Author – Leigh K. Hunt – Interview

Leigh K Hunt JPG

I am honored to present this interview with Author Leigh K. Hunt

1. What does your writing process look like?

Unlike a lot of writers I know, my writing process is pretty streamlined. I figure out what the overarching storyline will look like in terms of conflicts, problems, locations, and what the bad guys are doing that will cause my characters to react the way they do. Then I work out why my characters will react that way, and what internal conflicts they’re facing at the same time. Then while I’m planning all of that, along with character growth – I look at the details of the book that I want to incorporate into the theme, etc.
Then I start writing it. I plan my scenes before I write them. Sometimes this means I can write up to 6-8k a day… sometimes 2k, depending on workload and other things going on in my life that impact my writing time.
Once the book is written – it goes to my critique partners, and all of the feedback from them goes to my editor. Revision happens, then on to my editor for her take on the book matter. We make sure I’ve included the critiques, as well as iron out anything that her finely tuned eyes can pick up.
Voila. Book done.

2. Do you have any strange writing habits (like standing on your head or writing in the shower)?

Well I don’t stand on my head so I can write in the shower – but that would be rather talented! I do however write scenes in my head while I’m drive to and from work each day. Sometimes I think it would be good to set up my laptop and talk to it while driving and it could transcribe for me. I’d be too scared though that my book would turn into a ‘highly strung road rage’ book though with me swearing at other drivers doing dumb stuff on the road.
The other thing that happens while I’m writing is that I MUST listen to music. It enhances my focus, and helps me zone out so I can get into the emotional region of the books. I have endless Spotify playlists for writing to. I even have an official one out in the public realm on Spotify so my readers of TIJUANA NIGHTS can listen to it while reading. I’ve heard that’s quite the reading experience!

3. What book do you wish you could have written?

I wish I was the writer behind The Hunger Games. I loved those books and the world building techniques employed to make those books all the more believable and real for me.
I love reading Dystopia fiction. It keeps me on the edge of my seat, and my imagination ticking!

4. Just as your books inspire authors, what authors have inspired you to write?

Wow – my books inspire authors?!

There are a number of authors that have inspired me over the years. The ones that stick out at me are: Lewis Carroll, J.K. Rowling, Ursula Le Guin, Tasmina Perry, Lee Child, and Janet Evanovich. A very mixed bag of authors! I have pretty eclectic reading taste. Some authors I read because of their profound world building techniques – others for sheer entertainment. I have an entire room in my house dedicated to books and writing, with a lot of shelves of every genre you can imagine.

5. If you could cast your characters in the Hollywood adaptation of your book, who would play your characters?


Gisele Bundchen JPG

McKenna (Mack) Carmichael:
Gisele Bündchen


River Edge:  Daniel Sunjata


River Edge: Daniel Sunjata


Gabe Donovan:Chris Hemsworth

Gabe Donovan:
Chris Hemsworth

Noah Mills

Chase Stirling:
Noah Mills


6. How important are names to you in your books? Do you choose the names based on liking the way it sounds or the meaning? Do you have any name choosing resources you recommend?

Good question! I personally feel that naming characters in incredibly important. I always research a name before I allocate it to my characters. When I originally planned Tijuana Nights – Mack’s original name was Abigail. Then my daughter was born – and the next thing you know, we named her Abigail… so therefore I had to change the character name to Mack/McKenna. I wanted a name that was strong, and could be shortened.
My tech-guy, Gabe (full name Gabriel – after the angel), in the books is quite partial to colour-representing aliases for the team. So every alias given to a member of the team is associated with a colour. That’s part of my naming theme…
River’s surname that he has assumed is Edge, which was his call sign from when he was in the forces. Chase’s name is just Chase Stirling, a name his mentor chose for him, and it stuck.

7. What do you consider to be your best accomplishment?

I really don’t know! I want to say that my daughter is a pretty big accomplishment! I’m lucky to have her in my life, and she makes me smile every single day.
But I actually think that in terms of meeting my own personal goals – finally getting my books out there to the world is definitely one of my biggest accomplishments. I have been writing a long time. And I’ve also had a load of family pressure on me to get books out to the world. Believe me – I just didn’t feel like I was ready. I had written the books, but something kept holding me back. When I wrote Tijuana Nights, I mentally wrote it for public consumption. The other book I’ve written? Well – before they can go off for publishing, I would like to revise them for the public. There is some stuff that’s just not meant to be read in its current state.

8. Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

Hopefully living ‘Happily Ever After’ because my ‘Lotto Investment Plan’ has paid out? I would also like to say that in that dream, I am writing my life away, travelling to unique and wonderful destinations, and teaching my child how to live off the land. Yeah, no. That’s probably not going to be the reality – but wouldn’t it be wonderful?

9. Were you already a great writer? Have you always like to write?

I have always loved writing, yes. More to the point – I am a creative at heart. I always have been, and I always will be.
Was I great? God, no. Seriously. No. I have written some utter soul-destroying rubbish in my past. Prose that will never ever see the light of day – ever. Not even for as long as I live. I mean – EVER. (**dashes off to burn computer hard drives**)
I started writing my first unfinished manuscript when I was 14. I wrote a heap of short stories, and angst teenage poetry… and then I got really serious about writing novels when I was 25. Since then I have written more than a dozen books, but few of them will see the light of day.

10. What writing advice do you have for other aspiring authors?

Just do it. Forget the critics. Forget the internal editor. Relax, and just do it. Write, Rinse, Repeat. Then definitely get an editor, and a cover designer. You seriously need those professionals onboard with you to give your work a good professional and polished touch.
Oh, and that first manuscript you write? Print it, and have a burning ceremony.

11. If you didn’t like writing books, what would you do for a living?

I have a graphic design business called Dwell Design & Press, which is all about author branding and cover design – so that would probably come to the forefront. I also used to work in the Interior Design business as well, so I guess I would possibly do that. And then there is the world I currently do in my Evil Day Job (EDJ), which is Project Management and Quality Assurance.

12. Are you a plotter or a pantster? (Write by the seat of your pants)

I am most definitely a plotter, through and through!
The first book I wrote was so awful, and that was one I pantsed my way through. The end result was a lot to be desired. (Hence the burning ceremony!) However, I learned a lot. I especially learned that in order to write gripping fiction, I need to have an end game. In my plotting, I know the beginning, the middle, the end, and all of the character arcs. I also have all character traits mapped out, the general storyline detailed, location research done, and different sets of conflicts that I need to throw at my characters in order for them to react the right way to move them forward in their character growth.

13. Do you read your reviews? Do you respond to them, good or bad? Do you have any advice on how to deal with the bad?

Yes, I do! I actually take a very holistic approach to my reviews, and I know that nothing people can say to me will ever be as bad as the first sets of feedback I received on that first novel. Blimey. I was so not prepared for that one.
I know that my books are not for everyone. I’m very accepting of that. They have a certain level of graphic violence in them, and they take a close look at the darker side of human life. It’s not pretty. Most of society likes to shove that under the carpet, and never address it unless they’re under a certain level of severe duress from the rest of the world/public/epidemic.
Every story must have a hero, and every story must address some of the issues facing the world today.
So, as an author – I definitely have a huge amount of resilience. Not that I have received one bad review of London Dusk or Tijuana Nights yet! When I do eventually get that 1-star review? It means that my market is stretching far and wide. It will also give me an idea of what I’m screwing up on – although, my editor is a pro, and I’m sure she would tell me to pull my socks up.

14. What is your best marketing tip?

Cover design! Oh my goodness… Time and time again I see really awesome books published with god-awful covers. And as a cover designer, it destroys me a little on the inside. Books deserve gorgeousness. They go hand in hand. Make it happen.
HIRE A PROFESSIONAL DESIGNER. Seriously. They’re not expensive. Some are, yes, but others are not. And when it comes to branding you as an author, and the quality work you produce – it’s imperative that you have a professional approach. This publishing thing? It’s a business.
You wouldn’t go to the bank for a massive loan looking like you were living in a trash-can. The bank would never invest in you. The same goes with publishing books, and getting your readers to invest in you. Get that book the cover it deserves. Make it look pretty – that’s the first step to having amazing reader engagement.
Some may say, ‘Don’t judge a book by its cover.’ But we do. We all do. With the plethora of books out there for us to choose from, we’re going to pick up professional looking ones first. Good covers give a marketing edge over bad looking ones. Period.
If you, as an author, have a cover that leaves a lot to be desired – hire a professional.

15. What is your least favorite part of the publishing / writing process?

It’s that first moment of when I send my work to beta readers or my critique partners. I know that these people were chosen to be blunt with me. It’s that period where I don’t know if my work is okay, or if I’ve written a pile of rubbish. I also hate opening that first email back as well. I actually hold my breath.

16. Is there one subject you would never write about as an author? What is it?

Tijuana Nights covers a lot of pretty awful things to do with Cartel life. I actually plan to tackle a lot more of the world issues in my books. I think that so much that is shoved under the carpet, and no one really openly acknowledges that we really do have some serious problems.
I figured that if I write some of these issues like drug addiction, cartels, trafficking (drug and human), slave labour, and so on and so forth in the form of entertaining reads – then perhaps people may just stop and think a little further than just their sphere. I don’t know if Tijuana Nights was successful in that yet, but Venice Nights is about slave labour in the fashion industry. I’m guessing I’ll find out eventually.
If not, then it’s been a lot of fun and some very intense moments researching some pretty awful human facts and behaviour.

17. Do you have a favorite conference to attend? What is it?

Believe it or not, I’m in New Zealand. Here we have about two writing conferences worthy of attendance here a year. I have made it to one of them. That’s it. It was a Romance Writers one and I felt as though I was way too far out of my depth in terms of ‘creating those intimate romantic connections between my characters’…and that was what everyone at the conference really thrived on. At that point, I was writing a thriller called The Mediterranean Source, about a drug deal that went terribly wrong. I went to the conference to learn craft, story structure… and whatnot. I came away with my head filled with formulas on how to write Mills and Boon romance novels. Really not my thing.
I would absolutely love to attend some of the big writing conferences in the States one of these days. It would also give me the chance to catch up with a load of friends as well. Until then though, I’m really not too worried about them.

18. Is there a certain type of scene that’s harder for you to write than others? Love? Action? Racy?

When I first started writing, I was writing this crappy girly thriller about two orphaned twins who had a heck of a sex life. And the only way I could write those racy scenes was by getting plastered on wine and trying to write them. I learnt quickly enough that what I was writing while boozed was absolute rubbish… and that if I couldn’t write them sober, then I shouldn’t write them at all. Problem solved.
Since I now write high impact action thrillers – it requires some serious concentration and clear thought…. Something wine gives me neither of. I find it’s best if I stay soberish (Aka. Less than two glasses of wine) to meet my wordage objectives. No racy sex scenes. I can’t read them, and I’ve proven to myself that I also can’t write them.

19. Is this your first book? How many books have you written prior (if any?)

London Dusk was the first book published, and then Tijuana Nights. I have written more than a dozen manuscripts before these books. The Mediterranean Source should hit the public market in 2015, and I expect the Talent Trilogy (urban-fantasy) will in 2016/2017. For the moment, I have a few more Nights novels to get out to the public. That should keep me thoroughly entertained!

20. What are you working on now? What is your next project?

VENICE NIGHTS is what I’m currently working on for release in early January. I had planned for it to release in December, but between my current professional job, and my mother getting cancer – it kind of hasn’t panned out so well. But I’ll give you an excerpt of it at the end of this interview for you guys to sink your teeth into.
Next year, I’m also planning on releasing ‘Moscow Dawn’ (novella), ‘Paris Nights’, ‘Breaking Chase’ (novella), ‘The Mediterranean Source’, and perhaps ‘River’s Edge’ (novella)… depending on how I go for time. London Nights is also a major Nights novel that I would love to release next year, but at this stage, I’m just not too sure if it’s going to happen or not.

The following questions I like to ask, becouse?? Well no one ever does!


1. What is your biggest failure?

I’m actually not sure if I have one! I’m a fairly resilient person who takes each day as it comes, and I also know that if it’s not meant to be – it just won’t. I think this helps me keep a fairly positive frame of mind without dwelling on the negatives. I also know that if I completely screw something up – I have learnt from it.

2. Characters often find themselves in situations they aren’t sure they can get themselves out of. When was the last time you found yourself in a situation that was hard to get out of and what did you do?

Probably the fact I used to jump into relationships with complete losers when I was a youngster. A couple of my ex’s have made some brilliant characters in my books. *wink*

3. What is your biggest fear?

Losing my daughter is most definitely my biggest fear – as it is for most parents.

4. What do you want your tombstone to say?

Live the life you love, and love the life you live.
This woman did.

5. If you had a superpower, what would it be?

Folding space and time – without a shadow of a doubt. It would mean that I could transport myself to anywhere, at any time in the past, present, or future and that would save some serious travel time hours. I’m such a curious person… and I love travelling everywhere and discovering new wonderful things.

6. If you were a super hero, what would your name be? What costume would you wear?

I’ve copied this out of Wikipedia for you! My choice would be Elektra – cos she’s just so damn awesome.
Elektra Natchios, usually referred to only by her first name Elektra, is a fictional character in publications from Marvel Comics.
Elektra is a kunoichi – female ninja assassin – of Greek descent. She wields a pair of bladed sai as her trademark weapon. Created by Frank Miller, Elektra first appeared in Daredevil #168 (January 1981). She is a love interest of the superhero Daredevil, but her violent nature and mercenary lifestyle divide the two. She is one of Frank Miller’s best-loved creations, and subsequent writers’ use of her is controversial as Marvel had originally promised to not resurrect the character without Miller’s permission.[2] She has also appeared as a supporting character of the X-Men’s Wolverine and in other series and mini-series as well as adaptations for the screen.

7. What literary character is most like you?

Lara Croft? Hahaha. Not because she’s all hot and sexy, and is super awesome at firing a gun. No… I would say I’m more like her in terms of curiosity in history, other languages and cultures, and I, too, get a thrill from a little of the extreme.

8. What secret talents do you have?

Design… I guess it’s probably not a secret as most people know that I do it. Also, painting. Yes – I used to be a bit of an artist. Photography… (which usually goes hand in hand with design), and music. As a child I grew up playing the violin, piano, guitar. Nowadays I just listen to music constantly.

9. Where is one place you want to visit that you haven’t been before?

That is actually one of the hardest questions to answer! I would love to see everywhere in the world. I haven’t been to the Ancient City of Petra in Jordan yet – and that’s definitely on my wish list.
Nor have I been to Paris – and from what I’ve heard, it’s one of my favourite places in the world. That’s a spot that I would love to go and live, and lock myself away there for a few months and write.

10. If you were an animal in a zoo, what would you be?

giraffe JPG

Giraffe! I just love giraffes. They’re gorgeous, and they honestly have the best facial expressions.

11. What is something you want to accomplish before you die?

I want to see my daughter achieve her dreams, and know that I contributed to that by raising her as a tenacious and dedicated person. I would also love to become a best-selling author. Most authors dream of this!

12. If you could have any accents from anywhere in the world, what would you choose?

Probably Spanish or Italian. I love the patterns and the musical sound of the words as they roll off the tongue. I would love to also say that having a Jamaican accent would be fun, but I just don’t know if that would be one I would want.

13. What were you like as a child? Your favorite toy?

I was definitely an adventurous child – always ready to meet new people, play in trees, and create my own worlds to live in. As you can probably tell, I was also very creative, so you could nearly always find me having my downtime with pen and paper. Or a paintbrush.

14. Do you dream? Do you have any recurring dreams/nightmares?
I actually dream a lot, and very vividly. Some I remember, some I don’t. And it’s very rare that I ever encounter a nightmare! It’s a good place to retreat to.

Thank you Leigh for your insightful and honest answers. As one of my very favorite “New” Authors I enjoyed your answers as much as I know my readers will.


Enjoy this excerpt from Leigh’s upcoming release: “VENICE NIGHTS”


Venice nights jpg

To dispel some of the tension in the car between Luigi and I, I turned the music up, and hit the road. Before long, I saw a large black SUV come up quickly behind me. Naturally, because I hate being victimized on the road by arrogant drivers, I accelerated a little more. They did too.

I narrowed my eyes in the rear view mirror and tried to read the plates. There were none. My mouth went dry. I was having this horrible sense of déjà vu. It got closer and closer to my back end, and I gripped the wheel tightly as I sped up.

“You’re going too fast,” Luigi yelled at me over the music.

I glanced over to see his vice-like grip on the door handle, and the other holding his seat. I grimaced. “We’re being tailed.” His eyes went wide, and he immediately turned around to peer out the back window. I kept glancing in the mirror, but mainly tried to focus on the road ahead. The last thing I wanted to do was end up in Lake Como.
“You need to ring my team,” I instructed him, turning down the music.

He picked up my phone from the holder, and the screen lit to life. “Password?”

“Two Zero One Four.” I threw my foot to the floor as I was driving out of a corner, and the SUV behind me pulled back slightly. I was more than aware that I was using most of the road with my driving, and thanked my lucky stars that I hadn’t met any oncoming traffic yet. While he was dialing, I wrenched open the glove box to see if there was a gun in there. The car swerved as my concentration lapsed, and Luigi looked at me with alarm as I corrected it. No gun.

I opened the center console to find nothing in there either. “Fuck!” I slapped my hand against the steering wheel in frustration. Luigi was talking rapidly on the phone, but I didn’t hear a word as my brain scrambled in panic. The SUV rammed the back of my car, and I instinctively slammed on the breaks. As we slowed to a near stop, both our vehicles skidding broadside down the winding road, I could clearly see the driver.

Luigi screamed something incomprehensible, and I struggled to gain control. I turned the wheel away from the SUV, and floored the accelerator. The sound of my car scraping along the side of his was ear piercing as I pulled away. I could feel my wheels were out of alignment, and I swallowed. Sweat beaded on my forehead as I concentrated on the road. I knew that there had to be a gun in this car somewhere. Chase and River would never leave me unarmed. They were far too organized for anything like that to happen. Me on the other hand… I couldn’t believe I hadn’t even thought to arm myself before I left the house.

I felt around under my seat, knowing that River always kept something strapped under his seat in his cars. Disappointment met me empty handed.

I looked at Luigi. “Check under your seat and see if you can feel a weapon there.”
He gave me a dubious look before he realized that I was dead serious. With shaking hands, he pulled out a Smith and Wesson, one of my favorites, and handed it over.

Relief flooded me, as I checked the magazine for bullets. It was full. I just had to hope like hell that I didn’t run out. The car was definitely harder to control now that it had been bashed up a bit. I wasn’t impressed. They did not make cars like they used to.

We were driving past more and more Estates as we moved closer to Como. I knew without a shadow of a doubt that Gabe, Chase, and River would not want us to go anywhere near the house. But I was getting to the point where I had absolutely no idea where I could actually go. I knew I couldn’t take this into the midst of civilization, that was for sure.

Something foreign pinged inside the car, and air rushed through a tiny hole in my windscreen. My eyes flew to the rear-vision mirror to see another hole in my back window. I looked at the SUV, and could see the driver with an arm out the window, gun trained on us. “Jesus. He’s shooting!”

I swerved the car to cause a distraction. My heart almost stopped as an oncoming car rounded the corner in front of me and blared it’s horn. I turned the wheel to get out of it’s way, and hit the SUV. Luigi screamed as my vision was flooded with glass, and seat-belt desperately straining to contain me. The steering locked as the airbags exploded, throwing us backwards. The car eventually stopped spinning. And Luigi had stopped screaming. I feared the worst…….

Venice Nights December 2014 Are you as excited for this as I am?

Dwell Design & Press: http://www.parchmentplace.wix.com/dwell-design

Facebook:
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Website:
http://www.leighkhunt.com

2 Comments

  1. pflovett

    This was, without a doubt, one of the best and most informative interviews I have experienced! The in depth responses from Leigh K Hunt provided me with writing techniques that I will use. Most successful authors talk in circles and you really don’t get the nuts and bolts of their “everyday” writing style. Leigh’s genuine passion for writing was evident in every one of her responses.

    Thanks JR for sharing with your readers such an insightful author.

    Patricia Fuqua Lovett
    http://patriciafuqua.wordpress.com/
    http://patricialovettweddingsandreceptions.blogspot.com/

    1. J.R. O'Neill (Post author)

      I am so glad you enjoyed this as much as I did. Leigh really did dig deep and answer from the heart.

      J.R.

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