Interview with Leesa Freeman

Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up just north of Dallas, spent part of my summers with my grandparents in Austin, and went to college in Abilene, Texas. Somehow even though I haven't lived in Texas since my early twenties, it remains a central part of my life, which is why I've set all of my stories there. I couldn't lose "y'all" if I wanted to, and anyway, if I can't eat at Taco Cabana or Whataburger, at least my characters can.
When did you first start writing?
I had an English teacher in high school, Mrs. Holloway, whose class was the most unusual I've ever taken; three days a week we wrote anything we wanted, and two days a week we read anything we wanted. Whether anything I wrote back then was any good, I really don't remember, but it gave me a glimpse into a world of creativity that stayed with me until years later when I found the courage to start writing again.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
It was one of the scariest and easiest decisions I've made thus far. Like most authors indoctrinated in the "traditional" publishing methodology, I didn't know whether going indie would help my career long term or effectively end it. But after doing a lot of research, I feel like more authors who don't write strictly "mainstream" novels are going to lean towards indie eventually. It is only a hunch, but I feel like agents and publishers are only looking for work they know will sell, and how do they know that? Guesswork and what has sold in the past. Sure bets and recent data. Anything outside those norms, and I'm not so sure whether traditional publishers are willing to take it on.

I don't write to please publishers; I write to please myself and my readers, so indie feels like the best fit for me.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
I love getting to know my characters. I find them fascinating, infuriating, and undeniably compelling. Sitting down to write them is like sitting down with a best friend over a cup of coffee and letting them tell me their story. I love that feeling of getting a glimpse into this complicated, amazing person and their fears, their joys, and their lives. Even if it makes me sound a little crazy to explain it that way, that's exactly what it feels like, and I wouldn't have it any other way.
What are you working on next?
I'll be publishing Into the Deep End soon, and I really can't wait for readers to discover Luke Stevenson. He was on the verge of escaping his small New Mexico town forever when a drunk driver crossed the yellow line, killing his twin sister and leaving him a T-11 incomplete paraplegic. What I love about Luke's story is that it is his struggle to find out who he is now that he can't be who he was. His anger is utterly justified. There are so many things he can't do like he did before: as an Olympic-level swimmer, he's afraid to swim and discover he is simply ordinary in the water; he can't get an erection which means - he thinks - never again being with a woman; hell, he can't even drive to escape any of it for just a little while. I fell in love with Luke's honesty, his humor, and slow willingness to put his life back together, and I think readers will find his journey as captivating as I have.
Why did you choose to make Luke a paraplegic? How much research did you do when writing Into the Deep End?
I didn't so much choose to make him a paraplegic as that's how he came to me. He was in a wheelchair, and it was up to me to make that work.

I wouldn't say I'm an expert on Spinal Cord Injuries (SCI), but I did want to understand as much as I could, because the last thing I wanted to do was whitewash something that was very real for him. I studied the difference between complete and incomplete injuries, what each vertebrae controlled and how that affected the body, and how an injury from the back, for instance, was different from injuries from the side. I studied rehab exercises and watched dozens of videos of men and women relearning how to use their bodies after a SCI. I read every book I could get my hands on about life after SCIs, including how to have sex, how to maneuver in the real world, and read stories of real people who are living and thriving after a SCI.

It was important to me to not only make Luke's struggles, emotions, and triumphs as real as possible, but to honor the people who are dealing with a spinal cord injury. I had no interest in making his some miraculous story where he'd walk again in the end, but instead show that while he wants very much to walk again, whether or not he ever does is not the most important part of his life. Who he is, who he loves, and how he lives his life is what's important, just as that is true for anyone.
What would your dream writing space look like?
I've always wanted to get one of those cute little garden sheds and convert it into my office. In my mind it is bright and cheerful with a desk, speakers for my music, a comfy chair to curl up and read, a mini-fridge for drinks, and utter solitude. In my fantasy it is my space to create, to immerse myself in my writing, and my safe place to get figuratively naked and write my soul out.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Wishing I was writing. I'm sort of kidding.

I love baking, painting, singing - although I've become a snob about it and prefer the historically-informed performance practices of Bach, Mozart, Haydn, et. al. I love reading anything I can get my hands on so long as it is well-written and pulls me inside the story. I also love just being with my friends and family, talking, laughing, spending time together and hanging out. I'm pretty simple that way.
Published 2014-06-03.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

The Wisdom to Know the Difference
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 94,390. Language: English. Published: September 30, 2011. Categories: Fiction » Literature » Literary, Fiction » Women's fiction » General
An addict at sixteen and high school drop out at seventeen, Todd Randall spends his nights restoring old cars and going to Narcotics Anonymous. Then Shawna Clifton breezes into his life, she unlocks something vital inside him he long-since thought had died. But when she miscarries on the night he plans to propose, it forces them to discover what is really important.