A Note:


I once told myself: IF I am accepted into grad school, this blog would no longer be updated. As it turns out, in April, I received news of my acceptance for the Fall 2013 semester, where I will attain a Master's degree of Science in Nutrition.

Running a blog, as many of you may already know, is a demanding side job once the excitement wears off. And once I fell out of the blogging community's loop (have you SEEN how many blogs there are now? Wow!), it was like the kiss of death. Despite my best efforts, I couldn't get into a blogging routine once this happened due to the disconnect I felt from the community.

So I took a break. I struggled with the loss and with missing my blog. And then I realized I didn't have to run Book Faery to still be a book reviewer; I could read my books and post reviews online. I'm still a book review blogger, just not in the traditional sense.

I'll still be online. You can chat with me on Twitter, where I'll be posting links to my reviews and talking books. I'll also be posting links to nutrition articles. And if you'd like to connect with me where I guarantee I will post reviews, just add me as a friend on Goodreads.

So that's all, folks! It's been a fun and amazing journey, and I thank you all for listening to my thoughts about books. I hope we all can keep in touch elsewhere :)


Sunday, May 2, 2010

Author Interview with Leanna R. Hieber + Giveaway!

I'm thrilled to announce that Leanna Renee Hieber, author of The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker and The Darkly Luminous Fight for Persephone Parker (which just came out on April 27th!) has agreed to stop by Book Faery for an author interview!

"Award winning, bestselling author, actress and playwright Leanna Renee Hieber grew up in rural Ohio inventing
ghost stories.  Graduating with a BFA in Theatre from Miami University, a focus in the Victorian Era and a scholarship to study in London helped set the course for her Strangely Beautiful series. The Gothic, dramatic, historic, spiritual and paranormal are the primary forces in her lyrical, eerie, atmospheric fiction. While performing in the regional theatre circuit she adapted works of 19th Century literature for the professional stage and her one-act plays such as Favorite Lady garnered national attention and continue to be produced around the country.

She hit the fantasy fiction scene with her novella Dark Nest which won the 2009 Prism Award for excellence in Futuristic, Fantasy and Paranormal Romance."
Is there anything you can tell us about yourself that we can't easily find from your bio? 
Three random Leanna trivia facts:
  1.    My favourite animals are birds, so references to birds, symbols of birds, angels and winged things factor strongly into my series. My first word was “bird” and when I was a child I considered going into Ornithology as I’d memorized the entire Audubon Field Guide. I decided to give up studying the migratory patterns of songbirds for the far more practical careers of theatre and publishing *laugh*.
  2.    I’ve always been obsessed with the Victorian era. This may originate from the production of Oliver Twist when I was 9 - a Dickensian devotee ever since- known to bust out often in a British accent while growing up in rural Ohio. Many would argue this comes from a past life, considering when I first visited London I uncannily understood and navigated the city.
  3.    Favourite experiences as a professional actress? Starring in two different productions of Dracula, once as Mina, once as Lucy. I’m an expert vampire.
Percy's story is such a unique one.  How did you come up with the idea behind your Strangely Beautiful series?
      Why, thank you. Percy and her brooding professor Alexi came to me first, like a vision, deep in my favourite mental playground; the Victorian era. The complex dynamic between these two very opposite yet lonely, passionate people sharing burdensome, spectral secrets was the crux. The rest of the world-building expanded from there. They were such specific, striking creatures- the stuff of my favourite Gothic fiction- that I had to find out everything about them. I become obsessed with projects and that’s when the bulk of my world-building happens, in an intense, feverish period (in this case, the ‘fever period’ lasted nearly 10 years as I toiled away on the first and part of the second manuscript while working as a professional actress and playwright).
      As for the world-building and the themes of spirituality, ghosts, mythology and atmosphere, it all comes directly from the 19th century psyche itself. I’ve a background in Victorian studies, and there’s a reason the era has always compelled me, we have many of the same interests.
      The Victorians were a fascinating, complex, conflicting society deeply enthralled by spiritualism and the Gothic. They loved mythological themes as they were ardent Neo-classicists and often dramatic romantics. So thusly many disparate elements of ghosts, mythology, fantasy, romance and intense drama come together within the Victorian mindset itself – and all my favourite storytelling elements were all there for me to play with.
      I’m fascinated by average humans seeking normalcy amidst supernatural elements, trying to maintain their humanity in the face of fantastical odds. And I’m compelled to write stories of outcasts like Percy finding community, love and purpose, her sweet light triumphant over bitter darkness.

Why make Percy look "like a ghost?"

      Many reasons. First, I want to confront, question and redefine the notion of what is beautiful. In Victorian society, and in our society too, Percy’s eerie white skin, hair and eyes would be considered freakish. I dressed as Percy for Halloween last year, skin, hair, eyes and all, (picture at www.leannareneehieber.com/extras) and I was shocked at how even on that costumed night of nights how many people were absolutely unsettled by me. No one said “Oh, you look beautiful!” Everyone said “Oh, you look eerie, freaky, disturbing, etc.” I’ve always found things beautiful that others might fight strange. I want to expand the idea of beauty to be more inclusive.
      Everything about Percy is ‘out of the norm’. I wanted to champion an outsider coming into her own, a girl who assumes she’ll never be loved like a normal person. And yet she finds something spectacular and wonderful in friends and in a powerful man who accepts and loves her dearly for who she is, how she is.
      Also, creating a heroine who moves between the living and the dead is more compelling when she looks like the ghosts she can see and speak with, the ghosts who were her first childhood friends, and yet remains still separate by her living form; friends she could never touch. She’s neither ghost nor considered quite human, and her lack of fitting into either world is a traumatic place of conflict and loneliness for her, all the more reason for her to be a timid, delicate, sheltered girl who can only dream of being able to fit in. Her appearance and situation gives her huge room to grow.
      And lastly, as you’ll see in Darkly Luminous, her skin colour serves a very basic plot purpose.

How many books are there going to be in the Strangely Beautiful series?
      At the moment, 4 and ½ books. The half book being Headmistress Thompson and Vicar Carroll’s novella “A Christmas Carroll” included in Dorchester’s A MIDWINTER FANTASY, a holiday Fantasy Romance anthology releasing in October. I’m having a hard time envisioning more at this point as I’d also like to move into YA Historical Fantasy fiction. I feel that despite Strangely Beautiful’s eternal and mythological themes, it is in many ways defined by its Victorian setting. However, I’ve set up a world with The Guard that could truly be set in any time or place. But let’s just say 4 books with novellas for now. I’d like Josephine and Elijah to have a novella as Rebecca and Michael do.

Do you listen to any music when you write?  If so, could you tell us a few songs that might have inspired you while writing your Strangely Beautiful series?

Indeed, I have to have music playing, but only without words while I’m writing. I love classical music of the time period as well as soundtracks of movies set in the 19th century. My favourite composer is Ralph Vaughan Williams, and I adore his sweeping, evocative, impressionistic music. I love the musical movie scores of Philip Glass. When riding the subway, I do a lot of daydreaming to music with lyrics, particularly from my favourite Goth bands like VNV Nation. VNV Nation’s “Beloved” is Percy and Alexi’s theme song.
Who is your favorite author?  What's your favorite genre?
      I cannot pick one! The short list of favourite authors: J. K. Rowling, J. R. R. Tolkien, C. S. Lewis, Dickens, Austen, Wharton, Hugo, Leroux, Wilkie Collins, Oscar Wilde, Poe, Bram Stoker, L. M. Montgomery. Favourite genre: Historical Fiction and Fantasy Fiction – particularly if there’s some sort of love story involved. Hence why I write the combination I write.

What books have you read recently that you would recommend?

      I’m embarrassed, I should have read The Alienist forever ago. I’m only just now getting to it and it’s blowing my mind it’s so good.
Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Keep writing no matter what. Patient persistence is the key. You will face a host of rejection that will make you question everything. Know what you write, know what you do well, and be flexible with what can change to make the story a tighter, more sale-able story. Believe in your work and yet know it can always be improved.
      I could have sold the Strangely Beautiful series much earlier had I made it just one genre and thusly more palatable to the average marketing department, but I work in a distinctly cross-genre way, and it was worth the wait to find a publishing house that would welcome the unique cross-genre approach rather than shy away from it. Know how you do and do not fit into the marketplace, write from your heart but be flexible. Only follow a trend in the market if you really enjoy it, can fit your own unique voice to it and have something fresh to offer. By the time you write the book everyone wants to see, the market will have moved on to something else. But markets are cyclical, and in the end, the market always wants a really great story.
      So keep writing, keep making your stories better and better and just keep submitting them. Joining writing groups like the RWA or other local writing chapters specific to your genre is a great way to have access to industry information, community, critique partners and support. And keep the faith. My publishing contract was all the sweeter because it took time, revisions, fight, determination, tears and faith to obtain it.
Thanks for stopping by, Leanna!  It was a pleasure to have you here at Book Faery.

      Thank you Tori! It’s such a pleasure, thank you for the opportunity! I hope your readers will stay in touch via my Strangely Beautiful Facebook page: http://tinyurl.com/sbsfan and Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/leannarenee and please check out my Haunted London Blog Tour and Contests, the schedules and opportunities are all posted on my website at www.leannareneehieber.com – Strangely Beautiful blessings to you all!


"Strangely Beautiful the Musical?"


As seen on Publishers' Marketplace:
Report of Option Agreement Sale:
"Musical stage rights to Leanna Renee Hieber’s, The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker described as a Victorian “Ghostbusters” about an eerie young woman whose skin is white as snow and the cadre of characters who believe she may be the key to an ancient prophecy, sold to Mt. Clair Entertainment to be adapted by the author with music and lyrics by Kenny Seymour, Jim Abbott and Nicholas Roman Lewis."

Further press details on the option agreement, care of Mt. Clair Entertainment:

"The ghostly, Gothic Victorian Fantasy The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker is heading for the legit musical stage. The author Leanna Renee Hieber will write the book of the musical with music and lyrics by Kenny Seymour (Broadway credits include music direction for Memphis and arrangements for The Wiz) and Nicholas Roman Lewis (creative development for The Alchemist and They Call Me La Lupe) with additional orchestrations and arrangements by Jim Abbott (Wicked, Bombay Dreams, Disney’s Tarzan)."

From Nicholas Roman Lewis:
"Kenny and I had been looking for a musical project for at least two years. Leanna's book had enthralled me from the moment I first read it as a manuscript so it was literally always on my desk staring at me. I knew this would make a wonderful musical but perhaps slightly daunting, after all, the book is full of ghosts, magic and murder. And then I thought, "the book is full of ghosts, magic and murder...this MUST be a musical." The characters and epic nature of the story lend themselves to song and I knew that Kenny shared my desire to incorporate sweeping cinematic themes with traditional musical theater styles. The icing on the cake is I think every writers dream; a lead character white as snow and strangely beautiful....I think I hear a song."

Leanna's thoughts:
Well, like the saying goes, you can take the girl out of the theatre... But you can't take the theatre out of the girl. I worked as a professional actress and playwright for nearly ten years before shifting towards my novels. But I suppose I wasn't meant to entirely walk away from that magical possibility that is a darkened stage after all. We had our first production meeting backstage of Memphis at the Shubert theatre, Nicholas, Kenny and I. I am joined in this venture by two wonderfully talented men, and I could not feel more blessed. And as I was on my way down 44th street, past The Majestic theatre, past The Phantom of the Opera, my whole artistic life unfolded before me.
You see, I started writing my first book when I was 12 years old, a sequel to The Phantom of the Opera, because I was obsessed with that Broadway show. I fell in love with the theatre and began my trajectory towards becoming a professional actress. And I always kept writing. My two loves have always gone hand in hand. But never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that my great loves would come together like this, that when I stepped backstage inside a Broadway theatre for the first time, it would be for a preliminary meeting for the musical of MY book... the book of my heart, Miss Percy's book. A ten year labor of love, come to this unexpected new possibility. For her, and for all those who feel they are marginalized in society, who feel alone and disconnected, and wonder why they find beautiful things others think are strange... this show, once it comes together, it will be for them. And it will be full of magic. Because things like this just don't happen every day. The show may never get off the ground, but nothing can take away the incredible fact I never thought I'd get this far to begin with - and how much of a joy it is to dream and dream big. As an adult I don't tend to dream as big as I did when I was a kid. But I'm now reminded to dream as big as ever. You never know what might happen.

This giveaway is now [CLOSED]

Now, we couldn't end the interview without a fun little giveaway!  Leanna has graciously offered one lucky commenter a signed copy of her first book in the Strangely Beautiful series.  So if you've been interested in Percy's tale, but haven't had the opportunity yet to buy it (GO BUY IT NOW! *cough*) then you may be the winner of The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker!

Back cover summary:
"What fortune awaited sweet, timid Percy Parker at Athens Academy? Considering how few of Queen Victoria’s Londoners knew of it, the great Romanesque fortress was dreadfully imposing, and little could Percy guess what lay inside. She had never met the powerful and mysterious Professor Alexi Rychman, knew nothing of the growing shadow, the Ripper and other supernatural terrors against which his coterie stood guard. She knew simply that she was different, haunted, with her snow-white hair, pearlescent skin and uncanny gifts. But this arched stone doorway offered a portal to a new life, an education far from the convent—and an invitation to an intimate yet dangerous dance at the threshold of life and death…"

Giveaway Guidelines:
1. Open to US residents only.
2. You must be a follower.(GFC or email subscriber)
3. Include your email.  If you are uncomfortable posting it publicly, contact me.
4. Leave a comment or question for Leanna in order to be entered.
5.  Giveaway ends 5/14   Be sure to check back after that and see if you've won! Winners will have 48 hours to respond before a new winner is picked.

Advertising for this interview/giveaway (Tweeting/Facebook/etc) while not required, is highly appreciated.


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