Leesa Bow is a best selling author who began her writing journey years ago when her daughter fell ill. Falling into writing for therapy Leesa now can't imagine doing anything else. Thankful to be following her passion for romance, she is living out her own happy ever after with her husband in Brisbane, Australia.
In her spare time Leesa enjoys watching sport, having beach days with the family, catching up for coffee with girlfriends, and taking long walks.
Now on with the interview...
ME: What is your favorite childhood book?
LEESA: I was around six when I first read Old Yeller and fell in love with the story immediately.
ME: What is the first book that made you cry?
LEESA: Old Yeller. I was an animal lover and it was the first book that had my chest burning and tears streaming down my cheeks.
ME: Is writing your primary 'job' or do you have another source of income?
LEESA: Over the years I have worked as a nurse, fitness instructor, sales support officer, merchandiser, and medical receptionist. The latter two I worked during the early years as an author. Writing is currently my primary job.
ME: Do people around you know you write romance/erotica and what do they think about it?
LEESA: My family, and friends all know I write steamy romance. Everyone is supportive. When they ask for the next book, or tell me to write quicker, it is the best motivation knowing your books are special to loved ones. I have written a short-story series under pen name Elle Carmichael, and even my mother and aunt enjoyed the story.
ME: Do you believe in writer’s block? If not why not? And if so what suggestions do you have to start the juices flowing again.
LEESA: Yes. Life can get busy, and often I don’t think clearly with so much happening around me. If I become stressed my thoughts shut down, and it takes time for my mind to clear and the writing channel to open. Finding a quiet spot to relax and get into a semi meditational state of mind, listening to love songs, or watching a good movie can help with writer’s block.
ME: Are you a plotter or fly by the seat of your pants kind of writer?
LEESA: Pantser. Or a pantyliner, which is a combination of a pantser and a plotter. Meaning ideas may flow as you write but at the end you stop and write a couple of lines about the next chapter so you have an idea what direction your story is taking.
I spend time in the shower thinking about what direction the story might take, and daydream about the characters and the plot. I quickly write the ideas down so I don’t forget. So no extensive plotting.
ME: What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
LEESA: My research varies for each book.
I spend hours ensuring the content is correct at the time of writing the story. My first book I wrote, currently unpublished, I spent months researching. I still have more content to research before publishing as it is set in the Amazon in South America.
ME: Would you rather write standalones, standalones with connections to your other works, or multi book series with no true conclusion until the very end?
LEESA: I write stand alones with connections to my other books. One day I will write a series but I have other books to write first.
ME: Where do your story ideas come from?
LEESA: My ideas stem from dreams, listening to songs, or something that has happened in real life and then I take the bones of it and change it up, and twist it into a story.
ME: Do you ever base your characters, events or locations on real people, events or places?
LEESA: My characters may have snippets of people I know. I guess nobody is safe when you know a romance author.
My football stories have pieces of drama from the real world where I’ve modified or stretched out the truth to suit the plot or my characters.
I grew up and partied in my late teens in Broken Hill. My experiences, friends and places inspired Charming the Outback. If you have read the book and visit Broken Hill you will recognize many places, including the Red Earth Café where my characters went to watch sunsets over the outback, and The Palace Hotel, infamous in the movie, Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.
ME: Is there a character in one of your books loosely based off yourself?
LEESA: Hmm. Maybe all my female characters have a tiny touch of me embedded in them, but not much. I like to think they are individuals in their own right, and unique in their ways.
ME: What process do you use for selecting the names of your characters?
LEESA: My daughter is a teacher and every year she will tell me the names she likes from her students. Other times I Google names and meanings before I decide on a character’s name. My daughters have some input and often debate over character names.
ME: Who has been your most difficult character to write so far?
LEESA: Sam, my hero in an unpublished manuscript. He is intelligent, determined and also quiet where he doesn’t share much information about himself, as he is sworn to secrecy in his work.
And Garnett, a female DJ, in my short story series under my pen name.
ME: Have you ever killed off someone who pissed you off in one of your books?
LEESA: No. One day I hope to write suspense or a psychological thriller but right now my brain doesn’t allow for me to go down that path.
I started writing for therapy when my daughter was receiving chemotherapy for bone cancer. She is doing great now. Writing my own stories gave me the power to control the story ending and I needed my fiction world to have happy-ever-after since reality was not a good place to be at the time.
ME: What was your hardest scene to write?
LESSA: I have two current manuscripts where the emotion is high. Sometimes I stand and walk away as I find myself tearing up. Personally I find it difficult to cry; in fact if I ever do I end up breaking out in cold sores. My body doesn’t handle sadness well. So it’s probably why these two books have taken so long to write.
ME: Does writing energize or exhaust you, and why?
I am on a high when the story flows easily, and you see the plot unfolding. Other times the story itself can be draining emotionally, and I need to be left alone while I deal with the emotion.
ME: As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal, and why?
LEESA: The Butterfly
The butterfly appears in times of life change and it leads to personal development. It represents transformation with grace. I have been emotionally challenged at times over the last twenty years and feel as though I have come out stronger and a better person on each occasion.
ME: If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
LEESA: Never ignore your dreams, and don’t take on negativity. If someone tells you that you can’t write something, don’t listen to them. Allow nothing and no one to hold back your dream. Write what you love and straight from your heart.
ME: What are common traps for aspiring writers?
LEESA: Publishing a manuscript before it is edited professionally. This may cost you but it is worth every cent. My stories have copy edits then a proofread by different editors.
Your cover is the first thing to catch a reader’s eye. Make it stand out.
Understand the need to market your books. Before you even release a book you need to build a platform on social media. You might release an awesome book but no one will buy it if they don’t know about it. You need to build relationships with authors, readers, and bloggers. But most importantly be your self. People will work you out if you act fake.
ME: What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
LEESA: 1. An RWA conference. It gave me the confidence to become indie published.
2. Paying professional editors.
3. Paying for professional covers.
4. Paying to have my books in print. It was a wonderful feeling to hold those babies in my hand.
ME: Thank you so much for your time, Leesa. We look forward to seeing you at RTC2018!