Mason Cooley said, “Reading gives us some place to go when we have to stay where we are.”
A Center Stage Moment shines a spotlight on writers who give us great places to visit with characters we love and want to call friends.
Today, I have the pleasure of introducing to you Leslee Horner!
Leslee Horner lives in Tallahassee, Florida, with her husband, two daughters, and their rescue dog, Frodo. She is the author of the award winning, four book Young Adult series, THE PAST LIVES OF LOLA RAY. The final book in the series, SPRING RETURNING, was released in October 2015.
Without further ado, here is Leslee’s interview…
I love reading the bios of authors. Many of them did not start out as writers. Sometimes people stumble upon the craft. Did you always want to be a writer? I have loved writing since I was a little girl and would see the reaction from my mother when I would write her notes and poems. The way the written word could move people emotionally was powerful and I wanted to harness that power. I was a practical girl though, and I bought into the idea of the starving artist (or writer). I decided early on that I would be a writer on the side.
Why did you choose to write for young adults? I started out writing women’s fiction and one of my novels followed the main character from age five to age thirty-five. The strongest writing in that story was the portion devoted to her teen years. From that, I learned I had a knack for the young adult voice and decided my next big project would be a young adult novel series.
What is the strangest subject or topic you’ve ever written? Reincarnation. My novel series, The Past Lives Of Lola Ray, is about a girl who turns fifteen and begins flashing back to her past lives. In four books, she sees four different lives. This isn’t a strange or uncomfortable subject for me – I find it utterly fascinating – but I have found through the process that it makes some people quite uncomfortable.
What are you currently working on? My strokes in tennis! In all seriousness, in October I published the final book (Spring Returning) in my series and right now I am just working on letting the world know the series is complete and available.
What motivated the plot of your series? The first is reading and learning about the topic of reincarnation from books by Brian Weiss and Michael Newton. I loved their ideas about the way relationships and issues people face in their current lives could be connected to past lives. I ran with this idea and created Lola’s world at fifteen around it. The second is the topic of equality. The series tackles religious intolerance, racial and gender inequality, and homophobia. In each book she flashes back to a life where she faces tragedy due to inequality, discrimination, and hatred. [Sounds like a series everyone should read.]
What was the hardest story for you to write? A few years ago, I started writing a novel called Life In The Wake. This novel was inspired by the death of my best friend in 2009. I was very inspired by the idea and felt like I had received the story whole and intact in my mind like a gift from the Universe. I got about fifty pages into the book and just hit a wall and put it away. I think because it was all about the grief and healing process, it was just too hard to complete. I have wondered if I simply needed more time to fully heal from my loss in order to be able to write the story. [When the time is right, perhaps readers will get the chance to read it.]
What process do you use to plan your novels? Honestly, I think about them obsessively for a really long time. I don’t write a lot down. I figure the stuff that is meant to be in the book will stick with me. It really is an act of faith and not necessarily one I would recommend. Luckily it works for me.
Who has been your favorite character to write and why? In my books, Ian is my favorite character. He is Lola’s best friend and (sometimes) love interest. I love him because he is an outsider who doesn’t seem to mind being one. He is empathetic and funny. He is wise beyond his years and always keeps his promises.
Do any of your characters reflect facets of your personality? I have to admit that there is probably some facet of my personality in every one of my characters. And my closest friends have told me that when they read Lola’s story they envision her as me. I think that is probably about right. Lola is just a little bit braver than I am.
Have you ever experienced writer’s block? If so, how did you overcome it? When I get blocked, it’s usually some version of fear having its way with me. And two things help me overcome it: a regular meditation practice and committing to a disciplined writing schedule.
If you were to choose another genre to write in, what would it be? I think I’d love to write an inspirational/self-help book! I’m kind of obsessed with reading them. They help me shift to a more positive outlook when I get bogged down. It would be nice to write something uplifting that gives helpful guidance to others… a kind of pay it forward for all the authors who have helped me. [I could see you doing that.]
Which authors inspire you? J.K. Rowling (of course), Elizabeth Gilbert, Jodi Picoult, and Brene Brown.
What novel would you read multiple times? Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
If you could meet anyone in the world, alive or deceased, who would it be and why? So I know there are “right” answers to this that include (but are not limited to) people like Jesus, Gandhi, Mother Theresa, Abraham Lincoln. But honestly, for me right now, I’d just like to grab a coffee with Elizabeth Gilbert because she is currently the person who is inspiring me so strongly and watching her talks and interviews, I just think she’d be great.
What is your favorite quote? “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.” –Marriane Williamson (And this is just a snippet of the full quote, which is really powerful!)
What is your favorite animal, real or imaginary? Dog
What is your favorite color? Purple
You can catch up with Leslee Horner, a full-time author and stay at home mom, online…
Thank you for participating in A Center Stage Moment! It was great having you here.
Join me next week as I feature Cameo Renae!