Welcome to Bonnie Leon, author of seventeen novels. Her newest one is a fascinating adventure set in Alaska, Touching The Clouds.
We’d love to hear a little about yourself and your writing journey.
The conference offered more than I could have imagined. The teaching was outstanding and the conferees and staff were encouraging and helpful. I was like a dry sponge thrown into the middle of a pool. At the end of the conference, author Lauraine Snelling, encouraged me to write a book that had been rolling around in my mind. I went home and over the next year I wrote my first novel, The Journey of Eleven Moons.
The following summer I returned to the OCW conference and with much fear and trepidation I made an appointment with the senior editor for Thomas Nelson Publishing. When it was time to meet with her I nearly chickened out. Somehow I managed to dig up enough courage to present my story. She read the first few pages and told me she loved it and asked me to send her a proposal. Even though I didn’t know what a proposal was I agreed, thinking I could find out.
I managed to cobble together a basic proposal and sent it off, and then I waited. Several weeks later, I received a post card with a request for the entire manuscript. A couple of months passed and one afternoon I received a phone call. Thomas Nelson wanted to contract for that book and the series. Since that time I’ve published seventeen books.
Every reader likes to learn more about characters as they get further into the story. How do the secrets of your characters come to life?
I always want to unveil a character’s true nature in an unobtrusive way by making it part of the story. For instance, Paul in Touching the Clouds has a secret past. The reader knows something drove him to hide in the Alaskan bush but not what. I drop hints but hopefully don’t give out too much information. I want to keep the reader tantalized. Using his reactions within a scene plus his thoughts raise questions in a reader’s mind. Finally in a heart to heart talk with a friend the truth is revealed.
Some authors report writing 5-10 thousand words a day. Do scenes flow freely from your veins, or do you have to sqweeze each word out?
That depends upon the day and the scene. Some scenes just seem to appear on the page, pouring out the tips of my fingers and onto the computer keys. I love it when that happens! But there are times when I have to hog tie a chapter and drag it out of my mind.
When a scene has been burgeoning in my brain, screaming to be let loose it usually falls onto the page easily. The one’s I struggle with most are those that I’m unsure of. When I begin writing there are still questions that need to be answered, either about the character or the way the scene ought to play out.
Have you had to overcome any obstacles in your writing journey?
Everything worthwhile requires facing and conquering trials. If the road was too easy, we wouldn’t have anything to trust God for.
In my case, one of my biggest hurdles came as a blessing. I published so quickly that I was thrown into the publishing world without the benefit of refinement. Most writers work several years before they publish, and during that time they sharpen their skills and discover the do’s and don’ts of publishing. I was untrained and naïve and didn’t have a clue what was ahead of me.
Early on, I made a lot of mistakes in my writing and in the way I approached the industry. I learned on the job and the discovery never ends.
What is the hardest part after the book is published?
There’s a lot going on, especially if you’re contracted for another book. You’re working on one book, and there are galleys from the last book needing your attention, plus the new book out on the market is being launched. There’s a lot to do—set up events such as booksignings, speeches or workshops. Get out the word via the news paper or online sites. Doing interviews like this is part of that process. Life gets very hectic. But it’s a lot of fun.
What is the most important thing on your current ‘To Do ‘ list?
I’m determined to learn how to take better care of myself. I work long hours and don’t play enough. I’m learning how to determine what must be done and still leave time for relaxation, fun and fitness.
My mother grew up on a homestead in Alaska. There were no roads in and out of their place so her family relied upon bush pilots to deliver their mail and sometimes they traveled by air. She had great respect and affection for the pilots and spoke of them often. Whenever she came across a book about Alaskan bush pilots, she’d buy it. They ended up in my personal library.
One day while reading about these courageous people a glimmer of a story flickered to life. Soon I was jotting down notes and before I knew it, I had my story.
What has been the hardest part of writing your latest book and how did you overcome it?
The flying sequences were a huge challenge. I’m committed to authenticity in my writing so I needed an expert. I went to my brother, who lives in Alaska, and he gave me the name of a woman bush pilot, Gayle Ranney. She’s been flying since the 1960’s and jumped right in to help. I could ask her anything and if she didn’t know she’d do research to find out. She’s still helping me as I continue to work on the series. She’s been an answer to prayer. Touching the Clouds couldn’t have been written without her.
If time and money did not enter in the equation, what would be your dream?
I’d still be writing, but I’d experiment more with other genres. I’d also write without a contract so my schedule would be my own and I could give a story all the time it needs to unfold.
I’d also do a lot of traveling. There is so much to savor in our country, so I’d hit the road with my husband and see as much as I could.
What movie most impacted you as a kid? Why?
The Miracle Worker stands out. I was so moved by the true story of Helen Keller and the tenacity and commitment of her teacher Anne Sullivan. I remember thinking I wanted to be like Helen, smart, brave and determined.
What was the last movie you saw in a theatre? Did you like it? What snacks did you eat?
My husband and I went to see The Blind Side. We loved the movie. It was uplifting and showed what a difference one person can make when they reach out to others.
When we go to the theater, we like to share a Coke and popcorn.
Has your writing changed your reading habits? If so, how?
It definitely has. First off, I try to read quality books because they inspire my own writing. One of the difficulties I have is that it’s hard for me to become lost in a book. I have trouble turning off my internal editor. However, if a book is good I’ll be swept away by the story.
What are the three best things you can tell other authors to do to be successful?
Tell us about Touching the Clouds
The thirty word version: The summer of 1935 pilot Kate Evans leaves home looking for adventure . . . And finds more than she bargained for in the Alaskan bush.
Back Cover: Kate Evans is an adventurous and independent young woman with a pioneering spirit. When she leaves her home in Washington State to follow her dream of being an Alaskan bush pilot, she knows it will be an uphill battle. But she never expected it to be quite like this. As the lone woman in a man’s world, she finds that contending with people’s expectations is almost as treacherous as navigating the wild arctic storms.
When she crosses paths with a mysterious man living alone in the forbidding wilderness, she faces a new challenge. Can Kate break through the walls he has put up around his heart? And will fear keep her from realizing her dreams?
Touching the Clouds will draw you in with raw emotion and suspense, all against the stunning backdrop of the Alaskan wilds.
Where can we find you on the web?
It’s easy to find me. My website and blog are located at http://www.bonnieleon.com/
Bonnie, thank you so much for stopping by and sharing with us. To have the possibility to receive a copy of Touching the Cloudsleave a comment with your email (name at domain name dot com). Giveaway closes Sunday, August 29, 2010 at midnight (CST). Only US postal codes.
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