~ Author of the Month - Leslie Esdaile ~

 

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Current Release:

LOVE NOTES

February 2001

PREVIOUS AUTHORS

Crystal Wilson-Harris (January)

Doris Johnson (December)

Jacqueline Thomas (November)

Shirley Hailstock (October)

1.  LOVE NOTES is your first full length book in almost four years.  I'm
sure fans have been wondering about the long hiatus.


A:  I went into a hiatus status because I was going back to graduate school for filmmaking and screenwriting (and I received my MFA from Temple
University.)  Since I was already a divorced mom, that meant working full-time, while going to school at night full-time, and studying, washing clothes, doing chores, etc. on the weekends (big smile.)  Let's just say that, my creative juices were FRIED while doing all of this stuff for school.  But... now I'm back!

2.  What inspired you to write LOVE NOTES?

A:  For the last ten years, and while going back to film school,  I have been
a consultant focusing in the areas of; grantwriting, curriculum development
for adult education, workshop facilitation and development (for
entrepreneurial courses), and marketing.  Within the scope of those experiences, you get to see a lot of "business models" -- but with
entrepreneurs, the business is their life... so you also get to see what
impact the business has on an entrepreneur's personal space.  I wanted to
deal with that very real issue, since so many African Americans are choosing
to "be their own boss."  I wanted to put that into the context of family/relationship balance.

3.  Tell us a bit about the book?

While the plot deals with a complex robbery attempt mystery, the real story is about how the couple, a married hero and heroine, keep their marriage from fraying at the edges as the business starts having financial problems, they begin peeling away unknown information about their parents' marriages, and when they start to see their friends and siblings for who they really are.  All of this is going on at the same time the couple is also coping with significant fertility issues.  But, isn't that the way most people's lives really work?  "When it rains, it oours." That's the true test of both your personal and relationship mettle... whether or not you hang when it gets really, really bad.

4.      Do you have a full-time career outside of your writing?

Sure do!  I work as the Director of an economic development agency in Philadelphia.  That, with four kids (ages 7, 10, 15, and 17) makes writing a little crazy -- but it is also my Balm of Gilead (deep chuckle!)

5.      When you're not writing, what do you like to do in your spare time?

What spare time?  I'm a working Mom!  (No really... I do sneak to the foreign films -- alone so I can read the sub-titles in peace... and I take a T'ai Chi and Yoga class once a week in the evenings.) 

6.      What is something about you that your readers would be surprised you
do?

They might not believe that part of my day job is being a federal lender (I run a micro-loan program funded by the SBA.)  Somehow that seems a little far removed from writing romances, wide smile!

7.   What should a reader expect from one of your books?

That it will sizzle, and that I will go deep into the minds and motivations of the main characters.  I like complex people, and believe most folks are... so, I take my time in winding you through the character's mind and motivation -- even as the sparks fly.  I also adore complex plots with a lot of "top spin" on them -- so, in the end, you aren't sure where it will go.

8.   Which of your books is your favorite?  Did you most enjoy writing?

Truthfully... SUNDANCE -- Arabesque/Kensington October 1996 release.  That book went through multiple countries, gave tribute to corporate espionage, and the heroine was psychic... so you got a chance to read the hero's mind with her (while he was making love to her--oh, I loved writing that!)  But, I also enjoyed the winding plot, and the fact that the editor at that time, Monica Harris, gave me a chance to write a 650 page blockbuster, filled with history, the paranormal, contemporary/urban events, with a time travel flash-back.  It was an insane project, now that I look back on it -- but Monica let me do it all!  Yeah.  That was the one that I always saw as an African American James Bond movie in my head as I was writing it.

9.  Tell us a bit about how you became Leslie Esdaile, the romance author?

I was sitting at home with a severely injured baby (who got hurt in a daycare center accident), estranged from my husband (whom I subsequently divorced), and on my last dime, when Essence Magazine ran a contest for a
short story.  The winnings would have paid my mortgage and kept the wolf away from my door.  I didn't have a thing to lose but a stamp and some paper, so I began this wild action adventure story with the hopes of writing a winner for the magazine contest.  The problem was that, in six weeks, and with the urging of my girlfriends who were reading the installments, the manuscript was too long to submit.  Essence never got it... Monica Harris did -- and she loved it.  That angel offered me a two book deal, and the rest is history!

10.  Is being a published writer what you thought it would be like?

I'm laughing!  NO!  I do not sit at home, eat bon bons, polish my nails, and dream up stories.  It is not "the glamorous life."  Still laughing!  It's late hours, screaming at kids to do their homework and go to bed... it's fights about noise-levels of football games, and whose turn it is to do the dishes... it's also hard work to research a project, get it out of your head at a reasonable hour (so you can go to work the next day), then there's the book marketing (like tonight, I just licked 200 envelopes to mail to readers, then went to the post office to drop them in the slot before sitting down to do this interview.)  Nope, I have not stumbled upon the glamorous side of this yet:)

11.   What process do you use in writing your novels?

Heavy observation... I ride public transportation to work, and I watch people.  I listen to what is said and not said in conversations.  I observe facial patterns, eyes, breathing... all of that is texture for character development.  I seize upon the characters after I have a plot, and they usually finish the book for me.

12.   How long does it take you to complete a manuscript?


Depends on what's going on at home and on the job.  If the kids have a lot of after-school and weekend activities during a particular season, it can take as long as four months to complete a book.  Same holds true if work is really hectic.  But, in the perfect world, if I have a story that is drilling a hole in my brain and trying to get out, I can bang it out in a month... but, that's if no one gets fed, no laundry gets done, and the house is in shambles (big grin!)

13.   What do you feel has been your greatest accomplishment as a writer and why?

Being able to be honest with the work.  I mean, being able to read a character -- looking back at them objectively, and still say, "Yup.  That's exactly what I would have done given XYZ."  Keeping it real is the hardest thing to do within fiction, because everything is made up... but, character emotions MUST have integrity.

NOTE:  The second thing I would pick as a significant accomplishment would
simply be, just the ability to write a dog-goinned book with all of the
confusion and live drama = "conflama"  around my household (ha ha!)

14. If you had known then what you know now, what would you have done
differently in terms of your romance writing career?

Tried harder to get a solid agent up front -- and saved to invest in more
PR/Marketing -- the level not done by the publishers.

15.   Any advice for those aspiring romance writers?

Tell a good story.  Stay within the guidelines and page-count.  And mail that sucker off to the houses NOW!  This is the era of acquisition.  While they're (the publishing houses are) buying, give them product... because we never know when this train is going to slow down, and you can miss your window of opportunity -- just from a timing perspective.

16.  Do you like communicating with your readers?  In what forms.  And how
can a reader contact you?

Yes!  We do this for our market, and if the people who read our books give us feedback, we can only create better books.  E-mail is easiest (and you'll get a quicker response from me) -- because I usually get to the tube after all the hectic pace of the day settles down.  WRITERLE@AOL.com   I will
answer you!

17.   I've seen a list of you upcoming books and I'm intrigued by the two
upcoming Genesis books, Rivers of the Soul I & II. Tell us abit about those
books and the other scheduled to be released.

Here again, I dreamt up this HUGE, "non-traditional" project, and a brave soul, Dianne Miller -- over a Genesis Press, took a chance on me.  God Bless Dianne, Donna Hill (who will be editing it), and Mrs. Colum!  The book, in it's original form, was about 750 pages, with multiple primary characters, secondary folks, and an epic size cast.  (It must be because I'm from that movie generation era that had films with fifty of your favorite stars in them!)  Anyway...  it's about the impact that divorce can have on the self-esteem, relationships, and children -- but told through a romance that closely mirrors my own personal experience. 

The hero and heroine each have their own tales of failed marriages.  They used to date each other in high school, in fact, were engaged to each other, then broke it off (for reasons I won't tell you -- in order not to spoil the read.)  They hadn't seen each other for twenty years, and now... with kids in tow and a LOT of baggage, they tentatively have to carve out space, time, and renew what they had (if they want to be together.)

Book I, RIVERS OF THE SOUL I,  goes through all of the hurdles they face in just trying to get together... at the end of that book, readers will probably
be wrung out and might sigh, saying, "Dag!  About time."  But, that's real,
and how it is after a divorce... ask me how I know.  Now, RIVERS OF THE SOUL II is what happens when everything hits the fan, when all of the personal demons are unearthed, and friends start showing true colors (good and bad.) It also deals with what I'll call "The Ex-Spouse Factor."  

This "Rivers project" is very borderline on women's fiction -- but I'd never
let my romance readers down.  Both end on a very positive note.  And,
althought it's fiction, it's very, very close to fact.  Let me just say that,
I married my high school sweetheart this past summer, and we blended our units of children into a chaotic but loving household... this was the same man who asked me to marry him in eleventh grade -- and who almost gave my dad a stroke (big, wide grin!)  Now, we have three daughters and a son, and it's our turn.  Go figure?  The Universe has a very perverse sense of humor!

Welcome back, Leslie!