In today’s author interview we speak with Urban Fantasy author Leslie Swartz.
Hi Leslie tell us a bit about yourself and what inspired you to write?
Hi, Matthew! I’m Leslie Swartz, urban fantasy and horror author. I started writing stories when I was four but what inspired me to do it for a living was the movie Legend. I was five or six and it was on HBO all the time. I watched it A LOT. It was the most beautiful and magical thing I’d ever seen and it was then that I decided my goal in life would be to write something that Ridley Scott would want to direct. It’s still the dream.
What appeals to you most about the fantasy genre?
The drama, the high stakes, the badassery. I love that there are no rules. If I want to write a vampire queen falling in love with a depressive angel who tends to punch Lucifer in the face, no one tells me I can’t. If my Messenger of God is a pan woman that sets demons on fire with her mind because she’s having a bad day, no one tells me that’s not physically possible. There are no limits, nothing to stifle creativity. As a writer, fantasy is freedom. As a reader, fantasy is just a good time.
Tell us a little bit about your latest project and the challenges you’ve faced putting it all together?
I released the final book in The Seventh Day Series in December. The series is seven books that represent twenty years of research and four years of writing, revising, and editing. The biggest challenge came when I was writing Seraphim (book one) and my computer exploded. It completely shorted out WITH my flash-drive in it, corrupting it, too. I lost a third of the book and had to start over completely. It worked out because I didn’t remember a lot of it so I made a ton of changes that made the series more interesting but at the time, I was devastated.
What type of characters do you like to write the most and how much of yourself do you put into them?
I like to write funny HBIC’s that are sick of everyone’s s**t, probably because that’s how I see myself. “Gabriel” is basically me with superpowers and no inhibitions. I didn’t set out to make her that way but after writing her first couple of scenes, it became clear that that’s what I’d done.
For any wannabe writers out there what’s the most useful thing you’ve learned?
Edit, edit again, then edit some more. Vet your editor with other writers to make sure they’re on the up and up. My first editor was a conman, fake name and all. He butchered my manuscript and hundreds of people bought the book looking like trash. It still haunts me.
What writing tricks do you utilise to hit your deadlines and keep your stories on track?
I make playlists for all of my books during the outlining stage so that when I feel stuck, I can listen to songs that remind me of specific scenes or characters to get back in the right head-space.
Are you a plotter or a pantser (make it up as you go)?
Hardcore plotter. I’m a type A, OCD, leave-nothing-to-chance kind of person. I write out all my ideas, then put them in order, then make a chapter-by-chapter, scene-by-scene outline. I’ll print it out then scribble in the margins any new ideas I have as I’m writing.
What plans do you have for the future? A new series or perhaps a dip into other genres?
I’m currently working on a based-on-true-events horror novel. When that’s done, I’ll write two more horror stand-alones, adapt them for the screen and, hopefully, sell the screenplays, giving me credibility so when I pitch The Seventh Day as a show, industry-types take me more seriously.
With the world the way it is at the moment what sort of tales do you prefer? Ones with heroes where good triumphs over evil or ones that take a darker approach?
It’s very dark in here, *points to head* and that’s how I write. I think I just like the drama, life and death, big emotions. I don’t need a happy ending, necessarily, as long as the ending wraps things up. I hate open endings almost as much as I hate love triangles.
What’s better, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings or Star Wars?
Star Wars, for sure. I haven’t read/watched Harry Potter (I know, I know. I’ll get to it, eventually.) and LOTR, while awesome, didn’t give me anyone to care about. Frodo’s great but…meh. The best character was Sam and he didn’t get enough screen time, IMO.
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