“Inspiration and Influences” is a new series of articles in which we invite authors to write guest posts talking about their…well, Inspirations and Influences. The cool thing is that the writers are given free reign so they can go wild and write about anything they want. It can be about their new book, series or about their career as a whole.
Today our guest is debut author Leanna Renee Hieber. Her book, The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker, is being released tomorrow 08/25 and is the first in her Strangely Beautiful series of ghostly, Gothic Fantasy novels. Reviewed today here .
Since the book has a diversity that I happen to love (Gothic!Victorian!Romance!) , I just had to invite the writer to talk about her inspiration behind the tale.
And here she is:
Thanks Book Smugglers for allowing me to come visit, I dearly love your blog, I thank you for the engaging, clever resource it provides authors and readers.
When talking about my Inspirations and Influences, it usually leads into a discussion about cross-genre work.
The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker, first in the Strangely Beautiful series, has “Historical Fantasy” on its spine. It has also been described by reviewers and/or marketed with the words Gothic, Paranormal Romance, Gaslight, Suspense with light Horror elements, with a lyrical voice and a late-teen YA cross-over appeal. I love every single one of those descriptors, though I couldn’t choose just one to describe the book. If I was pressed to, I’d choose Gothic. (As in the genre, not necessarily the sub-culture. Though being a life-long devotee of corsets, chokers, Goth bands and Goth clubs is certainly its own inspiration in my life and my work).
And so these myriad descriptors come from my myriad influences. Early in life I fell in love with these things that would serve to define my writing style and lifestyle:
– British Accents
– Greek Mythology (and Mythologies in general)
– Ghost Stories
– Writing (since I could hold a pen and finish a sentence, it’s my favourite thing to do with my time)
– Helpless romanticism
– Brooding, brilliant, magical men who seemed wicked but weren’t- (Just like Anne of Green Gables says, she wants someone who isn’t wicked but has the possibility of being wicked. I’m so Anne.)
– Fantasy novels
– Gothic novels/literature
– Jane Austen
– The Victorian Era – (I have no idea why as a child I was flouncing around in doubled skirts and makeshift corsets, speaking in a British Accent in rural Ohio. I credit a past life because I don’t know how else to explain my long time love affair with the era or why London felt uncannily home when I went there.)
– Making things up that were utterly impossible and/or utterly non-traditional.
– Fine Art
– The BBC
In college I majored in theatre, got a focus study in the Victorian Era with a particular eye for Gothic literature, and began adapting Victorian literature for the stage. I graduated, interned with the Cincinnati Shakespeare Company working silly-long hours, and my list of defining obsessions grew as I fell head over heels in love with all things J.K. Rowling and Neil Gaiman and somewhere, after having watched Sense and Sensibility for the thousandth time, in the thick of night in a bout of delirious exhaustion 9 years ago… In walks ghostly eighteen-going-on-nineteen Miss Percy Parker- into a 19th century school office, speaking in a British accent, wearing Victorian clothes and saying something about Greek Mythology and Shakespeare. She so sweetly asked if I would deprive myself of sleep for the next many years and tell her tale. She was just too dear, and too persistent, to turn down. Somewhere I have an audio tape that I recorded just to get the thoughts down (Percy had terrible timing, I had a long drive ahead of me the next day). I started off by saying: “My life has just changed.” I knew the day she appeared to me that I’d never be the same, blessedly haunted by her. This was my first yearning to become a career novelist, and I knew dear, sweet, weird Miss Percy Parker would be the one to introduce me to the world. And vice versa. I continued in professional theatre, published plays, essays and short fiction, some won awards and things, but my heart kept coming back to Percy Parker.
I couldn’t have known it would take about 9 years to get here, or that the cross-genre nature of the book would be a hindrance to selling it along the way, or what the market would look like now (about right for my book at the moment- Victorian seems to be “in”) as opposed to then, all I knew was I wanted to write the book I wanted to read. New York Times Bestselling author Alethea Kontis wrote in her glowing review on Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show that my book is “…Bulfinch’s Mythology and Harry Potter and Wuthering Heights mashed in a blender.” Now that was an awesome compliment. She understood my list of inspirations. Blended and beloved; swirled into the ‘book of my heart’.
Now for those pre-published writers to whom I might enthusiastically declare that yes, “write the book of your heart, no matter what,” let me just say also: be careful, you’re also much more emotionally invested, so if someone thinks your baby is ugly it hurts more. Steel yourself, be flexible and have faith. My entire adult life is wrapped up in this book. That feels like a lot of pressure here, just a couple of days before release day. However, my greatest dream is coming true.
This book is honestly my love-letter to the world, all my favourite things in one series. I hope that a story of love conquering all odds, of a meek outcast finding strength, confidence and an unlikely family, a story of indomitable friendship amidst a backdrop of magic and hell, will make the world just a tiny bit better for the huge love, wild dreams and all those inspirations wrapped up in it.
Thank you, peace, and blessings.
Leanna Renee Hieber
Thank you Leanna!
Now for the giveaway: we have one copy of The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker to giveaway. Leave a comment here by Saturday 29th 11:59pm (Pacific) to enter. Contest is open for residents of US and Canada only. Winner will be announced in our Sunday stash. Good luck!