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Saturday, December 11, 2010
Author Interview: Sarah-Jane Lehoux
The Long and the Short of It is very pleased to welcome Sarah-Jane Lehoux, whose latest book Shades of War has just been released by Mundania Press.
I asked her to share the blurb from this second book in her fantasy series.
Sometimes the past can't be forgotten. Sometimes the truth refuses to be buried. And sometimes the dead won't stay dead.
It began as a simple request: Journey to the Northern Jungles and bring a wayward son back to the safety of his farm and family before the racial tension that is building between humans and dark elves erupts into civil war. But life is never simple for Sevy, and she soon finds herself entangled in a bloody battle of good versus evil, love versus hate.
Old friends and enemies reunite, familial bonds are broken, and loyalty is tested. And in the midst of the steamy, sultry jungles, the ghosts of a serial killer's victims come out to play. Sevy, as petulant and irascible as ever, must overcome her personal demons in order to expose a madman and bring peace back to the kingdom. But just how much of her sanity must she sacrifice to help her friends? And how can she save anyone when she can't even save her own soul?
Sevy was introduced in Thief, the first book of the series. It follows Sevy, a self-proclaimed bitch who has lost the man she loved above all others. She goes to some extreme lengths, including demonic pacts and black magic, to try to regain the happiness she once felt. But her obsession doesn’t come without a price, and she just might lose her soul, her sanity, and the life of her only friend in the process.
Sarah-Jane is currently working on the third book in the series, Masquerade.
"I’m also working on a comedic fantasy called Red Rover," Sarah-Jane told me. "It’s about a bored, twenty-something office worker who gets whisked to a crazy alternate universe by a Puck-like immortal. I also have a couple of short stories and a novella that I’ve been pounding away at to limited success."
The characters, like the office worker above and Sevy, always come to Sarah-Jane first.
"I’m not a huge fan of plot driven stories," she said. "I enjoy letting the characters themselves become the focal point. I think that helps to create a story with more heart, a story that readers can more easily relate to."
"What inspired you to write your first book?" I asked.
"I had joined a thread online where around ten people took turns writing a story. That fizzled out thanks to lack of participation and overall suckiness, but I enjoyed one of the characters I had created and decided to tell her story from the beginning. And it just grew from there."
And, thus Sevy and the fantasy series was born.
I asked Sarah-Jane if she ever suffered from writer's block.
"I don’t really subscribe to the notion of writer’s block. I think it’s pretty much a cop out. ‘Oh, I can’t possibly write today, but it’s not my fault because I have writer’s block.’ Bull! The only way to get through slumps is to power through them or wait them out. But most important is to accept the fact that it’s not that you can’t write that day, it’s that you don’t want to."
Sarah-Jane told me that she writes at a small desk, completely free of clutter.
"It’s all rather bland and boring because I have a very short attention span and if my desk was too busy, I would lose focus," she explained.
When Sarah-Jane was growing up she wanted to be: a pirate, thanks to Peter Pan; an actor, thanks to a local production of The Wizard of Oz; and an archeologist, thanks to Indiana Jones.
"I was a highly impressionable kid apparently," she said.
"What, in your opinion, are the most important elements of good writing?" I asked.
"A good grasp of human nature and a developed sense of empathy. A lot of people throw around the saying 'write what you know,' but if that were true, I would only be able to write about a day in the life of a vet tech. I certainly wouldn’t have been able to write about fantasy worlds filled with murder and monsters and mayhem. To me, writing what you know doesn’t mean personal experiences. It means understanding how and why people react to events the way they do. Before the plots, before the prose and the poetry, writing needs to have a soul."
Sarah-Jane shared with me that she would love to get a dog, but she thinks it might not work out so well with what she calls her "horde of evil cats."
"They would murder any canine I dared to bring home," she told me. "Luckily for me, I’m a veterinary technician, so I can get my fix of doggy breath and happy tails at my day job and not have to get mauled at home. Unless, of course, they smell the dogs on my clothes. Then I can look forward to stinky little surprises left around the house."
She has six of them, which she says is an occupational hazard of working at a vet hospital.
"I can’t help but take home every sob story I come across," she explained. "And do you think they thank me for it? Hah! Oh well, I guess that’s just part of their charm."
"What is your strangest habit?" I wondered.
"I was raised Roman Catholic. For some reason, don’t ask me why, whenever I walk under a bridge, I have to make the sign of the cross. OCD? Just a smidge, I suppose."
She told me she doesn't consider herself either a morning person or a night person, but more of a "random half hour person."
"I have fairly low energy levels most of the day, except for one little burst that happens sporadically. During that half hour, I enjoy a great deal of creativity and drive, and I also annoy my husband to no end. Especially when that half hour comes at midnight and takes the form of spontaneous serenades."
Finally, I asked her, "What advice would you give a new writer just starting out?"
"There is a difference between writing as a hobby and writing as a career. Research all aspects of writing, from first drafts to editing to finding and submitting to the appropriate publisher. Don’t expect any short cuts. This is a line of work that can take years before you see any tangible results. Be patient, be persistent and stay positive!"
You can keep up with Sarah-Jane on her blog, http://sarah-janelehoux.blogspot.com,