Have you ever read a book by an author that makes you exclaim, “Yes! She gets it. This is real life. This is my life.” The heroine isn’t you, but little parts of her soul match: The intricate way she obsesses about a boy, the exquisite embarrassment of saying the wrong thing at the wrong time, or the things she thinks when daydreaming.
Leslie McAdam is the kind of author who delves into the realities of life and displays them in living color in her books, hitting at fundamental truths about women and existence. She also writes sex so steamy that the Kindle katches fire faster than those Hoverboards with the faulty batteries. (It’s okay, though — just douse the flames with a nice red wine and keep reading. Or whiskey — Leslie prefers whiskey as her relaxation drink of choice, because she’s just cool and interesting that way.)
Leslie has a new book called The Stars in the Sky. It’s about a vegan and a rancher and how they find true love, but that’s just the bare bones description. The book is filled with beautiful prose, insights about life, humor that will make you crack up, and the smoke-alarm-testing kind of steamy scenes that you love to read. The truth is that Leslie could write about pretty much any combination of hero and heroine and make it work, but she picks interesting matches, people who have to work past real-life difficulties to reach their HEA, and her books are stronger and more powerful for it.
Leslie answered lots of questions for me about her life and her writing, and I’m eager to share them with you. I love getting glimpses into the lives of writers — it makes me feel like I’m reading the intellectual version of Big Brother. I’d call it Big Author, but there’s no weird food challenges and no mean girls, which makes it even better. I knew from Facebook that Leslie likes sharing pictures of handsome/sexy men (she’s thoughtful) with her followers, especially her cover model, Mitchell Wick. She’s funny and irreverent and likes to laugh, and she’s crazy smart. But did you know that she lives on an orange farm, has worked as a wilderness ranger in Yosemite National Park, makes a delicious tortilla soup, and is a huge Beck fan? Keep reading for more info…
What inspired you to write for the very first time?
My mom taught me how to read before I turned three and since then I’ve been a voracious reader. When I was little, I wanted to be a children’s book author. Fast forward twenty-five years, and I decided to try writing fiction. I bought a pretty notebook at a bookstore by my work and walked across the street (to the State Capitol in Sacramento) and started writing a story on a park bench about when Cary Grant knocks on your door.
Why do you love writing?
I can’t live without it. I love reading and I love the connection I feel with the author when I read his or her writing. I hope that others have the same connection with my writing. From a craft-perspective, I love the feeling when something gets phrased exactly right.
How do you get your ideas for books?
I carry around a notebook at all times and jot down ideas. I’ve learned to trust the ideas that come to me in the shower, while driving, while doing the dishes, or as I fold socks. I’ve learned to capture them and then go with the ones that I’m excited about and that are fun. And I’ve learned to write about things I know, either emotions I know or places I know or people I “know,” even though they are all fictional.
Do you outline your books, or write with the flow?
Always outline. I tried the no-outline thing once for NaNoWriMo and yeah, THAT book will never see the light of day.
Can you list a few books that you’ve loved throughout your life, books which are meaningful to you in some way?
- A House Like A Lotus by Madeline L’Engle
- Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh
- Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl
- The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron
- Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James
- Insatiable by J.D. Hawkins
A few of your favorite authors (not necessarily romance – just authors you love & would recommend)?
J.D. Hawkins, Kristen Ashley, Lila Monroe, Lex Martin, Jodi Ellen Malpias, Elle Kennedy, Maria Monroe, Alice Clayton, Jake Maldon. Madeline L’Engle. Mary Oliver. I have a soft spot for Jan Karon too.
What’s your process for finding a cover model/photo for your books?
On The Sun and the Moon, we used a stock image, but it’s not a common one. I had a lot of help choosing. With The Stars in the Sky, well, you may have noticed that I post a lot of male models on my Facebook page and I have a few favorites. Mitchell Wick, the cover model, is my absolute favorite. Me being me, I figured, why not ask him if he would be interested in being on the cover. So we asked and he was. He sent over a bunch of links of his work and we looked at a lot of images and then started talking with photographers for other images. Cory Stierley, who took the picture for The Stars in the Sky, is an amazingly creative photographer with such an eye. An absolute gift. The specific picture appeals to me because it hits a lot of plot points, even though it’s a picture of a shirtless dude in jeans. When I reread the description of the main male character, Will, I could have been describing the way Mitch looks in that picture.
How do you balance writing with other career/family?
I don’t know if I’m balanced. I don’t sleep or watch television and someone else cleans my house. My husband does laundry, shops, and cooks. I get my kids up in the morning and on the school bus and I put them to bed (their grandparents watch them after school). I try to get to the gym and exercise. I try to say no to things I don’t want to do. But I’m not sure that I’m balanced.
What’s the coolest place you’ve ever visited?
Well, I lived in Granada, Spain for a year so that was pretty cool. I really love places in Switzerland (like Bern) and Paris.
Most interesting food you’ve eaten?
I’m not particularly adventuresome. Sushi, I suppose. These days I’m pretty much strictly paleo, with whiskey being my only vice (and that’s not every day).
A few of your favorite things?
Blue and white striped sailor shirts, black coffee in my handmade mugs, cats, my one sixteen-year-old fountain pen, 3 x 5 notecards, almond scent, Caudalie lotion, vinyl records, pictures of my kids, my laptop and iphone, matching bras and undies, blank notebooks and unpainted canvases, and always piles of books.
A song you currently love & would recommend?
Paper Tiger by Beck is my favorite song because of guitar plus violins.
If you could have lunch with any author of your choice (famous or not, dead or alive), who’s one you’d pick? Or two. It might be fun to see if they’d get along, right?
This is the hardest question. Maybe Mark Twain? I’d hope he’d be witty and entertaining.
Do you enjoy cooking? If yes, favorite dishes?
Yes but I don’t do it much. I make a tortilla soup my kid raves about.
List a few interesting things about yourself that people need to know:
I dunno. My internship in college was as a wilderness ranger in Yosemite National Park and I had the best job in the whole wide world. I’ve lived on an orange tree farm for ten years but have never picked an orange. (It’s turned into a THING now, like I can’t do it because I haven’t.)
Do you include overt or subtle themes in your books (feminism, democracy, freedom, LGBT rights, anti-clown propaganda, etc.)?
Sure. There’s always a feminist bent because me. The Sun and the Moon is about depression. The Stars in the Sky is about politics. All the Waters of the Earth is about creativity.
Do you feel that your books have a message, do you write for the pure joy of storytelling, for escapism, etc? A mix?
It’s gotta have meaning. Everything is in there for a reason.
What trends do you want to see in the next ten years for romance writers? What changes would you like to see in the public perception of romance writing?
I have no idea about trends. The thing I would like to see is that the genre be taken more seriously. I read somewhere that Nora Roberts has an ungodly number of NYT bestsellers but only two NYT reviews. I don’t know if that is correct, but that’s my perception: that because romance novels talk about feelings that they aren’t serious literature. But I think they are.
Future projects –what are you working on?
I’m currently writing a romance novel with themes of codependency, perfectionism, emotional eating, and alcoholism.
And somehow I’m weaving parkour (urban gymnastics) into that. And low income housing. So we shall see what happens with this one.
Interesting story from research you’ve done for a book?
Well it’s always interesting to Google things for grammar purposes because when you write erotica you don’t often get grammatical results to the question (Like does hard-on have a hyphen? It does. Don’t Google it).
I actually don’t do that much research, I just ask friends. I needed help with a horse issue in The Stars in the Sky and I asked a friend. I used a sex scene in the third book that the thingsmydickdoes dude said to do. (I asked him what they should do and he told me and I used it.) I needed medical terminology and asked a doctor friend. Frankly the only type of research I did was what type of car Ryan drove in The Sun and the Moon (a McClaren, in the bonus chapter—and that’s because I’m nuts about supercars).
What kind of support have you received from friends and family as you embarked on your writing career?
Very few people in my real life knew that I was writing and very few had ever read anything I’ve written, although those who knew were always kind. I get most of the support from like-minded people on the internet. My husband supports me by doing all the things he does, especially around the house.
How effective do you find social media outlets for networking and marketing?
I am having a blast on Facebook because I love it and I am following my nose as far as friending authors and readers who look fun and interesting. Twitter is similar. I’m on a few other social media but don’t use them much. It’s effective, I guess, but I’m also having so much fun with it.
What advice would you offer to new indie writers just starting their career?
Write every day and get lots of feedback—but the right sort of feedback. You don’t want someone who is going to crush your creative dreams. But you do want someone who will point out things that you can fix to make your writing better.
What are your writing goals?
In 2016, I want to publish at least three books: The Stars in the Sky, All the Waters of the Earth, and The Ground Beneath Our Feet (currently writing). I also am thinking about writing a short story anthology.
Thanks to Leslie for hanging out virtually on my blog and being kind enough to answer so many questions. Best of luck on this book and all future ones — I’ll be reading them for sure.
You can find her new book here on Amazon:
You can find Leslie here:
Thanks, and happy reading!