Author Spotlight & Interview LEIGH M. LORIEN author of JIGS AND REELS
I’m pleased to kick off my series of authorial interviews with my friend Leigh who has a book out this week!
I loved JIGS & REELS, it’s a sweet, sexy m/m romance novella. It has voice that leaps off the page and grabs the reader by the throat. I’m picky, and I loved it at beta reading stage, the version I bought is going to be even better. 🙂
I sent Leigh a list of nosy parker questions and here’s what she said.
- What do you write? Queer romance. Meaning I don’t just write cisgender/allosexual characters. I have asexual, aromantic, transgender, and nonbinary characters in the works.
- Why do you write it? Because I can’t not. Because the world is diverse and I am queer and why shouldn’t I write it? I write because I don’t know how to stop, and there is a community—to which I belong—that desperately needs to see themselves in stories. I’m asexual, but I didn’t realize it until I was 26 or 27. I’ve never seen an asexual character in anything mainstream, and even in indie/not mainstream things, I had to go hunting to find asexual representation. I wonder how different the past ten years of my life could have been if I’d known about asexuality when I was in high school. So I want to help put more queer characters out there, because we need it. (woo, getting deep on the second question)
- Where do you write? I usually write on my laptop, in bed. This often results in waking up at 2am and realizing I wrote 12 pages of the letter f. Woops.
- How long have you been writing? I started writing as soon as I could physically write letters and words—I made Sonic the Hedgehog story books when I was 4 or 5 years old—but I developed the habit of writing when I was eleven. I discovered Dragonball Z one weekend, and then, on a four-hour car trip later that same week, I wrote a Dragonball Z fanfiction by hand on a legal pad in the back of my dad’s car. So I have been writing consistently for over 15 years, but I think I’ve been a writer/storyteller since I was a toddler.
- When did you first realize you wanted to be an author? This is an odd question for me, because I’ve been writing for a long time, but I’ve never actually considered myself an author or taken my writing seriously. It was a hobby, something I do to blow off steam, something I do because the ideas keep popping into my head and I have no way to get them out if I don’t write. About a year ago, I was thinking about picking up a hobby that I could make money from (crafts or something) when I suddenly realized I already have that hobby. And thus began my pursuit of publication.
- What do you enjoy most about the writing process? – The brainstorming. Coming up with ideas is so much more fun than molding them into things that make sense and stringing them together in a coherent plot. Nothing quite equals the excitement I feel when I’m coming up with new ideas, talking ideas over with other people—hell, I like to talk about/brainstorm other peoples’ ideas as much as I like to talk about my own.
- Where do you find inspiration? Books, TV, music, movies, real life. My ideas start with the vaguest concept sometimes—an emotion I want to capture, a single line of a song, the dynamic between two people having a conversation in the grocery store, a picture of beautiful scenery. I can’t even do yard work without thinking up ideas for stories.
- What do you like to do when you’re not writing? I like gardening, hiking, photography, running, and anything that involves cute animals.
- How many books have you written, and which is your favorite? Why? If you count first drafts, I’ve written five. How many of those will see the light of day remains to be determined. My favorite is probably the one I’m currently revising, which is a contemporary romance with BDSM and an asexual character. The characters bond over steak dinner and a conversation about Star Trek on their first date. I’ve poured a lot of myself into this book.
- Do you have any advice to other writers/authors? Don’t compare yourself to other writers! It’s not a competition. I know it’s tempting to compare your accomplishments to other peoples’, but don’t. The only person you should compare yourself to, is you. As long as you’re still moving forward, no matter how fast or slow, you’re doing just fine.
- What do you think makes a good story? Likeable characters. I can let plot holes and worldbuilding issues slip under the radar as long as I’m wrapped up in the characters’ emotions and struggles.
- As a kid, what did you want to do when you grew up? As a child, I wanted to be a veterinarian. I love animals. As an adult, I realized I don’t have the constitution for that line of work. I’ll stick to adopting too many pets and pay someone else to handle the boo-boos and icky stuff.
- Do you read a lot? What are your favorite genres? I don’t read as much as I should, but I love urban fantasy, science fiction, crime/mystery, and romance.
- Where did your love of books/writing come from? I can thank my mother for that. My mother read to me when I was little. She read me a lot of Dr. Seuss, which she enjoys, and she enjoyed reading it to me, so I think I just naturally learned to associate books with joy and fun. I can’t remember a time in my life when I didn’t love books.
- Who are some of your favorite authors who you feel have been most influential to your writing? I can’t point fingers at the authors who got me started on romance, because I blame fanfiction for that, but I can point fingers at some who influenced how I write. When I first started writing around age eleven, my voice was influenced by Douglas Adams and Lemony Snicket. More recently, it’s Jim Butcher and Kevin Hearne. That kind of dry, dark, sarcastic, witty humor… except way more queer than any of the above. 😀
Blurb & Excerpt:
LENGTH: 18,020 words
Elijah works in a cubicle, lives with his parents, and never goes on dates. It isn’t an exciting life, but it’s safe and easy and that’s good enough.
Then he meets Peter, a whirlwind of a man who leads a traveling renaissance band. Peter represents everything Eli usually avoids, but his boisterous enthusiasm is infectious… and his band needs a fiddle player.
When Eli agrees to fill in for a weekend, he awakens a part of himself he thought long gone. With Peter’s help, he shakes off the dust that has settled on his soul and remembers how to have fun.
But when the band asks him to join them permanently, is Eli’s newborn sense of adventure — and insane crush on a man he barely knows — enough to make him leave the safety of a life he’s clung to for years?
“Wait, what?” My heartrate spiked and I swallowed against a sudden wave of nausea. No one had mentioned this before. Morrison’s? We hadn’t practiced Morrison’s. I knew the tune, but man, I was not prepared for this. The past few days were really pushing the limits of my spontaneity for the week. Month. Hell, I hadn’t been this spontaneous in years. Seeing my anxiety, Peter caught my shaky hand as I reached for a bottle of water. My eyes widened and I glanced around, but everyone else had better things to do than watch my every move.
“Hey,” he said softly, and brought my hand to his lips for a kiss, like an old-fashioned gentleman. “You’ll be great. You know these songs, you’ve been on stage before, nothing is different.”
“No?” I said in a choked whisper. He wasn’t letting go of my hand. His skin was soft, smooth as silk, warm, and dry. Well, it had been dry before he’d grabbed my sweaty mitt. “I don’t know you guys at all. I’m going to fuck up, I’m going to miss a cue or, or, play a song too fast or too slow or get up there and forget how to play everything I’ve ever learned. I’m going to be too stiff, people are going to look at me and think I’m a zombie or something, some kind of weird fiddle-playing corpse, an animatronic fiddler. I don’t move around much, that was something Toby always told me, too. My ex … band leader. Toby. He got on my case, said if I was going to be so still I might as well just sit in a chair for all the more entertaining I was on stage. I have no stage presence. I just –”
Soft fingers touched my lips. He didn’t put any pressure on me, but the mere presence of the touch made me shut up. “Shh,” Peter cooed. He met my eyes and smiled, but it wasn’t an impish, teasing smile this time. It was gentle and earnest. “You’re not going to forget those songs.” The fingers brushed back along my cheek until he cupped my jaw in his palm, thumb coming to rest on my lower lip. Why was I just standing there like an idiot? Do something! Those bright eyes had me hypnotized. I couldn’t have pulled away if I’d wanted to.
And I didn’t want to. It had been way too long since I’d had affection. Hell, even if it had just been last week, I figured Peter would have been able to entrance me. He just had that energy about him, that insane, hell bent for leather, bright-eyed confidence like he could go out the door one day intending to get the newspaper and end up taking over the world. Katie had a similar sort of energy. I was drawn to it like a stupid moth to a lamp. And, much like a stupid moth, I could not actually obtain that energy for myself. I just bounced around it until it became too much to handle and I dropped.
“We’ve had two fiddlers since we got together, and a couple other temp stand-in members,” Peter said, still holding my hand, still caressing my lip with his thumb. “We’re used to adjusting to new members, but I don’t foresee it being an issue. You and I click, musically. You pick up on cues like a pro.”
“Well,” I said, my voice matching his soft timbre, “you’re not exactly subtle.”
Peter laughed. “No time in life for pussy-footing around.” He let go of my hand and brought his other hand up to cup my other cheek, holding my face. He was taller than me, I realized. Not much, but just enough that I noticed when he tipped my face up towards his. He didn’t lean in though, just kept smiling. “What kind of cues are you picking up on right now?”
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