Author interview with Linda Leander

First of all I’d like to welcome Linda Leander to my blog, and it’s a pleasure to have you with us to talk to us a bit about yourself and your book “INZARED, Queen of the Elephant Riders”


So please grab a chair and let us begin!

So let’s start with some history,

  1. So tell us a bit about yourself?

I’m from the Midwest (Michigan/Wisconsin) but I currently spend most of the year in Mazatlan, Mexico.  I’m a singer/songwriter and have been writing short stories, songs and poetry since I was a child.  I love to read, sew and play the guitar or fiddle in my spare time.  I’m happily married to a wonderful man and we spend our time exploring and loving the Mexican culture.

  1. When did you start to feel that writing is an important part of you?

I think when I won an essay contest in grade school and my piece was featured in our school newsletter.  After that I wrote a short story that won an award.

  1.  Have you taken part in any local/international competitions?

As a songwriter, yes.  As an author, no.

  1. Did you attend any workshops courses?

I have attended so many songwriting workshops and courses that I’ve lost count.  I have attended several writing workshops also and always learn something new.

  1. What was the first book that got you interested in writing?

Wildfire, by Zane Gray.  Although I was already writing at that point, I picked up the book when I was ten and loved the way Mr. Gray painted the desert and the beautiful horse and people with words.  I wanted to do the same thing.

  1. When did you decide you want to publish?

As an author I have always worked toward publishing.  It took me three years to finish my first novel because of some circumstances that were out of my control.  When I began writing again I focused on finishing and publishing.  I’ve had several published songs and those began happening about forty years ago.

Writing & Linda Leander:

  1. What are your favorite genres to read?

I read almost all genres and find gems everywhere.  I love true crime books, mystery/thrillers, biographies, and literary fiction best.

  1. What are your favorite genre(s) to write about?

Currently I’ve only written books in the YA Historical Fiction genre.  I have a mystery that’s about one-third finished.  I’ve written a lot of non-fiction pieces.  So, in answer to your question, I don’t think I really have a favorite – I’ll write anything I’m inspired to write and can research.

  1. If they’re different tell us why?

I’d love to write True Crime but I think I would get depressed.  There are evil people in the world who do evil things and to have to live with those characters day in and day out while you write about them has got to take a toll.  However, who knows?  I may even try that one day.

  1. When did the idea pop up into your mind that “I want to be an author”?

When I was about eleven I remember telling my mother that I was going to write books.  But I took the long way around, had a career and a family first.  It’s only now that I’m retired that I’m able to realize my dream.

  1. Do you write any other form of literature (poetry , prose , quotes etc..)?

Guess I’ve already answered that above.  I have well  over one thousand songs to my credit, books of poetry, and articles and short stories I’ve written.

  1. Did writing change you?

Yes.  I have learned to say things on paper that I have a hard time saying out loud.  Writing is a catharsis and life experiences are all a part of the encyclopedia every author uses to create a masterpiece.  Writing also has taught me to never give up – to believe in my dreams.

The Book,

Through this section we will get to know a bit about (INZARED, Queen of the Elephant Riders)

  1. So care to tell us a bit about your book?

INZARED, Queen of the Elephant Riders is about a young woman who grows up in the Appalachian Mountains in 1843.  She hates her name, her life, and is misunderstood by her parents.  An opportunity arises and she leaves with a Gypsy wagon circus.  She learns to ride the elephant and becomes the main draw for the show.  Her name is changed to INZARED.  She finds love, learns to co-exist with the Gypsies, bonds with the elephant, and still has regrets about leaving home.  Although she is disliked by some of the other circus performers she works hard to be accepted into the close-knit clan.  Full of circus trivia and Gypsy folklore, the book is a study of the Gypsy Circus in pre-Civil War America.

  1. How did the idea pop up?

I don’t have an answer for that.  I’m a total pantser and I have to be inspired to write.  I sat down at the computer one night and heard this voice.  She began telling me a story so different, so unlike anything I’d heard before, that I had to capture everything she said.  She dictated to me like that for about six weeks while I got the basics written.  Lately she’s been at it again with the second novel in the series.

  1. Have you considered changing it?

I’ve changed the book drastically from the first draft, so the answer is yes.  Sitting on it for three years helped because I looked at it with fresh eyes.

Not going through it along the way?

I never thought about not finishing the book.  I am a finisher – no matter what I do.  I had to wait for Inzared to tell me how things ended.  It turned out that I had written way too much for one book and once my writing group helped me understand that I was back on the right track.

  1. What made you passionate about this type or genre?

I love history.  I’ve done Civil War Reenactment with my brother and his wife so I have a pretty good understanding of the period of time I wrote about.  Although I have chosen YA as the genre, I’m finding most of my readers are adult.

  1. Did you struggle to find a title for the book?

A little.  The working title was “Wildwood.”  Once I came up with the name for INZARED it was easy to add “Queen of the Elephant Riders.”

  1. When writing do you get emotionally involved while writing any of the situations or scenes in your book?

Absolutely!  I took one chapter to read at writer’s group and couldn’t.  I started crying every time I tried.  I was also very passionate about the Gypsy names.  Although some are a little hard to pronounce, I wanted them to be genuine Gypsy names.  It was suggested I change them but I didn’t.  When I couldn’t find an exotic enough name for my protagonist, I made one up.

The Muse..

Every writer has a muse that comes in all different shapes and forms and even sometimes it’s some sort of very delicate routine that an author cannot write without!


  1. What’s your muse?

Another question I think I’ve answered.  My muse is a misunderstood Appalachian girl named Bertha Maude Anderson who wants more out of life than the sheltered home she’s always lived in.  She dreams big and even though it gets her into trouble often she doesn’t give up on those dreams.  Eventually she realizes them.

  1. When does it appear?

She used to only appear when I willed her to.  I’d sit down at the computer and she’d pop by, strike up a conversation and tell me about her adventures.  For awhile I didn’t spend much time with her and when I tried to talk to her she turned her back and walked away.  I had to play nice for a while!

  1. How does it appear?

For me it’s a feeling.  She floods me with her presence and I grab the moment.

  1. Does it require a specific time or place?

Not really.  If I take time for her she’s always willing to talk.

  1. Do you scribble down notes when you are outside and an idea hits you?

Of course!  When I go through my purse there are always napkins, bits of cardboard, receipts and just about anything else I can write on stuffed in the pockets.  I try to write down ideas as I get them or see them.  I’m not very organized about it though.

  1. Did you get brain freezing before? How did you handle it ? and how do get back an idea you lost ?

If you mean writer’s block – yes.  I think all authors experience it sometimes.  I have learned to turn away and write about something else or take a break – maybe play the guitar for a while – and I’m ready to go again.

To get back an idea I lost – I don’t worry about that very much.  If it’s gone I’ll probably come up with something even better.  Being adaptable is a big part of the writing process.

The industry

The publishing industry is becoming more open with a lot of various options for the different types of authors, some prefer to go indie, others prefer traditional publishing but in the end each author has a dream


  1. What are your dreams as an author?

Well, of course, I’d love to be the next J.K. Rowling but that’s not why I write.  I write because I have to.  I have to get the words out.  I am a storyteller, whether through songs, poetry or books.  My dream has always been to share my love of reading (and writing) with the world.  If one person likes my work I’m happy and I feel validated.  Maybe that’s what was supposed to happen.

  1. Are you a self published (indie) or traditional published author?

I’m a self-published author at this point – through Amazon’s KDP Select.  I have songs that are traditionally published though.

  1. Which do you prefer and why?

I’d always thought to go the traditional route, but after thoroughly researching Indie Publishing I decided to do that instead so I could start on the next book in the series.

  1. Imagine you walk down a road and you see in a bookstore a few people standing in front of your book holding one of it and talking about it, how would that make you feel?

It would take me forever to come down from Cloud Nine!

  1. As author who inspired you to write?

Stephen King – he is so prolific and down to earth about the craft of writing.  We can all learn a lot from him.

  1. If you would give an advice to authors out there who are working on getting out their work, what would your advice be?

Don’t quit for a minute.  Writing is the easy part.  Marketing is the hardest.  You can’t take even one day off in the early stages – you’re working to get your name and that of your book out to the masses.  The other advice I’d give is to join Facebook groups.  There are a lot of Indie Authors who are willing to help others out.  It’s awesome!

Random questions!

Here are some questions we’d like to shoot at you just to get to know you a bit more!

  1. Favorite drink?


  1. Favorite meal?

Steak and Lobster

  1. Someone you would love to have over for tea or coffee?

Harlan Coben

  1. Left-handed or right-handed?

I’m ambidextrous but use the right hand more

  1. If you were given the chance to change one thing about your book what would it be?

The end, but I wouldn’t.

  1. What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear or read these words:
    1. Hills/mountains – Appalachia
    2. The ocean – Mazatlan, Mexico
    3. Song – Blowin’ In The Wind
    4. Word – Tenacious
    5. Child – Orphan
    6. Gun – Murder
    7. World – Peace

Where to find you & your book(s):

Amazon: Ridersebook/dp/B008FD5O1E/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1342119804&sr=8-1&keywords=inzared



E-mail (optional):

Well after this wonderful time we got to spend with (Your name) we would like to thank them for taking the time to be with us here and share with us their thoughts!

Thank you Linda Leander

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