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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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!