Leanna Renee Hieber is an author, actress, and playwright whose works are predominantly set in the Victorian Era and have gothic and fantasy elements. Leanna has won four Prism Awards and was included on Barnes and Noble's bestseller lists for The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker. We caught up with her just in time for All Hallows' Eve.
What draws you to young adult fantasy writing?
I've always been a fantasy reader, and the critical journeys in Young Adult fiction are so vibrant. You're catching characters at their first really big trials and coming-of-ages; it's a thrilling and satisfyingly epic place to be, and when you throw in fantastical and paranormal elements, it makes that rite of passage all the more compelling and rich with possibility.
A large portion of your work is gothic and set in the Victorian Era. What keeps you coming back to this genre and time period?
I believe I'm a reincarnate Victorian, that some sort of past life or echo has driven me to this absolute fascination and adoration with this time period since I was a kid. My first novel was set in 1888, I began writing it somewhere around the age of 12. Thanks to a wonderful literature teacher, I discovered Edgar Allan Poe at an early age - his language spoke to my soul and I saw the world, and still do, with his same strangely beautiful eyes.
Apart from being a writer, you are also an actress and a playwright. Does the creative process change based on the medium?
Absolutely, they're all very different beasts. I love shifting from one to the other but have to allow myself a bit of re-entry from one to the next. Being an actress is natural and I get to use my outgoing side; being a novelist I get to tap into the epic storyteller within me; being a playwright is hardest. I find that the struggle to say meaningful things and create a reality on stage with limited words and resources is the most difficult thing to do.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Be persistent and stay strong. The business and the art will make you question a lot of things and peck away at your confidence. Your desire to see your writing out in the world has to outweigh any fear or insecurity.
What's the best writing advice you've ever been given?
Persistence. Not believing in writer's block, not waiting for "the muse" - you just have to make a story happen for yourself by sheer discipline.
In the spirit of Halloween, will you share your scariest paranormal experience?
Being in the Hawthorne Hotel in Salem, MA and hearing sounds I can't explain both outside and inside the hotel room. Fascinating, but unsettling too.
What's the most beneficial part of having a website? How has it helped you as an author?
In this day and age it's vital, you simply cannot be in the business– any business –without a website. A website is the fundamental part of marketing, and without it, readers would have no other way of knowing advanced information about releases, appearances, press, mailing lists, story order, etc. All of that information is so important in building a presence.
If you are looking for a spooky Historical Fantasy, check out Leanna's new book: The Twisted Tragedy of Miss Natalie Stewart. For a taste of her literary style, there are several links to free reads on her website.
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