The Riskies Welcome Debut Author Leanna Hieber!

Riskies: Hello, Leanna! Welcome to Risky Regencies. Tell us about your debut book, The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker.

Leanna: Hello Riskies! I love this blog and its writers and I’m so thrilled to be here–thank you!

This book represents an aching, intense journey of nine long years from idea to publication. This is a cross-genre work that combines my favorite themes into one series, making the project very dear to me. The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker is a ghostly, Gothic Victorian Fantasy Romance with paranormal, mythology, suspense, light horror and YA cross-over elements. It begins my Strangely Beautiful series with Dorchester.

From the back cover: “What fortune awaited sweet, timid Percy Parker at Athens Academy? Considering how few of Queen Victoria’s Londoners knew of it, the great Romanesque fortress was dreadfully imposing, and little could Percy guess what lay inside. She had never met the powerful and mysterious Professor Alexei Rychman, knew nothing of the growing shadow the Ripper and other supernatural terrors against which his coterie stood guard. She knew simply that she was different, haunted, with her snow-white hair, pearlescent skin and uncanny gifts. But this arched stone doorway offered a portal to a new life, an education far from the convent–and an invitation to an intimate yet dangerous dance at the threshold of life and death…”

“The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker is Bullfinch’s Mythology and Harry Potter and Wuthering Heights mashed in a blender” –New York Times Bestselling Author Alethea Kontis for Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show

Riskies: Sounds fascinating! What was the inspiration for this story? Did you come across any interesting research tidbits?

Leanna: In college I majored in theater and focused on the Victorian era with a particular eye for Gothic literature, one of my first great loves. My senior year I began adapting 19th century literature for the stage. I graduated, interned with the Cincinnati Shakespeare Company working mad hours surrounded by great theater, and fell head over heels in all with all things JK Rowling and Neil Gaiman and somewhere, after having watched Sense and Sensibility for the thousandth time, in the thick of night…in walks ghostly young Miss Percy Parker into a 19th century school office, speaking in a British accent, wearing Victorian clothes and saying something about Greek mythology and Shakespeare. I knew the day she appeared to me I would never be the same.

Mt favorite research tidbit: an old newspaper article around the time of the Ripper murders bemoaned how street-lamps ended at Commercial and Whitechapel streets. The author cried that if there was just more light, these murders would not have happened as they did under the shroud of darkness. One of my favorite research sites is Casebook.org.

Riskies: What is your background (aside from theater!) that led you to writing?

Leanna: I’ve been writing since I could hold a pen and finish a sentence. I started my first novel around the age of 12, also a Gothic novel set in 1888, so I have themes! Writing has always been the thing I do. I had a discipline about writing early in my life due to the sheer love of it. But until Miss Percy Parker arrived in my mind, I’d never considered being a career novelist. Her story compelled me more than any other, veering me away from continuing my career as a professional actress. (I still work occasionally in television, member of AEA, SAG, AFTRA, etc), away from playwrighting and other ventures. In the end, it’s become clear to me by a lot of trial and error that my books are my most important artistic pursuit.
Riskies: Tell us about your Haunted London blog tour! What is your favorite haunted site?
Leanna: I’ve been celebrating release month with a Haunted London Blog Tour to introduce readers to some of the real, documented London haunts who “ghost star” in my book! I’ve had a lifelong love of 19th century England and ghosts. When I first set foot in London, I felt history sweep over me like a strong wind. Secondly, I felt sure the city was alive not only with the pulsing energy of the living, but the restless energy of the dead. When the character of Alexei Rychman and his Guard of spectral police make their rounds, it is to any number of familiar London phantasms. Since these characters are familiar to The Guard, I don’t get the opportunity to tell their complete story. But these tales are too good not to tell in their full, spooky splendor.

So each day I’ve presented a different ghost story, and each day has been a new chance to win a signed copy of Miss Percy Parker. There are a few days left on the schedule, you can visit the Haunted Tour page on my website. It’s been a lot of fun and I’ve gotten a lot of great response! My essential research book on ghosts has been Richard Jones’ books on Haunted London (which you can see here)
Riskies: Diane and I had such a good time at Lady Jane’s Salon last spring! How did this great organization come about?
Leanna: And we were so very glad to have you! It’s my turn on the 7th and I can’t wait, it’s my official release party. The Salon began via instigation from Beatrice.com‘s Ron Hogan. I was the connective tissue that brought several authors into a bar to talk historical novels. Halfway through the evening Maya Rodale asked Hope Tarr, Ron, and I why there wasn’t a reading series in New York City devoted to romance and women’s fiction. We didn’t have a good answer, so we started a salon. A fabulous bar called Madame X (my favorite Sargent painting, BTW), covered appropriately in red velvet, hosts us. We feature a few readers per evening to read from their latest work. Not only do we hope to celebrate the diverse offerings of our genre (even as historical authors, Hope, Maya, and I represent vastly different sub-genres), but we all have a penchant for philanthropy, and Maya just so happened to have a fitting charity to tie in with our events.

Admission is $5 or one gently used romance/women’s fiction novel. All proceeds and books go to Maya’s Share the Love foundation that donates books to women in need, crisis, prison, transition, etc. Lady Jane’s Salon began this February and has received great press locally and in the national romance community, and I feel blessed to be a part of it.
Riskies: And what’s next for you?

Leanna: Working on the rest of the Strangely Beautiful series! Book II will pick up exactly where Book I leaves off, with Percy and Alexei in focus with a greater glimpse into the Guard and a looming, huge spectral fight. Book III is a prequel and Book IV continues in time with the Rychman family until World War I.

Thanks for letting me drop by, Riskies! Keep up the great scandals and flair!
Be sure and comment on today’s post to win your own autographed copy!

About Amanda McCabe/Laurel McKee

Writer (as Amanda McCabe, Laurel McKee, Amanda Carmack), history geek, yoga enthusiast, pet owner!
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Lexie
13 years ago

Hey Leanna! Great interview πŸ™‚ I gotta say at first I was a little hesitant to read Strangely Beautiful, but once I dug in I was enthralled. and I’m sort of in love with Alexei (and I love that his sister’s name is also mine own).

Lexie
(sometimes called Alexandra)

Jessica
13 years ago

Hi Leanna,
I enjoyed your post and look forward to meeting Percy. πŸ™‚ I don’t know what it is about London and ghosts, but they pull at me. lol I’ve never been to London but will eventually after Scotland. It was nice reading about the Salon as well. Have to get there too. :)Many wishes for success with the release of The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker.
Carol L.
Lucky5760@aol.com

Diane Gaston
13 years ago

Hi, Leanna!!
Welcome to the Riskies. We aren’t quite as cozy as Madame X, but our cyber champagne never runs out!

Your book sounds wonderfully creative! I wish I could be at Lady Jane’s to hear you read and celebrate the launch with you.

Leslie Carroll
13 years ago

Leanna, congratulations on what sounds like an absolutely thrilling debut!

We have a number of friends in common (Brian Vinero, John & Maria at West Side Dance Project) and have traveled similar, eerily parallel trajectories in our careers — I began as (and still am) an actress [AEA, SAG, AFTRA] who adapted 19th c. novels for the stage for my nonprofit theatre company, Survivor Productions, here in NYC. A couple of years after I folded up shop I became a novelist, finally turning my pen to historical fiction, and most recently historical nonfiction as well.

I would love to stop by Lady Jane’s and celebrate your debut. Your novel sounds absolutely compelling and right up my alley!

Amy Kathryn
Amy Kathryn
13 years ago

I have been lucky enough to enjoy some of the stops on the blog tour and have really enjoyed the excerpts and stories of the haunted sights.

It may have been a long road, but I hope that it is all worth it now! Congratulations and much success…

Elizabeth Kerri Mahon
13 years ago

Wonderful interview and I urge everyone to go out and purchase a copy of Percy Parker. It is one of the best written books that I have had the pleasure of reading in years.

Hope Tarr
13 years ago

Chiming in for the other Lady Janers…

Wonderful interview and we’re so pleased and proud to host Salon co-founder, Leanna’s Strangely Beautiful book launch. For anyone who missed Leanna’s debut reading and signing at Barnes & Noble/Lincoln Center, Monday’s Salon will be another great chance to hear her read as well as to ahem…purchase the book!

And if you can’t make the physical salon, our friends at Romance Novel TV, dynamic sister act Maria and Marisa, are hosting an online Lady Jane’s Book Club. Leanna is the launch and the club will continue monthly featuring the Lady Jane Salon authors, including videotaped interviews, online chats, and suggested discussion topics.

So much goodness…

Hope Tarr
Co-Founder, Lady Jane’s Salon, NYC

jcp
jcp
13 years ago

I enjoyed reading the interview:)

RKCharron
13 years ago

Hi πŸ™‚
I’ve read only glowing reviews for Strangely Beautiful. It is on my ToBeRead list. Thank you for the great interview Leanna.
Congratulations Leanna on such a terrific strong debut!
Love & Best wishes,
twitter: @RKCharron
xoxo

Virginia
13 years ago

Hi Leanna, great interview! I have been hearing a lot about your book and I can’t wait to read it! I do so want to read about Miss Percy Parker! Thanks for sharing with us today!

Jane Austen
13 years ago

This sounds great.

Jane George
13 years ago

You had me at the title! I look forward to reading it.

I’m also a Gaiman and HP fan, as well as Jona thon Stroud and Dianna Wynne Jones.

And hmmm, Alexei Rychman, are you another victim under the spell of a certain actor’s mellifluous voice?

Louisa Cornell
13 years ago

This sounds like a must read for me. I am a huge fan of the nineteenth century Gothic novel. Leanna, I have to agree with you about London. There is just something about the town, especially the older places and especially at night that makes you wonder what powers are waiting around the corner. I have similar feelings about New Orleans, Budapest and Salzburg. I wonder if the presence of so much that was lures those forces and spirits of another plane of existence to “hang around” and leave us mortals with that shivery “What was that?” feeling.

Barbara Monajem
13 years ago

Leanna — Wonderful to hear how you came to write this fabulous story. It’s at the top of my TBR pile.

I’m a fan of Gothic novels and Victorian ghost stories, too — in fact, this blog reminded me of a long-neglected volume on my shelves, Best Ghost Stories of J.S. LeFanu. Thanks!

Janet Mullany
13 years ago

Hi Leanna, welcome to the Riskies and congrats on your release. I’m just back from a visit to Borders where your book was all over the new release mass market table.

Have you ever had a paranormal experience?

Judy
13 years ago

This book looks to be a great read. I love Gothic!! I can’t wait to read it.

M.
M.
13 years ago

I love the idea of the salon. Too bad I don’t have any close or distant plans to visit NY.

This is the first time I’ve come across a heroine called Percy! I think it works very well (though I’m guessing it’s short for something).

I love stories that push the genre envelopes. This seems to do that in spades!

Patricia Barraclough
Patricia Barraclough
13 years ago

I already have a copy of the book which I won on another site and can’t wait to read it. The series sounds terrific. It will be hard to wait for the next book.
I’ll be checking out the Haunted London website and books.
Best of luck with the release and with the future books. I’ll be watching for them.

Carolyn
13 years ago

I’d love to hear more about your sale. Your series sounds so completely cool. Did you pitch it as a series?

I’ve loved the title since the moment I heard it and your description of it only confirms that your story is exactly the kind I love. I’m looking forward to reading it.

SonomaLass
13 years ago

I’ve heard a lot of good buzz about this book. This interview intrigues me further.

Jerrica Knight-Catania
13 years ago

Wonderful interview, Leanna! I’ll say it again – I am SO excited for Strangely Beautiful and I cannot WAIT to get my autographed copy at Lady Jane’s tonight!

Jerrica πŸ™‚

Leanna Renee Hieber
13 years ago

Hello my Risky friends! I’m SO sorry to chime in so late, but I was travelling from DragonCon yesterday and I’ve had a hectic time of it in preparing for Lady Jane’s Salon today!

I appreciate everyone’s interest so very, very much, I’m thrilled to see familiar faces – and some of my winners!

Thank you everyone for the well-wishes!

Leslie – I cannot wait to meet you and discuss our eerily similar trajectories! I hope you’ll stop by Lady Jane’s!

Jane,
Heh, you guessed it by Alexi’s similar name. Indeed, it’s always been HIM in my mind from the very first!

I’m so glad to hear London and ghostly happenings appeal to so many of you too!

Janet,
Indeed I have – strange things, shadows where there can’t be shadows, and oddly, animal experiences that cannot be explained- interesting omens. How about you?

Carolyn,
It was a long process towards selling- it ended up at Dorchester because they’re not afraid of cross-genre. I pitched it to my agent mentioning many of the influences that went into this book, but he took it on because he felt it was so original. I always envisioned this as a series and so yes, I was clear to pitch it as a series- that was very important to me. However I do make sure that Book I is not a cliffhanger ending, that stresses me out as a reader πŸ™‚

Thank you to all my RWA NYC friends for being here and commenting too!! *hugs*

HODGEPODGESPV
13 years ago

this is just your little groupie checking in to see you said something here that i might have missed before. and i did, thank you.

Leanne
13 years ago

Catching up on my blogging reading and caught up with this post. This sounds cool!