Sunday, January 25, 2009

An Interview with Leah Braemel

I'm here today with my friend and CP, Leah Braemel, to discuss her upcoming release Private Property, coming out on January 27th from Samhain Publishing. Leah and I met at Margie Lawson's online class, Deep Edits, and struck up a very successful partnership. But Leah, a Canadian author, has been writing for years and needs less and less critiquing.

Marley: Leah, how do you pronouce your last name?

Leah: I pronounce it Bray-mel’ with the emphasis on the ‘mel’ but if you want to pronounce it Bre-mel or Brahmel that’s fine too, just as long as you buy my book, LOL.

Marley: Could you tell us a little about your path to publication? I remember this time last year you despaired of even being able to write. (She wrote about that and about her life near Toronto on her very entertaining blog.)

Leah: Oh, wow, this could take a while. I’ve written since I was in elementary school, though I’ve never shown anyone my writing after one disastrous critique by my big sister (she was probably correct in everything she said, but when you’re seven, being told “this sucks” stings.) Around 2004, I met my now-critique partner, Sue, on a non-writing-related MSN group and we started chatting. She told me she was hoping to get published and before I knew it, I was showing her some of my writing. For the next year she bugged me and prodded me to join a writers’ group and get serious about my writing. It took me until 2007 before I finally decided to try to submit anything to a publisher. I submitted my first manuscript – a paranormal shapeshifter story – in July 2007 to a publisher who shall remain nameless. By July 2008 I had a contract for Private Property, which is a contemporary erotica, a complete change of my usual style.

Marley: When did Private Property come into being? What's it about?

Leah: Although I prefer my romances with the bedroom door wide open, I’d never considered writing erotica until Sue challenged me to write one in the spring of 2007. When I visited her and my other critique partner, Dani, in Dallas that summer, I was standing on Dani’s dock on Lake Arlington, looking at the amazing houses surrounding her and wondered … what type of security must these folks have? In my regular twisted-author’s fashion, I then started wondering about the people protecting them, and wondered how I could make an erotica out of it and … well, next thing I knew, the seeds of Private Property were sewn.

But I didn’t start writing it until October of 2007. I’d watched The Italian Job around that time, and I liked the idea of a woman breaking in to safes the way Cameron Diaz does, and so my heroine is Jodi Tyler, a security specialist who breaks into estates to prove their security needs upgrading. Her latest assignment is to break into a house on the shores of Lake Arlington and leave a note in the office safe to prove to the owner his security is flawed. What she doesn’t know is she’s being set up by her boss, Mark Rodriguez. He and Jodi have been having a no-strings-attached affair and he’s decided to fulfil some of her sexual fantasies for her birthday by inviting his best friend and future business partner, Sam Watson, to have a ménage with them.

Of course, as a writer, it was my duty to torture them so I decided that Sam would turn the tables on Mark and teach him that there were some things – including Mark’s relationship with Jodi – that should be considered Private Property.

Marley: Sam seemed so sexy to me. I couldn't help but think of one actor in particular. Did you have someone in mind?

Leah: When Jodi first meets him, he’s standing in silhouette, and I had an image of Laurence Fishburne in the Matrix – lots of leather and a dangerous air about him. As I wrote his dialogue though, his sense of humor started showing through and gradually he morphed into Dwayne Johnson (The Rock). At that time, I had in mind that he was a professional football player, but that changed as I realized that there needed to be some tension between Mark and Sam too – so Sam became a very successful former FBI agent who now owns the biggest personal protection agency on the east coast and is in the process of buying Mark’s business out..

Marley: You live in a house with three men. How does that affect your writing? Tell us about the three men in your life. Do you find that it helps with the man's point of view? How does it affect your process, I mean, they are men.

Leah: I think being the only woman in the house gives me a bit of an insight into how men think. Apart from enduring the sock throwing contests and the belching contests, at least if I’m unsure of how a guy would react, I have three ready sources to quiz. Other than that, they’ve been incredibly supportive. My eldest took script writing in college so he’s a good source when I need to talk the ‘technical’ side of writing. My husband and youngest have ended up writing their own novels. My husband has written everything from short stories to a novel length thriller a la Stephen Coonts, and my youngest has finished a 50K urban fantasy YA, and is writing its sequel. So quite often around our house we now have conversations about writing – anything from grammar to point-of-view and internal versus external conflict.

Marley: You have a free story over on Samhain right?

Leah: I wrote a short story called First Night that introduces readers to how the two main characters in Private Property, Jodi and Mark, began their affair one New Year’s Eve. It’s available as a free download over at The Samhellion newsletter webpage - click here.

I also recently signed a second contract with Samhain for Sam’s story, Personal Protection, that will be the start of a series following the bodyguards of Sam’s company, Hauberk Protection. Personal Protection will be released in May of this year, but I don’t have an exact date yet.

Marley: Is there anything else you dream of writing or that is in the works?

Leah: I have all sorts of things ‘in the works’. First off, I’m writing a sequel to Personal Protection (AKA Sam’s story) that follows Andy Walters, one of Sam’s bodyguards. But in the wings is a paranormal shapeshifter story called Delving Deep, but while that will be hot, it probably won’t be erotica, just a good paranormal romance. I also have another one which will be more of an urban fantasy, but given my schedule it’ll probably be a while before I get to it unfortunately. If I do ever have a moment, I also have a Canadian historical based on the rebellion of 1838 … and another I’ve been toying with in the same location in the war of 1812 – but given that the Americans are the bad guys in it, I doubt I’d find an American publisher, LOL.

I’ve also been toying with the idea of writing an ongoing story and posting weekly chapters on my Yahoo group that only members can read. I’m thinking of making it a paranormal, but I’m going to be asking readers on my blog and on other blogs where I post what they like to read and that may influence what I finally write.

Thanks for stopping by, Leah. I look forward to Private Property's release and the rest of the guys (okay, I'm prejudiced) especially Sam's, stories. If you haven't visited Leah's blog, you're missing some stellar information, including her trip to the biker bar to get information for Sam's story.


Anonymous said...

Posting for Cora. She said she is still on bed rest and not blogging but to send you her congratulations and best of luck on the next book.

Dani said...

Great interview. Glad to know that my DH isn't the only one that throws his gross socks at people. :)

Thank goodness Sue convinced you to share you're writing. I'm glad she did.

Only two more days!!!!!!!!!

Leah Braemel said...

Thanks for passing Cora's wishes on, Marley, I'll send her a note.

And Dani - no, your hubby's not alone in sock basketball/baseball/volleyball/whatever. It's a guy-thing I guess.

Anonymous said...

So, Leah. Now that Private Property is about to be released is it hitting home that you are a published author? That your dream is about to become true?

Or have you been excited since you got the call?

Leah Braemel said...

Do you know, I don't think it has quite hit me yet. It sort of has - especially after I sold the second book and started trying to write the third. Brenda Chin of Harlequin mentioned at a conference I was at that a lot of authors have "second book syndrome" and I think mine is "third book syndrome". That feeling of OMG, I have to make it as good as the last one. I can't do it. Now they'll discover I'm a fraud and take everything back" feeling.

Anonymous said...

I don't think anyone ever gets over that feeling. I heard Susan Elizabeth Phillips say in last year's RWA conference that she still struggles with whether she can actually write the next book. Will anyone read it?

But once bitten I doubt we could stop.

Cadence Denton said...

Great interview! Congrats, Leah, on book two. I'll definitely look at your free read on the Samhain site.

Good to have you back in the promised land, chickee!