Interview with Leslie Bratspis

Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in Hollywood, CA where my father was a successful screenwriter and novelist with many friends in the film industry. Writers, producers, directors and actors came to our house for large dinner parties. The books my father is best known for dealt with social issues such as juvenile delinquents, gangsters, and boxers.

My debut novel, "Good Fortune," is vastly different from what my father wrote about. It's one man's personal journey from failure to success with the secret guidance of an old Chinese man who writes him fortunes. But my current novel-in-progress features troubled teenagers who talk slang, smoke pot, lie and steal. It's a current look at teen violence and sex. Maybe I'm influenced by my late father's writing after all.
When did you first start writing?
For most of my life I've written short stories and for some reason, I've always been a good editor. While in college, I edited papers and essays for fellow students and I helped them improve their grades. In the last ten years I've professionally edited plays, novels, children's books and scripts.

I became serious about writing a novel when I got the inspiration for the story of "Good Fortune." Before I actually started to write it, I knew the plot from beginning to end. With my second novel, I'm writing it chapter by chapter so it's a totally different experience.

Like most authors, my dream is to write a book that becomes a best-seller and is made into a movie. While writing "Good Fortune" I saw it as a film and I've had people who read it tell me they had the same experience where they actually "saw" it. I still think it would make a good movie. All I need is the right person to read it who has the right connections. I know...I sound like every other aspiring author!
What's the story behind your latest book?
Is it my imagination or are there more TV shows and movies about teenagers than there were when I was growing up? My father wrote the script for "Rebel Without A Cause" which was also released as a novel, "Children of the Dark." I remember "Blackboard Jungle" but the other teenage movies I recall were family Disney movies starring Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon. There were also the "Gidget" films.

Now we have books and movies that are darker such as "Twilight," "Halloween," "Friday the 13th" to name just a few, and the shows "Pretty Little Liars", "The Vineyard" and "Twisted." I've become interested in teens today because they're so much more sophisticated (and often meaner) than my generation, and I became inspired to write a book about them. It could be my background in cultural anthropology has something to do with this.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I worked on "Good Fortune" for years and wanted to see it published as an actual book before too many more years passed. When I decided to self publish I researched until I found a publisher I trusted, and who actually answers the phone. Many of them only communicate via email. One indie author I know spent a small fortune on a publisher he found online that makes promises to promote your book for an additional fee but doesn't deliver. My advice to authors who want to self publish is do your research and make sure who you choose has been around a long time, and they don't have complaints posted against them. A great resource for this is the Writers Beware link:

The advantage of publishing an ebook with Smashwords and Kindle is it's free to the author and many people prefer reading ebooks. It's a great way to get your work out there.

With my new novel my intent is to find an agent and publisher in hopes of getting a lot more exposure and fans.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
All my life I've drawn and painted. For me, writing is another art form where I can express myself using another medium. I enjoy getting inside the thoughts and emotions of my characters. They take on a life of their own and become so real to me I find myself thinking about them throughout the day. When I actually sit down at the computer to write, it's like I'm hanging out with friends.
What do your fans mean to you?
My fans are my inspiration. I love receiving emails from people who have read "Good Fortune" and tell me it inspired them or helped them through a dark time.
Who are your favorite authors?
I collect Pearl Buck novels and have read many of them. I've read everything from Hemingway to Barbara Wood novels, Dan Brown to many classics. Check out my profile on (I have to update it) but you'll get an idea. I also am totally hooked on the Pendergast thrillers of Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child that keep me up at night reading into the wee hours of the morning. So my taste is eclectic, to say the least.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Knowing each day is a blessing and every moment a gift. This is the practice of mindfulness.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I love to read and always have a book by the bed, watch classic black-and-white movies on TV, draw and paint. I especially like to travel and explore new places. I enjoy listening to music, cooking and coming up with new healthy recipes. I collect antiques, old hats, gloves and jewelry. Thrift stores are my passion! My Golden Retrievers are my buddies--I love brushing them and walking them. And of course, I like hanging out with friends, especially my best friend, my husband.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
I think the first story I wrote was when I was four or five. I told it to my father who wrote it down for me. It was about a little girl who buried something mysterious in the woods. Maybe I should develop this into a novel?
What is your writing process?
I need to have time alone and not be interrupted. This is very important! Before I start writing I think about my characters and how I can connect events from previous chapters. Then I write an opening sentence or two, and the words just flow. It's as if I'm a passenger along for the ride and my fingers start typing. I've only struggled once where it took nearly an hour to write one page. Most of the time, I write an hour or two and make good progress.

I don't have a recipe of how many pages I need to write each day. I seem to know when to stop and pick up tomorrow where I left off.
Published 2013-08-31.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Good Fortune
You set the price! Words: 101,640. Language: English. Published: June 8, 2011. Categories: Fiction » Romance » Contemporary, Fiction » Cultural & ethnic themes » Asian American
Chinese wisdom secretly passed through handwritten fortunes guides the lives of two men from different cultures connected by a shared source of enlightenment. Each overcomes adversity to achieve inner awareness through personal journeys. Good Fortune awaits them, but first they must discover happiness is less tied to outward goals than inner awareness. Tong's gentle wisdom shows them the way.