Please welcome Joan Leotta, a sister member of The Guppy Chapter of the Sisters in Crime. She describes herself as scattered, silly, loving, performer, and a writer, and her writing she describes as eclectic, encouraging, fiction, non-fiction, and poetry. Without further ado, her are her choices of questions and her answers.
Describe your most productive writing venue. What makes it best for you?
At the present time I write in our living room—my office is too messy. Actually, anywhere I can lay out my research, use the telephone and have some background music or blather from the tv, I can sit and write! I need outside noise to make a wall around me so I can create my own inner world.
What is your most productive time of the day (and do you need caffeine)?
Caffeine is a MUST!!!! But my most productive time of day varies—on how well I feel (I suffer from migraines) and the season. It’s more a mood with me. I am a morning person and I often start the day with poetry, writing it and reading it after my devotional time. Then I launch into research. I am scattered so I switch among projects and do a bit of housework in between. Tonight I am awake (not a usual occurrence) past nine so I am finishing up a couple of projects. I am deadline oriented (from my journalism days) and that builds adrenaline and drives me to finish things
How many books do you read in a typical month? Do you read in your genre while you are writing? What’s your most recent “great” book?
4-6 works of fiction. I usually have a more difficult book that I read slowly along with the others. I slip poetry in in bits and pieces. Right now I have been working on Unger's bio of Michealangelo along with everything else. Most recent fiction book I loved—The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
Name three not well-known authors you would recommend and tell us what you like about their writing.
Ariana Fallaci—Italian journalist of the 1970s
Louise Penny is fairly well known but I feel I must mention her because she is my favorite mystery author
What themes do you regularly employ in your writing?
The importance of family. Food, Being Italian (joy of!) Anything that works with history.
What is the most challenging area for you as a writer? What are you doing to address the issue?
The most difficult thing for me is allowing my own feelings to show through—esp difficult in poetry which is a more emotional genre—I can mask in other genres. I like to set challenges for myself in terms of topics, forms (in poetry). The most personal thing I have written outside of poetry is the picture book that is coming out this summer—WHOOSH! A story of a father and daughter sledding day. I have persisted with it for more than ten years and finally this year, found a publisher, TheaQ. They are in MN—so they appreciate snow! This story is more autobiographical than most of what I write. Sharing my heart opening with children seems a good way to pry myself open further.
What motivates you to write?
I love to learn and I love to share what I learn. I hope that what I write, share, helps people to find themselves and I hope that it touches their hearts in ways that encourage them.
How did you develop the idea for your most recent work?
My most recent book –well, that is something because I have three books coming out this summer—due to a variety of circumstances, the collection of short stories was held up—the ideas for those stories came from objects. I see an object and I feel it has a story to tell—quite often. Ordinary objects, works of art, and more.
The other book , Secrets of the Heart is book four in my series with Desert Breeze. I wanted to highlight the role of new immigrants in the Civil War and so my first protagonist is an Italian immigrant who fights in the civil war. But he is not a good guy (my first dark protagonist!) and he returns to Italy where he founds the not so nice branch of the family I have been following in the previous three books in the series. In Chapter ten of the book, the secrets of that first guy come to light when the Italian-American family discovers their (before this unknown)Italian branch and another mystery proceeds—stolen gems . Complicated sounding? Yep it is. I tried out several different writing techniques—blending two tales, two time periods, the anti-hero….
To learn more about Joan and her writing, check out her website www.joanleotta.wordpress.com