Today I welcome suspense author Leanna Sian to talk about her newest release Hush. Her writing journey intrigued me. I’ll let Leann tell you.
I can’t remember a time when I didn’t write. My mother told me I was constantly making tiny books with illustrations. That carried over into adulthood. I was an art major in college with an English minor…the best of both worlds: drawing pictures and writing. But I’d never written a novel, never dreamed there was one inside of me. But that all changed on Halloween, fifteen years ago, and it was all because of a gate.
We were at a friend’s farmhouse for a Halloween party and after dinner we hiked out a gravel road to a spooky cemetery nearby. On the way back, my flashlight glanced over to the right, landing on an old wooden gate. Yes, this was a farm, so a gate shouldn’t be a shock. They sort of go hand in hand. But this one didn’t have a fence attached. It was just a gate, sitting at the edge of a pasture. It struck me as so unusual that I asked my friend, “Lisa, why is there a gate with no fence?”
“I don’t know,” she answered. “It was there when we bought the place.”
“Dum, dum, dummmm,” I replied in my spookiest voice. “The gate to nowhere…”
She laughed. “Sounds like the name of book.”
“Yeah, it does, doesn’t it?”
“Why don’t you write it?”
“Maybe I will.”
That conversation marks the beginning of my novel-writing life, resulting in the trilogy, Gate to Nowhere, Return to Nowhere, and Magnolia Blossoms. Hush is my seventh novel, its sequel is almost finished and I have two more manuscripts completed. And the ideas keep coming. It’s like a cork has been pulled from a bottle and stories keep glugging out. As it stands now, I’ll have to live forever to get them all written.
What’s your latest writing project?
My latest book is entitled, Hush. It’s a suspense novel set in the north Florida coastal town of Fernandina Beach. A serial killer is using the verses of the lullaby, “Hush, little baby” as a blueprint for murdering young women. My main character, Lacey Campbell, dreams the murders before they happen, but only in bits and pieces, not enough clues to be able to stop the crimes before they happen. Detective Ford Jamison is called in to help the local police and he soon has a working theory: the killer is targeting women who look remarkably like Lacey. This knowledge doesn’t slow the killings, and now Lacey is afraid to fall asleep because the next face she sees in her dreams might be her own. Time is running out. Can they stop the killer before he reaches the end of the lullaby?
How do you research for your book?
If I can, I like to visit the setting…get a good feel for the place, take lots of photographs, and do tons of online research. I strive to make any history in the book completely accurate; same with street names, directions, landmarks, etc.… It’s important to me that everything is correct. Yes, it’s a fictional story, but the setting is real.
What inspired you to write your book?
The idea of a serial killer using the lullaby as his blueprint had been knocking around in my brain for a while, but I didn’t start writing the story until my mother really started going downhill with her Alzheimer’s disease. Watching my mother struggle through the final stages of this disease was awful. There was a lot of anger and frustration, as well as the sadness of watching the amazing woman who was Pattie Hewitt, disappear. Alzheimer’s isn’t just a death sentence. It’s the worst kind of death. The disease slowly steals away all that makes a person who they are, leaving an empty shell. First it takes memories, and if that isn’t enough, it steals abilities, like dressing yourself, brushing your teeth, speech, and even the basic ability to swallow. By the end, you’re praying for God to take them home.
I used writing Hush as therapy, a way to release those negative emotions. I made Lacey’s mom have Alzheimer’s, which was a mean thing to do, but it allowed me to weave some of the things my mom said and did right into the story. It helped me to have that small element of control at a time when everything else seemed out of control. I dedicated the book to her, but wanted to do more, so I’m donating my book royalties to Alzheimer’s research in hopes that they’ll find a cure for this terrible disease and that others won’t have to go through what my family did.
My father died of this horrible disease. I can so relate to your need to get the negative out.
Do you have a favorite verse that resonates with you?
John 16:33. “These things have I spoken unto you that in me you might have peace. In the world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer. I have overcome the world.”
If you could go back in time and give one piece of advice for your younger self about writing what would that be?
Start writing sooner. Great advice.
Who is your best support system to keep you focused on your writing?
My husband is my number one fan and best critic. He always points out things that I never see. Maybe it’s the way a man’s mind works, but I depend on his input.
I’m also in two different writer’s groups. I think it’s important to have several pairs of good eyes on my work to help me polish it into the best that it can be.
I love to hear about supportive spouses. I think men do have a different view and it does help. My hubby is a great support too.
What is your favorite genre to read for fun?
I love the magical realism of Sarah Addison Allen, Mary Kay Andrews’ quirky, laugh-out-loud books, Jan Karon’s Mitford books, and Sue Grafton’s alphabet mysteries. It makes me sad that she didn’t get to give us the “Z” book before she died.
Where is your favorite place to write?
There’s a little one-room cabin up in Maggie Valley, NC where I’ve been going for a week at a time, by myself, for years. It’s isolated, quiet and magical. The words just FLOW when I’m there. Although I can write almost anywhere, I’ve found that the “magic” doesn’t kick in until I’m somewhere alone and isolated, with no distractions. That’s not easy to find at home. There’s always something that needs to be done.
How wonderful to have such an isolated place to get the work done. I’m envious. Thanks so much for joining me today. I found the story more than interesting. Here is a link to my review. It kept me from working on my own novel I was so intrigued. I love the cover. Click here to order.
Back cover copy
Hush – by Leanna Sain
She dreams a murder before it happens.
A young woman is strangled while her killer sings the words from the lullaby “Hush, Little Baby.”
Lacey Campbell’s life is full, but not idyllic. As head chef for a chic restaurant and primary caregiver to a mother with Alzheimer’s, she doesn’t have time for the nightmare and at first she tries to deny it. But the next day, she discovers it’s a disturbing reality. When she dreams the second heinous murder she knows it’s time to tell the police.
Detective Ford Jamison is called back to the little coastal town to help with the case and soon notices an alarming trend: the killer is using the lullaby as a “blueprint” to target women who resemble Lacey. This doesn’t slow the killings and now Lacey is afraid to fall asleep at night because the next face she sees in her dream might be her own.
As a hurricane churns ever closer to the little coastal town, danger and suspicion spin out of control. Time is running out. Can they stop the killer before the last verse of the lullaby?
More about Leanna Sain:
North Carolina author, Leanna Sain, earned her BA from the University of South Carolina, before moving back to mountains of NC. Her Southern suspense or “GRIT-lit,” showcases her plot-driven method that successfully rolls elements of best-selling authors Mary Kay Andrews, Nicholas Sparks, and Jan Karon all together, making it her own. Her writing accolades include: Foreword Magazine’s Book-of-the-Year; nominations for the Thomas Wolfe Memorial Literary Award and the Global Ebook Award; and the Clark Cox Historical Fiction Award from the NC Society of Historians for her time travel trilogy (Gate to Nowhere; Return to Nowhere; Magnolia Blossoms.) She loves leading discussion groups and book clubs. For more information or to contact her, visit: www.LeannaSain.com
Website and blog: http://leannasain.com