Today I have for you an indie author, but not just any indie author, I have M. Leighton. She’s an Amazon Top 10 and New York Times bestselling author and an incredible person I am lucky to have met. Leighton is the mind and words behind the Madly series, The Wild Ones, and most recently, Down to you, and while she’s writing these books, she’s been taking the publishing world by storm.
I met Leighton through social media this year, and we quickly connected with ridiculous banter about our self-proclaimed super powers, and of course, how awesome I am…*ahem* Just kidding. Only a little.
Leighton is an author I’ve seen who truly connects with her fans. She is one of the sweetest people I’ve met, and she’s been so supportive of me and my work, I’m going to stop rambling and let the awesome unfold via an interview.
The Interview (Insert “meet your doom” music)
1. You started out just like every other indie author, hoping to find a few readers for you books. Well, you found them and they’re coming in droves. Now that you’ve hit the Amazon top 10, as well as the New York Times Best Seller list, there has to be huge interest in you from the traditional publishing side of things. How have you reacted to this and what are your plans going forth? Are all your books going traditional? Do you plan to keep some indie titles and play both sides of the board?
One of the first things I wanted stipulated in my contract was the ability to continue publishing my work independently. I can’t see a reason to EVER stop publishing on my own. But one of the limitations of being an Indie is reaching the 80% of the population that still reads only print books. A very small portion of them can be reached through on-demand type printing, but at this point that’s our only option. Our books won’t see the inside of a major bookstore unless we join forces with a traditional publisher to get us there. So that’s what I’ve done. I love the freedom of being an Indie, but when I looked at what I want for my future, I came to the conclusion that teaming up with a reputable traditional publisher is the way to go. For me, anyway. That’s not to say it’s the right choice for everyone. We all have our hopes and dreams, our goals and convictions. But Berkley fit perfectly with mine and I have no regrets about my decision. I’m actually very excited about the whole process. It’s so, so different from being an Indie. It’s a little scary at times, and a little frustrating, but the people I’ve met are just phenomenal and I feel like I’m in great hands.
2. You’ve published more than a few books. When we first met, the Madly books were very popular (I LOVE the covers for them btw). People raved about them, they were dying for more in the series, and I saw that series title everywhere. Madly is a Fantasy series, But it was The Wild Ones, a Romance novel, that really launched you forward and got your name out there on a massive scale. What do you think it is that made The Wild Ones the turning point book for you?
Actually, all my books are romances of one form or another—paranormal, contemporary, fantasy. The Wild Ones is a contemporary romance, much like Fragile. Granted, The Wild Ones is New Adult, with regard to intended reading age, but otherwise, a romance like any other. I think the biggest difference for me was that I let go. I know that sounds corny, but I had gotten so frustrated with the “stagnant” feel my career had slowed into that I was considering starting a whole new persona under a pen name. I was THAT discouraged. But before I did that, I was going to write one last book, make one last stab at writing something that…resonated. I was going to write a Hail Mary. So I did.
I threw off the gloves and decided I was writing a book that I wanted to write, holding nothing back and letting my REAL voice shine. I didn’t stick with any preconceived notions about romance. I didn’t shy away from or gravitate toward anything in particular. I just wrote. That book is all…me. It’s not written with painstaking attention to grammar; it’s written like a Southern person talks. It’s not written with the impressionable minds of our youth at its core; it’s written like life is lived. It’s not written with all drama or humor, all sex or smiles; it’s written with a little bit of everything, just like we all find in real life. I like to think that I just (finally) found my niche. At least I hope so!
3. What’s on the up and coming for you as far as publishing more books are concerned. Is there more Madly series coming, or are you going to continue working in the Romance area for now?
I plan to write a little bit of everything, just like I always have. I’m just going to do it all my way, with my voice and my own personal brand of story. No holding back anymore. No more playing by everyone else’s rules.
4. If you were speaking to an audience full of writers, all about to take the plunge into the publishing world, whether traditionally or independently, what do you think the best piece of advice is that you could give to them?
Develop a thick skin! LOL While that’s not the single most important piece of advice about writing, it might be the single most important piece of advice about SURVIVING writing. LOL
5. Let’s take a moment here to talk superheroes. Who is your favorite and why? And if you were a superhero, what would your power be, and what would your costume look like?
I love Superman. Always have. I suppose it helps that there was always romance built into the story. His hopeless devotion to Lois Lane makes him much more the catch than just his ability to leap tall buildings in a single bound, although that’s pretty freakin’ cool! LOL
As for me, if I were a superhero, I would be able to absorb and instantly personalize everyone else’s power, whether it be to thwart their power or enhance it or simply channel it. My costume would, of course, be solid black with a red and black cape. Why? Because black makes us chicks look awesome and red is the best color ever. End of story. And there would be boots. Oh, yes! There would be boots.
6. What’s your favorite genre to read and what is it about that genre you love so much?
Historical romance. I’m gonna pause here until your laughter dies down. *cues elevator music*
The reason is that I grew up reading historical romance and I think I’ll die loving it. All the stories and characters are so pure. And I don’t mean sexually, although most of the female protagonists actually are. No, I mean they are without the jaded edge that many of our present day MCs have to have. It’s like going back to a simpler time, when life was safe and the rake next door was a girl’s biggest worry. And everything was forbidden back then, so the envelope didn’t have to be pushed like it does in many of today’s romances. A stolen kiss in the corner was a big deal. And to me, when I read those stories, it still is.
7. On your website, you say “the first movie in a trilogy is invariably the best.” Tell me your favorite trilogy, and tell me another trilogy you believe the first movie isn’t the best?
Excluding the recent addition to what should have remained a trilogy, I’m going to say that one of my favorites is Indiana Jones. I loved those movies. Still do, actually. I also loved the Scream trilogy, which they went and added another to as well. Dang it! But the first movie in both those series was the best, in my opinion. As for a movie in a trilogy that exists as the exception to my rule, that would be Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me. I love all three of those movies, but there’s just something about that second one that rocks in a way the first and third one did not. If I had to guess, I’d say it was the involvement of Fat Bastard. OMG I love that guy!
8. Hypothetical #1: You’re on a plane, preparing to take a much-deserved holiday. Both engines fail and you’re sent spiraling towards the ocean. You manage to make it to a small island with a small beach, and a huge, untouched by man, forest. Help is two years away. What two items do you have with you (that cannot signal for help. No cheating either, you can’t have a never-ending battery or anything like that) and how do they help you survive?
First would be a flint, so I can start a fire with which I can stay warm and atop which I can cook the food I catch. Second would be a tarp, so I can catch rain and also use it as shelter. It could possibly be a component of a life raft as well (think sails).
Did I pass????? Did I survive?
9. From your Bio on your website “I prided myself on the haphazard acceptance of any and all double-dog-dare-yas.” First, tell me about this. Why can’t you turn down a dare? Second, what’s the most insane one you’ve done?”
Oh believe me, I can turn down a dare now! I just couldn’t back then. I think it was a matter of convincing myself of my own bravado. You know, the whole “do it afraid” kind of thing. I’m sure a psychoanalyst would have a field day with that. I wouldn’t dare look any further into it, though. I’m pretty sure whatever is in there would scare the bejesus right out of me. LOL As for one of the most insane dares I’ve accepted, one of the top ones was when I had to climb down off the road onto a tiny ledge that led out onto a bridge that hung 33 feet above a narrow river. The thing was, once you got down on that ledge, you couldn’t get back up. You had to hang from one of the supports and drop down onto the ledge. Then, your only option was to jump off into the water or stay there until the cops came to get you down the hard way. LOL So I did it. I climbed down there and I jumped. Thank God the water was deep enough and there were no rocks!
I’m just going to interject here for a minute to say you scare me.
10. With writing, promoting, social media, blogging, and just managing your e-mail inbox, being five separate full-time jobs you need to jamb into a single day, what do you do for fun?
I love to hike and play tennis. I love to watch movies and eat and listen to music. I also love to go out and randomly try new things. Just…whatever, wherever. I guess I’m mildly adventurous. I also love sporting events, like college football, professional hockey and boxing. My favorite pass time is laughing, though. I don’t care if it’s hanging with my hubby, listening to him say goofy things or watching a movie I’ve seen a dozen times, laughing is my favorite thing in the world.
11. Hypothetical #2: It’s the middle of the night and you hear a clatter outside. You get out of bed and look out the window, to find Ninja gnomes attacking your home. They’re throwing gnome size explosives, scaling up to your bedroom window, and their heavily arms with gnomey weapons. In one paragraph or less, give us the play by play of what happens next.
I immediately don my super awesome super hero outfit, replete with kick ass boots. I then crawl out my window and kick gnome #1 in the face. He falls to his death. Gnome #2 attempts to stab me in the stomach with his gnome gnife *snickers*, but finds that my awesome abs are impenetrable. I laugh in his face then make him explode with my mind. I leap to the ground, landing with incredible grace and breaking no nails, and proceed to stomp, smash, kick, tear, squeeze and dismember all remaining gnomes, whilst deflecting their weaponry with my shield of awesomeness. I survive. They do not. My boots aren’t even dirty. The end.
What’s your preference?
Writing With or Without Music: Without. Music comes before and after.
Dream Vacation or Dream Car: Fiji and Aston Martin Vanquish
Cats or Dogs: DOGS! What kind of crazy question is that???
Spiders or Snakes: OMG Snakes! All day long, snakes!!!
Chocolate or Caramel: Both, but I can’t live without chocolate, so if I must choose between my favorite children, I’d have to go the cocoa route
Food: Pizza, chocolate, sour skittles, pecans, Krispy Kreme doughnuts
Cereal: Frosted Flakes, Reese Puffs, Fruit Loops. Cinnamon Toast Crunch
Color: Red. Red. Red. Purple. Black
80’s Movie: Sixteen Candles, Breakfast Club, St. Elmo’s Fire, The Lost Boys, Pretty Woman
Concert you’ve been to: Def Leppard, Motley Cru, Kiss, Poison, Bad Company,
Smell: The ocean, coffee, vanilla, a grill, a campfire
You should all know that Leighton realized she wasn’t supposed to give me 5 answers for each of these, but she threatened to cut me if I deleted any. So…yeah…I didn’t.
This interview was awesome and had me smiling the entire time. Thank you so much Michelle for taking part in my Author spotlight. You are definitely one to watch. Want to take it a step further and send some stalker action her way? Find out some more about her and where to find her below!
New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author, M. Leighton, is a native of Ohio. She relocated to the warmer climates of the South, where she can be near the water all summer and miss the snow all winter. Possessed of an overactive imagination from early in her childhood, Michelle finally found an acceptable outlet for her fantastical visions: literary fiction. Having written over a dozen novels, these days Michelle enjoys letting her mind wander to more romantic settings with sexy Southern guys, much like the one she married and the ones you’ll find in her latest books. When her thoughts aren’t roaming in that direction, she’ll be riding horses, swimming in ponds and experiencing life on a ranch, all without leaving the cozy comfort of her office.
I love coffee and chocolate, even more so when they are combined. I’m convinced that one day they could be the basis for world peace. I also love the color red and am seriously considering dying my hair.
BOOKS BY M. LEIGHTON
Beginnings: An M. Leighton Anthology
Blood Like Poison: For the Love of a Vampire
Blood Like Poison: Destined for a Vampire
Blood Like Poison: To Kill an Angel
Down to You
Madly & Wolfhardt
Madly & the Jackal
The Wild Ones