Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions, Leslie.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I’m an author of over two dozen published books. I write LGBT romance and erotic romance under Leslie Lee Sanders, and also write psychological thriller and horror under L.L. Sanders (to help her readers differentiate my work in my favorite genres). With every story I aim to improve my storytelling and writing skills by learning from the best and challenging myself. I’m also a self-described perfectionist. When I’m not writing I’m reading, and love engaging with my online friends!
What inspires your writing?
My need to share a message or an opinion. I’m a guarded girl; introverted, reclusive (mostly), and aware of the impact my words and actions may have on others and myself. Because of this, I rarely speak my mind publicly about controversial or political topics, or current events. Not so in my stories! I bring up plenty of subjects that allows me to explore themes such as; tolerance, human rights, justice, bias, and so much more.
When did you start writing m/m romance? And why this genre?
My first jump into the genre was in 2004 after being a fan of very popular fanfiction. I wanted to capture and audience like that but using original characters. And I did. I learned a lot since then and I think it shows in my current work.
Are you a full time author?
I am. In my dreams. Lol. It’s a goal most authors strive for, but not many reach. Still, we never know what the future holds.
Who is your favorite author?
V.C. Andrews and her early books like Flowers in the Attic and Dawn. Some of my absolute favorites that I can reread and still find entertaining and enthralling. The best authors have that gift.
How many books have you written so far?
I’ve written and published nearly 30 books ranging from short stories, novellas, and full-length novels under Leslie Lee Sanders and L.L. Sanders combined. Admittedly, the current ones are better written than the early ones, but that’s just proof that I try to improve with every new book.
Tell us a little about your novel, Darkness Eternal (Refuge Inc.).
In a post-apocalyptic/dystopian future, Connor Nichols and Vince Moore are training as peacekeepers and live in one of many underground spheres created by Refuge Inc. The atmosphere above ground make the surface unlivable after an asteroid impact leaves deadly toxins in the air. So the boys only experience of life is in this underground bubble run by Dr. Randolph.
When a toxic leak threatens the lives of the survivors, Connor and Vince are thrown into a whirlwind of chaos as they fight to save lives all while struggling with their feelings for one another.
How long did it take you to complete Darkness Eternal? Did you write it freely or plan everything in advance?
It took me close to a year to write. Everything was planned and plotted in advance, especially the main plot points and twists. Some things came to me while writing, and it fit so it stayed. But with a universe so big and complex, I had to have some sort of direction before writing.
What inspired you to write Darkness Eternal?
The current state of the world and the constant fight for dominance and power is what inspires the entire Refuge Inc. series. But mostly the recent big events in America, including the election, civil rights moments, and even the recent developments on gay rights, made me want to pen a gritty tale of the what-ifs. Sort of my way of letting off steam. It’s quite therapeutic.
Who is your favorite character in the novel and why?
I love Connor Nichols, which is why the story takes place in his point of view (and also why I wrote an entire story about his father’s experience with Refuge Inc. in Resurfaced). Connor has the most intriguing story, the most to overcome, the most to prove, and the most at stake. His backstory is the most interesting, and his character arc and growth is the most satisfying. Maybe a lot of readers will gravitate toward Vince because he’s the strong, handsome love interest. But if you’re looking for more than a quick romp of a read, Connor’s story might fascinate.
How much of yourself did you manifest into your favorite character?
What a good question! After thinking about it, I can say that there is actually a lot of my personality in Connor Nichols. He can be tough when challenged, serious when necessary, and sweet with the person who has his heart. He’s sensitive to love. Love is his weakness (as it is with most people), it makes him do silly things. But because of love he also does some memorable, honorable, and heroic things, like putting his life on the line for others.
When someone reads Darkness Eternal, what do you hope they gain from reading it?
I hope readers will remain empathetic to others who are different than them, but gain a bit of understanding of the real world problems that face many who are not like them. It’s easy to stereotype and label a group of people, but it takes effort to stand up against so many who want to box those groups in.
I’m not trying to sound pretentious or take my story too seriously, but deep down, under the surface, tolerance is what Darkness Eternal is promoting. The story is my take on a future without it.
Can you share four things you’ve learned about the business?
Here’s a list:
- You’re first drafts of everything are usually crap
- You can’t please everyone
- You have to do more than just write a book to gain sales
- It’s mostly people you don’t know who buys and reads your books
What is the most frequently asked question by the fans?
Fans? What fans? Lol. Kidding. Fans want more of their beloved series. They get to the end of a book and ask, “Are you writing more? Will there be more?” That’s the number one question I get.
What are you working on now?
I’m actually writing short horror stories and novellas on Wattpad. I’m hoping to expand my audience and reach a whole new fan base. I was also planning a follow-up story to Darkness Eternal to bring the series to a satisfying end and bring me a bit of closure.
How do you keep your creative “spark” alive?
It’s not deliberate. I get flashes of inspiration and I have to write down my ideas. And the ideas brew until I create something of them to share with others. I think that’s a perk of being a creative person, the spark can’t really die unless there’s a deliberate effort to snuff the flame.
What is your suggestion or piece of advice to new and upcoming writers?
Find someone (or plenty of people) you trust to give you honest feedback on your work, and know when to accept or reject their suggestions.
Where can we find you on the Internet?
LESLIE LEE SANDERS (LGBT Romance)
Amazon page: http://amzn.to/2bZcT9h
L.L. SANDERS (Thriller & Horror)
Amazon page: http://amzn.to/2bJtS30
Could you please share your favorite excerpt from Darkness Eternal with us?
My eyes snapped open to a bright red light, similar to the lights that announced our failure during tactical training in the simulation, but accompanying this crimson glow was the ongoing piercing ring of an alarm. It took a second for it all to register, but thanks to the dozen or so drills we’ve had, it finally clicked that there was an emergency. A fire? Some sort of outbreak? Contamination?
A chill crept down my spine.
Throwing the sheets aside, I tossed my legs over the edge of the bed. Still a bit disoriented from being awakened during a deep sleep, I sniffed the air for a trace of smoke but instead detected others’ fear in the form of sweat and body odor. I stood and caught the glow of the hour on the wall: zero-three hundred.
A shout came from nearby and blurred figures rushed left and right in the hall outside the room door. Shadows passed in front of me like wisps of dark mist accentuated by the red hue of the emergency lights. A voice called out orders, “Move it, cadets. To your gear. Move, move, move!” The commands mingled with the distant noise of pained whimpers, panicked cries, and the nearby sounds of rapid and flustered breathing.
Panic rose from my gut, but I inhaled slowly to stifle it. I scanned the space for the source of the orders. Then a tug of my arm pulled me from the room.
Thank you for taking time out, Leslie!