Today, Coffee Time Romance has the pleasure of speaking to author, R. Leigh. Thank you so much for granting this interview with us. Why not pull up a chair, grab a cup of coffee and relax in our cozy chair. The readers would love to hear more about R. Leigh.
I have to tell you that I read The Winds of Asharra and was impressed with your storytelling. You tell a story that keeps the pages turning. I am sure that you have been asked many times what gave you the idea for this book, so I hope you don’t mind if I ask if you would give our readers at Coffee Time Romance, a look-see into what transpired you in the development of this book.
I have always felt that there was a "better way" of living than what Modern Western Society offers. After studying several non-Western societies for several years, and discovering aspects that were appealing, I was able to stitch these elements together, and blend them into a sci-fi romantic adventure novel.
Was it hard for you to come up with the characters and their descriptions? The reason I ask each character was given certain traits that made them unusual.
Since The Winds of Asharra is in many ways, a New Age fable, as well as a romantic story (with several happy couples by the end), it was fun to make the characters "larger than life", since their journey is in fact a metaphor for the psychological journey the reader takes, as he or she learns about Asharran culture and themselves. If you look at the story as a sci-fi myth, then the uniqueness of each character fits especially well.
As I was reading the book, I got the feeling that perhaps part of the characters identified with you in some aspects. Did you feel this way when you were sketching the book?
There is something of me in ALL of the characters in the Winds of Asharra. That is understandable with the human characters like Victor and Zoe but it also extends to the wild and unusual characters such the ponderous plant creature, the Oon, and the blunt brashness of Wole, the large blue bull for example. I'd like to think that Ionera could capture my quirky side and Yavaran is definitely my occasionally crusty side as well.
I do not know how others will feel after reading the book but I must tell you it reminded me when my dad would tell us not to be so negative but more positive and optimistic. I saw some of this with the characters in the book, and Zoe’s and Victor’s reaction. I thought you made a good point with the blending of the book. If you could describe the story in one word, or maybe two, what would you say came to your mind with the story after you were finished? (I hope this doesn’t sound dumb, if so, I can remove).
That's a great observation regarding being positive and optimistic. If we were forced to describe the book in one or two words it would have to be ... "positive harmony"
Was The Winds of Asharra hard for you to compose?
Actually not. My spouse and I could easily be described as Left Wing Liberal, Globalist, Peace-loving, New Age Pagan, Environmentally conscious vegetarian types, so you can see the similarity with the characters. We weren't always that way, so the journey of Victor and Zoe (and Ionera and all of the rest) is actually a mirror held up to our own life's journey... and a suggestion for the reader's possible inner journey as well.
Something tells me perhaps a sequel is in the works. Do you have one planned?
We'd love to write a sequel as there are many more tales of the world of the Purple sky, with Asharran style romance and adventure. We've also been asked by some readers to distill the Asharran philosophy into a separate book and expand on the concepts that we interweave into the story. Time will tell.
Can you tell us something about you that makes you unique?
By not identifying myself with a single culture, country or even time period, I feel I can see the universality and it helps me have compassion for our brothers and sisters everywhere on this planet who are sad, frustrated, worried or lacking basic needs.
If you were given three wishes, what would they be?
Wish #1 would be a long and healthy life which would make everything else possible. Wish #2 would be the ability to forget everything I have ever learned or been exposed to, that had elements of prejudice, ethnocentrism, or tribal differences (excessive patriotism at the expense of global compassion). Wish #3 would be that all people could return to the basic natural impulses they had when they were in pre-school/kindergarten age. If world leaders could just cry and then have a time out and a nap instead of posturing, attempting on imposing their will abroad, the world would be a better place.
Can you describe yourself in 3 sentences for our readers?
I am an optimistic romantic (happily married now for 11 years. My own inner journey of happiness and inner peace has been as complicated and exhilarating as the main characters' journey in the Winds of Asharra. I hope some of the lessons I have learned along the way can be shared within the book, tucked away within the confines of an interesting romantic adventure.
If you could be a character in any Disney Movie, which movie would you choose?
If female, then Ariel from the Little Mermaid. If male, then the Genie from Aladdin.
Do you have a favorite children’s story?
Horton Hears a Who
For Fun: Camping in the mountains or going on a ski trip?
Neither, exploring other countries and cultures... villages, cities, marketplaces, beaches ... exploring the planet.
What is your favorite flavor of ice cream?
I'm lactose intolerant...don't do ice cream...lol…I love Orange-Lime-Raspberry sherbet though!
Which room in your home would you say is your favorite?
We decorated our home in strange 60/70's George Jetson-like mod decor... and the room’s kind of blend into each other so it's not a question we can answer really.
If you were to replenish your cabinets with one junk food, what would it be?
We're health food types normally but our favorite desserts would be Tiramisu (from Italy), Mango lassi's and rice pudding (from India) and sweet bean cakes (from China).
You wake up one morning to learn you are on a different planet. It is similar to earth in every way for the exception; the people are all the same. You feel like you are in a Twilight Zone episode. You learn you can return to earth immediately or spend the day learning about the strange sect. What would be your choice?
We are great believers in diversity of culture (with none being better than others) so if the sameness of the people meant they were all bland, or clones of each other, we'd return in a heartbeat, even with our world's problems. However, if your Twilight Zone people were all the same in that they rejected loyalty to individual nations, religions, petty jealousies and tribal arguments over resources, that would be different. In that case, we'd look up into the sky...and do you know what? There's a good chance, the sky would be purple and there would be two suns in the sky. We would be on Asharra, and like the characters in our book, would immediately be "welcomed home" since for us (and the characters), the word "asharra" means the home around us. In that case, we'd never leave. We'd only hope that Earth would catch up some day... and we still do.
Thank you so much for this interview. I really enjoyed the time we spent together. I wish you best in your writing, and will look for to any sequels or other books. Thanks again.