Interview with A. J. Leavens

Published 2014-02-23.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I've always wanted to write the stories that are flying around in my head. Once I had the manuscript for Death's Twilight finished, I decided to try traditional publishing. I sent my pride & joy to a few of the big publishing houses, and only heard "Thanks, but no thanks." It sat on the shelf for over a year until I made a New Year's Resolution to get it published SOMEHOW this year. Researching companies that helped self-publishers, I came across Smashwords. I spent nearly a week reading every bit of data that I could get my hands on, including the Smashwords Style Guide. Getting my ebook published is a tremendous feeling of success, and Smashwords is a big part of that.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
I love looking at ebook stores. Usually, it's the cover that draws me in, and then a great little blurb. I've found some great series by getting hooked on a single cover. The Sword of Truth series was like that for me. Great cover on Wizard's First Rule, and I was hooked from the first page. I love the "sample" portions - they're a great way to find out if you're going to like it.
What do you read for pleasure?
I love reading stories that allow me to escape. Some of the stories have elements that end up in my books because they've left an impact or impression in my life. The MVP, by Scott Sigler was one such book. I engaged with the characters so much that when you see Dmytro Kozel at his house in Death's Twilight, there is an "ancient" copy of The MVP sitting in a place of honour in his bookshelf.

My absolute favourite books are the ones that make me literally laugh out loud while I'm reading them, regardless of where I am. David Eddings' Sparhawk and Kalten are examples of this. The wisecracking banter between two men who have been friends since boyhood has made me chuckle. And the pop out of the nose thing? Oh yeah.
Who are your favorite authors?
There are so many. I'm a huge fan of Scott Sigler (GFL series, Infected Trilogy and more...), Piers Anthony (Xanth), Terry Goodkind (Sword of Truth), Tad Williams (Memory Sorrow and Thorn), and David Eddings (Belgariad, Elenium, etc...) . I love fantasy and the escape that it provides from Mundania. I'm also a fan of characters. I once read an entire series of books (Stephanie Plum) because the protagonist was such a likeable character that I HAD to see what was going to happen next. I also like reading historical pieces, especially biographies. Isaacson's "Steve Jobs" was an amazing opus of a man who changed an entire culture. I'm currently reading a biography of Benjamin Franklin - another amazing person who had a tremendous impact on people, culture and society throughout his life.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I've got 4 sons who keep me busy - I volunteer on the Board of Directors for my sons' speedskating team, go on field trips, and generally laugh at the silly things they try and do. I'm also a full-time employee with a freight company, a DJ, and a husband, so there's LOTS of juggling to make sure that everything gets the proper focus of attention.
What are you working on next?
Next is the podcast for Death's Twilight. I've got a great group of people working with me on this project, and I am completely stoked to present this to fans of the book. Also, I've started the second book in the series. We still need to know what's going to happen with Slade and Hotaru. Their story is not done yet.
What's the story behind your latest book?
I'm in the process of writing Death's Midnight - Book Two of The Meechan Chronicles. Slade and Hotaru found out some interesting news in Death's Twilight (Book One), and are off on a mission to find answers and gather things to prevent things from continuing the way they're currently going.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I prefer reading on an iPad mini for the versatility. Companies are getting smarter, and it's becoming easier to read without the white on black/black on white format as your only choice. You can now choose fonts, page colours, page's all there. In the future, I'd like to see one program to read them all (Sorry...a Tolkien reference there). My only bone of contention at this point. It's slightly frustrating to switch from the Kindle app to iBooks, to Nook, etc... to read books I've found at different stores. But eBooks are completely the way publishing and reading are going.
What do your fans mean to you?
Fans are everything! Before I published with Smashwords, I decided that I was going to release Death's Twilight as an audiobook podcast. I started a Facebook page to try and get some interest. In a month, I have got over 70 people as fans, and have had 40+ listens of the first episode. It's completely humbling to me that someone would find my stories interesting. I try and interact with each person as they interact with me. Social media is just that - social.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author or publisher.

Books by This Author

Death's Twilight
Series: The Meechan Chronicles, Book 1. Price: Free! Words: 61,330. Language: English. Published: February 9, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Apocalyptic
(3.50 from 2 reviews)
In the future, Nuclear War has ravaged the planet. Beset by hurdle after hurdle, Slade Meechan crosses the world to fulfill his government-issued mandate. But what happens when the hunter becomes the hunted? Slade will have to use all of his skills and all of his connections to stay ahead of the one who wants him dead. But is there more to the story?