Katie: First of all, thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to
answer a few questions. I have to say I was very interested in your path to
publication when I learned you were HarperCollins’ first acquisition from
InkPop. How have things changed for you now that you are a published author?
Leigh: No problem! It's my pleasure.
Things haven't changed hugely. I'm a mom of four so I've had to keep my feet firmly on the ground and balance my time carefully to fit in my kid's hectic schedules and still have time for writing, marketing, and of course all the travel associated with being published. It's a tough task, but I'm managing.
Katie: You incorporate a lot of mythology in Carrier of the Mark. What research
did you do to include those elements in your story?
Leigh: I was always fascinated with celtic mythology. In Ireland, from a very young age, we are introduced to mythology and the folklore associated with it. We are also brought to the sites and locations from where the mythology originates. Most of the lore I've used in Carrier of the Mark is from places I visited on school tours. It kind of got into my bones and stayed with me. When I started writing Carrier of the Mark, I researched the myths further and pulled from other sources to make my story tie in with old stories and the historical sites. I wanted to try and make my story grounded in history. It made it feel more tangible.
Katie: Tell us about the process of taking a draft through to publication. What
was the most daunting?
Leigh: My rough draft of Carrier of the Mark was three spiral bound journals of my handwriting. I wrote the whole 150K story in longhand. Once I realized I had a book on my hands, I sat down and started typing it up, editing it down to 100K words. This was my real first draft. It was long, scrappy, and in need of a great deal of editing, but it was my first ever book, and I loved it.
Then it went through a first round of edits with my editor. This was the most daunting part. Looking at a 15 page editors letter and a marked up manuscript covered in green pen can kind of take your breath away. The hardest part is knowing where to start. But I found my editing groove and we sliced and diced the story, tightening it up, cutting chapters, and tweaking characters until it was reading much better. Then we hit a second round of edits, again, editing down to improve pacing. Editing is tough, but I really enjoy it. My editor, Erica Sussman is wonderful to work with. A book is a real team effort.
Then it was on to copy edits, which weirdly enough found the most taxing part of editing.
Katie: What can we expect from the sequel, Shadow of the Mark?
Leigh: As the name would imply, Shadow of the Mark is darker than Carrier of the Mark. From the first chapter you realize things aren't really going according to plan. The Marked Ones are getting stronger, but all is not as it should be. Things get complicated as newcomers and people from the past work their ways into the lives of the Marked. There's quite a bit of action as Megan flexes her elemental muscles and discovers what she's really capable of.
Leigh: When I was writing the scenes set in Dublin, I imagined myself actually walking down the streets. In my head I could smell the Liffey and the coffee from Bewley's on Grafton Street. I could hear the constant chatter of the Trinity Students in the archway to the courtyard. I tried to write it as I experienced it. It was like talking a walk down memory lane. I tried to give the reader a taste of the real Ireland.
Katie: Your webpage is stunning. Did you do it yourself or have it hired out? How involved are you in the marketing of your book?
Leigh: Oh, thank you! My webpage was designed by Xuni.com. Maddie, the designer, is very talented. She looks after my webpage for me and any updates that are needed on it.
As for marketing, it's very hands on. I think in this day and age, most authors are immersed in the marketing of their books. Publisher marketing budgets have been slashed over the years, so now marketing is left in the hands of the author. It is time consuming, and very hard, as Marketing really isn't my thing, but it's part of the job. Maybe someday I'll be successful enough to hire someone to do it for me and free up my time to do what I love... writing, but until then, it's all me. LOL!
Katie: Many authors dream of being discovered as you have. What’s your best piece
of advice for struggling authors out there?
Leigh: Getting discovered and published is so SO difficult. Many of the writers that I'm now friends with have struggled for years trying to get into publishing, and some of them still are. I was very lucky being discovered online. I think the most important thing to do is write as much as you can. I've heard of to too many people giving into rejection and giving up. You have to keep at it. Keep working on your manuscripts. Learn to self edit and make your work the very best it can be. The most important thing to do is not to query agents too early. You only get one shot at an agent with any given manuscript, so make sure it is absolutely perfect. To do this, you need to be part of a critique group, an online forum, or something similar. Have others read and critique your work, people who are not your friends or family and will have no problem telling you what they don't like or what doesn't work. You need to be vicious with your manuscript. And only then, after several rounds of editing and perfecting, should you research your agents and carefully pick the ones that are looking for what you are selling. After that, it's all about persistence. Good luck!
Katie: Thank you, Leigh.
You can find Leigh here or on Facebook, Twitter or GoodReads.
You can find Carrier of the Mark here.
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