It is a pleasure to warmly welcome Leisl Leighton to my blog, Mrs B’s Book Reviews for A Tea Break with Mrs B, a short form author interview series. To help celebrate the release of Climbing Fear we sat down for a chat. Thanks Leisl!
What is your drink of choice as we sit down for a chat about your new book?
Buddha Tears tea with fresh ginger.
Can you give us an overview of your writing career to date?
I worked in theatre, theatre restaurants and cabaret for many years and wrote scripts but after having kids, doing that kind of work wasn’t really feasible, so I turned my writing chops to writing novels. I slaved away for years by myself before lucking in to finding 2 writing groups where I met some amazing friends, joined up to Romance Writers of Australia, won and placed in contests here and OS, pitched many times, had lots of requests, an equal number of ‘this is great but’ then finally the final call in 2014 to say ‘Yes, we love it. No buts.’ I have had 2 books published with Penguin’s Destiny, then with the help of my agent, turned my attention to Harlequin Australia and have had 4 paranormal novels and 4 romantic suspense novels published with Escape, two of those going to print with MIRA.
Can you tell us what inspired the creation of your new book, Climbing Fear?
A visit to Walhalla years ago mixed with fond memories of horse riding camps then finally blended all together with a 4 day horse riding trek I did with my sister and an old family friend. I love a mystery, so when I sat down to write a story set on a horse stud/riding camp, the mystery just wove its way into the story.
How different was the experience of writing Climbing Fear, compared to your other works?
Not much different other than the fact it was set in the present and was based on a place very dear to me, but the process of writing the book was very similar to every other book I write in that I sit down with a vague idea of a scene or characters and explore. Then there’s lots of editing and redrafting before I am happy with the story I am telling.
What are the main themes of your new novel?
The strength of a homecoming and the importance of asking for help when you need it.
Where did the inspiration for the characters of Reid and Natalia come from?
Reid came a little from watching my son do rock climbing as his sport of choice. Natalia is a bit of an expression of my own experiences as a mum wound together with issues seen and discussed with friends and others I know. But those bits of inspiration are only the starting points that help me to grow Nat and Reid into living, breathing, feeling characters in my mind.
CoalCliff Stud is the main setting base for Climbing Fear, can you tell us more about this location?
It is inspired primarily by the horse riding camp I attended through my teens – Seamist Palomino Stud. I had so many fond memories of my time there, I wanted to explore how being in places like it can be a healing. However, it isn’t set anywhere near where Seamist actually was, but near Walhalla in the Victorian Alps because after visiting there many years ago, it stuck in my mind as a place with history and stories and mystery and I had to set a story there. The two blended together into a perfect match and CoalCliff Stud was born.
What is one thing that you really hope readers will take away from the experience of reading Climbing Fear?
The importance of family and friends in healing when you are in pain or broken in some way. I have gone through difficult times myself and have witnessed friends do the same, and it was always when I opened up and leaned on those I loved who loved me equally, that I was able to start to heal. That drives much of what I put Nat and Reid through.
If Climbing Fear made it to the big screen, who would you like to cast?
I think someone like Liam Hemsworth or Nathan Parsons would be great as Reid someone ruggedly handsome and who can be vulnerable. For Nat, I think someone like Teresa Palmer, Phoebe Tonkin or Emily Browning would be great – they both have a natural beauty that has a raw edge to it I like.
Have you developed any quirks or habits while writing your books?
I must have a cup of tea and I must have my heat bags heated. I also like to play music – what it is changes depending on what I’m writing, but Muse features in all playlists.
What writers have inspired you along the way to publication?
Many: Nora Roberts. Nalini Singh. Anne Gracie. Raymond E. Feist. Sherrilyn Kenyon. Anne McCaffrey. LM Montgomery. There’s so many more and they all grace my multiple bookshelves and are well read.
When you are not writing, what do you enjoy doing?
I sing. I was in a choir before Covid struck and occasionally have singing lessons mostly because we get to perform at the end of it – and I love performing. I read heaps. I love going for walks when I can and if the stars align, I get to go horseriding – which doesn’t happen anywhere near as often as I would like. I also love skiing in winter.
What book or books do you recommend that I add to my reading pile?
If you like paranormal/fantasy books, Lana Pecherczyk is an up and coming Aussie author who I have followed since her first books and is just getting better and better. I have also really enjoyed recently Anne Gracie’s latest series (historic) and can’t wait to inhale more of Nalini Singh’s latest novels in her two main series. I also recently read Crave by Tracy Wolff, a YA paranormal novel I really enjoyed and the 2nd book in the series has just landed on my Kindle and I can’t wait to get stuck in.
What are you working on writing wise at present?
I’m writing more in the CoalCliff Stud series. I’m also working on a new romantic suspense series and I’ve got a paranormal novella due out in November and another in February next year.
Thank you for the lovely tea break and chat Leisl. Congratulations on the release of your new book, Climbing Fear.
Set against the stirring Victorian Alps, comes a suspenseful novel of recovery and new beginnings from a talented new voice in Australian rural fiction. Perfect for readers of Sarah Barrie and Nora Roberts.
His beloved home is under threat and with it the beautiful, haunted woman he’s never been able to forget …
X-Treme TV sports star Reid Stratton has everything – until his best friend falls to his death on a climb while shooting their show. In the fierce media fallout, Reid begins to question everything about himself. Crippled by a new fear of climbing, Reid returns to CoalCliff Stud, his family’s horse farm, to recover.
Single mother Natalia Robinson is determined to start afresh, away from the shadow of her past. A job at CoalCliff Stud where she lived as a child is the perfect opportunity to live the quiet life she always wanted. But she is unprepared to see Reid, and is even more unprepared for the passion that still burns between them.
But after a series of menacing events threatens the new home she is trying to build, Nat realises that Reid is the only person she can rely on to keep her and her daughter safe. Together, Reid and Nat must face the pasts that haunt them if they are to survive the present and forge a future of hope.
Climbing Fear by Leisl Leighton was published on 7th October 2020 by Mira-AU. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.
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