Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Author Interview with Leanna Renee Hieber

Please help me welcome one of my favorite authors, Leanna Renee Hieber to A Buckeye Girl Reads. She's here to talk about her newest book, Darker Still.
New York City, 1882. Seventeen-year-old Natalie Stewart's latest obsession is a painting of the handsome British Lord Denbury. Something in his striking blue eyes calls to her. As his incredibly life-like gaze seems to follow her, Natalie gets the uneasy feeling that details of the painting keep changing...Jonathan Denbury's soul is trapped in the gilded painting by dark magic while his possessed body commits unspeakable crimes in the city slums. He must lure Natalie into the painting, for only together can they reverse the curse and free his damaged soul.The Picture of Dorian Gray meets Pride and Prejudice, with a dash of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

1. How different is Darker Still than the popular Strangely Beautiful Series?
I have it on good authority that those who have enjoyed the Strangely Beautiful series and my ghost-busting Guard will also enjoy the characters and world-building of Darker Still and the Magic Most Foul series. It's still written in my eerie, Gaslight Gothic style, and it remains firmly rooted in the 1880s, but instead of the Guard's ghostly London backdrop, Darker Still is set in New York City and the magic and mayhem is focused far more intimately on the hero and the heroine. The narrative style is far different, as Darker Still and the Magic Most Foul saga are epistolary novels (diary entries, letters, newspaper articles). I switch up the traditional role of the damsel in distress, in this case, it's the girl who saves the guy by sheer spirit and bravery - and that may well be my favourite aspect of the novel. I continue to be interested in stories of outcasts finding their voice, literally or figuratively, and I believe Natalie achieves that message. Struggling to find one's voice, to fit in, to find one's purpose and a community of love and acceptance, those are themes I think everyone can relate to, themes I continue to gravitate towards in new ways, but still tucked under my favourite umbrella of Gothic novel style.

2. Darker Still is said to be a cross between Dorian Gray and Pride and Prejudice. Which would you say it’s closer to-or is it closer to another classic?
Closer to The Picture of Dorian Gray - but with a lot more traditional romance, a la many an Austen novel (although I show the kissing scenes Ms. Austen did not dare to!) The epistolary format of the book (diary entries, letters) echoes Dracula, another of my favourite novels.

3. What is your  favorite Victorian era book?
That's like picking a favourite child! How can I pick?! They're all my beloved inspirations. I'll pick favourite authors. Poe, Charlotte Bronte, Oscar Wilde, Stoker, Dickens, Collins and Hugo! (And Leroux's Phantom of the Opera)

4.  If an actress could play the heroine, Natalie, who would you choose to play her? The girl from The Lovely Bones. (And for Lord Denbury, Ben Barnes)

5. How hard was it to create action between the heroine and hero with the soul of the hero being cursed to a portrait?
Really hard. But I wanted to reverse the 'damsel in distress' trope of so many novels, especially traditional Gothics. So making Denbury the one who needs rescuing was really fun. But my wonderful editor did help me make sure he had some impact in a direct way, the addition of the nightmares and how Denbury helps Natalie fight them, and how he encourages her voice, are some of my favourite parts of the novel. For those of you who might be looking for a bit more action out of Denbury, don't worry, in book 2 he becomes a double agent and kicks down doors and stuff. :)

6. What are you most proud of about this book?
I'm proud of reversing the usual guy-saving-girl tradition, I am proud of the shout-outs to various Gothic novels while still staying true to my own inventive vision and I'm proud of presenting a heroine who I hope can encourage other young women to "find their voice" either literally or figuratively.

To Pre Order Darker Still at Word, an Independent Bookstore in New York for $8.99: Click here.

Where to Find Leanna: