1. First, THANK YOU for bringing real vampires back to reading. Shiny and happy do not a normal vampire make. Where did the idea for this story come from? Are you a fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer?
LE: LOL! You are welcome! Thanks for having me here. The initial idea came from a joke another author and I made during a book signing because those were the books that were selling—vampires and Amish. I suppose it planted a seed in my very warped brain and at some point a story began to take root. It’s when I made the connection that the story I was noodling was similar to one of my all time favorites—The Phantom of the Opera—that I knew I had to write it. I never watched Buffy, but when I started writing this series, I decided I should at least watch one episode and so I downloaded one onto my iPad. If I had more time, then I would probably enjoy watching more.
2. Setting the story in an Amish community adds an intriguing dynamic to the story and its characters. How did you go about getting the details right on the Amish community and their way of life?
LE: There are so few places in America that seem to have an innocence about them. Amish country is that kind of place. Tranquil and bucolic, it seemed like the perfect setting. I’ve always been intrigued by the Amish community. Way back in college, I wrote a paper about them. Of course, I was a huge fan of the movie Witness. I’ve also been intrigued by vampires, from being totally terrified as an elementary student when I saw part of a vampire movie at a friend’s slumber party and spent the next six months sleeping with the covers up around my neck to reading The Historian when it came out. When I started writing Forsaken, I read a lot of non fiction books about the Amish. I also went to Lancaster County with my critique partner and her daughter. What a great time we had sampling delicious Amish food, touring an Amish dairy farm, and riding in an Amish buggy.
3. I live in Philadelphia and this story takes place in my backyard in Amish country. Have you ever visited Philadelphia, and if not would you visit it now? Did you travel for research purposes for Plain Fear: Forsaken?
LE: I first went to Philadelphia way back in high school when I was on choir tour. Loved it! I didn’t get to spend much time there on this research trip as my focus was on Lancaster County but I did get to see the Liberty Bell again. I would love to come back and spend more time in Pennsylvania. My daughter wants to go to Hershey. My son wants to see all the historical sights.
4. Plain Fear: Forsaken is the first in the Plain Fear series. What will this series be about? Will Roc and Father Roberto return in the next book?
LE: Yes, it is a series. I’m in the middle of writing book #2, Forbidden, right now. Roc is definitely in book two because the focus on book #2 is on him. And Father Roberto makes a return appearance. Book #2 begins 6 months after the end of book #1.
5. Now for some get to know you questions. Have you always wanted to be a writer or is it something you realized over time? How do you go about writing your books? Go to a special room, plan things out, jot notes down, etc. What works best for you or does it depend on the story?
LE: I was always creative but I never imagined when I was a kid that I could write a book. I thought all writers were dead. It’s funny though, I recently received a box from my mother with a bunch of my schoolwork from elementary school through high school. A story I still remember writing in the sixth grade was in it. I was thrilled to get it and read it to my kids. It was very Poe-esque as we’d been studying Poe in school. My kids said, “Mom! You had a dark side.” Guess I still do. :)
Anyway, I didn’t decide to write until I was out of college and teaching school. I knew I didn’t want to teach forever and was trying to figure out what I wanted to do. My sister suggested I write because I was always scribbling in my journal. That was twenty years ago. Every book seems so different and has its own journey but usually I start with an idea, a title and a very sketchy synopsis. But I most like to just jump into the story and see where it’s going to take me.
6. I read that you enjoy visiting Hilo, Hawaii. I am a Kailua-Kona girl myself, but not a big fan of Hilo. What is it about Hilo that keeps you coming back? (I was just in Kona in May and understand the draw of that beautiful state!)
LE: Oh, we loved visiting Hilo! And I’m so jealous you were recently there. We were in Kauai last August, and we desperately need a return trip. We named our crazy labradoodle Hilo. I love the lushness of that side of the island. We stayed in a house right across from a beach where we swam with the gigantic sea turtles. It was amazing swimming with those gentle giants. We also went to the Kona side of the island but it was hotter on that side. Beautiful but hot.
The last morning we were there, we experienced an earthquake. Well, that’s probably incorrect. We actually didn’t feel the quake at all. We were on the beach tossing our leis back into the ocean (a tradition my mother taught me because if the leis come back—and they always do because my daughter grabs them and pulls them back—then that means you’ll return to the islands) and then watching part of a triathlon, when we returned to our house across the road to get ready to go to the airport when we saw on the news there had been an earthquake. A fairly significant earthquake. And we quickly learned that it knocked out all electricity on Oahu, which canceled our flights.
Every person we talked to that day described a huge quake and we thought they were exaggerating but I don’t think they were. For some reason, we didn’t feel it. Maybe we were in the water, I don’t know. But the good part was we got to stay two extra days. We have also been to Oahu, Maui, and Kauai. We are trying to decide which island to go to next. I’d love to revisit Hilo on the big island but I’d also like to go back to Kauai.
7. Is there a place that you have never been that you would like to visit?
LE: Oh there are a lot of places! I love to travel! We took the kids to England and Scotland this past spring. I’d love to go to Alaska, Banff, New England in the fall, wine country in California, Australia, New Zealand (with of course stopover’s in Hawaii), France, Italy, Germany…so many places, so little time!
8. Are you currently reading any books, if so which ones?
LE: I typically have a few books going at once. I just got back from a trip to NY for a writer’s conference and then right on the heels of that I went to Reno for my son’s fencing tournament. So I packed light and only took one book: March by Geraldine Brooks. My kids and I have been driving a lot this summer to and from their activities and we’ve been listening to To Kill a Mockingbird, which is my favorite, and also Alas, Babylon.
9. What can we expect to see from you in the future?
LE: Most definitely more Amish/vampires. I am really having fun with this series. Right now, all I can wrap my brain around is Forbidden.
Thanks so much for doing this interview. I thoroughly enjoyed your book and look forward to continuing the Plain Fear series.
Thanks so much, Jenny! It was my pleasure to be here!
PLAIN FEAR: FORSAKEN BY LEANNA ELLIS – IN STORES AUGUST 2011
Not Death, But Love…
Pain choked off anymore words. She grabbed the cold stone marker for support, splayed her hands across its front as a sob wrenched free from her chest.
Although she knows that the Amish way is to move on from grief, on to a new season, Hannah cannot move on from Jacob, who was taken too soon.
Jacob’s brother Levi also cannot move on—his love for Hannah burns just as strong as ever. But he knows how much Hannah loved his brother, and the event that took Jacob from them.
And it’s a secret he must take to his grave…
So when a mysterious stranger comes to their community, he too carries a secret; one that will force Hannah to choose between light and dark, between the one she wants to love and a new yearning she fears to embrace.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Leanna Ellis is the winner of the National Readers’ Choice Award and Romance Writers of America’s Golden Heart Award. She has written numerous books for Harlequin/Silhouette and has published four books with B&H Publishing. With her husband, two children, and wide assortment of pets, she lives in Texas. Plain Fear: Forbidden, the next book in the Plain Fear Series, will be in stores in Spring 2012. For more information, please visit http://www.leannaellis.com/
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*Deadline for entry is midnight, Monday August 22, 2011, EST.
Good luck everyone and thanks again to Danielle from Sourcebooks for arranging this interview and giveaway.