Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Writers' Wednesday: An Interview with Kathy-Diane Leveille

Welcome to Writers' Wednesday! I'm so happy that author Kathy-Diane Leveille is joining me today...enjoy!

Hi, Kathy! Can you start by telling us a little about your background?

I’m a former broadcast journalist with CBC radio. Seventeen years ago, when I was home on maternity leave with my youngest son, I dug out an old file of story ideas and started scribbling. By the time the date arrived when I was supposed to return to work, I had already decided that I didn’t want to keep putting my dream of writing fiction on the back burner. Since then I’ve done different jobs, including being a janitor and typing medical transcription, to give me the time and energy to pursue my passion. My first book, Roads Unravelling, a collection of short stories set on the Kennebecasis River where I live, was published a few years ago. '>Let the Shadows Fall Behind You released this spring is my first novel.

When did you first begin writing? Was there an event or moment in your life that triggered your desire to write?

I wrote my first poem when I was in Grade 1:

Oh Father Dear, I’m glad you’re here
So we can celebrate this day, with a Doran’s beer.

Of course I didn’t understand why my teacher’s eyes rounded with horror when she read it. That was my first lesson in discovering that not everyone will welcome the truth in what you write. My mother sewed paper together for me so I could write books when I played library, but I really didn’t have any desire to write until I was in Grade 6. I was secretly in love with our new teacher from Toronto, Miss Matthews. One day Miss Matthews glided to my desk, scarf fluttering, to tell me how much she loved the story I’d written, and how it would make a great radio play. I was stunned. I had had no idea that the words I scribbling like mad onto the page would actually elicit such a strong and positive response in someone else. It was my first inkling that words were powerful. I wrote and produced a few radio dramas that year, and also wrote and directed the class Christmas play.

Tell us about your latest writing project or published title.

I had so much fun writing my new suspense novel. It’s fascinating to see how my initial idea has grown into the multi-layered plot of '>Let the Shadows Fall Behind You:

On a grey morning in Northern Ontario in 1978, when the first fat snowflakes drifted down erasing all the familiar landmarks, Nikolai Mirsky headed out the door of the haunted cabin he shared with his lover, Brannagh Maloney. And disappeared…

Brannagh, a Natural Science Illustrator, struggled to collate the data from their bird count through the long winter. By the time the icicles began to melt, she was filled with a growing dread that the infamous wilderness preservationist wasn’t returning.

When Brannagh left New Brunswick, ten years ago, she swore it was for good. But now her best friend, Annie, won’t stop worrying about her, and won’t stop hounding her to come back for a reunion of their childhood all-girls club The Tuatha-de-Dannans. Brannagh finally relents, but she refuses to go to her childhood home and face her irascible Grandfather. Instead, she hides out at her Grandmother’s summer cottage, even though it is far too close to the woods where her mother was murdered. As Brannagh struggles to put to rest the questions surrounding Nikki’s disappearance, she finds it impossible to ignore the family secrets circling the most tragic disappearance of all. Brannagh learns that nothing magical will ever change her past, but the fierce love of friends holds the power to transform the future.

How do you go about developing your characters?

I usually begin by simultaneously visualizing a situation that causes an upheaval in life, and hearing a character’s voice emote their reaction to it. It’s a very strange process and definitely has my husband worried some days; especially when he dusts the books on my research shelf: Handbook of Poisons and Crime Scene Investigation.

LOL! What advice would you give to new writers just starting out?

Rule number one: Write. Rule number two: Write. Rule number three: Write some more. I think it’s really important to exercise your true voice, test it, settle into its strengths and weaknesses, and learn to trust it BEFORE you attend workshops. If you attend how to sessions too soon, the tendency is to try and act on the information with the left brain and copycat what is being taught. If, however, you already write in your true voice, you will trust your gut instinct to take the information taught and adapt any parts of it to your style to enhance it, and discard the rest. How do you know if you’re writing in your true voice? The words catch fire on the page, the room disappears and you are humming along on that magic carpet ride in your imagination to a wondrous new land.

What do you find most difficult about writing? What do you find most exciting or rewarding?

The most difficult thing about writing is returning to the page when the initial excitement over a story idea has worn off and I’m riddled with doubts about my ability to translate the vision to the reader. However, I’ve learned through the years that I must keep going back, that eventually the doubts fade and something sparks and I fall in love with my characters all over again. It is that moment, ironically, that is the most exciting about writing for me, because I always learn something new from my character’s journeys.

Do you ever suffer from writer's block? If so, what do you do about it?

Of course! I believe it comes with the territory. At first, I despair, convinced whatever I’m working on should be tossed. But usually after reflection, a long walk or a trip to the library, I realize I need a break from the writing. For me writer’s block comes because the well is dry. I need to get out and enjoy life. It usually takes 1-2 days before suddenly a window opens in the block (when I’m doing something totally mundane like having my tooth drilled), and suddenly I’m antsy to be set free to grab a pen and paper.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your book(s)?

In Let the Shadows Fall Behind You I learned that to live fully in the moment you need to terms with the past and let it go.

Kathy, I'm so glad you joined us here today! Anything else you’d like to mention?

Thank you so much for inviting me to be your guest, Allie, and meeting all your readers. Please let me know what you think of '>Let the Shadows Fall Behind You at I’d love to hear from you.
Happy Reading!
· Let the Shadows Fall Behind You
· Hardcover: 288 pages
· Publisher: Kunati Inc. (April 1, 2009)
· Language: English
· ISBN-10: 1601641672
· ISBN-13: 978-1601641670
Thank you!


Diane Craver said...

Great interview! Liked what you said about your husband's worried some days when he sees your research books - lol!

Enjoyed your excerpt! Good luck on book sales!

kathy-diane leveille said...

Thanks Diane. My husband especially gets worried when he sees me digging garden plots that measure 8 feet by 3 feet. Hah! Glad you liked the excerpt.