Leanna Renee Hieber is the author of DARK NEST, a futuristic fantasy novella that won a 2009 Prism Award. First of all, how cool that a futuristic romance wins an award (this seems to be a trend recently). I mean, *we* know the genre is smokin’, but it’s great whenever validation comes our way. Second, Ms. Hieber beat out heavyweights such as Catherine Asaro and Jade Lee. Third, her novella was released by Crescent Moon Press, one of a handful of publishers who are bringing SFR stories from author’s hearts to your hands.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Leanna Renee Hieber about DARK NEST as well as her recently released debut novel THE STRANGELY BEAUTIFUL TALE OF MISS PERCY PARKER. For more information, you can visit her bio, blog, and read an excerpt of DARK NEST. Dear Author also recently hosted an interview with her.
Before delving into the interview, just ask yourself one question: Who…is…Persebunny?
The Galaxy Express: DARK NEST won the 2009 Prism Award for best novella. Please tell us a little bit about the story, as well as the inspiration behind it.
Leanna Renee Hieber:
From the back cover:
“Chief Counsel Ariadne Corinth has just found out her long-time lover, the powerfully gifted Chief Counsel Kristov Haydn, has died. Newly evolved psychically gifted humans have been sent by the Homeworld on a space mission aboard two distinct “Nests”. Relationships between the Light Nest and the Dark Nest have faltered and Ariadne is sure there’s something insidious behind it. In a matter of hours, Ariadne must find out what really happened to Kristov, unite her people to discover vast new powers the Homeworld denied them, or else submit to genocide.”
I wrote it on a dare. I said I’d only write historicals and then a few writer friends, who included my dear Isabo Kelly, dared me to write a futuristic. I’m a huge Star Trek, Battlestar and Dr. Who geek, so it really flew from my fingertips with familiar conventions, it felt really natural and I’m really proud of it. Winning the Prism in the novella category was such an amazing honour, I still have to look at that beautiful statuette to make sure I didn’t imagine it. Winning the Prism the same year as that same dearest friend wins it in her category? (Isabo Kelly) Priceless.
TGE: What elements of DARK NEST would appeal to fans of science fiction romance?
LRH: The setting, the familiar conventions of space travel, and the way that psychic powers interact with the technology within these ships. Since we all love character driven-stories operating at high-velocity stakes, I think readers will find that in Dark Nest too, a lot happens in a very short amount of time, and an extremely heart-felt romance is put on quite the roller-coaster ride.
TGE: Please share a few of your favorite science fiction romance stories (books/films/television).
LRH: Linnea Sinclair, Stacey Klemstein and Isabo Kelly’s books. The entire Star Trek franchise. Battlestar Galactica (the new one). X-files – score for hot Mulder/Scully chemistry! And I’ve been a lifelong fan of Dr. Who - When Tom Baker was the Doctor he had this quirky and wonderful chemistry with his Companion, Romana, (Lala Ward). And in the recent redux of Dr. Who, Doctors 9 and 10 have this rich and wonderful relationship with Rose.
TGE: It took you “nine long years and countless rejection letters and revisions” to place your debut novel THE STRANGELY BEAUTIFUL TALE OF MISS PERCY PARKER with a publisher. First, congratulations! Second, what kept you persevering during that time?
LRH: Oy. Thanks for the congratulations, it’s been a wild ride, but worth it. I’m a cross-genre gal, and Strangely Beautiful is a cross-genre series; a ghost-filled Gothic Victorian Fantasy / Paranormal Romance, with elements of Suspense, Light Horror and YA appeal. That’s what took it so long to sell. Industry professionals liked it, but didn’t know what to do with it or where to shelve it. What kept me going was being really stubborn and my writing buddies, particularly my dear Isabo Kelly, who told me I had a great story, it was just about finding the right house. Marianne Mancusi was another cheerleader who helped with reality checks and encouragement while out Goth-clubbing. When the manuscript landed at Dorchester, we all had a feeling about it. Dorchester is not afraid of risks or cross-genre initiatives, and it’s been the perfect home for Miss Percy. Did I mention being stubborn? Yeah, I mean it. It helps.
TGE: You’re published with both Crescent Moon Press and Dorchester. What has it been like to go through the publishing process for your work? Any advice for aspiring authors?
LRH: I’m learning every day. The thing I knew least was the promotional side of things. I have pretty good PR instincts, and those have kicked into overdrive, although pacing myself is a constant struggle. I think what no one is ever prepared for is how much there is to do. Let alone write your next book. Advice on that front is that all publishers will do what they can for you, but realize that especially these days, and especially with independent publishers, everyone’s resources are limited, so do what you can and do what appeals to you. Be a sponge and be creative and see what other authors are doing and if you think their promotional strategies would work for you. The minute you start to really hate the PR part though, dial it back because you need all your energy, write some more, and try and find your right balance. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about what your publisher is doing, where they’re sending review copies, etc. You have to do some promo and you have to simply get your book out there, there’s no way around it, but you also have to write your next book.
Also, I’ve had an awesome time with my editors. Enjoy that process, it can be really fun, a challenge, and you can truly watch yourself become a better writer. For me, coming from a theatre background, it’s like working with a director. You need those outside eyes. Editors are on your team, together you can make a good book a great book, and the better dynamic you have with them, the more fun you’ll have with this whole process.
TGE: What is Persebunny up to these days?
LRH: Being the cutest bunny ever, and with each passing week she gets more and more cuddly and affectionate. She was a rescued lab rabbit so unwinding and trusting her environment has been a process. She’s well-adjusted now. We bought her her own copy of The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker to… digest. She’s already hard at work, she thinks it’s really good. In her tummy. There will be pictures. See, she thinks I named the character after her, rather than the other way around. My character of Percy is an orphaned albino, and Percy is just a nickname. So of course my adopted albino rabbit had to be nicknamed a “Percy” too.
TGE: Is there anything else you’d like to share about your writing or forthcoming projects?
LRH: Well I’m hard at work on the rest of the Strangely Beautiful series, editing the sequel (Due out May 2010) which will pick up exactly where the first book leaves off, with Percy and Alexi remaining in the main focus with greater insight into The Guard as well. I’m also working on a novella in the Strangely Beautiful world starring two of the Guard secondary characters, and somewhere in there I have to squeeze in the Dark Nest sequel; Dark Nest : Reckoning – but I can’t promise a release on that yet. In other words, I’m keeping busy.
Blessings and thanks for this opportunity!
Ms. Hieber, thanks for your time, and for your art.
And now for the giveaway!
Ms. Hieber has generously donated two copies of DARK NEST—one print, one digital—to be given away to two lucky passengers.
To enter, leave a comment for this post (contest limited to U.S. residents). The deadline to enter is 6 p.m. on Saturday, October 3, 2009. Please specify whether you’d prefer a print or digital copy (otherwise, I will randomly select).