This month, we publish the talented Leigh Evans' second book -- The Thing about Wolves. It's not a whit less exciting than her first and, as I've now got to know Hedi and her life, I found it even more absorbing in many ways. Leigh has answered a few of our probing questions below, on how to handle reviews, how to keep a protagonist's voice in your head and other writerly 'secrets'. Also, there's a free extract of book one here, and a free extract of book two, The Thing about Wolves, here. So, please do dip in and get lost in a fresh new world. I hope these questions below help give a flavour of that world as well as illuminating Leigh's writing process...
The Trouble with Fate has received amazing endorsements from Patricia Briggs, Karen Chance, Chloe Neill plus praise from innumerable review and blog sites. And now Charlaine Harris has reviewed The Thing about Wolves (out this month) saying it is ‘just as fascinating as her first’. Plus Nicole Peeler said 'had me on the edge of my seat -- it's an absolute romp. A great sequel to a fantastic first book.' Do you really feel that review pressure while you’re writing or can you immerse yourself in the story and enter another world?
Reviews -- oh, glory be -- reviews. In terms of writing output, they’re the ultimate momentum destroyers. Glowing ones makes this author fret over her next book -- what if that’s the one where the world finds out she’s an utter fraud? Less than stellar reviews makes this author want to return to bed, pull the covers up over her head and suck her thumb.
You see, there’s two Leigh Evans. There’s the one on the inside of the book jacket. Her image has been generously photoshopped so she appears worry-free and totally in charge of her professional destiny. She’s a writer, by golly. She deserves those glowing recommendations.
And then, there’s this Leigh Evans. She’s sitting at home in her office with her two cats, Fat Cat and Dumbles. She’s barefoot, wearing ratty clothing. Her desk is littered with notes and she’s just discovered that she’s hit another plot hole. Which means it’s back to the bulletin board.
Which is empty.
Hedi, Trowbridge, Cordelia and Lexi are all particularly strong and distinctive characters. Is there a secret for holding a character’s voice in your head so you can then channel it onto the page?
Two words: head and ache. First, I look at the scene from Hedi’s point of view, then from Trowbridge’s or Merry’s, then from -- well, count how many people there are in the scene, and you have a pretty good idea of how many times I’ve tweaked the piece. Safe to say, I spend a lot of time in other people’s heads which I think is a perfectly reasonable excuse for forgetting to pay the utility bill. Sadly, this does not parse well with the electric company’s representative.
I loved finding out more about Hedi’s magic, which is very easy to believe in, yet rather unique in urban fantasy. Can you tell us a bit about her talents and how her fae/were heritage makes her special?
I’m entirely envious of Hedi’s talent. With one sharp flick of her wrist, she can send out a stream of magic hurtling towards the object of her intent. Not only that, but her particular brand of magic is invisible to humans, Weres, and Fae. Wouldn’t I have oodles of fun with that? Well just yesterday, I ran across someone in the subway hogging two seats during rush hour...
Was there anything in particular in the first draft of The Thing about Wolves that you needed to cut or change for the final version? If so, was this difficult?!
One day, I would like to write a first draft and not screw up. That day hasn’t happened yet. “Leigh, old girl,” I said, after reading yet another scene in THING that led nowhere, “you’ve got some chopping to do.” Stripping the front end of bloat took weeks and several bottles of the pink stuff for upset tummies. I wish I could say that I didn’t whine (and/or wine) my way through that endless hell of revision.
Yes, I wish I could say that.
The series features a reoccurring character named Mad-one. (Think slender blonde whose smile borders on a sneer.) She’s possessive of the mystwalker title and none too thrilled to meet a contender. As well, kicking. around an alternate realm for a century or so has left her a little trigger happy with the fireballs.
Do you have a favourite moment from the book, something that really calls to you emotionally, or maybe a favourite moment displaying Hedi’s great humour?
It’s always fun putting Hedi and her personal nemesis together. There’s going to be quips; there’s going to assassination attempts. And perhaps, a little later on, there’s going to be a friendship.
So you have two books out and two to go of the Mystwalker series. Do you have the rest of the story arc mapped out, is it an organic process or somewhere in-between?
The Problem with Promises is complete and I can report that writing it was far less of an organic experience than the first two books in the series. I had to keep on track. There was still such a lot of mileage left to cover in Hedi’s coming of age story—pieces of her personality to forge back together and greater stakes to uncover.
(Hedi steps up in Promises. Things explode.)
I’m now working on the series’ final book. As all important threads must be tied together, in advance to plunging in, I’m spending far more time than usual considering the plotline. Life’s been all about sticky notes and spreadsheets. From my cat’s perspective, I’m not a whole bunch of fun anymore -- I don’t talk in funny voices nor do fist pumps in the air -- and boredom’s placed him in a near sleep coma.
Dumbles, I hate outlining, too.
That being said, soon we’ll be deep inside the story and that will be wonderful. Because let’s face it -- the final book is always the payoff for the writer. After taking Hedi to hell and back again, I get to leave her in a good place. What could be better than that?
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The Thing About Wolves is the second novel in Leigh Evans’ fabulous Mystwalkers series, published this month. You can read more about the plot and see some amazing praise for her debut, The Trouble with Fate, here. See more posts about and by Leigh Evans on our blog here