Author R. Leigh is a mystery to local neighbors, appearing enigmatic and ageless, and wearing an ever present red crystal pendant. Some have guessed this author’s secret other worldly origin, speculating that the tales of Asharra might somehow be true. Outskirts Press does not confirm this and will not comment on rumors that the manuscript for this novel appeared in their offices out of nowhere. We urge you to read this book and decide for yourself. We had the privilege to interview Ms. Leigh and ask her about her new fantasy romance book, The Winds of Asharra.
Thank you for this interview, Ms. Leigh. Can you tell us whether you are published for the first time or multi-published?
Thank you. My published novels are Three Passports to Paradise, a science fiction novel published in 1999 (now out of print) and The Winds of Asharra, a combination fantasy and romance novel, just recently published. I’ve also done a handful of sci-fi/fantasy short stories for obscure regional markets.
When your first book was published, who published it and why did you choose them?
3P2P was published in 1999 by a small micro press which is now out of business. It was a startup which aimed to target new sci-fi authors. That seemed to be glove fit at the time.
Ten years later, I chose to self publish the 600 page opus, The Winds of Asharra (with Outskirts Press) because I instinctively knew that I had created something very difficult to classify. It has more than enough fantasy elements (intelligent trees, evolved felines, musical dragons, etc. … ) to be considered a fantasy, but enough sizzle to be seen as a romance (with multiple happy couples by the end). It also spends considerable time outlining a complicated alien philosophy and culture. In short, it would appeal to several different demographics across genres (fantasy, romance, new age) but it would be difficult to market due to this very reason. I did not even attempt to pitch it to traditional publishers as of result of this.
How did it make you feel to become published for the first time and how did you celebrate?
I was of course elated at the prospect and I recall that my spouse and I went out to dinner at a local restaurant, something expensive with all of the trimmings. I can’t recall more since it was so long ago, but I can still recall the feeling of elation and euphoria.
Looking back since the early days when you were trying to get published, what do you think you could have done differently to speed things up? What kind of mistakes could you have avoided?
Actually, other than picking a publisher that would have remained solvent, I don’t think I would have done anything differently. At that point in my life I was writing with my head and not my inner being. I was a different person then and my decisions were in tune with who I was, someone following the established rules (especially when they made sense). I don’t think anything could have increased the speed of things since I had to grow as a person and I simply did not have the depth of life experiences at that time.
What has been the biggest accomplishment you have achieved since becoming published?
Since I am now following an Asharran type of worldview, one of non-competitiveness (perhaps a bit rare for an author) my accomplishments are subtle inner ones rather than grandiose outer ones. Just feeling that there is a “world” and a “cast of characters” so rich and complex at my disposal thanks to WOA, ready to share their adventures in future novels, is my proudest accomplishment.
Any final words for writers who dream of being published one day?
Sure. Appropriately, it’s also something that the main character is told: Learn as much as you can, and then spend as much time forgetting it all. After learning the nuts and bolts of your craft, learn to trust your inner mind and your heart. Don’t write about what you know. Write about what you feel. For me, that is the adventure, the romance and the optimism of the world of Asharra. As my characters say, I’ve allowed myself to be carried along by the Winds, and in doing so, anything is possible. Again, you can only fail if you give up. There is no other definition for me.