Terrie Leigh Relf: What are your writing rituals? How do you prepare your space for these activities?
Leigh McQueen: Well, being as I am a Pen Name, I am usually invoked via candlelight ritual by the writer within whose body I rent space. It’s top secret stuff, but it involves a lot of chanting in Latin from an ancient book, incense, and ritual candles. I’m not sure if I should say anymore about that. . .
TLR: Within what genres do you write? What intrigues you about these?
LM: I write primarily in the Horror/Dark Fantasy genres. My host writer writes in a slightly different genre. She’s a little (but not always) more family-friendly. I have a dark side and am not afraid to get my hands dirty by making characters more real – that includes their language – which can sometimes get coarse, depending on the character. It also means the sexual content can get a lot spicier, and the violence can be a bit graphic.
I am most intrigued by the attraction to this type of fiction by the sweetest people I know! It’s fascinating to me. I grew up reading Edgar Allen Poe, Stephen King, Dean Koontz, and later Anne Rice, Clive Barker, and a world of others whose work I have come to love. I think there’s an attraction to that kind of fiction for a reason. I think there is a form of therapy in horror/dark fantasy. You can deal with your deepest fears – if you’re brave enough – and do it all in the name of “entertainment.” I think that through those worlds and the characters in them, you learn to test your own mettle. It’s a thrilling ride without the risks, except to your nerves.
TLR: Do you have a day job? If so, how do you balance your creative and work time?
LM: Well, yes, my HOST has a day job. It’s a real challenge to balance HER work and MINE. We have managed to create different publishing schedules and are trying very hard to stick to it. I get to write what I want and she gets to write what SHE wants. So far, it is working out. . .but, she better not tick me off by trying to hog the writing time. She won’t like the ways in which I resist.
TLR: What tips do you have for other writers?
LM: If you want to be a serious writer, then make time for it. Make it an appointment with yourself that you just can’t break. Also, make friends with other writers and learn from the experienced ones. They have so much to teach you.
TLR: What are your thoughts on the creative process in general and your creative process in particular?
LM: My creative process was to allow myself to come into being to begin with. That was the reason for my conception. Leigh McQueen is just basically the result of her host’s darker side being let off the leash. My creative process requires a lot of meditation. . .the voices in my head become clearer and then images form. Once the images come, then the notes begin. . .after the notes. . .comes a basic outline. . . then. . .the serious writing begins. I just plod along. . .I don’t worry about editing too much; I just need to get the story OUT. Once it is finished, I go back and edit. . .adding in details and fine touches. Finally, I try to print a hard copy whenever possible and edit from that. . .I usually have at least one to two others edit behind me, too.
TLR: Where do your ideas come from? What inspires you? Intrigues you?
Ideas are made from star dust. I’m convinced. Many of my story ideas, such as the one for “The Escape,” which is included in my short story collection, Tenebrarum Tempore (that is Latin for “Dark Season”), came from a nightmare. I have very vivid nightmares and have gotten a lot from there. I have found that over the years, as I have written the stories, the nightmares have become less frequent – I kind of wonder if I performed some sort of exorcism there. Not all of my ideas are from dreams. . .some begin as just ponderings that turned into images and images that turned into stories.
TLR: What about upcoming publications? Awards and other accolades?
Sadly, I have not personally had any awards or accolades yet, because I’m still fairly unknown. However, my host writer has been nominated for several awards and has won some contests and awards as well. I can say that my Fog Bank Trilogy has been growing in popularity by leaps and bounds. I am anxious to expand my audience. The reaction has been nothing short of amazing for someone who is unknown.
TLR: What are you working on now?
LM: Currently, I am working on the final novella in the Fog Bank trilogy – Fog Bank III: Seeking the Siren. It is due out, hopefully, by Halloween. The people who have read the first two novellas have been very encouraging – well. . .okay, DEMANDING that the third one be finished as quickly as possible. (grin)
TLR: Where do you see yourself as a writer in five years? Ten?
LM: I don’t know that I will do a “serial” novel project again like Fog Bank. While it may be a great thing for established writers, I think I have had too many people who are waiting for the third one to purchase the first two. I think I will do full length novels in their entirety after this.
Right now, my next project is a full-length novel roughly scheduled for late spring 2016. It’s called Raven’s Walk Initiate and it’s about a young man named Jeremy Fowler who – on a dare – allows himself to be brought to a rural witch. He spends a long, hot summer with her and it changes everything about him and sets him on a terrifying path he is not so sure he is strong enough to handle. After that, I hope to have another novel, Jeremy, due out for Halloween 2016.
After that, I plan to write as long as the ritual candles hold out. . .
TLR: What challenges have you faced as a writer and/or with a particular project? How did you meet them?
LM: I addressed the challenges above – it is juggling a job AND a second writer with a completely separate career, as well.
TLR: Are you currently, or have you ever, been in a writing group? Your thoughts?
LM: Writing groups can be very helpful if you listen and don’t take the advice too personally. Hopefully, it is always meant to help you. Plus, you get some great networking and make new friends. . .It can be a good support structure, too.
TLR: I’d love to hear about your networking, marketing, and promotional experiences – including tips for other writers.
LM: Well, a great website. . .like my own: www.leighmcqueen.com. . .heh. . .did you like that? Did you see how smoothly I worked that in there? My host writer thinks I’m being crass, but I thought that was pretty slick. Other than that, make public appearances, and get involved with social media – Goodreads author profile, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, heck, a Youtube channel if you can. ..Get your name out there.
TLR: Who are your favorite characters? How did they come into being, and what do you love – or loathe – about them?
LM: Oh, I find I an enamored of ALL of my characters, but my favorite ones so far are all the ones in Fog Bank – the first one. Eva Shelby was so quirky, nerdy, and socially awkward. She was so obviously lonely. Then there is Stanley, who was strong and sexy. . .but not perfect. . .and then there’s Shannon Beckman who is beautiful and just gets tougher and bolder as she is fired in the kilns of terror and grief. Finally, there’s the mysterious FBI Agent Clive Clay, whose frightening intensity tracking the series of serial murders has created a powerful man with a fascinating focus.
I loathe the creatures of the fog bank. . .but they’re equally fascinating. . .come. . .check them out and you’ll see what I mean.
TLR: You’re also a poet. What forms do you love?
LM: Free verse. Definitely. Mine tend to be disturbing, though.
TLR: Anything else you’d like to add that I haven’t asked?
LM: Nothing else. . .My writer host is growing impatient that I have commandeered so much attention from HER. . . but it was my turn to come out.
Leigh McQueen is a dark fantasy/horror pen name. The author resides in beautiful north Mississippi with her poet husband and some extremely vocal dogs. She, her husband, and the saucy dogs have regular howling sessions. She is convinced that the land on which she lives is haunted and she uses that as inspiration to weave her weird tales.
Under her “other” name, Leigh has been an award winning newspaper reporter and columnist and she is a published author of fiction and poetry, having been a Rhysling award nominee and a James Baker award nominee. She is also the editor of a paranormal romance magazine – Trysts of Fate (Alban Lake Publishing). Leigh is the author of the wildly popular Fog Bank Trilogy which includes Fog Bank: Secret Admirer, Fog Bank II: The Seduction of Stanley and the third – Fog Bank III: Seeking the Siren is due out in October, 2015. It is Leigh’s hope that she will develop a horror/dark fantasy career all her own and very different from that of her alter ego.
Come visit her website.