Leta’s educational and professional background is in psychology and finance, respectively, but her passion has always been for writing. She most enjoys crafting the romance stories that she would most like to read. At home in the Southern U.S., Leta works hard at achieving balance between her day job, her writing, and her family.
On the web: http://letablake.wordpress.com/
On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/letablake
On Twitter: https://twitter.com/LetaBlake
Who in your personal life was the biggest supporter of your writing?
There are different kinds of support, I think, and I’ve been lucky enough to receive a lot of support from a lot of people in my personal life. My husband takes my writing seriously and makes it easier for me to find time to do it by taking up more than his portion of household duties and childcare. Several of my closest friends aren’t very interested in gay romance in general but they still buy and read every single book I put out. That’s support for you. My parents are also quite supportive in multiple ways, as is my daughter who even gives me suggestions for new books. My best friend has always been supportive and helpful, giving up hours of her time to listening to me ramble about imaginary people, and helping me to solve their problems so they can get a happily-ever-after. There isn’t really anyone in my life that isn’t supportive and I’m lucky that way, I know.
Do you prefer quiet or background noise when writing? If background noise, what?
I definitely prefer some background noise. I like white-noise layered over with music. The white noise blocks outside sounds and the music sets the tone of what I’m trying to convey. I usually make playlists for books. It’s a fast way to get back into the right headspace for my characters after a day at work or spending time with my child.
What is one thing you wish your readers could understand about the writing process?
I can’t speak for other authors, and in fact other authors have indicated that what I’m about to say is not true for their writing experience, but one thing I do think readers don’t always understand about the way I write is how little I experience choice in the process. For example, I’ve had people say, “Why did you choose to make X character do/say that particular thing?” And my experience of writing is that very little of it is my choice. I experience the process as the characters bossing me around, not vice versa. Characters very rarely do what I want them to do and will balk if I try to force them. So, sometimes I’ll read something where a reader has said, “I wish Ms. Blake hadn’t decided to make the characters do xyz,” and I think, “But that wasn’t up to me. That was their choice.” I’ve had people tell me that I’m crazy for saying that, though, so…perhaps I am. 🙂
If your characters could come to life and be a real human,
which one do you think you would get along with best and which one would drive you crazy first?
I’d probably get along best with Christopher from Smoky Mountain Dreams, though I’d want to get along best with Matty from Training Season. I suspect, however, that Matty would find me dull as dishwater and wouldn’t want to shine his sparkle my way too much. As for who would drive me crazy first, I suspect it’s a tie between Matty and Zach (from The River Leith). I love Zach when he’s “off” but when he’s “on”, he’s exhausting, and I have a feeling I’d be someone he’d be “on” for just to fill the space of my own dullness. Matty would drive me crazy because I’d want him to like me and he’d just be all, “Meh,” and so I’d be insecure and fretful around him.
When did you start writing and what was your inspiration?
I’ve been writing one way or another since early childhood. I don’t really remember what inspired me to write as a child. As an adult, though, after many years away from it, I was inspired by Smallville to write my first fanfiction and things snowballed from there.
Is there a genre or type of book that you love to read but could never write and if so why?
Epic fantasy. I love reading that sort of thing but I’ll never write it. Anything sprawling, with multiple characters and full of political schemes or requiring the set-up of an entire functioning society? Just not going to come out of my head. I love reading it, though.
Since you’ve been writing how much has the genre changed? Good, bad?
I’ve only been writing to publish for two and a half years and I can’t say I’ve seen too much change in that short time.
Seeing more and more authors going the “self-pub’ route. Thoughts?
I self-pub and love it. Having been with a publisher for my first three outings, I can say that the control factor and the higher royalties associated with self-pub are fantastic and it would take a lot to lure me back into the arms of a publishing house. I think there are times I might go that route, though. For example, if I co-write with an author. I’d rather have a publishing house handle the accounting of royalty splitting than have to do that myself for the rest of my life. 😛
How much thought do you as an author put into your cover, cover models etc.
And has that changed since you started writing. If so, have you or will you go back and re-do covers you’re no longer pleased with?
When you’re with a publishing house (most houses, anyway), you get little to no input into your covers. You get what you get, and you don’t pitch a fit, as my kid would say. But now that I’m doing self-pub, I absolutely do try to get the right cover. I am thrilled with the cover artist I usually employ, Dar Albert of Wicked Smart Designs, and think she puts out attractive, appropriate covers for each book. If I could go back and change one of the covers from when I was with a publisher, I absolutely would. It is a terrible cover for the story. It makes me want to cry when I look at it.
What is the most intense scene you have ever written? Did you find it difficult writing that scene?
There are some scenes in Training Season that were pretty intense. I didn’t find them difficult to write so much as unnerving because I felt sure readers wouldn’t like them. (I’m having this same reaction to a scene I wrote for Training Complex, the sequel to Training Season.) As it turned out, some people liked the scene, some people hated the scene, but most reacted strongly to it one way or another, and that was probably good? It struck some kind of chord for sure. Someone once told me to write into the fear. Whatever you’re afraid of doing in the scene, write into that. I’m trying to take that advice a bit with Training Complex.
If you could write in any genre that you’ve never tried, what would it be and why?
Middle Grade fiction so that I could write something my kid could read. 🙂
When thinking about writing any specific genre, what triggers your fears and insecurities the most?
When the characters insist on doing things that I think are going to push reader buttons.
When writing, what comes first? The characters or the plot?
It depends on the book. 🙂
Do you find that you write what you love to read? Or a different genre?
Oddly, I love reading m/m fantasy or m/m historical the most and I tend to write m/m contemporary. So I guess I tend to read a different genre than I write.
Do you ever write your own personal fantasies into your books?
Nope. (Perhaps this should be the answer to the question above about what I wish readers understood about writing! LOL!) I write what the characters want to do but that has no bearing on what I want to have happen in my own life. Christopher Ryder can want to be a singer at Smoky Mountain Dreams and I sure as heck don’t want to do that! Or Matty Marcus can want to be punished for being naughty (*cough*) and I’m not interested in that dynamic in the bedroom myself.
How much if any of your story line comes from real life people or events?
It depends on the book. I never take a person’s actual life and co-opt it into a book completely, but sometimes I’ll take an aspect of a friend’s circumstances or an opinion they expressed ten years ago or a piece of their childhood and use it appropriately with a character. But no character is ever entirely based on one individual. The same goes for events.
How many times do you read what you wrote and think “where the hell did that come from?!”
ALL. THE. TIME.
Do you have to look at the keys when you type?
How much wood would a wood chuck chuck if a wood chuck could chuck wood?
As much wood as a wood chuck could chuck if a wood chuck could chuck wood.
What are you two favorite 80’s movies?
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
The Breakfast Club
The Karate Kid
Why are man-hole covers round?
Because there is no need to be precise in the way you put it on the hole? Ah, Google says: A round manhole cover cannot fall through its circular opening, whereas a square manhole cover could fall in if it were inserted diagonally in the hole. Circular covers don’t need to be rotated or precisely aligned when placing them on the opening. A round manhole cover is easily moved and rolled.
Sometimes holding on means letting go
After giving up on his career as a country singer in Nashville, Christopher Ryder is happy enough performing at the Smoky Mountain Dreams theme park in Tennessee. But while his beloved Gran loves him the way he is, Christopher feels painfully invisible to everyone else. Even when he’s center stage he aches for someone to see the real him.
Bisexual Jesse Birch has no room in his life for dating. Raising two kids and fighting with family after a tragic accident took his children’s mother, he doesn’t want more than an occasional hook-up. He sure as hell doesn’t want to fall hard for his favorite local singer, but when Christopher walks into his jewelry studio, Jesse hears a new song in his heart.
Memory is everything.
After an injury in the ring, amateur boxer Leith Wenz wakes to discover his most recent memories are three years out of date. Unmoored and struggling to face his new reality, Leith must cope anew with painful revelations about his family. His brother is there to support him, but it’s the unfamiliar face of Zach, a man introduced as his best friend, that provides the calm he craves. Until Zach’s presence begins to stir up feelings Leith can’t explain.
For Zach, being forgotten by his lover is excruciating. He carefully hides the truth from Leith to protect them both from additional pain. His bottled-up turmoil finds release through vlogging, where he confesses his fears and grief to the faceless Internet. But after Leith begins to open up to him, Zach’s choices may come back to haunt him.
Ultimately, Leith must ask his heart the questions memory can no longer answer.
Unquestionably talented figure skater Matty Marcus is willing to sacrifice everything for his Olympic dream, but his lack of discipline cost him the gold once before. Now the pressure’s on. He needs a coach who can keep him in line, but top coaches don’t come cheap, and Matty can’t afford to stay in the game no matter how badly he wants to win.
When a lucrative house-sitting gig brings him to rural Montana, Matty does his best to maintain his training regimen. Local residents turn out to be surprisingly tolerant of his flamboyant style, especially handsome young rancher Rob Lovely, who proves to be much more than a cowboy stereotype. Just as Matty requires a firm hand to perform his best on the ice, Rob shows him how strong he can be when he relinquishes control in the bedroom. With new-found self-assurance, he drives himself harder to go straight to the top.
But competition has a timetable, and to achieve his Olympic dream, Matty will have to join his new coach in New York City, leaving Rob behind. Now he must face the ultimate test. Has he truly learned how to win—on and off the ice—during his training season?