Interview with Deborah J. Ledford

Jen: This weekend we welcome Deborah J. Ledford back to Romancing the Book. Deborah, will you please share a short bio with us?
Deborah: I spent my summers growing up in the Great Smoky Mountains of western North Carolina which is the setting for my suspense thriller novels and many of my short stories.

My latest novel, Snare, is a nominee for The Hillerman Sky Award at Left Coast Crime 2011. Staccato is book one of the Deputy Hawk/Inola Walela thriller series and both novels are published by Second Wind Publishing.

As well as a suspense thriller novelist, I’m also a three-time nominee for the Pushcart Prize. My award-winning short stories appear in numerous print publications, as well as literary and mystery anthologies.

Jen: Tell us about Snare and where it’s available.
Deborah: The tagline for Snare is: Revenge with a beat. It’s the journey of popular rock star Katina Salvo who is about to embark on her first personal appearance. She’s just learned she’s been receiving death threats and unbeknownst to her, her father has recently been released from prison for killing her mother 15 years earlier. Her six day journey, along with Deputy Steven Hawk who is assigned to protect Katina, takes her on a path of murder, revenge, retribution and discovery.

Snare is available from the publisher Second Wind Publishing, Amazon, for the Kindle, and various E-book versions can be found at Smashwords. It’s trickling into bookstores, but the Poisoned Pen Bookstore has featured Snare as one of their Notable Picks and is currently available there.

Jen: At what age did you discover writing and when were you first published? Tell us your call story.
Deborah: I can’t remember not writing, but began as an artist, then went on to write screenplays. My writing is quite visual and I compose my scenes in complete pictures. My first publishing credit was for the literary short story “For Katie” which won first place in the Arizona Authors Association 2005 international contest. The piece was featured in the Arizona Literary Journal.

Jen: Describe your writing in three words.
Deborah: Visual, active, intense.

Jen: How do you approach your writing? Do you plot or go with the flow?
Deborah: I usually go with the flow, but before I begin a full length novel I always know the first five chapters, two story arcs, complete character breakdowns for at least three lead characters, some gripping lines of dialogue I want to implement, and the ending. I prefer to have a title in mind as well. I’ll be living with these characters and their quest for many months, therefore I need to be certain there won’t be the urge to abandon the novel a third of the way in.

Jen: What kind of research did you do for this book?
Deborah: So much research! Snare began as a screenplay, then I went on to novelize the piece much later. It’s been through so many evolutions since day one. I began to get serious about what was to become the printed version of the novel back in 2007—before my first novel Staccato was published. I’m part Eastern Band Cherokee and knew that I wanted the Native American element to be instrumental for Snare. Once I decided on the Tribe to focus on I came into contact with the communications director on the Taos Pueblo in New Mexico. Floyd “Mountain Walking Cane” Gomez read every word of the manuscript as I composed each draft. He either approved scenes, characters and elements, or told me flat out “No, you cannot use this.” (he told me this a lot!) Elements Floyd wasn’t sure about were cleared by the Taos Pueblo Tribal Council.

Jen: Do you feel as if the characters live with you as you write? Do they haunt your dreams?
Deborah: Oh, yes. They constantly haunt me. When I’m writing (especially the first draft) I try to keep the characters I create constantly in my mind. I listen to particular music when writing their point of view chapters, even think about a tricky scene I’m trying to figure out before going to sleep so I can work on them subconsciously.

Jen: Is there a genre that you’d like to write? Is there a genre you’ll probably stay away from and why?
Deborah: Since I’m a thriller novelist it’s great to be able to write short stories. It doesn’t matter what genre you write for those markets. You can’t be pigeon-holed and a writer really gets to stretch their muscles. I’m known as a literary short story writer since most of my shorter pieces have been published by literary journals—although, my published suspense stories are overtaking that genre lately.

I’m not much for sci-fi or fantasy. I’ll leave those markets for the specialists. I’m a “realist” in what I visualize while writing. I admire writers who can construct a complete new world.

Jen: If you could travel back in time for one year, what time and place would you choose? And if you could only take 3 things with you, what would they be?
Deborah: I really had to think about this question. I love where I am in my life right now, but perhaps 200 years ago, living in the wilderness of the Great Smoky Mountains. I would need a sturdy, sharp knife, a powerful stallion to help me blaze a trail, and a fearless dog to keep me company.

Jen: What’s the most interesting comment you have received about your books?
Deborah: I’m always encouraged when a reader tells me I took them on the journey with my characters. That they were able to see the locations and feel the emotions as the scenes played out. And as a former screenwriter, I’m honored when I hear of my “realistic dialogue.”

Jen: What’s next for you?
Deborah: I’m thrilled and honored that Snare has received a nomination for The Hillerman Sky Award. Much of my time has been given to spreading the word about this book since its release. I’ll know the outcome at the Left Coast Crime 2011 Conference in Santa Fe, New Mexico, March 26th.

The third book of the Steven Hawk/Inola Walela series is finished and I’ve started writing a traditional mystery about a 14-year-old boy and an 18-year-old girl who try to solve a rash of arsons in their small Oregon town. This won’t be a Young Adult novel, but won’t be a thriller either. We’ll have to see if I can pull this off.

Jen: Where can you be found on the web?
Deborah: To read the first chapters of Snare and Staccato, as well as a few of my previously published short stories, I invite you to my website: www.DeborahJLedford.com

Jen: Is there anything you’d like to ask our readers?
Deborah: Do you prefer to read a series so you can follow characters year after year, or do you prefer standalone novels from authors who present new characters with each novel they write? And if you prefer serials, do you avoid the same author’s standalone books?

Jen: I understand you’d like to hold a contest for our readers. Can you tell me more?
Deborah: I would love to give away a copy of Snare to a follower who leaves a compelling comment or question.

Jen: Readers, you heard Deborah. In addition to leaving your question or comment, please include your email address (or send a message to admin.bookblog@gmail.com) to complete your entry. The winner will be chosen on Thursday, March 3.