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!