Author Interview With Kathy-Diane Leveille

Mini-Bio for Kathy-Diane Leveille:

Kathy-Diane Leveille is a former broadcast journalist with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation who discovered the only thing more thrilling than reading a wonderful story is harnessing the power of the imagination to write one. Her short story collection Roads Unravelling was published to critical acclaim after a selection from its pages Learning to Spin was adapted to radio drama for CBC’s Summer Drama Festival. The tale Showdown at the Four Corner’s Corral was revised for the stage and performed by New City Theater in Saint John.

Kathy-Diane’s prose has been published in a number of literary journals including Grain, Room of One’s Own, The Oklahoma Review, Pottersfield Portfolio, The Cormorant; as well as various anthologies such as Water Studies: New Voices in Maritime Fiction (Pottersfield Press) and New Brunswick Short Stories (Neptune).

Kathy-Diane is a member of Sisters in Crime, International Thriller Writers, Kiss of Death RWA and Crimewriters of Canada.

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I have loved books forever. My best friends are books. When I was growing up, a Saturday wasn’t complete without a trip on the bus to the local library. I would sit in the back of the bus on the way home, where there was lots of room to spread my booty, and savour the potential humming between the covers. Having my debut novel Let the Shadows Fall Behind You published is a dream come true. I live on the east coast with my husband and two sons next to a lovely garden. I love bird watching, hiking and motorcycle riding. I’m so pleased to be a guest today.

It’s rare today to find an author who does nothing but write for a living. Do you have a ‘real’ job other than writing, and if so, what is it? What are some other jobs you’ve had in your life?

Kathy-Diane Leveille: I’m a former broadcast journalist with CBC radio. Seventeen years ago, when I was home on maternity leave with my youngest son, I dug out an old file of story ideas and started scribbling. By the time the date arrived when I was supposed to return to work, I had already decided that I didn’t want to keep putting my dream of writing fiction on the back burner. Since then I’ve done different jobs, including being a janitor and typing medical transcription, to give me the time and energy to pursue my passion. My first book Roads Unravelling, a collection of short stories set on the Kennebecasis River where I live, was published a few years ago. Let the Shadows Fall Behind You released this spring is my first novel.

What compelled you to write your first novel?

Kathy-Diane Leveille: Let the Shadows Fall Behind You (Kunati Books) was inspired by my fascination with disappearances. An estimated 10 million people go missing each year in the U.S. alone, but no one’s ever documented how many of these incidents defy explanation. Take the mystifying case documented by psychic, Sylvia Browne, of the man who stepped out his front door and vanished in broad daylight. His family could hear him calling, but no one could see him anywhere. Let the Shadows Fall Behind You features Brannagh Maloney whose boyfriend, Nikki, disappears into thin air while conducting a bird count up north. Brannagh reluctantly returns home for a reunion of the childhood club Tuatha-de-Dananns. She hides out at her Grandmother’s cottage near the woods where her mother was murdered fifteen years ago. As Brannagh tries to solve the mystery behind Nikki’s vanishing, she is haunted by the secrets hiding the most startling disappearance of all.

Have you always wanted to be a writer?


Kathy-Diane Leveille: I don’t remember making any formal decision. I have just always had a need to put pen to page. I wrote my first poem when I was in Grade 1:

Oh Father Dear, I’m glad you’re here
So we can celebrate this day, with a Doran’s beer.

Of course I didn’t understand why my teacher’s eyes rounded with horror when she read it. That was my first lesson in discovering that not everyone will welcome the truth in what you write! I wrote radio dramas in Grade 6 and the school Christmas play; lots of poetry and short stories in high school. I started trying to write a novel in my early twenties while I worked night shift as a technician at CBC. I still have the notes!

Tell us a little bit about your book/s.

Kathy-Diane Leveille: Let the Shadows Fall Behind You is Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood meets Harlan Coben. I loved writing it because I was able to combine the ingredients I crave in fiction: a dark hero, a broken and brave heroine, loyal sidekicks; and the shifting, persistent threat of evil that must be conquered. It’s a multi-layered plot, sharpened by elements of romance, suspense, poetry and comedy. I love anything Irish and grew extremely fond of these women–Brannagh, Annie, Tish and Diane— and was sad to write the last page. I especially relate to Brannagh, the protagonist. She is determined to leave dark secrets in her past behind, but the disappearance of Nikki leads her straight back home. So often in life, that is exactly what happens. The very thing we don’t want to deal with keeps knocking at our door until we face it head on. Brannagh learns that nothing can change the past, but the power of friendship can transform the future.

How did you feel the day you held the copy of your first book in your hands?

Kathy-Diane Leveille: There is no feeling like it. Picture the arrival of Christmas morning, the thrill of hearing a newborn baby’s cry and the rush of your first kiss all rolled into one. My husband and I went out for dinner. He’s my number one cheerleader and gets more excited than I do! The first time I did a reading in a library was probably one of the most thrilling moments in my life. I felt as if everything had come full circle.

What inspires you and motivates you to write the very most?

Kathy-Diane Leveille: I love riding in the car or on a train and gazing out the window. There’s always something in the landscape to twig my imagination. Once it was a chair in the middle of a field. I started wondering who put it there and why. The short story The Chair in my first book Roads Unravelling was born. I usually begin by simultaneously visualizing a situation that causes an upheaval in life, and hearing a character’s voice emote their reaction to it. It’s a very strange process and definitely has my husband worried some days; especially when he dusts the books on my research shelf: Handbook of Poisons and Crime Scene Investigation.

The main characters of your stories – do you find that you put a little of yourself into each of them or do you create them to be completely different from you?

Kathy-Diane Leveille: Creating characters during the inspiration stage isn’t a conscious decision. I really can’t explain how it happens. But during the perspiration stage, when I shape my initial idea into a story using the tools of the craft, I usually try to refine the character into the kind I relate to and love when I read fiction: Human and flawed, but capable of heroism nonetheless.

Is there an established writer you admire and emulate in your own writing? Do you have a writing mentor?

Kathy-Diane Leveille: There are tons of writers I admire, and many who have been extremely generous on my road to publication. In fact, I have chats with them every Thursday on my blog http://lettheshadowsfallbehindyou.blogspot.com which is lots of fun. It’s nice to know you aren’t alone. Everyone had to start somewhere.

When growing up, did you have a favorite author, book series, or book?

Kathy-Diane Leveille: I enjoyed Joy Fielding, the Bronte sisters, Nancy Drew and C. S. Lewis.

What about now: who is your favorite author and what is your favorite genre to read?

Kathy-Diane Leveille: I love reading psychological suspense, and am currently on a kick reading Nicci French, a British husband and wife team.

Bring us into your home and set the scene for us when you are writing. What does it look like?

Kathy-Diane Leveille: I have a large chair that could fit 3 people in its lap. It allows me to keep lots of books, pads of paper and pens by my side. Directly across from the chair is a large picture window three-quarters sky and one-quarter river that is constantly shifting in light and color. My writing basket which holds pens, pencils, highlighters, note pads, books on the craft and novels by authors I’m studying. I usually start with a pen and pad for the inspiration stage, then move to the computer for the perspiration stage. When I get to a place where I’m uncertain as to how to proceed, I always go back to pen and paper. I think there’s some mechanism in that tactile exercise that frees the right brain to soar.

Do you watch television? If so, what are your favorite shows? Does television influence of inspire your writing?

Kathy-Diane Leveille: I’m addicted to Kitchen Nightmares with Chef Gordon Ramsey. This may sound like a strange choice, but I always relate to the entrepreneurs who start out with a romantic notion of owning a restaurant. Sooner or later, they’re hit with the hard cold facts of running a business. There’s always a point in the show where they have to admit they need help, surrender their ego, and really hunker down and do whatever the experts tell them to do for the business to survive. It’s exactly like novel writing in my opinion. Luckily, I’ve had lots of generous experts along the way who have been willing to lend a hand and teach me. Of course, being human, there are times I secretly mourn the fact that I’m not a genius and can’t whip up instant perfection; but, the truth is, it’s the friendships I’ve made on the journey to publication that make my life so rich.

Focusing on your most recent (or first) book, tell our readers what genre your book is and what popular author you think your writing style in this book is most like.

Kathy-Diane Leveille: Let the Shadows Fall Behind You is a suspense novel that, in the end, extols the power of female friendship; it’s Sue Monk Kidd meets Harlan Coben.

How long did it take you to write your most recent (or first) book? When you started writing, did you think it would take that long (or short)?

Kathy-Diane Leveille: It took about five years to write Let the Shadows Fall Behind You from the initial idea stage to publication. I had so much to learn about novel writing with each draft: plot, characterization, theme, setting. I loved the larger canvas of a novel compared to a short story, but, at the same time, I had to juggle a lot more balls in the air. It was thrilling when they finally stopped dropping! I used Writer’s Digest On-Line Market to send out queries. I was thrilled to choose Kunati Books. They’re an award-winning publisher, not afraid of taking risks. My relationship with them has been supportive and energizing.

Is there anyone you’d like to specifically acknowledge who has inspired, motivated, encouraged or supported your writing?

Kathy-Diane Leveille: My husband is my #1 cheerleader. He’s always been the first to remind me how important it is to pursue one’s passion REGARDLESS of the outcome. The thrill remains is in the journey, not necessarily the destination. I find with writing there never really is a point of ‘having arrived.’ Every time I conquer a challenge, there’s a new one on the horizon. That’s why I love it.

Thinking about your writing career, is there anything you’d go back and do differently now that you have been published?

Kathy-Diane Leveille: I think if I had had access to seasoned professionals in the industry sooner, I might have learned a lot faster about what it takes to survive and thrive in today’s publishing world. Living on the Canadian east coast, it’s pretty isolated from the hub of the industry. You absolutely have to know the business, how it works and its current needs to give yourself a leg up. I think I was too naïve in believing that all I needed to do was write well and the work would find a home on its own. In some instances this can happen, but the greater reality is that selling books is a business, and one that is constantly changing. I romanticized the industry when I needed to view myself as a business woman.

How has having a book published changed your life?

Kathy-Diane Leveille: It’s definitely given my writing life a jolt of adrenalin. The learning curve has risen tremendously, and I’m busier than ever trying to balance it all. But it’s one heck of a ride. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Is there any lesson or moral you hope your story might reveal to those who read it?

Kathy-Diane Leveille: Ultimately, Let the Shadows Fall Behind You is a story about coming to terms with the past and letting it go.

Do you have any book signings, tours or special events planned to promote your book that readers might be interested in attending? If so, when and where?

Kathy-Diane Leveille: Do I? You betcha. It’s all listed here:

http://kathydiane.wordpress.com You’ll find a running list on the EVENTS page, but I also post interviews, reviews, signings, contests as they occur on the main page. I’m really excited about attending the Canadian Crimewriters Bloody Words Conference in June with host, Louise Penny; and The International Thrill Writers ThrillerFest with Sandra Brown and David Morrell in New York in July.

If you’re interested in Shadows Fall N Friends, my interviews with authors I’ve met on the road to publication check here every Thursday: http://lettheshadowsfallbehindyou.blogspot.com

I send out an E-muse letter every month with a schedule of which authors I’m interviewing when, along with updates and announcement of the winner of the monthly draw for a 50.00 gift certificate from Amazon. To subscribe just drop me an e-mail at shadowsfall@kathy-dianeleveille.com

Please leave a comment if you drop bys. I’d love to hear from you!

Anything you want your readers to know?

Thank you so much for inviting me to be your guest and meeting all your readers. Please let me know what you think of Let the Shadows Fall Behind You at shadowsfall@kathy-dianeleveille.com. I’d love to hear from you.

Happy Reading!
Kathy-Diane

Book: Let the Shadows Fall Behind You

Synopsis of Let the Shadows Fall Behind You:

On a grey morning in Northern Ontario in 1978, when the first fat snowflakes drifted down erasing all the familiar landmarks, Nikolai Mirsky headed out the door of the haunted cabin he shared with his lover, Brannagh Maloney. And disappeared…

Brannagh, a Natural Science Illustrator, struggled to collate the data from their bird count through the long winter. By the time the icicles began to melt, she was filled with a growing dread that the infamous wilderness preservationist wasn’t returning.

When Brannagh left New Brunswick, ten years ago, she swore it was for good. But now her best friend, Annie, won’t stop worrying about her, and won’t stop hounding her to come back for a reunion of their childhood all-girls club The Tuatha-de-Dannans. Brannagh finally relents, but she refuses to go to her childhood home and face her irascible Grandfather. Instead, she hides out at her Grandmother’s summer cottage, even though it is far too close to the woods where her mother was murdered. As Brannagh struggles to put to rest the questions surrounding Nikki’s disappearance, she finds it impossible to ignore the family secrets circling the most tragic disappearance of all. Brannagh learns that nothing magical will ever change her past, but the fierce love of friends holds the power to transform the future.

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