Hello! Welcome to a new week of author interviews! Today, Ms. Brianna Leslie gave us some time. I “met” her through a Kindle Vella authors group on FB and she is here to share a little about herself and writing serialized fiction.
So why a series?
How did you know you had this series in you?
- I honestly didn’t. I’m a complete pantser. So, I generally start writing just to see what comes out. Only after a few thousand words do I know if it’s something I want to pursue.
Why did you choose to use a series format?
- It feels limitless and lets me thrive in my chaotic writing style. I don’t feel constrained to word counts or traditional novel formats.
It is a very free format, and not just because it’s brand new. It’s a strange mix of deadline and free, too.
- When I tried writing a novel on my own, before Vella, I got lost in the middle. That was a consistent issue with me, despite studying writing craft books. I’ve found that writing in serial format makes me view the story in scenes and gives my pantsing a bit of a structure.
What is your greatest challenge in writing?
- Finding time. I have endless storylines floating around in my head, but I have three kids with one on the way. Finding time to let that part of myself come out is a huge challenge.
I have four kids also, I completely empathize!
Let’s talk about the process
What surprised you in the writing process?
- The way characters spoke to me. I’ve always made up stories, even as a child. But when writing dialogue becomes like watching a movie in my head, that was surprising.
Is there something in particular that you found helpful?
- Spotify. I have playlists for each story and it helps me dive into the setting. After using it for a while, I’ve found that I’m pretty reliant on it.
I know we tend to write what we know, but did you need to do research for this book?
- I’ve been writing stories set in other times, so I find myself researching relevant dates for story context. For example, I needed to know about when chainsaws were invented for Stix and types of relevant transportation.
The invention of chainsaws was actually something I looked up a while back. Who knew they were birthing equipment!?!
What was the coolest or most surprising thing you learned in research?
- Well, Stix was based loosely on my husband’s family history as well, so finding out his great grandmother was a midwife in the lumber camp and at one point was kidnapped by a family she was helping was pretty shocking.
Wow! You would have thought that would be a fantastic family story retold over and over!
What else can you describe in your writing process?
- Since starting Vella, I write nightly, but in the mornings when my mind is fresh, I jot down scene ideas. Splitting the two parts of my process helps keep the story moving. For me, stillness is an issue. If I go too long without thinking about my story, I lose momentum.
That’s a cool technique for you. I like to have ideas percolate through the day, especially good brewing is while I’m driving.
What else is important to share about your book?
- Most of what I’ve written has been set deep in the hills of Appalachia. I do that because I want to draw eyes to the area, the real culture, and away from stereotypes perpetuated by Hollywood. I don’t want horror about inbred families deep in the mountains. I want to look at the lore and deep traditions still celebrated in Appalachia.
Are we ready to read?
How do you know your piece is ready to be shared/complete?
- I don’t, honestly. I clean it up the best I can, but ultimately I’ve been publishing to Vella as a way to check interest in my ideas. Every Vella I publish has the potential to become a novel in print, but only if I get decent feedback from readers on Vella.
Who is your expected audience?
- Probably anyone from teens to adults with more life experience. Anyone who doesn’t turn away from the darker parts of life is who I write for, but mostly me.
You’re one of the first authors to voice this in my series of interviews. Ultimately, we all need to write for ourselves if we are to enjoy it, and therefore stay creative.
Who has been your strongest supporter?
- Definitely my husband. He was the first person I ever shared my writing with. I expected him to laugh and tell me to get a real job (as a mom who recently decided to stay home with my babies). He didn’t. I was going through postpartum depression at the time and he fully encouraged me and still does.
If you could have any author (alive, dead, or fictional) read your book, who would you like to read it?
- Agatha Christie. She’s a legend, right?
She is a legend, for sure!
What author, or book, or series most influenced you?
- I’ve been a fan of Stephen King since childhood. I’m talking four-years-old watching horror. I may have been watching movies at that point, but his stories have always spoken to me.
I didn’t start quite that early, but I’ve loved reading his books since I first found them!
Other cool facts?
Anything else you might want to share with us?
- When I’m not writing, I’m spending time with my kids on our farm. We have three pigs and around twenty cows. We homeschool and my biggest goal is to teach my kids how to be self sustainable and in tune with nature. This spring I’m also hoping to dive into flower farming. Why not balance writing horror with growing pretty flowers?
That’s an awesome balance! One cannot fully appreciate beauty unless they also understand ugly. I’m hoping to add a bunch of edible flowers to our gardens and incorporate them into my baking. I love how you are teaching your children about nature’s balance and to be self-sustaining!
We need more!
When can we expect more from you?
- I hope to have my first completed Vella, The Hills Know, out for print later this year.
Where can we find your book?
- Right now, you can find all of my writing on Kindle Vella.
Where can we find you?
- I’m most active on Instagram. My handle is @breetleslie. However, to subscribe to my free newsletter, you can find me on Substack. https://breannaleslie.substack.com/
Links to my Vellas:
The Hills Know