First, before I begin the weekly spotlight, I want to extend my thoughts and well wishes to those who were caught in the path of Hurricane Harvey last week. Since I’ve tuned out of social media except for Instagram, I have NO IDEA what the hell is going on in the world (and I like it). I just found out last Friday Steve Bannon is gone from the White House. Crazy, right? I’m delayed when it comes to news updates, and it’s wonderful for my mental health. I’m supposed to rejoin the social media fray in September, but I can say for certain, moving forward the time I spend on it (except for Instagram) will be limited. I get ragey and antsy doing casual scrolls, and that’s not healthy. When the world is overwhelming, you have to bury yourself in things that make you happy. I have been in such a good place since tuning out two weeks ago. My happy is out of control! YAY!
Anyway, I hope you and your loved ones are safe and sound. Sending those impacted by the storm virtual hugs and tons of positivity. ♥
This week, I have the honor of featuring one of the coolest authors I’ve come to know in this business. We first connected earlier this year at RT where I shouted her name across the bar. I was totally sober! LOL, that’s how I introduce myself, peeps. I YELL YOUR NAME IN A CROWDED BAR TO GET YOUR ATTENTION (I don’t really) I was just super excited to meet Leslye in person. Luckily, she didn’t curse me out. If paranormal/sci-fi/fantasy are your go to romance subgenres, you’ll definitely want to give L.P.’s work a whirl. Did I mention she’s super cool? I did, didn’t I? It can’t hurt to give you a gentle reminder. ;-)
Get to know a bit about L. Penelope!
I always find author interviews kind of boring. We only get to see one side of an author, the polite side. If you had an evil doppelganger, what detail would they enjoy revealing about you to the public that people would find surprising and possibly questionable?
I go to the gun range with my husband regularly, and I’m a pretty good shot (better than him). Originally, my reasoning had a lot to do with a potential zombie apocalypse, but these days, being prepared just makes a lot of sense.
What state were you born in?
New York. The Bronx specifically. My father was a Secret Service agent and worked undercover in the city. But we moved to DC when I was still a baby.
What are three words that describe your first sexual experience?
That’s a difficult one because my first sexual experiences—everything from making out as a teenager to first having consensual intercourse as an adult—were all very fraught. Maybe that’s why I love romance novels, you can disappear into a world full of happily ever afters. And I was very fortunate eventually to find my own, hard earned, HEA.
How old were you when you learned to ride a bike?
I don’t remember, 6 or 7, I think. I do know that I never figured out what all those gears were for on my 10 speed, and the whole bike riding thing lost its luster after around sixth grade.
What inspired you to write paranormal/sci-fi romance?
I began writing stories when I was about five years old and everyone always told me how weird they were. I would start out trying to write something simple and straightforward and then poof: a talking baby back from the grave or an invisible fear monster would show up. At one point my parents really thought something was wrong with me. I blame my steady diet of The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits, Tales from the Darkside, Amazing Stories and any other weirdly speculative show I could devour. I watched Twin Peaks in middle school and The X-Files in high school and experienced a catharsis. These were my people.
I read very widely since I was a kid, and had a brief flirtation with Harlequin as a teenager, but my love for romance didn’t really come about until my mid-twenties. I discovered Kresley Cole, Nalini Singh and JR Ward, and they led me down the rabbit hole of paranormal romance. I’d always loved writing about love, so it was only natural for magic and mythical creatures to creep into my work.
You recently signed a deal with SMP. On a scale of 1-10 how grueling was the entire process of getting your series picked up? Based on your experience, what advice would you offer to an aspiring author regarding queries?
My experience isn’t super helpful to other authors as I didn’t actually query. I started out knowing I was going to self-publish. As a web developer, I’m fairly tech savvy and had plenty of DIY experience with other projects (indie filmmaking and co-founding a literary journal), so I just did a bunch of research on indie publishing and started putting my work out there. Along the way, people kept telling me about Monique Patterson, an editor at St. Martin’s Press, and I really needed to check her out because she loves paranormal/sci-fi/fantasy. I was like, “okay, sure, I’ll add that to my monstrous to-do list,” because self-publishing is no joke.
As it turns out, Monique came across my books online, read them, and contacted me, initially about pitching new projects, and eventually about republishing the Earthsinger Chronicles series, and bringing it to a wider audience. That was the start of a very long process that was probably an 8 on the grueling meter, just because I’m an impatient person. Working with traditional publishing has forced me to exercise my patience muscles. From the time she first contacted me until I actually signed the contract was about nine months. And as of now, it’s still nearly a year until the book comes out!
I would encourage authors, regardless of what publishing path they’re aiming for, to do as much research as possible. Put out the most polished product you can, whether you’re querying or going indie.
Vanilla, strawberry, or chocolate?
If we’re talking ice cream, then vanilla.
Do you believe in love at first sight?
Absolutely. At least on one side. I’ve had several, long term, one-sided love at first sight non-relationships that were very meaningful to me, LOL. Reciprocal love at first sight I’m not so sure about. But my gushy, romance-loving heart wants to believe.
What would you say is the most difficult thing about being a writer?
Being a writer is like taking all your clothes off in front of an audience, then ripping open a few veins and hoping they appreciate it. The self-doubt has been the toughest for me. I can both know I’m a good writer and think all my words are trash at the same time. That dichotomy is exhausting. Pushing through it to the other side requires the type of self-work that is never easy.
What’s your favorite childhood toy?
I had a pink, stuffed elephant named Penelope (because I was the type of kid who named toys after myself) that I adored. You wound it up and it played Yes, Jesus Loves Me, which, in hindsight, sounds pretty bizarre, but at the time I thought it was the coolest thing ever.
Ever tried BDSM? If not, would you?
I don’t think my husband would like me putting our business in the streets like that, haha.
L. Penelope has been writing since she could hold a pen and loves getting lost in the worlds in her head. She is the author of new adult, fantasy and paranormal romance. Her debut novel, SONG OF BLOOD & STONE, won the 2016 Self-Publishing eBook Award from the Black Caucus of the American Library Association. The fantasy series was picked up by St. Martin’s Press for publication starting 2018.
After living on both coasts, she settled in Maryland with her husband and their furry dependents: an eighty-pound lap dog and an aspiring feral cat. Sign up for new release information and monthly giveaways on her website: http://www.lpenelope.com.
Get your paranormal romance fix with Angelborn, Book 1 in the Eternal Flame series! This is an older cover but it’s still gorge!