Interview with W,C Leger

What's the story behind your latest book?
While in college, I was assigned a book on the fall of Constantinople: present-day Istanbul. That and subsequent things that I read about that siege were incredible; like the story of the Alamo on steroids.

The Turkish Sultan surrounded and besieged the city with over a hundred thousand soldiers and a relatively enormous navy. His artillery train included several enormous guns that could propel stone cannon balls a yard in diameter a mile which shattered the city walls. His navy not only isolated the defenders but engaged them several times trying to gain entrance into the Golden Horn (the city’s harbor) which was protected by a huge floating chain.

For 53 days the 8000 defenders staved off repeated attacks on their five miles of walls and harbor, located and destroyed each of the tunnels they dug beneath the walls and even destroyed a siege tower! Only treachery was able to gain them entrance into the city and even then they might have been forced back had their commander not been mortally wounded and taken from the walls which caused the famished and weakened defenders to lose heart and panic.
I found the story so fascinating that I could only imagine what it might have been like to be one of the defenders. I wanted to not only put faces and names on those who so bravely fought for their freedom but explore what happened to those who were captured.
So I created a fictional character, Giacomo Sforza an idealistic young man from a small village five days ride from the city of Venice. That of course, required a biography of sorts which is covered in the first book. Book Two, All that was before takes him and his love interest through the siege and the third explores what happens to each of them after
When did you first start writing?
As a Quality Assurance Rep, I did a lot of writing but it was mostly bland reports. My first attempt at novel writing was on the first book which I began in June 2000 and finished in Feb 2001. The story was generally good although I eventually rewrote much of it several times because it not only didn't tell the story I originally wanted but was too severe. I immediately began books two and three and finished them all in 2004.

My editing left much to be desired so when I tried to market it, I failed and well I should on two counts. Like most newbs I didn't understand how to write subtle nuance so my villain who is frankly diabolical was much too scary and in either case, the story was not about him. It took a while before how I learned to say something without being too graphic.

Formatting and punctuation was poor as well and it took me some time and research to understand how to tell a story that didn't sound like a report. Dialogue and scene development took a lot of practice too. After failing miserably both because my work stunk and because everyone seemed to want stories about women or LGBT plots I put it all aside for four years.

I rewrote the first chapters of bk 1 to emphasize the real protagonist and soften some of the graphic scenes but other events caused me to put it all aside.

I retired in 2012 and sure to form the wife was diagnosed with cancer 8 months later. In 013 I went back to rewriting and editing to try to maintain my own sanity but the stress had obvious effects on my ability and it wasn't until several months after my wife passed (7/16) that I was able to calm down enough to do what I hope is a decent job at telling the stories (once again to keep it together).

Since then I've spent as much as ten hours daily rewriting where necessary and editing. I actually got a great assist from a poor review of the first book which helped me see things that needed correction and helped in further editing.

Now I am busy trying to learn how to market and promote the books. Quite a learning curve there.
What is your writing process?
I mull over each chapter in my head, for days; imagining what everything looks like, who is there and what is said taking the role of each of those who are there.
Then, typically in the evening, I put on the appropriate music for the scene I shall write. (I have recorded specific music for love scenes, intrigues, battles etc.) put on my earphones and begin transcribing all of what I had previously “imagined”.
Then I read it aloud to determine if it makes any sense, fits the characters and the situation sometimes even acting out each person’s role. I make any necessary changes then continue to the next scene.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
Arundel: by Kenneth Roberts.
Though it starts out slow at first, once I became involved with the characters and immersed in the story of Benedict Arnold’s trek up the Kennebec River Valley to attack the British in Quebec I was enthralled. It was the very first time, I wished I could write a story like that, incorporating fictional characters with real historical figures to tell a true story.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
Arundel: by Kenneth Roberts A story about Benedict Arnold’s Expedition up the Kennebec River into Canada during the American Revolution. I was living in Maine at the time.
Northwest Passage: by Kenneth Roberts. The same Maine characters introduced in Arundel, join Roger’s Rangers raid on the Mohawks, who were allied with the British during the Revolutionary War.
Red Storm Rising: by Tom Clancy. Written at the height of the Cold War, the premise was intriguing and for its time innovative. The key character communicated with a satellite phone when they were relatively new and the Russians used drones affixed with Identify Friend or Foe transponders set to NATO frequencies as part of a sneak attack on an American Fleet.
Chesapeake: by James Michener This and several of his other books were fantastic descriptions of the panorama of early America.
The Kent Family Chronicles/The Furies: by John Jakes A fantastic series: the female character of the Furies was fascinating, feminine yet strong and intelligent and the matriarch of what would become a family dynasty.
What do you read for pleasure?
For pleasure I read mostly; historical non-fiction books and magazines especially periodicals about World War II and Medieval Times. Many of these have first-person accounts of people’s experiences which I find to be particularly interesting.
Describe your desk
My office is in a finished room in the basement built by the previous owners of the house. My computer sits on the floor beneath a makeshift desk set into an alcove. The monitor and keyboard are on the desktop, surrounded by my earphones (plugged into the computer) a stack of music CDs, a few empty beer bottles lining the right wall of the desk, a small crystal faced clock and a portable phone. On the shelf above is the printer (brand new Epson: prints two-sided!) neon lamp, more notes and computer modem.
In front of the desk is my swivel, wheeled, fancy upholstered and padded executive chair. (No, I mean it: this chair once belonged to the plant manager at the factory where I worked.)
I once saw a poster which said. “A clean desk is the sign of a sick mind.” By any such measure, my mind, at least, is healthy. Also, intelligent people are supposed to be messy…
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I was the only son of a military man and we moved around a lot. I would no sooner make friends in one place than they would leave and once I made new friends, we would be transferred so I spent much of my younger life alone.
My father was seldom home and my mother never read to me so I was never really introduced to books until later in life although I was fond of movies and TV so this made for an avid fantasy, which I used to mentally entertain myself. I visualized myself as the dashing hero, who always seemed to do the right thing and never fail ultimately saving the beautiful “damsel” from the evil villains.
Of course, after two tours in Viet Nam, I’ve since learned that the good guys don’t always win nor do they get credit for it when they do. Perhaps that’s why I admire those, who display courage and a sense of duty in the face of futility, as happened so many times in the past in Viet Nam and certainly at Constantinople.
The characters in my books understand that they stand little chance against the Turkish Sultan but refuse to bow in the face of his tyranny.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I’ve always enjoyed studying history. Like my Professor at U. of M. used to say: “History is about people's lives and not just places, dates and events!”
Frequently one will read about a “…city being put to the sword or pillaged,” without any reference to the total horror of what that meant. Everyone alive today is the offspring of survivors of such events and although they may have looked and spoken differently then, they still felt love, fear, hate and hope for the future of their families just as, we do, now. We are all the product of their hope and determination to survive.
That’s why history is not a dry boring subject for me. I find myself frequently imagining what my ancestors were like and wondering whether they were ever present at such disasters and how they must have felt. I even wonder sometimes whether they would be disappointed or pleased with what I achieved in my lifetime.
I have no family left, nor any offspring of my own so by writing about something that most people know little to nothing about; showing the courageous determination of a fictitious family, perhaps, I am repaying all of those responsible for my being here.
That might at least be my legacy and that is what has motivated me.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Immersing myself into the characters and imagining what everything looks, smells feels and tastes like. Wondering what I would do under similar circumstances had I live then.
As a writer, you are in control of everything that your characters do and say but in a historical novel, you are also confined to the actual facts of what happened so it is fun “watching” them react to the actual events.
One note: I didn’t want to get bogged down in period language. People at that time didn’t think they were speaking differently; after all. They were in most ways no different than us in the way they felt. They loved, hated, feared and hoped just as we do now: they just had a different way of expressing themselves. In reality, what they said/meant was no different than what we would say so while trying to keep any anachronistic jargon or slang out of use, I decided to have them say what they thought in terms that we would all readily understand.
A second joy was that since Rachel is in so many ways like my late wife: it was like bringing her back to life and watching her perform the role. In this way, she shall always live on.
What are you working on next?
Right now my attention is on marketing my first three novels. I am planning on writing two prequels to them, though. One will be about Giacomo’s family while the other will tell the story of Rachel with both ending, where the first three begin.
In book one: The Innkeeper’s Nephew we learn that Giacomo was raised by his uncle, Rollo and aunt Flavia, who like his father and mother was a soldier while his woman was camp followers. We also learn that two important characters, who appear in later books: Benito Bertollucci and Stefano de Baldo were close friends of his parents. That book would explain who they were and why Giacomo was raised by his aunt and uncle.
Rachel’s character has quite an interesting past as well.
Published 2018-01-06.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

All That Was Before
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 238,540. Language: English. Published: January 1, 2018. Categories: Fiction » Historical » Medieval
Giacomo and his wife have come to Constantinople to open a trading office for his mentor. Once the greatest City in the western world, it is now a shadow of its former self and there are dark clouds on the horizon that threaten to bring war and doom. When they volunteer to help defend the city, they are drawn into the subsequent maelstrom and fate shall determine their destiny.