Thursday, October 30, 2014
Author Interview - Peggy Levesque
Anne: We have a real treat here this morning. Peggy Levesque is a sort of new author with Elk Lake Publishing, and the book that published in Kindle format a few months back has just been also released in paperback. She might be new to this game, but I gotta tell ya folks, she's good. I reviewed her book yesterday, and you can read that review HERE.
Please tell us, Peggy, what inspired Ashes in the Wind?
Peggy: I guess the short answer is…Nancy Drew. Of course, there’s a story behind that, but in the interest of brevity, I’ll keep it simple and say that she introduced me to the skin-tingling sensation of adventure and danger that intrigues me even today.
I played around with writing a novel for a few years before I actually got serious, so I could say the story I tell--and the characters--of Ashes evolved. Since I most enjoy reading suspense, I decided that’s what I had to write. Living in Arizona where drug trafficking is so prevalent, that seemed like fertile ground for the antagonist element, which also meant that law enforcement made the perfect counterpoint on the protagonist side. Of course, faith had to be a strong factor, because, well, that’s where I live. It’s what I know.
Anne: I love that answer! Which character do you find the most interesting? Why?
Peggy: Naturally, I’m totally in love with Mac and Sara, and their individual journeys, but I think I would have to choose Selina as most interesting. A precocious eight-year-old, she has a bottomless faith that steadies her. While she stumbles a little here and there, she relies on the presence of a dog no one else can see (a gift from the Christ child at La Posada) to keep her safe. When the dog disappears at a critical moment, she ultimately understands that Jesus is her one true protector. The faith of this little child has a profound impact on Sara.
Anne: What do you love best about this book?
Peggy: Oh, wow, now there’s a question, and the answer has to be the way the story all came together in the end. I began writing Ashes with the goal of completing a book that I would actually want to read.. After many false starts, a lot of trashing entire scenes, and often reworking others from a different angle, the result pleases me. No matter how many times I read it, for whatever reason, I still get caught up in the story, in the characters. I really love that.
Anne: What was hardest about the writing of Ashes?
Dare I say everything? As a neophyte, with every step I took, I discovered how much I didn’t know about crafting a story, dialog, giving the characters depth, researching, even figuring out how to add that dash of romance without sounding contrived. But as I learned, as I finished each scene, I felt a rush of accomplishment beyond anything else I had ever experienced in my work life, so all the agony of creation seemed trivial in comparison.
Anne: What were the first words you uttered when you finished the first draft?
Peggy: Now this is just plain embarrassing. I don’t remember what I said. I’m not sure I can say I even finished a first draft. As I wrote this story, I didn’t know enough to write the whole story and then go back and rewrite. I slaved over each scene, each word even, until I felt I could move on. Not terribly efficient. I still struggle with this tendency, but hope I’m making progress. I don’t even remember what I said when I finally had what I considered it in 2006 to be a completed manuscript (I confess that every time I read my work I have to change something, often a significant something). I do remember the overwhelming relief—and, okay, some pride—that it was done. Or so I thought at the time.
Anne: How long did it take you to find a publisher?
Peggy: I began taking my work-in-progress to writers' conferences in 2003, and while I received a number of invitations to submit to editors, since it wasn’t yet complete, I didn’t send it in. Then, when it was finished, I submitted it to a number of publishing houses. I received some lovely rejection letters, but for one reason or another, it didn’t work for them. The last time I sent it out was in 2008 to an agent, and I never heard back from her, so I set it aside and started working on another project.
Last year Donna Goodrich, a dear friend in my writers' critique group, announced that she planned to find a home for Ashes if it took the rest of the year. That same year, arguably the worst in my life, my husband fell ill and eventually succumbed to cancer in October. Three days after his memorial service I received an email from Donna with the news that Kathi Macias was interested in acquiring the book for Elk Lake Publishing. That makes it seven years to find a publisher.
But you know, I believe God had the timing planned. Updating the manuscript and getting it ready for publication not only kept my mind busy, but gave me a reason to see my future as hopeful.
Anne: Would you like to tell us about your next book?
Peggy I would love to. In Night Shadows, two of the characters from Ashes have an opportunity to tell their stories. Selina’s mama, Amalia, had a very minor role, but here, she emerges as a woman with a secret past. That past catches up with her to put not only herself, but her entire family in danger. After being shot in the line of duty, Mac’s friend and fellow DEA agent, BJ, has to face his own demons and his true motivation for joining the DEA. And, of course, romance blossoms between BJ and Amalia.
Anne: Wow, I am so impressed--and I am so hoping you will also let me influence for you on the next book! Blessings on you, writer girl!