Author Interview: Leslie Ann Moore

I’ve know Leslie for many years and I’ve been a big fan of her previous fantasy trilogy. When I learned she had a new steampunk series coming out, I asked her to come here and share more about it with us here on No Wasted Ink.

Author Leslie Ann MooreWhen my mother was pregnant with me, one of her favorite singers at the time was Leslie Uggams, which is why I’m Leslie Ann Moore. I’m a doctor of veterinary medicine by profession, but I’m a writer by passion.

When and why did you begin writing?

I’ve been blessed since childhood with a vivid imagination, and a penchant for inventing stories out of the ferment of creativity which resulted from that. At age twelve, the very first thing I ever committed to paper, and yes, back then, it had to be paper, was a poem about a horse. I showed it to my mother, who, of course, told me it was the most wonderful poem she’d ever read. Really, what else was she going to say? So, I took her at her word and submitted it to a national horse enthusiast magazine, and lo and behold, it got published!! I haven’t written much poetry since.

I didn’t do much writing at all throughout my late childhood and teen years. I was at the stage in my life where I needed to read, voraciously, in order to study and absorb how great writers did what they did. I devoured all the classics of sci-fi and fantasy, essentially training my own artistic mind in the techniques of story structure and style, against the day when I was finally ready to produce something of my own.

In high school, I created my own newspaper for a history class assignment. Rather than write a standard report on the defeat of the Spanish Armada by Elizabeth I of England and her scrappy little navy, I wrote it as a series of articles from imaginary reporters on the scene, and laid it out in newspaper format, complete with drawings I did myself in place of photos. I got an A+ on it! My mom still has that project, lovingly preserved.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

In 2001, when I began work on my first novel, Griffin’s Daughter. Until then, I really didn’t think of myself as a serious writer–I was more of a dabbler. I’d written some short stories for a creative writing class during my undergrad days, but that was it.

Can you share a little about your current book with us?

A Tangle of Fates is the first installment of a new trilogy, the overall title of which is Vox Machina. Genre-wise, it’s soft sci-fi, with steampunk flavorings, a lot of politics, adventure, some mysticism, and a dash of romance. For those familiar with screenwriting terms, the log-line would be ‘Snow White as revolutionary.’ Another log-line could be ‘Snow White meets The Terminator’. Both of those should give you a good idea about the general plot. This series is very different from my Griffin’s Daughter trilogy, which was a romantic fantasy.

The book has already gotten glowing reviews from, among others, Howard Hendrix, a Hugo and Nebula Award nominee, and Emma Bull, one of the inventors of the urban fantasy genre back in the ’80’s.

What inspired you to write this book?

I wanted to write a story based on a traditional fairy tale, but turn it on its head. In so many fairy tales, the female is passive. She’s there only as a prop for the male hero to rescue. Or, if she is the center of the tale, she’s the victim of manipulative, malign forces, and still ends up needing a male savior. The Vox Machina Trilogy, of which ATOF is the first book, takes the story of Snow White and transforms it from a tale of a helpless girl needing rescue by not one, but eight (the seven dwarves, plus the Prince) men, to one of a girl rising up from the ashes of her former life to become the savior of not one, but two nations.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I’ve modeled my style after two wonderful fantasy writers–Janny Wurts, and Kate Elliot. I like to think of it as Neo Victorian. It’s a lush, complex style, full of beautiful similes and uncommon word choices. Some would call it ‘purple’ or ‘flowery’. It’s definitely not in fashion these days, particularly with American editors, critics, and other ‘gatekeepers’ of the literary world. The common wisdom is that modern readers lack the patience for long, complex sentences and lush imagery. Everything is supposed to be short and unembellished. I don’t buy that. Both Janny and Kate have vast fan bases, and continue to sell lots of books.

How did you come up with the title of this book?

My fianceé and I were having dinner at Marie Callendar’s, and we were brainstorming ideas. He pointed out how all of the character’s fates were intertwined. I imagined a big ball of string, all tangled up, thus, the title was born.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

All my books have overt political themes. The Vox Machina Trilogy deals with political repression and racial injustice, and how a small group of committed individuals can overthrow an entrenched regime. The main message is that it’s not impossible to effect radical change in a society. It just needs brave people to stand up and fight for what’s right.

Are experiences in this book based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

Only insofar as I’m alive in these times, and angry about the many injustices I see in our society and others around the world.

What authors have most influenced your life? What about them do you find inspiring?

James Herriott, who wrote All Creatures Great And Small, about his life as a country vet in England during the 1920‘s and 30‘s. He made the veterinary profession come alive for me and inspired me to become a vet myself. Strange, though, I didn’t read those books, thinking, hey, I can also be a writer as well as a vet. I never connected the two. I think I was too young.

Much later, in 2001, I went to the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books and attended a panel about writing fantasy fiction. Terry Brooks, the author of the best-selling Sword of Shannara series was one of the panelists. I’ve read a lot of his work. He talked about how he’d been a lawyer, and it had taken him many years to transition from full-time lawyer to full-time writer. He’d had years in between where he wrote books and practiced law. When I heard how he’d persevered until he achieved his goal of quitting law to support himself on his writings, I knew I could do the same. I’m not there yet, but soon.

There are other authors who’ve influenced my writing life. I’ve already mentioned Janny Wurts and Kate Elliott, both of whom helped me to develop my voice.

If you had to choose, is there a writer would you consider a mentor? Why?

There isn’t anyone I know personally that I can say has been a mentor, but of the many writers I admire, Janny Wurts is the closest. I study how she puts together sentences, and her breathtaking imagery, as if I’m in a master class and she’s the teacher.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Write every day, if possible, even if it’s only a few paragraphs. Study writers you admire, learn how they do things, then emulate them. Know proper grammar, in whatever language(s) you write in. Then, when you break the rules, you’re doing it as a stylistic choice and not out of ignorance. Learn how to critically analyze other people’s criticism of your work. Everyone has an opinion, but not everyone who reads your stuff will have the necessary insight and abilities to offer useful advice. It’s OK to reject suggestions as crap, even if it’s from someone you trust. In the end, you are the boss. Write what you want to write.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Thanks for coming along on this wonderful journey with me. There are many more stories I want to share, and I hope I can bring the best of them to all of you.

MHTangleCoverLeslie Ann Moore
Los Angeles, CA

A TANGLE OF FATES

GOODREADS
FACEBOOK
AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE
SMASHWORDS

No Wasted Ink Writer’s Links

writers-linksCharacter development is a particular passion of mine. I like to create characters that feel like real people in my stories. So have a look through the links, there are ones on general writing too, but for the most part, this week are lessons in making memorable characters of your own.

15 Million Pages of Medical History Are Going Online

“Writerisms and other Sins”

Don’t quit your day job — it may make you a great writer

Wattpad for Authors: 14 Tips for Making the Most of the World’s Largest Community of Readers and Writers

Creating a Setting That Comes Alive For Your Reader

Ten Reasons to Launch an Author Blog

Exploring characters through their possessions

How to Keep your Story Moving and Your Character Believable

How to Find Your Character’s Breaking Point

If You Don’t Read Magazines, Don’t Try To Write For Them

Writing Spaces: Modern Home Office

Modern Home Office

This Modern Home Office is from “The Timeless Home,” This Old House magazine, March 2002. It is a 10×10 space in the central area of the house, between the kitchen and the living room. It is designed to be a place to dump the afternoon mail or to organize your shopping list before going out to do errands. I also view it as a great family writing space. You have a great view of the yard via the bay windows to watch over your children or to gain a view of the outside to refresh your senses, the built-in cabinets would hold all your research materials and papers out of sight, and there is a nice spot on the floor where your computer tower could rest comfortably. While many of us use laptops these days, there is nothing wrong with a desktop setup. I use one myself!

While this office was designed a decade ago, it still has many great ideas to inspire your own writing space at home.

Book Review: Don Quixote

Book Name: Don Quixote
Author: Miguel de Cervantes
First Published:1605 (part one) 1615 (part two)

Miguel de Cervantes was born in 1547 in Alcalá de Henares, Spain. His father’s profession was that of a barbar-surgeon from Cordoba. He set bones, performed bloodlettings in addition to shaves and haircuts. Cervantes’ mother was the third child of a poor nobleman who sold his daughter into matrimony to pay his debts. Although their marriage was not a happy one, they still managed to produce seven children together. When Cervantes was a young man, he fell in love with a girl named Josefina, but because of his family’s poverty and Cervantes’ poor prospects, the girl’s father forbade her to see him.

Cervantes left Spain and enlisted with the Spanish Navy Marines in Naples in 1570. The following year, he sailed with the fleet of ships that defeated the Ottoman forces in the Battle of Lepanto. Cervantes had a fever during the battle but he chose to fight for his King and his God instead of hiding below decks. He was shot three times, which left his left arm immobile, but he considered his combat as a badge of honor.

In 1575, Cervantes sailed to Barcelona. His ship was attacked by Algerian pirates near the Catalan coast. It was a terrible battle in which the Captain and many of the crew were killed. The survivors were captured and taken to Algiers. Cervantes was enslaved for five years as a prisoner of war. He was returned to Madrid only after his parents paid his ransom. It was this period in his life that inspired much of the subject matter for several of his later literary works, The Captive’s Tale in Don Quixote and two plays that were set in Algiers, El Trato de Argel and Los Banos de Argel.

Cervantes life settled into middle-class normality after his return to Spain. Like many authors of his time, he was not able to support himself via his writings. Instead, he worked as a purchasing agent for the Spanish Navy. He also took the position of a tax collector, moving from town to town demanding the back taxes due the crown. Many of the characters and situations in Don Quixote were inspired by these “day jobs”. In his senior years, he managed to gain a sponsor and was able to turn to writing full-time.

In 1584, he married Catalina de Salazar y Palacios, whose uncle was accounted the basis for the character of Don Quixote. He remained poor until 1605, when his novel Don Quixote was released. The book was written as a satire of chivalric romance and the general public enjoyed Cervantes’ use of everyday speech in his writing. The book did not make him rich but it made him a popular writer internationally.

Cervantes died on April 22, 1616, a year after the second part of Don Quixote was published, of type II Diabetes. He was buried the next day in a convent in Madrid. Later his remains were lost due to construction work at the convent.

Coincidently, William Shakespeare also died on April 23, 1616. To honor the date when two of the greatest authors of all time died, UNESCO established this date at the International Day of the Book. What is not often acknowledged is that Spain had adopted the Gregorian calendar in 1582, but England was still using the Julian calendar. There is actually a eleven day difference in the date of these two author’s deaths. But why ruin a good holiday concept over a few dates?

“Too much sanity may be madness. And maddest of all, to see life as it is and not as it should be.” -Miguel de Cervantes

Don Quixote the novel begins with Alonso Quixano, almost 50, lives in La Mancha with his niece and their housekeeper. He is rational for the most part but his obsession with books about chivalry has distorted his perception into believing that those books were real. Inspired by the stories, he decides to be a wandering knight and look for adventure. He wears an old suit of armor and renames himself “Don Quixote”, refers to his thin horse as Rocinante and recruits his illiterate neighbor Sancho Panza to be his squire.

He goes out and arrives at an inn, believing that it is a castle, and asks the innkeeper to make him a knight. The annoyed innkeeper agrees just to make him go away. It is at this inn where Don Quixote spies the barmaid Aldonza Lorenzo and re-imagines her as his lady love, Dulcinea del Toboso. Next, Don Quixote discovers a man who is beating a boy and the mad knight forces this man to swear that he will treat the boy well. The man, however, continues with the beating once Don Quixote is away. When an encounter with traders ends in a fight, after the men insult Dulcinea, Don Quixote is beaten. It is then that Sancho and a peasant return him to his home and worried family. While he is unconscious, his housekeeper and his niece, with help from other local residents, burn the man’s chivalric books and close his library. They hope this will halt the old man’s dreams of adventure and keep him sane.

When he recovers, Don Quixote and Sancho continue with their journey and meet different characters, with Don Quixote’s imagination turning these meetings into quests. The man’s tendency to intrude in other people’s affairs and to skip paying his debts results in injuries and embarrassments. He tilts at windmills with his lance, believing them to be vicious giants and he ambushes a group of friars traveling with a lady.

In the second part of Don Quixote, published 10 years after the first, the people that Don Quixote and Sancho meet already know about the duo. Some of these characters trick Don Quixote to entertain themselves, sending the pair to adventures that end in practical jokes. This tests the knight’s sense of chivalry and his professed love for Dulcinea. Even Sancho tricks him one time, bringing back three peasant girls and claiming that they are Dulcinea and her two ladies-in-waiting. Near the end of the story, an encounter forces Don Quixote to reluctantly go home and possibly cease his chivalrous acts.

Don Quixote Book CoverMy first exposure to this classic tale of madness, fantasy, and ideas of what is important as citizens of the world, was a live performance on Broadway of Man of La Mancha. It was my first time in New York City as a young woman and my cousin suggested that I pick this play because it was classic theater, and it was a little less expensive being a revival. I was traveling on the cheap, so it seemed a good idea to me at the time. As I sat in the darkened theater, I was carried away by the scenes of Cervantes in the Algerian prison, pleading for his life by playing the tales of Don Quixote to his fellow prisoners, amusing them enough to spare his life. The songs from this play haunt me still. Later, I read the book Don Quixote and was transported into a world very different from modern America, a story that would be considered the first modern European novel and is regarded among the greatest works of fiction ever written. Cervantes’ himself was dubbed El Principe de los Ingenious, ”The Prince of Wits”.

If you have not read Don Quixote, I urge you to place it in your to-read list. You can find a free download of this classic novel at Project Gutenberg. There is also a movie version of Man of La Mancha (1972), starring Peter O’Toole as Don Quixote, Sofia Loren as Dulcinea, and James Coco as Sancho Panza. If you would experience the beautiful music of the Broadway play, I can recommend the film as well.

No Wasted Ink Writer’s Links

writers-linksAs I hopped about the blogosphere, I was struck by the number of name dropping article titles. Upon reading said articles, some of them turned out to be pretty good. So do a little name dropping yourself and check out these writing links featuring famous science fiction authors.

Why You Should Ignore Most of the Advice from your Critique Group…but They Can Help You Anyway

How to Keep your Story Moving and Your Character Believable

Anoint Your Character with Inner Conflict, A Master Technique

The Advantages of Being an Introverted Writer

George Orwell’s Writing Habits

How did Ray Bradbury write a classic bestseller for less than $10?

Sometimes The Future Seems Closer To Fantasy Than Science Fiction

Add a bit of Random Magic to your Creative Toolbox

Ursula K. Le Guin talks to Michael Cunningham about genres, gender, and broadening fiction

J. Kathleen Cheney on Forgiving Anne McCaffrey

Author Interviews * Book Reviews * Essays on Writing * Writer's Links

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