Today we're visiting with author, Stina Leicht a Broad Universe member and fantasy writer, living in central Texas. She has a flash fiction piece appearing in Ann and Jeff VanderMeer’s anthology, "Last Drink Bird Head." Her debut novel, "Of Blood and Honey" is being published by Night Shade Books and is a dark fantasy set in 1970s Northern Ireland during "The Troubles." More information can be found at: http://www.csleicht.com
**When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
Like many writers, I knew I wanted to be a writer when I was very young. Of course, I also wanted to be a Pit Mechanic at a race track, an Astronaut, an Animator for Walt Disney, and a Ballerina. Strangely, Fiction Writer was the one that worked out. It’s just as well. It’s tough to cram a tutu in a space suit anyway.
**What is your writing process? When do you write?
My husband calls me a “method writer” which means I get busted for doing ridiculous things like smelling snow and standing too close to fireworks displays. Oh, and driving 90 mph on a race track.
I tend to write in the mornings or late at night.
**Do you have any writing rituals? What do you keep around your writing area to inspire you?
Music is important to my process. It helps me get my head into the setting. I also like to keep candles, incense and... toys on my desk. No, really. And my magic wand collection. I keep hoping I’ll find one that actually works. (No dice so far.)
**What is your most current project?
I’ve a two book deal with Night Shade. Soooo, that would be the next book in the series. The working title is And Blue Skies from Pain, but the jury is still out on that one. It’ll focus a bit on the Belfast Punk scene – which actually had more in common with the 60s peace movement than London punk. London punk stood for anarchy. Belfast punk was about peace and unity with the occasional slam dance thrown in for good measure, of course. I know that sounds strange, but that’s how it was. Belfast in the 1970s is a fascinating time and place, really – not to mention the music.
**What was the inspiration for the book?
Half of it is because I’m not really a short fiction writer. "Of Blood and Honey" started with a short story sold to an online anthology. Charles de Lint read it and asked me the very important question, “Where’s the rest of the story?” The other half came from a nonfiction book I found in the break room while working at BookPeople as a bookseller: "Those Are Real Bullets" by Peter Pringle and Philip Jacobson. It’s a collection of first-hand accounts of Bloody Sunday (Jan. 30, 1972) in Londonderry. Thirteen unarmed civilians were shot by British Paratroopers during a civil rights march. (A fourteenth died of his wounds at the hospital later.) I was stunned to discover that not only did the British government lie about what happened, the Paratroopers responsible were awarded medals. Most sources site Bloody Sunday as the pivotal moment at the start of the thirty year war the Irish call “The Troubles.” I felt it was too awful an event to just vanish into the past without further comment. So, my main character, Liam Kelly, was born.
**Who is your favorite character, and why?
In "OB&H?" All of them, really — yes, even the black hats. It’s important to make characters fully-rounded. They should have understandable, sometimes sympathetic, motivations for what they do, not just because they make for more interesting characters for the reader. Captivating stories contain conflict of some kind. Cognitive dissonance within a reader is a powerful form of conflict. So, a character is especially effective and memorable when they have sympathetic motivations actions that are clearly not a good thing.
**Tell us one thing about yourself people would be surprised to learn?
I’m a shy person struggling to be more out-going.
**Words of wisdom to new writers?
Never give up. Never surrender. ☺
**How has Broad Universe “broadened” your writing life?
The Rapid-fire readings have been really helpful. They’re great for getting a information on trends, about what other women are writing. It’s also good to know I’m not the only female who enjoys action and horror.
**What one book would you save from a burning fire, and why?
To be honest? All of them, if I could. It’s hard to choose! But "Fahrenheit 451" by Ray Bradbury definitely springs to mind. I can’t imagine why anyone would not understand why! LOL.
**Are there any writers (living or dead) that are influencing you right now?
Well, yes. Ray Bradbury will always be a big inspiration, and Stephen King too, and Shirley Jackson. All are poetic in their prose and deeply psychological in content. Of course, with "Of Blood and Honey" I used a lot of Irish Crime writers for inspiration: Collin Bateman, Adrian McKinty, Ken Bruen, Stuart Neville, and Gerard Brennan for example. But my intent was to combine modern fantasy and ancient Irish myth with Irish Crime.
**If you could talk to any writer (living or dead) what one question would you ask, or what one thing would you say?
I’d thank Madeleine L’Engle for "A Wrinkle in Time." That book was "the" book that got to me as a kid. You know, "the" book that influenced me and made me love reading more than almost anything.
Bookstore: BookPeople in Austin, Texas. Library: The Central Library in downtown Austin. The librarians there have cheerfully helped me with research before. We’ve had a lot of fun.
**Favorite planet or fantasy world you'd like to live in?
Actually, nothing beats what’s going on in my reality right now. I mean, I’ve a wonderful husband, a kick ass car and a new book hitting the shelves. Hell, I’ve wanted this since I was in the 6th grade! But if I had to pick one, I think it’d be Middle Earth. It’d be fun to be a Rohirrim shield maiden like Eowyn.
**Any last words?
Try new things. Take risks. Mix genres. Write whatever it is you feel most passionately about. Don’t write something just because there’s a trend and everyone else is doing it. Be brave and bold and above all, live life to the fullest.