superhero, which one would it be and why?
I’d like to have the ability to fly, so I guess Superman. Or maybe Batman, since I’m drawn to the dark, tortured hero.
Who was your first celebrity crush?
Definitely not the first, but one of them was certainly Robert Pattinson. I was definitely Team Edward!
What is one show that you watched as a child that you miss now?
Believe it or not, I never was a big TV watcher – I preferred books!
What is your favorite part of the holiday season? Do you have a favorite memory?
I have a big family, and one of my favorite things growing up was always handing out the Christmas presents from under the tree (I’m the oldest child). I was very good about making sure everyone had something to unwrap so that nobody felt left out. I guess I was a good little Santa’s Helper!
Thank you so much, Leigh, for spending time with us. It has been a lot of fun. Best of luck with your writing in the future.
By Kim Atchue-Cusella
Romance Junkies Publishing Editor Todd