Hey there followers and blog readers!
I have another exciting interview and new book launch for you today. I met Jewel E. Leonard a few months ago, and she’s been such a dear friend since. But, despite that, she’s also a talented author with a new book titled, ‘Alight.’ Here’s the blurb:
Maeve lives a charmed life in the small desert town of Redington in Arizona Territory–where spousal prospects are sorely lacking, career choices are shamefully limited to the saloon, and Death himself has a vendetta against her.
All Maeve wants is her independence but 1883 society has decidedly different expectations for her.
Enter Shadow Wolf: notorious for his dark reputation and grotesque mechanical arm. The gunslinger, a suspiciously werewolf-esque man whose social situation bears some obnoxious similarities to Maeve’s, has found his place among the masses by walking on the wrong side of the law.
When Maeve stumbles upon Shadow Wolf’s scheme to rob a stagecoach, he forces her to choose between her life or breaking the witches’ Golden Rule. Despite certain karmic retribution, Maeve relies on her wit and a sprinkling of magic to survive the heist. When nothing goes according to plan, she finds herself not just on the ride of a lifetime but also roped into an unanticipated romance with a sexy bandit at the reins.
I’m so excited to sit down with Jewel and find out more. Grab a cup of hot chocolate and check out my interview below!
- This first question seems cliche, but I have to ask. When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
That’s a tough question. I don’t recall a specific moment where I realized I wanted to be a writer; it was always something that was inherent in me.
I began aspiring to be published around the time I picked up Ann M. Martin’s Baby-Sitters Club series. I remember reading them, loving them, and very firmly believing, “I can do this, too!”
- Can you tell us a little bit about how Alight came about and should we expect more or is this a stand-alone book?
I’m pretty sure I don’t know how to write stand-alone books. LOL! Alight is the first of the 9-book Witches’ Rede series.
I tease, I tease!
For many years, I was writing a series of stories I could not get published even if I took it upon myself to do so. I’ll spare everyone the sordid details, but I had several lovely people encouraging me to make the changes necessary to legitimately publish this behemoth I’d spent almost a decade and a half playing with. (I’m not belittling myself or the work by saying I was playing with it; it was play. I learned a lot from it, but it was play, nonetheless.)
It was Christina Olson, one of my few ultra-close friends, to say the magic word that fateful afternoon in 2013: Steampunk. She found that little bridge I needed to get my silly self-indulgent stories from where they were to the beautiful book coming out on December 21, 2017.
I make it sound so much easier than it was.
To be honest, I was resistant to the idea initially, but she offered specific suggestions for changes, and I remember one, in particular, struck me. It’s spoilery, so I can’t share what it was, but I’m sure she knows. I think I wrote rather eloquently about that day in an interview I did with Christina on my blog, here:
The rest is history … Wonderful, romanticized, magical and fantastical, alternative-Victorian/Wild West history. 😉
- When you’re not writing, what other roles do you tackle and master in your everyday life?
Oh, I master nothing … although someday I was thinking of completing TKGA’s Master Hand Knitting program (so I literally could be a master of a trade!) and going to get my medical coding certification.
It’s something to do while I build my backlist, anyway.
But most of my days (if we exclude writing) are taken up by my J-O-B, my loving husband, and my two wonderful children.
- On a typical day, when most things are going right in the world, what is your writing schedule like?
Well, I wake … get my son to school after my husband gets him ready, I work some, get my daughter to school after my husband gets her ready to go, work some, bring Daughter home 2 hours later, work some, bring Son home a few hours later, and finish work.
Then, it’s writing as much as I can around the TV, my daughter’s iPad, impromptu advanced math whiteboard play with my son, chatting with my hubby, food somewhere in there, cleaning if I can, exhaustion, and let’s not forget drowsiness.
Basically, it’s a miracle I ever get anything done. Ever. LOL!
Life can be so unpredictable around my home that I don’t bother with a schedule. I’d just get discouraged, frustrated, angry with my housemates, and it’d be far more tempting to throw in the towel.
I now gave myself general deadlines (publication onset dates), but outside of that, it’s variable. In my family, it has to be, and I came to terms with that long ago (although some days, I slip and get upset).
When my hubby and son are my biggest cheerleaders, it’s very easy to “forgive” the rest!
- Have you entered or won any writing awards with other writing pieces?
Short story, no.
Long story: …. no.
Honestly, I genuinely think it’s an honor to be nominated for awards (it rarely happens).
I’d love to win awards for which I was nominated (not ever gonna happen).
But something about using my J-O-B money for asking other people to judge (in a subjective field) my labors-of-love just … doesn’t appeal to me, regardless of the ribbon, placard, trophy, or cash-prize on the other end of it.
If I am actually happy with my work, I think that’s the biggest prize I can win.
I won NaNoWriMo a couple of times! Does that count?
I did have a theater teacher who wanted our class to read a script I wrote (that she thought was taken from an actual conversation—surprise! I was unwilling to spy on people in public for content, so it was 100% fictional and Ms. “I can tell fake conversations from real ones” didn’t realize mine was fake as fake could be!)
I also had an English professor ask to use one of my essays as a sample for future students to work from. Of course, I told him he could.
I remember those moments fondly.
- Many people have writing quirks, mine is I MUST have sweet tea on hand, or I can’t write, what writing quirks do you have?
I gave this one a lot of thought. I wouldn’t say I really have any. I have things I prefer (coffee over tea) and certain ways I prefer to do things (writing by hand in a notebook before moving my words to the computer), but I can certainly work without a drink and can put words to the computer without first stopping at Notebook Town.
I think this flexibility leaves me open to being more productive (as unproductive as I am). I’m thankful I don’t get hung up on conditions being ideal because around this house, they seldom are.
- What inspired you to write in your chosen genre?
It’s a toss-up between the influences of YA author LJ Smith and adult author, Nina Bangs.
I started down the paranormal path with Deborah and James Howe’s Bunnicula when I was very little, and eventually, Smith led me to Bangs. I know for sure there are shades of Bangs in my love scenes, and I’m proud of that.
In my opinion, she writes Those Scenes (wink/wink) with a great combination of heat and elegance that I think many traditional romance writers these days just don’t.
Her style has always really appealed to me.
You can be explicit and scorching without being vulgar. I like that, and I like to think I write that way, too (in The Witches’ Rede series).
I’m working on adding more humor to my work as I grow—it’s another way in which I admire Nina Bangs’s books. She’s crazy witty.
Can you tell I’m a fan?
I totally digressed there, and for that, I apologize.
- Everyday life can be hectic, especially with how the world is today; despite that, what things do you enjoy doing when you aren’t writing?
Sleeping. Motherhood/adulthood can be so sad sometimes! LOL!
If I ever find the energy, I need to pick up my knitting needles or crochet hooks again.
I also have maybe a half a million crafts on my Pinterest boards I’d love to get into.
- Writing can be a form of therapy, healing, and a teachable lesson; did you learn anything about yourself during your time of writing, Alight?
Alight has been, well, enlightening. In so many ways.
My writing has grown considerably from the very first scene I wrote for it.
Certain political beliefs have shifted, too, when I saw the world through my characters’ eyes. I find myself often wondering if other authors experience this, too.
As far as therapy and healing go, that’s been more Possession’s job. (Possession is the second book in The Witches’ Rede series.) I’m afraid there’s a lot of catharsis in that one.
- What makes Alight special to you? Why should others read it?
Alight is so special to me, and for so many reasons, I find it difficult to put into words (and for someone who’s written as much as I have over the years, that says something).
To start with: these characters have been in my life in some form or other since 1999. (Actually, one has been around since 1991. That serves as my longest continuous relationship outside the one I have with my parents. Is that sad? I feel like it’s something that should be sad.) Relationships like that are rare—at least they are for me—and deeply meaningful.
Alight is also the first project of this scope that I have finished. I’ve been at this “game” so long; I feel like Alight should only be one of a great many finished projects of its size … but it’s the first. You never forget your first. (wink/wink)
She’s also the beginning of a grand journey that started out with some hedonistic fluff and evolved into something so much more significant. (To be clear, I LOVE fluff. I’m not putting fluff down. Basically: Y’all gonna miss my fluff by book 9, believe me!)
The Witches’ Rede series is gonna get deep. It’s gonna get dark. It’s gonna get unpleasant, at times downright miserable.
It is—if I do things as I aim to—going to make my readers squirm in their seats, read from between scarcely spread fingers, hate my main characters, learn from them, love them more, begrudgingly forgive them, cheer for them, sympathize with them, be unable to stop turning pages, and be grateful for sticking it through to the end.
So, while I may be hard on her, Alight is especially special to me.
- Lastly, another cliche question but, needs to be asked; what advice do you have for other indie authors, especially when it’s so easy to want to give up the craft?
“You’ve got to remember you’re doing this for yourself. At the end of the day, you’re the only one you can guarantee will read (and, I sure hope, enjoy!) your work.”
I want to give a HUGE shout out to Jewel for letting me interview her and for allowing me to be a part of Alight‘s launch day! I can’t wait to grab my copy. If you enjoyed reading the interview, let us know! I’m considering doing more in the future. Also, if your interest has been sparked to grab your copy, then here’s how!
Buy Alight here on Amazon.
Here are other places you can follow Jewel since you know, she’s pretty fantastic!
Facebook– (While she’s chattier on Twitter than she is on Facebook, Facebook is getting some exclusive content for Alight’s book release, and Jewel says her team is likely to continue that way for future book releases.)