Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Author Interview & Giveaway: Leanna Renee Hieber

Please help me welcome the very talented Leanna Renee Hieber to A Buckeye Girl Reads. Her third book, The Perilous Prophecy of Guard and Goddess was just released this week and she's here to talk about it and the Strangely Beautiful Series.

 Can you tell us a bit about the series and your newest release, The Perilous Prophecy of Guard and Goddess?
The Strangely Beautiful saga is Gothic Victorian Fantasy with a rich cast of characters and a central theme: light triumphing over darkness. That may sound like a general theme, but I’m quite literal about it – and the ways in which those battles are fought is very specific. The Perilous Prophecy of Guard and Goddess is a prequel, a behind-the-scenes look at the complex Prophecy that threads books one and two. Here secrets are now revealed with mythic choices and consequences, the hands of the gods are foced, and incredible sacrifices are fought for true love. All with a lot of ghost-busting and action. For those who have not read books one and two, you could begin with this prequel and continue into the first two.
Do you have a favorite character?
That’s like picking a favorite child. I love each of my Guard characters fairly equally, I am in love with Alexi, but Percy is the reason for it all – even in the prequel the brief glimpses of her are so powerful for me. I was surprised, though, how swiftly the Goddess and Iris Parker, in this prequel, became my new darlings.
 Have you been surprised at the love Percy has gotten?
Hmm… Speaking just about Percy, solely, as a character, I suppose every author hopes her heroine will be loved and adored, so when Percy is loved, I rejoice more than anyone. But I’ve also discovered that my books are not for everyone, not everyone is ready to go on the ride that the Gothic novel style requires.
Some aren’t exactly sure what to do with Percy, how to think about her, because she isn’t a typical heroine. She looks very different than your average person. I don’t think people really understand that on a visceral level, even though I describe her often. One reviewer who rated the book poorly mentioned that she didn’t understand how a pale girl with blue eyes would be treated poorly in Victorian England – she simply did not see just how different Percy is and what that truly, realistically would have meant for her. I’m not sure everyone understands just how eerie she is, yet I want her not to be criticized for her difference but accepted regardless. I’m so grateful so many readers do just that; accept her and cherish her differences. But for those who may wonder, it’s why I have the picture of her on my website, so that people can truly see just how unique she is. Personally, I think she’s beautiful but in no way could someone say she’s ordinary. This is a distancing quality for some readers; we’re used to seeing ourselves as the protagonist in some ways, relating to her, rooting for her on a deeply personal and relatable level. I think her sweet nature, her awkwardness and passion is something everyone can relate to, but visually it’s hard to capture.
She is the woman she is because she came into my mind just as she was, and I was captivated by her from the start. I felt I was presented with a wonderful and exciting opportunity to make us all think about beauty and redefine it through Percy, through the eyes of us; the beholders. I’ll be continuing this discussion all year with blog posts and presentations at conferences I’ve titled: “Non-traditional Heroines: The Joys and Struggles of Being Different”
It will be very interesting to see what people think about The Perilous Prophecy of Guard and Goddess because Percy is not in the book other than a few visions and the tale of her birth. In spending so much time with her, I came to love the Goddess as much as I love Percy, and I hope readers will see in both the Goddess and in Iris Parker threads of Percy’s heart and soul. This is a book truly for and about the series itself, the why and how, the triumph and sacrifice, this book is the bigger picture, with Percy planted as a little rosebud waiting to grow into a ghost-white flower.
As for any love this series as a whole has attained, I couldn’t be more excited about gaining a readership – for those who are on board with this series; I hope you know what an honour it is to have you along. I take your readership very seriously, with gratefulness and joy.

How many books do you think will be in the series?
No more than 4 and a half books, the half being “A Christmas Carroll” novella in A Midwinter Fantasy, (essentially book 2.5) At the end of the day, Strangely Beautiful really is, at heart, about the Goddess and Phoenix and how their vendetta plays out in Percy, The Grand Work and how eternal love plays out in the lives of the Rychman family. And their story draws to a close as their mortal lives do. So I simply cannot continue the series without them.
I am very excited to be launching a new series in November, Magic Most Foul, a Gothic Paranormal set in 1880 New York City. 17 year-old Natalie Stewart, who suffers from Selective Mutism, is drawn into the world of a haunted painting, becoming bound to the soul of the trapped young English Lord therein. She must find her voice for she's the only hope to reverse the horrific black magic threatening her and the compelling man she's fallen for.
What is your favorite Alexi/Percy scene?
ll of them. (Jokingly) No, seriously. Depends on my mood. Their waltzes in the first book will always be magical in my heart, but then the passionate release of their first kiss and the recreation of it in book two are just really, really fun. Also, I love their small scenes in “A Christmas Carroll” because we see them at their best, when they’ve relaxed into themselves and their love and can just be their entirely opposite yet somehow complimentary selves. I love it when they're clever and amusing together.
Do you have a favorite book in the series?
LRH: Again, depends on my mood and like picking a child, I can’t. Different books for different reasons. The first book is full of magic for me, the second book fulfills passions and the thrill of ghostly war, the third is full of action, sweet longing and sacrifice (and has some of my favourite Whisper-world scenes).
What's the one thing you want us to know about the series?
As I mentioned with Percy earlier, want people to think about beauty differently; to allow it more room and definition. But I also hope readers can see that these are really and truly the books of my heart. I think I’ve progressed technically as a writer as I continue to write other books and worlds, but I can honestly say I’ve never loved characters more than I love these characters and this world. When I have trouble sleeping, I imagine myself all done up in Victorian regalia (not hard to imagine since I own a bunch). I descend the stairs to the garden-level entrance of La Belle et La Bete cafĂ©. There my friends, my Guard, greet me warmly, there Alexi takes my hand, and there I find my happy mental place – a place that’s been with me for over a decade now, a place I am so very blessed to be able to share with all of you.

Where to find Leanna Renee Hieber: 

Thanks so much again for answering all of my questions!! Leanna is being nice enough to give away one copy of the first book in the series-The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker 

and one copy of book two in the series-The Darkly Luminous Fight for Persephone Parker 

 The giveaway will be open until 11:59 Monday May 9th. The giveaway is open to US/Canada residents only, sorry! Please state in the comments if you are entering the giveaway and which book you would like. Winners as always, will be chosen by If I don't hear from the winner (s) within two days of contacting them, I will unfortunately have to pick new ones.  If your email isn't on your blogger profile, please leave it so I have a way of letting you know that you've won. You don't have to be a blog follower to enter, but it would be nice! 

I'm guest blogging about my favorite highlander-Jamie Fraser over at Jo Jo's Book Corner for her and Tigris Eden's 30 days of highlanders.  Go and see what book they are giving away from Kimberly Killion today!