Hello! Welcome to Interview FoxSeat with guest author Leslie Hauser
Leslie Hauser teaches middle school English and history. She is a Midwesterner at heart—born in Cincinnati, Ohio—but currently resides in Los Angeles, California, with her dog Mr. Darcy. Her debut YA novel Chasing Eveline releases July 2017.
Book sample: Chasing Eveline
Genre: YA contemporary
Synopsis: Sixteen-year-old Ivy Higgins is the only student at Carmel Heights High School who listens to cassettes. And her binder is the only one decorated with album artwork by 80s band Chasing Eveline. Despite being broken-up since 1989, this rock band out of Ireland means everything to Ivy. They’re a reminder of her mom, who abandoned Ivy and her dad two years ago. Now the music of her mom’s favorite band is the only connection she has left.
Even though Ivy wavers between anger and a yearning to reconnect, she’s one-hundred percent certain she’s not ready to lose her mom forever. But the only surefire way to locate her would be at a Chasing Eveline concert. So with help from her lone friend Matt—an equally abandoned soul and indie music enthusiast—Ivy hatches a plan to reunite the band.
The road to Ireland won’t be easy, though. And not just because there is no road. Along the way they’ll have to win over their Lady Gaga-loving peers, tangle with some frisky meerkats, and oh yeah, somehow find and persuade the four members to play a reunion gig. It’s a near-impossible task, but Ivy has to try. If she can’t let go of the past, she’ll never find joy in the present.
Why do you write? I’ve always had imaginary stories swirling in my head. In fact, when I was younger, I had two imaginary friends: People and Kikibrumbrum. And no, I cannot explain those names. J But that was the start of all the characters, places, and plotlines that I’ve created in my mind. I combine that desire to imagine new lives with my need to express my own thoughts, opinions, and experiences, and the result is a novel or a story or even a poem!
How long does it usually take you to complete a book? It’s difficult for me to write a little here and there. Because I immerse myself in the story when I’m writing, I need large chunks of time. Since I’m a teacher, I’m lucky to have those large chunks of time during the summers. So I’ve been able to draft two novels so far in about five weeks each and a third coming in a few months! I treat it as a full-time job, working from around 8-3 each day. After that, it enters several rounds of editing and a round with beta readers before I’m ready to shop it around. Everything other than the drafting I can do while I’m working, so there’s no timeline for that.
Do you listen to music or watch TV/movie while you write? I will always have a playlist for a novel. It includes music with lyrics along with instrumental music. I don’t listen to the music when I’m drafting, but as I edit each section, I do. The songs help me create a mood, and they inspire me. Certain songs now will remind me of my novels.
Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just seeing where an idea takes you? Oh, I need an outline! And it follows a very specific path. First, I outline in my head. I walk around with the story brewing in my mind for weeks or months, if necessary. I need to create a basic movie for how I want the plot to unfold. Then I map out the story on Post-it notes. Each chapter gets a Post-it note, and the chapters are divided into a beginning, middle and end. This helps me hit a high point in each chapter, which keeps the story moving and helps maintain a sense of drama. It keeps me from having chapters that serve no purpose. Only after I’ve mapped out the entire story do I begin writing. Of course, things may change as I go, but I need to have a set plan—a set of directions—before I can begin. Otherwise, I feel too overwhelmed.
If you could have been the original author of any book, what would it have been and why? Jasper Fforde wrote the Thursday Next series, which begins with The Eyre Affair. I would describe it as a literary Nancy Drew book. It’s so creative and such a great concept. I wish I could have thought of it and written it. The books are fast-paced and so much fun to read.
What do you read with? (Kindle, Nook, iPad, iPhone, physical book) Physical books only! My sole experience reading an eBook came with reading some ARCs recently. It was my first attempt, and I kept trying to reach inside the screen to grab the page. J I love folding down corners of pages where I make connections, and I can only do this with a physical book. Plus I love bookshelves!
Do you have any advice for aspiring authors? I read advice all the time about sticking with it and not giving up. And now I understand why I see that advice everywhere. It’s true. There’s a lot of rejection that comes with trying to get published. You can’t let it stop you. (You are allowed one day to binge on cupcakes!) I could have given up on Chasing Eveline a while ago, but I knew I had a great story and it just needed the right person to connect with it. And patience paid off! I also would advise not having your heart set on a certain path to publication. I thought the only way to go was to secure an agent then get a publishing deal with a major publisher. That didn’t happen for me. Instead, I stumbled upon the chance to connect with a smaller indie publisher. It has turned out to be a fantastic experience, and I get to see my dream of having a book published come to life. If I hadn’t been willing to change my course, this wouldn’t be happening.
What is the current book you are promoting? Chasing Eveline is my debut YA contemporary novel. It releases July 11, 2017, from Pen Name Publishing. It’s about sixteen-year-old Ivy who sets out to reunite 80s Irish rock band Chasing Eveline. This group was her mom’s favorite band and the only remaining connection Ivy has to her mom since she left two years ago. It’s a novel full of hope and laughter and lots of awkward teen situations. So. Much. Awkward!
Give us an insight into your main character. What does she do that is so special? Ivy’s special gift is her determination. She’s been dealt a pretty crappy hand—having her mom just disappear on her. It would be easy for her to give up on people and think the worst, but she doesn’t. She’s determined to keep her memories of her mom alive, and she’s determined to see her plan through to the end. She definitely struggles with keeping the faith, but there’s always that glimmer still there inside her heart that keeps her hopes alive.
Who is your favorite character in your book and why? I love Ivy, but I really have a soft spot for Matt, her friend and partner in crime. His story sort of took on a life of its own as I wrote the novel. He has his own coming-of-age arc, and it was fun to watch him grow throughout the novel. He’s the goofy boy friend (not boyfriend) who is so much fun to have around.
What is your favorite movie or TV show? My favorite movie is Hoosiers. Second place is Sliding Doors (with Gwyneth Paltrow). That movie is so unique.
My favorite TV show of all time is Gilmore Girls. Lots of second place finishers: Friday Night Lights, Parks and Recreation, Parenthood, Chicago PD, Chicago Fire, Nashville, New Girl, Vampire Diaries (Damon!) and 24. I love a good teen drama, but I also enjoy watching cop shows and comedies.
Do you have any fur babies to brag about? Mr. Darcy! He is my best friend 🙂
How can readers discover more about you and your work? You can find out all about me, what I’ve written, and read my blog at my web site: www.lesliehauser.com. I love visitors!