Hello again, and welcome back!
We have our second author interview today with romance and writer's guide author LeAnn Robinson.
LeAnn Robinson was born and raised in Pocatello, Idaho, but then began the life of a nomad, quickly moving to southern Texas; Seattle, WA; California, Argentina, Georgia... and the list goes on. She has visited/lived in the five major continents, speaks fluent Spanish, and revels in learning about strange cultures and new places.
LeAnn's writing career began in the fourth grade, when she sold her first book, a hand-drawn, hand-lettered edition, on folded 8 1/2 by 5 1/2" paper for ten cents. Then, there was a large lull, while she worked a day job and studied the writing craft. Her introduction to romance was an old Georgette Heyer book, but now she enjoys books that are a little steamier!
Star Trek or Star Wars?
Oh, definitely Star Trek. Though I admit I like both.
Coffee, tea, or cacao?
Chocolate. It’s the best.
When did you write your first book and how old were you?
I was in the first grade. I’d been there long enough to have a few words in my arsenal, and I wrote a story about horses running away from the farm. It was called “The Merry Horse Forest.” Even though it’s pretty juvenile, I still really love the sound of that title.
What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?
I usually do two hours a day, 9-11 am, Monday through Friday. I have writer friends who write with me, and we get on Zoom and have a writing session during that time frame. This means I’m not writing alone (I don’t do well in solitary confinement). It also means I have a set schedule, where I report to work, and people know if I didn’t show up. Works really well for us. The other thing we make certain of is that chatting is kept to a minimum. This is really writing time, not social time. I get a lot done in that little two-hour slot.
Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?
Stephen King talked about the “boys in the basement,” meaning the subconscious mind. I believe in that puppy, that mind doing all its churning and thinking below the surface of my awareness. I sometimes talk to it, tell it I have a problem with what I’m working on, tell it I need a solution. Usually I’ll write that down, like this: “I am having trouble with xyz.” I may elaborate a little, or not, but implicit in this statement is the expectation that my subconscious will take this issue and begin working on it. Often, I come up with a solution within the hour. One time, when my villain foiled my hero right at the climax of the book, and I realized the hero needed to pull out yet another amazing solution, it took me three days to come up with something that would work. But no problem them. I figure if it took my subconscious three days, the reader wasn’t going to come up with it and then complain that the solution was obvious!
Do you have any suggestions to help someone become a better writer? If so, what are they?
Two things: practice, and getting feedback. You can get feedback either from other author friends, like at a critique group, or from a freelance editor. Practice, you just have to do that. But it needs to be deliberate practice, not just more writing.
As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
I wanted to be a scientist. I don’t think I realized how much tedium there is in that job. I just knew I loved science. Now, I read lots of science, and that feeds into my science fiction.
Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?
All the time. Still thinking about it, especially for a self-help book I have sitting on my hard drive, waiting for me to decide if I’ll ever even publish it.
Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
I think readers want a certain level of originality, so I don’t see this as a choice one has to make. Of course, we always hear that there are “no new ideas,” but there are infinite ways of telling a story based on all the old ideas. And there are many and marvelous ways of expressing the same old thought in charming and interesting ways. But, in the end, I don’t know that I can ever really say I know “what readers want,” and so originality is going to have to suffice.
Do you think someone could be a writer if they don’t feel emotions strongly?
No. You gotta feel it. That’s why I quit taking anti-depressants, because they were numbing me out. I would write about an event, then say to myself, now, what is this character’s reaction? How do they feel? And I didn’t have a clue. And my writing at that point was really sucky. Once I got back to being able to feel stuff, even the unpleasant stuff, my writing went back to its previous level, meaning much better.
What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
A. Lee Martinez; Rosemary Clement-Moore, Larry Enmon. We all belong to the same writer’s critique group, and they have shared their opinions of my writing from time to time. Feedback. It’s important. You can’t really learn to do this well without it.
How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
I’ve lost count.
How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?
Again, lost count. But my favorite is almost always my current work in progress. I think I get a little better with each book, my characters get more interesting, my plots more exciting.
Does writing energize or exhaust you?
Good question. I think it energizes me, except when I am struggling, and then it’s pretty exhausting. But most of the time, I finish a writing session and then I’m so excited about it I want to re-read it, share it, and get lot of feedback about it.
What do you have coming next?
I am working on a military science fiction novel called Fog of War. Just finished the editing process, and now I’m shopping it out with agents.