Interview with Patricia A. Leslie

Published 2020-06-03.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
"Bambi" and "Bambi's Children" - because Felix Salten was a very talented writer, and a dedicated naturalist. His books were done a terrible disservice by Disney. And I learned a lot about both Nature and human nature, from the two books. Then there's Sir Terry Pratchett's "Monstrous Regiment", which is perfectly brilliant in the way it satirizes militarism, international politics, and patriarchy, all while providing laughs on just about every page. A close runner-up, for me, is his "Hogfather", which even got made into a TV film in the UK. Last, only because I'm being limited to five books, I guess It'll have to be "Cold Comfort Farm" by Stella Gibbons. She satirized ChickLit decades before anybody knew the term or the concept. I only left out many favorite authors, because it's impossible to single out "favorites" from among their entire body of excellent work.
Describe your desk
It has a computer and a printer, a mug with a broken-off handle, full of pens and a letter opener; one of my credit cards, some folders containing works in progress; a clipboard; many half-sheets of paper with notes about stuff I'm buying, people's addresses, etc.; and Katharine Briggs's "An Encyclopedia of Fairies, Hobgoblins, Brownies, Bogles, and Other Supernatural Creatures".
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
Until almost 13, my family lived on the East Coast, in the New England states. I loved the Woodland biome back there. It always felt magical to me, particularly all the rivers, streams, ponds, and the abundant life they attract. I was very aware of the wheel of the year, with its distinct seasons (another vagueness of coastal California). So that awareness of the impact Nature could have on people's lives, definitely contributed to my interpretation of many of my characters' connections to the natural world, as well as the Other Side (Elfin world), and the natural kind of paganism that seems to emerge from being so close to the processes of Nature. There are a lot of fairly old houses (old compared to California, where we moved right before I started high school; not old compared to the British Isles of course). But a lot of them seem to be haunted, and if not, they sure look like they should be. Coming to California, of course, dramatically influenced my sociological world-view, including meeting far more diverse kinds of people than I would probably have ever met where we lived in the East. Then, being in the San Francisco area in my teens (when I did a lot more growing up), I got drawn into the psychedelic, magical 60s very early and thoroughly. That all contributed a lot to my sense of surrealism and the true strangeness of life and people. Now, all those experiences somehow make their way into the writing, sooner or later.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Most of my characters become very vivid, essentially real people to me. Of course, they're all different mirror-ball facets of myself, separated out and expanded in different ways than I actually did. But they do mirror back to me, aspects of myself that I maybe hadn't really looked at much, or even known were there. Over time, I get to know them better and better, and they actually start to feel like real friends. I've read the words of wise people, who advise us to get to know ourselves, and get to like or even love ourselves, so that we can like and love others. So, I think my characters do that for me, and getting to know some of their surprising quirks, is definitely a joy.
What are you working on next?
Finishing up editing the 5th novel in my speculative paranormal series of novels, which was previously titled "The Randolph Family Saga". I becaue dissatisfied with that general title, which doesn't really communicate enough. So I pulled the first four books from publication, and as soon as I finish this 5th novel, I hope to re-release all five, under the new collective title, "The Elfin Scots". I think that title says exactly what I most want potential readers to know about the whole concept. Each book will have the lead character's name, and the year when most of the action takes place, included. So for example, what was "The Randolph Family Saga, Book One: The Ballad of Tam Lin" will now become: "The Elfin Scots: Janet Dunbar, 1790". Keeps the cover art a lot less busy, too. This 5th novel will be: The Elfin Scots: Theadora Morey, 1873". It's the first one set outside the island of Great Britain - takes place entirely in San Francisco, except for the Elf-land scenes.
Who are your favorite authors?
Oh good, I felt bad for all the ones I left out on the "favorite books" question. Okay, Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, George Eliot, Sir Terry Pratchett, Jasper Fforde, Neil Gaiman, Malcolm Pryce, Ursula K. LeGuin, Sir Walter Scott, Kenneth Grahame, Antonia Hodgson, Felix Salten.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Yes. It was a school project. I had to make it into an illustrated book. It was about a lizard who wanders into a natural history museum one night, and meets his "ancestors" the dinosaurs (who somehow come to life - see, I come by the paranormal thing pretty naturally). I know now that they aren't direct ancestors. But hey, pretty good for about age 7 or so, huh?
What is your writing process?
I do very detailed biographical descriptions about all the main characters, their family background, early life, relationships, etc. Then I come up with a scenario, based to some degree, on real events of the exact time and place of the story. Then I think a lot about how the reality of time and place would impact the lives of my characters, and how it would cause them to interact. Then I just sort of start writing. About halfway in or even near the end, I create an outline of all the key events and situations, chapter by chapter. That helps me make sure everything follows logically. Also shows me where I've let the story drag, or skipped ahead too fast. I do a lot of editing. A lot.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author or publisher.

Books by This Author

The Elfin Scots, Janet Dunbar: 1790 - Part One
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 97,900. Language: Commonwealth English. Published: February 25, 2021 . Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Paranormal, Fiction » Romance » Paranormal » General
Told in a spirited Regency comedy-of-manners style, inspired by traditional Scottish lore, readers will appreciate Ms. Leslie’s well-paced storytelling, and her insightful, witty explorations of human nature. Being a coming-of-age tale, the central theme is, inevitably, love.
Valedictoria Scott and the Secret of Triumphia
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 66,770. Language: Commonwealth English. Published: December 15, 2020 . Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Steampunk & retropunk, Fiction » Humor & comedy » Satire
(1.00 from 1 review)
Valedictoria is a modern young woman of alternative 1870s England. Having realised her dream of attending a Secretarialist Academy, the former kitchen-maid is now eagerly pursuing the dream job and independent life that should be possible for a smart, ambitious woman. This time, she tries Haute Couture in glamorous Parisia! Surely no uncanny adventures await her in such a civilized, cultured city?
Valedictoria Scott and the Diplomatic Mission
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 56,180. Language: Commonwealth English. Published: October 30, 2020 . Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Steampunk & retropunk, Fiction » Humor & comedy » Satire
Valedictoria joins a diplomatic party on a daring journey across the Atlantic, to the Union of Columbian States of Americia, and soon finds herself a guest at Sir Anthony Harrow's aunt's mansion! Not the best timing for a break-up with that gentleman, in this strange new land of spies and politicians, trade-unions and secret societies, fanatics and fantastic creatures, romance and treachery!
Valedictoria Scott and the Scotian Adventure
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 54,240. Language: Commonwealth English. Published: September 30, 2020 . Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Steampunk & retropunk, Fiction » Romance » Sci-fi
Valedictoria begins her first job as a professional secretarialist with Barkingmede Ventures Ltd., Finest Tea Importers. Almost at once, the work whisks her to a remote island off the coast of Scotia, north of Anglia. In her second plucky adventure, Ria finds herself in a world of many wonders: slightly mad science, amazing mechanical inventions, pirates of the air, and monsters of the deep!
Valedictoria Scott and the Unexpected Legacy
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 37,970. Language: Commonwealth English. Published: August 31, 2020 . Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Steampunk & retropunk, Fiction » Romance » Paranormal » General
On her twenty-first birthday, in 1870, orphaned scullery-maid Valedictoria unexpectedly receives the deed to gloomy, heavily-cobwebbed Ravensdale Manor, and soon finds herself on a steam-powered airship, heading to the rural northern province of Eyorke, where secrets, danger, bad weather, and romance await. first in a new lighthearted, satirical Steampunk/Gothic Romance novella series.