I love romance â€“ I always have. But the novels Iâ€™ve always been drawn to have something else in them too. I like for a plot to be complex and have that complexity entangle characters in things they just wouldnâ€™t experience in the normal flow of their lives. I think itâ€™s what draws me to paranormal and fantasy romances as well â€“ thereâ€™s often an element of suspense or mystery threaded through those novels too, especially the ones I love.
I kind of think of this element of suspense as a secondary character, but I think there are a couple of other kinds of secondary characters in Killing Me Softly that play a big part â€“ setting and the music and both are very personal to me.
Years ago, when I was a teenager, I travelled through England with my family. We were making our way up to Scotland to visit relatives and while I loved the gentle English countryside, itâ€™s the wilds of the north that I really remember. They were so vivid and stormy, like the mountains had been dropped from the sky and splintered apart and the trees and plants were moulded by the toughness they needed to stay alive. I loved the black faced sheep and the shaggy cows. Even the colours of the landscape were moody and different from everywhere else. I donâ€™t know whether itâ€™s the Scots in me, but they really spoke to me.
When I sat down to write Killing Me Softly, I knew, given what my hero and heroine did for a living, that I needed to set my novel either in England or America where the opportunities to make it big as a producer are, but I just couldnâ€™t see it set in America. It seemed too â€˜bigâ€™. I wanted something wilder, yet more intimate, with scenery that spoke to the passion, desires and needs in my hero and heroineâ€™s souls. My memories of the Cumbrian wilds seemed to match the feeling that I wanted to create perfectly, and for me, the setting is as important to the journey of my characters as any other part of the plot.
Then, of course, thereâ€™s the music. I am a classically trained singer and have done theatre training and acting at school and university. I performed for years in plays, cabaret and theatre restaurants and was also a stage manager, tour manager, script writer and musical director. I also play the piano and have written instrumental pieces for the piano and have written acapella songs for the theatre restaurant I owned and ran for six years.
I have worked with many performers and musicians over the years and music speaks to me in a very special way. Iâ€™ve spent a little time in recording studios â€“ nothing as big as Lexiâ€™s studio â€“ but enough to give me an idea, and Iâ€™ve known people who work in the industry. It was actually working as a stage manager that I met my husband â€“ he was the lighting and sound tech. So, for me, music and performing are all tied up with romance â€“ it seemed only natural to write characters who also lived in that space.
I hope that when people read Killing Me Softly, that they feel these essential elements in the same way I do.
You can buy Killing Me Softly at:
You can follow Leisl and find out more about her and her books on her website: www.leislleighton.com
Follow her on Twitter @LeislLeighton