Wednesday, August 5, 2015
An Interview with Leann Sweeney
MM: Leann, you have been writing successful series for quite some time now. How have they surprised you over the years as they developed and grew?
LEANN: I guess how readers have embraced both series. I never in my wildest dreams ever thought I would make the NY Times Bestseller list not once but 4 times! It’s amazing. I guess, “If you write it, they will come,” is true.
MM: What inspired you to start writing and what has kept you going?
LEANN: I wanted to write since I was a child but I was plain scared of failure. When my kids were in middle school and began thinking about their futures, I told them to go after their dreams. Saying it out loud made me understand, I hadn’t done that. Thus, the writing journey began.
MM: How important is setting in your stories?
LEANN: Setting is very important, but even more important for me is weaving the landscape into the story. They cannot be separate.
MM: You are a devoted cat lover and they are important in your books. Any fun cat antics that made it to your pages from your real-life cats?
LEANN: Many have in the everyday sense—the playing, the demanding treats, etc.—but in the book I am currently writing for 2016, more of my kitten’s behavior will be on the page because he is so darn cute and active. (And does some funny things!)
MM: What makes up a satisfying workday for you?
LEANN: Getting words on the page that actually do not need a whole lot of rewriting the next day. Some days are better than others—as is true with any job.
MM: What are you reading these days?
LEANN: I am on an Ann Cleeves binge right now. I love her writing and I think she has mastered weaving setting into the story as well, if not better, than anyone. She is not a cozy writer, but I love UK mysteries and I am reading the ones she wrote that are set in the Shetland Islands right now.
MM: You have lived in some very different places over the years. How do they compare?
LEANN: I was born in Western NY—very cold and I wasn’t a fan. We lived in Texas a very long time and it is truly like living in a foreign country for a Yankee like me. The oppressive heat was as bad as the terrible cold. Now we are in upstate South Carolina living on a lake and I absolutely love it. Water is a very peaceful thing for me—just looking at it every day is soothing.
MM: What is the best writing advice you have received?
LEANN: The best writing advice came via Elizabeth George when I took a 5 day workshop with her in the late ‘90s. I think she was quoting another writer but it really resonated. She said a good book puts the reader in the arms of a loving narrator. It’s so true. When you have a “reliable voice” telling the story, you are able to truly suspend disbelief.
MM: Even as an author, you are also a fan of other authors. What was your biggest fan moment?
LEANN: It was the very FIRST fan moment when I went to Murder by the Book in Houston and met Carolyn Hart. She is the absolute nicest and generous person on earth. My workshop with Elizabeth George matched it. She is a fantastic teacher and I learned so so much from her.
MM: If you could have any food prepared just for you at all for a day (with someone else cooking it), what would you have?
LEANN: Pizza or steak.
MM: Any great movie, TV, music finds lately?
LEANN: I am a TV addict. I love Murder in the First on TNT but there are so many great police shows, which I love. I am so thrilled that Hallmark has a mystery movie channel. I will say I am very disappointed in this season’s True Detective on HBO. It took me a couple weeks to figure out it’s not the acting but the WRITING I dislike so much. And that is sad, since the first season was so awesome. Can’t forget Downton Abby, Sherlock, The Blacklist and there’s a summer show on USA (I think) called Complications that is terrific. Music? Love Ed Sheeran, Damien Rice, Passenger…I could go on and on
MM: What are your current projects?
LEANN: I am working on the 2016 book in the Cats in Trouble series called The Cat, The Collector and The Killer. As soon as I turn in the manuscript I am going to be working on a quilt. I haven’t quilted in 3 years since we were in a rental while our house was being built and then I had a lot of medical testing done that seemed to go on for months. But I LOVE to quilt!
MM: Lastly, let’s have some advice from Merlot, Syrah and Chablis…
LEANN: Merlot, Syrah and Chablis say “Do what we ask, human servants, and no one gets hurt.” Of course they will be very sneaky about how they “ask.” It will come off as quite sweet.
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