During this crazy time of Covid-19, many authors have had their book launches and events, understandably, but disappointingly, cancelled. In lieu of this, I’ve opened my blog to authors affected by this situation to talk about their new release.
Leisl Leighton is an Australian author of paranormal and romantic suspense novels. She has been a finalist in the 2019 RUBY Awards (Romance Writers of Australia awards) and also a finalist in the 2019 ARRA Awards (Australian Romance Readers Association). Her latest book is book 2 in the CoalCliff Stud series, ‘Blazing Fear’ and is out now! I’m thrilled to share all about her latest novel.
Title: Blazing Fear
Author: Leisl Leighton
Published: May 2020
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Fire stole his past – now it is threatening to burn everything, and everyone, he loves. All over again…
Flynn Findlay likes everyone to think he’s in control, but the death of his wife during the bushfires six years ago changed everything. Now, even though it feels like a betrayal, Flynn can’t seem to escape his growing feelings for the beautiful new doctor in town. He’s never felt as truly alive as when he is with Prita – even his fear of fire doesn’t seem as bad.
Dr Prita Brennan is ready for a fresh start in Wilson’s Bend with her adoptive son, far from her overprotective family. It would be perfect, except some of the locals don’t like the changes she’s making to the practice. One of them is even making harassing calls. The handsome local horse stud owner, Flynn, is a further complication she doesn’t need right now.
But when harassment escalates to arson, to save the horse stud and their children, Flynn and Prita must work together to figure out who is after her – and why they are trying to burn to the ground everything she touches.
From The Author
What inspired you to write this book? Where did the idea come from?
When I set out to write this series, I knew I wanted to write a book about the fires that plague our country and the impact of these on the people who live there (I wrote and handed in this book long before the wildfires we’ve experienced in 2019-2020). I have spent many holidays in the countryside – skiing, horse riding, camping – and I often saw the impact of fire on the land and on the people I met and was friends with who lived there. It crept up on me over the years, the need to write something of their story, and so it just felt natural that it be a part of Flynn and Prita’s story.
What sort of research did you need to undertake before/during writing this book?
I squirrel information away over the years from talking to people and seeing things unfold, so much of what came out in this novel, in an emotional sense, was built from conversations and observances, from times where I was in an area as fire was threatening or was there not long after, so I had an understanding of the roar of it, the smells of it, the intense threatening nature and suddenness of it, the fear it can bring and also the way it left the land and the people after it.
In a more practical sense, I spoke to shop owners in the town of Walhalla which is the closest town to my fictional Wilson’s Bend, about what happens when fire threatens, how they are serviced by police and their medical resources – nearest doctor, nearest hospital, nearest ambulance etc.
To research the medical practice side of things, I spoke to someone who runs country GP practices about starting up and running a practice as well as practical things about the drugs and equipment most likely to be on site and how these are handled. I also got advice from doctors who work in the country as to what they would do for particular injuries and issues, especially if help was an hour away. I used information from years of having to do CPR and First Aid for my previous work to inform how the average joe would treat injuries on a farm, and then spoke to a doctor about what they would then do.
I also have friends who have suffered from PTSD (not from fire, but from other events in their lives) and have spent a lot of time talking to them about how this has and is affecting them. I also did a bit of research around this subject as well.
My female character is of mixed-race heritage (Indian and Irish) and given I am not, it was very important to me to represent this with as much respect and authenticity as I could. I do have the experience of being the outsider coming into a family of a different racial heritage and religion, so used my experiences to inform to a certain extent, but I also spoke to a number of friends who share the same mixed-race heritage as my character about their experiences and how they dealt with the pull of different cultural expectations. I was lucky enough to attend a couple of Indian weddings as well and talk to many of the guests. I also workshopped elements of the novel with an Indian-English girl I worked with and got her feedback on scenes to try to ensure I was being as culturally sensitive and representative as possible. My publisher also helped with resources on best practices re descriptions etc.
In regards to the fire in particular, I read up about some of the history of fire in the area, spending time with photos online as well as from my own experiences. I also spoke to a family friend who is a CFA volunteer about his training, the equipment they use, the way they organise – who was in charge and who did what – and how they fought fires in a prevention sense as well as at the fire-face. I asked him about the kinds of things they did in the clean up after and the rotation of rosters when fighting fires as well as his experiences and what others had shared with him.
Do you have a favourite character, or a character who you enjoyed writing the most?
That’s like asking if I have a favourite child. If I don’t love all my characters when writing them, I can’t really write them. Having said that, there is a joy in writing characters across a series and looking at them from an outside perspective as opposed to seeing them from inside their own minds (which is what I do when writing their novels).
What was the most challenging thing you found writing this book?
Dealing with Flynn’s PTSD and trying to make it authentic. I also agonised over making sure I was treating Prita’s struggles with her heritage with as much respect and authenticity as I possibly could.
What was the key theme or issue that you wanted to get across in this book? And was that something you intended from the start, or something that came apparent during writing?
My novels often have themes of the value of different kinds of family, of belonging and finding peace within, and Blazing Fear certainly has all that, but it also has as a major theme the idea of destruction and renewal. When I started writing, I didn’t have an intention to explore this theme as centrally as I did, but with fire as the driver of the suspense element and character fear, it became apparent that there was very much a ‘phoenix rising from the ashes’ kind of theme happening for both my characters.
How long did it take you to write the book?
Six months – I was on a deadline.
What was the highlight for you writing this book?
Delving into the characters, creating the town of Wilson’s Bend, returning to CoalCliff Stud and its family and friends, tapping into the joy I feel when I’m in the country – particularly the mountains – and the sense of renewal and freedom that brings me. Also, the research and talking to the people I did was all fascinating.
If your book was made into a movie, what actors could you see in the main roles?
I’m not really a ‘visual’ author – not like many of my friends who search the internet for photos of people who represent their characters. So, answering this question is a tough one as no particular actor springs to mind. However, having just done a quick search, I would have to say I would like to see someone who was ruggedly Australian to play Flynn – a Hemsworth brother or Sam Worthington would do nicely (or if it was a Hollywood production, a Chris Pine type as long as they could do the Australian accent). As to Prita, well, if it’s a Hollywood film, then Archie Panjabi from the Good Wife or Anjali Jay from Blind Date (with Chris Pine) would be good. If you’re looking for Australian-based actresses, Pallavi Sharda or Kristina Akheeva (both Bollywood actresses based in Australia) certainly fit the character profile.
Is there anything in particular you want potential readers to know when choosing your book as their ‘next read’?
If you like a character-led romance with suspense wound through, then Blazing Fear is for you. You can read it as a stand-alone, although if you do like to follow a series through, I would suggest reading the first book in the series – Climbing Fear – before you read Blazing Fear as the characters are introduced in Climbing Fear as are the CoalCliff family.
All The Links
Book purchase links:
Author website and social media links:
Award winning author, Leisl Leighton, is a tall red head with an overly large imagination. As a child, she identified strongly with Anne of Green Gables, and like Anne, is a voracious reader and born performer. It came as no surprise when she did a double major in English Literature and Drama for her BA and Dip Ed, then went on to a career as a performer, script writer, script doctor, stage manager and musical director for cabaret and theatre restaurants.
After starting a family, Leisl stopped performing and began writing the stories plaguing her dreams. She is addicted to the Syfy channel, her shelves are full of fantasy, paranormal, Sci-fi and romance books and DVDs, she sometimes sings in a choir, has worked as a swim teacher, loves to ski and horse ride, and has been President of Romance Writers of Australia from 2014-2017. She now has a Graduate Diploma in Publishing and Communications (Advanced) and continues to write novels and also helps other writers make their manuscripts shine with her manuscript assessing and mentoring services.
Leisl is the author of the paranormal Pack Bound Series, romantic suspense novels, Dangerous Echoes (Book 1 in the Echo Springs Series), Climbing Fear and Blazing Fear (Books 1& 2 in the CoalCliff Stud Series.) Most recently, she has been a finalist in the 2019 RUBY Awards (for Moon Bound) and a finalist in the 2019 ARRA Awards (for Climbing Fear).