I know of many professionals who have started writing fiction after leaving their day job. My next guest author is a former attorney who now writes women’s fiction. I’m pleased to introduce you all to Leanne Treese and her debut novel. First let’s look at her bio and then we’ll find out more about her book and her writing process.
Leanne is a former attorney who specialized in the amicable resolution of divorce matters. She is best known for cheering wildly at her kids’ activities, spoiling her dogs, and drinking obscene amounts of coffee. When not at home with her husband of twenty-five years, Leanne is most likely to be found on a New Jersey beach. The Language of Divorce is her debut novel.
You can find out more about her at www.leannetreese.com, or follow her on Twitter (@authorleanne), Instagram (@leannetreese), or Facebook (@authorleanne50).
Betty: How many books have you written and published?
Leanne: The Language of Divorce is my debut novel!
Betty: What genres do you write in and why?
Leanne: I write women’s fiction because I enjoy books which focus on the growth of the characters.
Betty: What themes or motifs did you use in your recent release and why were they important to your story?
Leanne: One major theme in my story is miscommunication. I previously worked as a divorce lawyer and found miscommunication to be a major factor in the escalation of divorce matters. Another theme in my book is how individual perspectives impact how people interact with each other. To explain, the lawyers in my book each bring to the table their own experiences which impact the advice they give to the main characters.
Hannah and Will Abbott define the American dream: two kids, a home in the suburbs, and a seemingly perfect marriage. But discontent beneath the surface of their outwardly happy lives. Each Will and Hannah each suspect the other of infidelity. When they independently consult divorce attorneys, the conflict escalates and Hannah flees with the children against a court order. This snap decision starts a social media firestorm and, suddenly, the Abbott divorce is big news. With family stress and legal fees rising, Will and Hannah accept an invitation to appear on a reality television show for divorcing couples. During filming on the beautiful island of St. John, the Abbotts must decide once and for all: can their love survive their past?
The story unfolds through viewpoint of four characters: Will, the affable boy-next-door everyone loves; Hannah, the fastidious wife still in love with her husband; David, the tough-talking attorney with a heart of gold; and Rachel, the insecure novice lawyer infatuated with the Abbotts. Written with both humor and heart, The Language of Divorce is a captivating debut featuring deeply drawn characters who will stay in readers’ hearts long after the final page.
Betty: Do you have a specific place you write? Revise?
Leanne: I can write or revise anywhere as long as it is completely silent. Because of this, I usually work early in the morning at home.
Betty: Do you have any writing rituals while you write? Did you have a special drink, or music, or time of day that you gravitated toward?
Leanne: When my daughters were in high school, they left at 6:45. My son, then in elementary school, did not have school until 9:00. I wrote the entire book in that two-hour time frame on weekday mornings. Without it, I am positive that I never would have finished the book.
Betty: What help you move from unpublished to published? A mentor or organization or something else?
Leanne: I attended a writing conference and pitched a bunch of agents, a handful of which were interested in my book. I wrote to them and heard nothing. I started listening to writing podcasts and learned about Twitter pitchfests. I was not a Twitter user but became one to participate in the fest. I received two offers of publication as a result of the pitchfest.
Betty: What do you think is your greatest strength in your writing?
Leanne: Creating real characters and dialogue. I struggle with descriptive writing. In the future (a book or two down the road), I am going to write a novel which requires world-building as I think this would be a way to improve this skill.
Betty: What comes first when you are brainstorming a new story: setting, situation, characters?
Leanne: For me, the situation comes first, then characters, then setting.
Betty: Do you have a structured time to write or is it more fluid/flexible? Do you write between family obligations or do you set aside a block of time?
Leanne: When I wrote the novel, I wrote it in the mornings with a goal of 500 words per day. I am an extreme morning person and, also, like to do only one thing at a time. Because of this, I do not try to fit in writing at night or around family obligations.
Betty: What is one recent struggle you experienced in your writing?
Leanne: My editor asked me to add some chapters in the end. I did and thought they were the best things ever (really). She did not like them. What?! When I looked at them later, though, I could see they weren’t as great as I thought. I think the difference was, when I wrote the book, I read it over and over and let it go for periods in between. With the extra chapters, I wrote them and dashed them off. Lesson learned: put writing aside for a week or more and then review again.
Betty: Do you participate in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month)? Why or why not?
Leanne: I have always wanted to do NaNoWriMo. I think it is an awesome idea. With past family and work obligations, I would not swing the time to do that. My kids are older now so maybe……
Betty: What are you reading right now?
Leanne: I just finished Her Daughter’s Mother by Daniela Petrova and loved it. Before that, I read Little Lovely Things by Maureen Joyce Connolly – a beautifully written novel.
Betty: What is your favorite genre to read?
Leanne: I like women’s fictions, historical fiction, and some suspense novels, i.e., Gone Girl.
Betty: What are your keeper books? How often might you reread them?
Leanne: I loved the characters in The Divine Secrets of the YaYa Sisterhood and also Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. More recently, I loved Small, Great Things by Jodi Picoult, Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty, and all the Me Before You books by JoJo Moyes. I don’t typically re-read books because there are so many to get to!
Betty: When you are writing, do you read in the same genre as your work in progress or something else?
Leanne: Though I write women’s fiction, I read all the genres I enjoy when I am writing. I am trying to incorporate reading more into my daily routine as well as listening to audiobooks.
Betty: Do you have a “day job” or do you write full time?
Leanne: I previously worked as a lawyer. My book publication coincided with some family changes and it seemed a good time to give writing full-time a try. So far, so good!
Betty: What advice do you have for new writers?
Leanne: First, write consistently, every day if possible. Second, remember that most of what you write will get revised or eliminated in the end. Don’t stress about it. My novel contains about thirty percent of my original draft. But you have to get it down to improve it. Worry about the story first and the details later.
Betty: What kind of writing would you like to experiment with? Or what’s a different genre you considered writing but haven’t yet?
Leanne: I have a women’s fiction book in mind for my next book. After that, I have a good idea for a middle grade fiction/Harry Potterish novel. This one will require some major world-building so I will need to hone up on that descriptive writing!
I love how Leanne has more stories to tell and now the time to tell them! Thanks for joining me today, Leanne, and I hope you have a long and fun writing career ahead!
Happy New Year’s, everbody!
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