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5 Minutes with Leanne Renee Hieber

In 5 Minutes, Historical on March 22, 2010 at 6:58 am

“5 Minutes with…” is a section of the blog that is a a set of questions that are pretty much the same give or take a few. That are meant for us to get to know our favorite authors a little bit more. Some are funny, some have nothing to do with their books; while others hopefully get to the “nitty-gritty” of what the author is thinking. Now let’s give her a Naughty Chick welcome.

Bio:

Award winning and bestselling author, actress and playwright Leanna Renee Hieber grew up in rural Ohio inventing ghost stories. Graduating with a BFA in Theatre, a focus in the Victorian Era and a scholarship to London set the course for her Strangely Beautiful series. While performing in professional regional theatre, she adapted works of 19th century literature for the stage and one-act plays such as “Favorite Lady” gained national recognition and continue to be produced around the country.

She hit the fantasy fiction scene with her novella “Dark Nest” which won the 2009 Prism Award for excellence in Futuristic, Fantasy and Paranormal Romance.

Her debut novel, The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker is the first in her Strangely Beautiful series of ghostly, Gothic Victorian Fantasy novels (Dorchester Publishing) and landed on Barnes & Noble’s mass market and overall Bestseller List. The book was named one of the Top Ten Books of 2009 by Beyond Her Book Publishers Weekly Reader’s Choice Poll and listed as a favourite book of the year on numerous book review blogs.

5 Minutes with the Leanne

What project are you currently working on? (C’mon, give us a hint!)

The next in the Strangely Beautiful series!  The sequel to The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker will release on April 27th; The Darkly Luminous Fight for Persephone Parker (Strangely Beautiful #2) and a holiday novella (Strangely Beautiful #2.5) will release this October.  I’m very excited.  I’m currently working on Strangely Beautiful #3, a prequel, as well as a sequel to my 2009 Prism Award winning novella Dark Nest.

If you could be one of your characters – Who would you be?  And why?

Miss Percy Parker. Because she gets Professor Rychman.  *swoon*

Who or what influences you when you write?

19th Century Gothic Novels, Ghost stories, Mythology, Fantasy novels, 19th Century romances.  Alan Rickman.

When you have writer’s block how do you break free?

Take showers.  When I’m on deadline I’m really clean.

Who is your perfect hero?  And why?

An intense, stoic, brooding, intelligent, perhaps repressed, powerful, confident hero who is noble, just, loyal and a gentleman.  A man capable of love but who has had to deny it all his life for whatever reason.  My perfect hero is a cross between Mr. Darcy, Severus Snape, Rochester, Colonel Brandon, and John Thornton from Elizabeth Gaskill’s North and South.  Add those together and you get Professor Rychman, hero of my Strangely Beautiful series.

What do you do for inspiration?

Heat up a cup of clove tea (Professor Rychman’s favourite), light candles, light my stained glass lamps, put on classical music and start daydreaming.

Is there a genre of book you would like to write but haven’t yet?

The Strangely Beautiful series has Young Adult cross-over appeal, and I’d like to do a more specifically targeted YA series.

What kind of research do you do for your books?  Do you enjoy the research process?

In college I focused in theatre and the Victorian Era, have adapted 19th century literature for the professional stage, and went on scholarship to London. All of these things were wonderful blessings and really helped give me a grounding in the era.  I love reading 19th Century literature (the best research of all) and wearing period clothes.  But my very favourite aspect of the Strangely Beautiful process was researching the ghosts.  Save for the spectres of my made-up Athens Academy, all my ghosts haunting London streets are real, documented London haunts.  If you’re curious, visit my archive of the Haunted London Blog Tour on my website and follow along when I do it again in April for the Darkly Luminous release.  Book giveaways and ghost stories!  Stay tuned via my website (www.leannareneehieber.com) Facebook: http://tinyurl.com/sbsfan and Twitter: www.twitter.com/leannarenee

What is your favorite movie of all time?  The one where you can watch it and still get affected at the same spots each and every time?

My favourite movie of all time is a tie between:  Sense and Sensibility and The Muppet Christmas Carol.  My favourite moments:  In Sense and Sensibility, the moment when Colonel Brandon (Alan Rickman) says outside of Marianne’s sick-room “Give me an occupation or I shall run mad.”  In The Muppet Christmas Carol; when Scrooge gives the mice in the wall a chunk of cheese.

If you were stranded on a deserted island, what 5 things would you have with you? *mind you, you do have a strong hunky man to help you with things* *grins*

The Oxford English Dictionary – I love learning new words and the magnifying glass could be used to start fires.  The collected works of Charles Dickens and J.K. Rowling.  My computer (I could get a lot of writing done).  Unlimited access to BBC programming.

What is your favorite way to relax after a hard day working and writing?

BBC programming. *grin*

What is the one era you would love to go visit and why?

The Victorian era.  Because I’m obsessed with it and it has driven me to write books about it since I was 12 years old (when I began my first novel, also set in 1888).  The aspects I utilize in the Strangely Beautiful series will tell you why; a haunting, romantic, difficult, charged, conflicted, beautiful, terrible, fascinating, atmospheric, sophisticated, brutal, dramatic time period.

Have you ever faked sick?

I’m an actress.  Of course.  I’ve faked dead too.  I’ve been known to make a pretty awesome vampire on stage. (Have professionally played both Mina and Lucy in Dracula.  To see a great, bloody Lucy photo, visit my author photo album on the Strangely Beautiful Facebook page: http://tinyurl.com/sbsfan).

What character out of all your books is the closest to your personality?

Definitely Miss Percy Parker’s passionate, poetic, energized nature is like mine.  And bits and pieces of the rest of me get scattered to my Ghostbusters, The Guard in the Strangely Beautiful series.

How much does reader response mean to you over your books?

I do truly want readers to love them as much as I’ve loved writing them.  While I have come to terms with the fact that you cannot please everyone, it means so very much to me when readers care for my characters as I do.

What do you hope readers get from your books after they read them?

With Miss Percy I’d like everyone to expand their ideas of beauty while being swept up into something magical and romantic.  I’d love for everyone to believe and cherish the idea that something unlikely, timid, quiet and kind could beautify, change and perhaps even save the world.  The words Strangely and Beautiful are two very important words to me.  Miss Percy is an outcast, looking like a ghost, seeing ghosts and visions, she’s been told she’s a freak all her life.  And yet she finds love, acceptance, strength and purpose and her light transforms those around her.  As I say in my novella Dark Nest, I’d like to remind everyone to “Choose joy”.

If you could make a movie of any one of your books which one would you choose and who would you cast at the h/h?

The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker. From when I first started this book ten years ago, Alexi has always been Alan Rickman in my mind.  If it were made today it would have to shift to a younger actor now, so I’d choose Richard Armitage (North & South) or having seen Robert Downey Jr. in Sherlock Holmes I think he could be amazing.  As for the heroine, I’m honestly not sure.  As an actress, I suppose I always pictured myself playing her. *grin*
Who is your favorite author?

I cannot pick one, and so it is a tie between Charles Dickens, Bram Stoker (because of Dracula), J.K. Rowling, J.R.R Tolkien, Jane Austen, Victor Hugo, and Edgar Allan Poe.

What is the weirdest thing a reviewer has ever said about one of your books?

Getting the plot wrong.

What is the nicest thing a reviewer has ever said about one of your books?

“Actor and playwright Hieber could not have picked a more accurate title for this suspenseful, otherworldly tale because it is, indeed, strange in its happenings and mood and beautiful in its romance and language…. Hieber has created a secretive, gothic, paranormal world as well as a character who will resonate with anyone who has found the beauty in being different. Happily, this is the first romance in Hieber’s Strangely Beautiful series.”
Booklist

The Latest Releases of Leanne:

DARK NEST – a futuristic fantasy with a psychic punch

Winner of the 2009 Prism Award for excellence in published works of Fantasy, Futuristic and Paranormal Romance in the Novella Category

ISBN: 978-0-981601-5-1
Length: Novella, 107 pages
Publication Date: April 2008 – Crescent Moon Press

Chief Counsel Ariadne Corinth has just found out her long-time lover, the powerfully gifted Chief Counsel Kristov Haydn, has died. Newly evolved psychically gifted humans have been sent by the Homeworld on a space mission aboard two distinct “Nests”.  Relationships between the Light Nest and the Dark Nest have faltered and Ariadne is sure there’s something insidious behind it. In a matter of hours, Ariadne must find out what really happened to Kristov, unite her people to discover vast new powers the Homeworld denied them, or else submit to genocide.

THE STRANGELY BEAUTIFUL TALE OF MISS PERCY PARKER

ISBN 10: 08439-6296-8

ISBN 13: 978-08439-6296-3

Length: Novel (320 pages)

Publication Date: 8/25/09 from Leisure Books / Dorchester Publishing

What fortune awaited sweet, timid Percy Parker at Athens Academy? Considering how few of Queen Victoria’s Londoners knew of it, the great Romanesque fortress was dreadfully imposing, and little could Percy guess what lay inside. She had never met the powerful and mysterious Professor Alexi Rychman, knew nothing of the growing shadow, the Ripper and other supernatural terrors against which his coterie stood guard. She knew simply that she was different, haunted, with her snow-white hair, pearlescent skin and uncanny gifts. But this arched stone doorway offered a portal to a new life, an education far from the convent—and an invitation to an intimate yet dangerous dance at the threshold of life and death…

THE DARKLY LUMINOUS FIGHT FOR PERSEPHONE PARKER

ISBN 10:  0-8439-6297-6

ISBN 13:  978-0-8439-6297-0

Length: Novel (340 pages)

Publication Date: 4/27/10 from Leisure Books / Dorchester Publishing

Pre-Order from BARNES & NOBLE

With radiant, snow white skin and hair, Percy Parker was a beacon for Fate. True love had found her, in the tempestuous form of Professor Alexi Rychman. But her mythic destiny was not complete. Accompanying the ghosts with which she alone could converse, new and terrifying omens loomed. A war was coming, a desperate ploy of a spectral host. Victorian London would be overrun.  Yet, Percy kept faith. Within the mighty bastion of Athens Academy, alongside The Guard whose magic shielded mortals from the agents of the Underworld, she counted herself among friends. Wreathed in hallowed fire, they would stand together, no matter what dreams or nightmares—may come.

Read EXCERPTS

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