Today’s author interview is with Cheryl Leigh. Cheryl Leigh is an author who lives in Texas and a stay at home mom of five daughters. She has two books; first is Blind Sided which is an LDS romance novel. Her second novel; Putting Down the Pieces is not LDS, but still a drama/romance. She can be found here: Cheryl, insert your blog or fanpage or website here. If you have more than one you can add both. I don’t mind.
1. What made you decide to write your first book; Blind Sided?
It was little more than the proverbial "I have a story stuck in my head and I have to get it out!" I wrote about three chapters and thought to myself, What am I doing? I'm not a writer. I don't have an English degree. This will never work. It was a difficult time in my life and I was depressed and really down on myself. A couple months later, the story had developed in my mind and I sat down and went to it. The writing became very therapeutic for me and I finished it so that I could have one little success while everything else around me was falling apart.
2. Can you give us a brief synopsis of your story?
Blind Sided is the story of Jenna and Rick, who meet when Jenna moves to Baltimore with her cousins after losing her mother in an accident that claims Jenna's vision as well. When she first meets Rick, she is repelled by his confidence and swagger, but with the unintended help of Rick's blind younger brother, she realizes that Rick is the warmth that she is missing. It's an emotional roller coaster of a story, but it has a lot of funny spots as well.
3.Who/what was your inspiration to write a romance novel geared towards the LDS audience?
At the time, I wrote it that way because I didn't want to feel like I had to dumb it down and explain away the reasons why these two young, healthy, contemporary characters weren't sleeping together and all of the other little details that make non-LDS folks scratch their heads about us. I didn't care whether non-LDS readers read it or not. I wrote it for myself, and that's who I am.
4. Since you now have a second book out, how long have you been writing?
I began writing Blind Sided in 2009 but can remember writing stories that weren't school assignments in eighth grade. I never really finished them, and it wasn't until my senior year in high school that I realized writing was something I could develop into a talent.
5. Have you always wanted to be a writer, or did you work at another job first?
Heavens, no! Although I knew I liked writing, I never considered it as a future occupation. It never occurred to me that Icould.
6. If you did something before writing, why did you give up that job?
Before I had kids, I worked at a bank for four years. It was fairly mind-numbing - not a career choice, just something to help pay the bills as a young wife during college. Obviously I haven't given up my kids; I've just made my life exponentially more complicated!
7. Most authors pick an audience to write for and stick to it. But you’ve switched from LDS based to a non-LDS based audience. Why did you switch?
Honestly, it never occurred to me that I shouldn't switch. I like writing for an LDS audience, but each story has it's own feel, almost it's own consciousness. I just write whatever comes to mind and go with it.
8. Do you have a third book underway? Can you give us a little insight into that story?
Yes, I have started another manuscript but I had to put it down and finish Putting Down the Pieces. Actually, there are two, and I haven't decided which to do first. One takes place in a much older, patriarchal society where the women had little in the way of rights and were traded as property and as pieces in marital alliances. The hero and heroine buck against those traditions and struggle to find love on their own terms. The other is about a couple that meets again in college after being childhood friends and the direction their lives take. I can't give too much more away on that one.
9. How do you feel at the beginning of a book compared to how you feel when you have finished a book and it’s ready to be submitted to a publisher?
At the beginning, it's an obsessive fixation. I feel like I have to write all of the time and it becomes a little unhealthy. Towards the end, it's more like a hot potato; I can't wait to get it off my hands. I just want to be done with it and get it out the door!
10. Does submitting your work to a publisher scare you or do you just throw caution to the wind and have at it?
It used to be about as fun for me as a root canal. I tried the traditional publishing route; the whole mailing out the manuscript with the SASE included and then waiting for months to see if a publisher would give me the time of day... After three rejections, and a bunch of money wasted on copies, envelopes, and stamps, it occurred to me that the traditional route to publishing was frustrating, archaic, and a total waste of my time and resources. The responses I had from beta readers were substantially different from the publishers opinions and I could not understand the disconnect, so I self-published through Kindle and Nook. I have never looked back. If a publisher called and made an offer to print my book(s), I would probably say "Thanks, but no thanks!" What a headache. I think I have saved about a thousand trees in reprinting submissions alone.
11. What do you want us to know about your second book; Putting Down the Pieces?
The story is heavy, but for me, the strong emotions make it real. One of my beta readers had a difficult time with it because it hit too close to home for her. If a reader has struggled with emotional abuse, this story may hit some sore spots. I don't want readers to get stuck under the weight of what she has to go through - it isn't meant to be depressing and it has fulfilling closure.
12. How is your second book different from your first book?
It's a bit meatier than Blind Sided. I won't attempt to deny that they are both formulaic romances - but it definitely has a different feel to it.
13. Even though the two are different books, will people enjoy reading both?
Oh, I think so. If you like a good, clean, feel-good romance to curl up with, both will fit the bill.
14. Is there anything else you would like my readers to know about your writing?
Hmmm...probably that I write because it is really cathartic and I hope that someone reads my novels and it leaves them feeling great. If you decide not to throw that Molotov cocktail at your cheating ex-boyfriend's car because you are just too darn happy about how my book ended, then I have done my job. And kept you out of jail. Win-win!
Thank you for your time today Cheryl and good luck with your writing.