Sol VA Authors: Leanne Kale Sparks

Sol VA’s very own, Leanne Kale Sparks, has published her debut crime thrillernovel, The Wrong Woman! We are so happy to have you apart of this community. Read more about the thought process behind The Wrong Woman below.

Does writing energize or exhaust you?

Both. It sounds like a cop-out answer, but it is true. When the story hits me and my fingers can’t keep up with the flow of words coming from my head, it is fuel for the soul, and I feel like I’m queen of the world. Exhaustion comes in two different forms for me: enjoyable—typically following the above word flow scenario. But the exhaustion borne of inability to get anywhere with my story is bone-weary fatigue, and that one is harder to overcome. Eventually, inspiration strikes, and I get my writing mojo back and all is right with the world again.

What’s your favorite underappreciated novel?

I have two: Finding Claire Fletcher by Lisa Regan, and In the Deep by Loreth Anne White. Fantastic stories by masterful storytellers.

How do you balance making demands on the reader with taking care of the reader?

I’m not sure I do. The Wrong Woman was turned down by several publishers who were too squeamish about the subject of pedophilia. I have no graphic scenes in the novel pertaining to pedophilia, but the mere discussion of it in the book was enough to turn off publishers who thought their readers would feel the same. I’m not for the fainthearted reader.

What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

Research really depends on the book. If there is a new subject I am unfamiliar with (in The Wrong Woman it was electrophilia) then I will research that upfront. Usually, however, I end up returning to notes I have on certain subjects—typically pertaining to law enforcement procedures, etc.—or doing research “on the fly” as I am writing.

What did you edit out of this book?

I had more chapters/scenes from the serial killer’s point of view sprinkled throughout the book. My editor and I decided to take those out. One day, I may add them to a newsletter or something because I think they do delve into the mind of a madman a bit and are a fun read.

Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?

My close friends and family find little nuggets every once in a while. It’s fun when they let me know they recognized the literary hat tip.

Does your family support your career?

My family…they have been the loudest cheerleaders from day one. No husband could be more understanding when—almost out of the blue—I decided I no longer wanted a career in law and wanted to write. He said, “Okay.” And has never once told me I had to get a “real” job, even when I was not bringing in any income. Those were some lean years, and he shouldered the entire burden of supporting our family. I hope to be able to return the favor soon.

Do you believe in writer’s block?

Such an ugly term that has many definitions depending on who and where you are in the writing process. Some believe it is a crutch for lazy writers. Some believe it goes hand-in-hand with the creative process and is unavoidable. I struggle with being a chronological writer—meaning I can’t jump around from one chapter to another when I get “stuck”. This tends to be a problem when I hit a barrier in the scene or chapter I’m writing. I tend to try and write just basic dialogue to get through it and leave it for editing after the first draft is done. Sometimes it is reminiscent of a Dick and Jane reader from elementary school, but it helps me move along with the first draft.

How different is the final product from the first draft?

Very different. The basic plot is usually the same, but there are so many machinations along the way, the story doesn’t mirror the first draft closely at all. For example, in The Wrong Woman, there were many characters and subplots added after the first draft. In fact, the serial killer changed during one of the final drafts. The story was always going to center around an FBI agent who was trying to find out who murdered her best friend. And Adam Taylor was always going to be her “in” with the police investigation, as well as, looping back around to Kendall’s own experiences with a serial killer in her youth. But there were many additions and changes to this story before it was polished and ready for publication.

How important is setting in books?

If done correctly, the setting can almost feel as if it is another character in the book. The Wrong Woman is set in Denver, Colorado—a state very near and dear to my heart. I was born and raised just south of Denver, in Colorado Springs, but haven’t been back in many years. So, this was a way for me to have a connection again. I love being able to use the change of seasons, and the majestic backdrop of the Rocky Mountains in the book. And being familiar with the area, made it easy to find places to dump the serial killer’s victims. I also have a friend who is more than willing to scout places where nefarious deeds might take place—and send me pictures!

The Wrong Woman is available everywhere for print, ebook, and audiobook!

To check if it’s at a Barnes & Noble near you, click “Check Store Availability” on their website.

Follow Leanne on her socials!


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