I've never really been a big fan of science fiction, mostly because I lack the imagination that it takes to recreate the characters in my head. I mean, I can watch these sci-fi movies on T.V. but that's because someone else's imagination has already done the work for me. LOL. But, as a general rule, I don't gravitate toward the sci-fi section of my local bookstore.
However, after interviewing LeeAnn Siddens, I think I may have to reconsider that. Few times, in life, we may meet someone who seems to have an hyper-active imagination, and everything they write just seems to come to life on the page. I think LeeAnn is one such author. Read her interview below about her works, and decide for yourself.
AJ: What’s your name and a little about your background that led you to be a writer?
LAS: My name is LeeAnn Siddens (L. M. Siddens on my book covers!), and I currently live in Florida. I've moved around several times in life, and I was a little too smart for some of the school systems I attended (I wish I was still a little too smart). That meant I ended up reading at higher levels pretty early, which was a natural springboard for writing. It wasn't until I hit middle school that I got serious about writing. At that time, I started experiencing some severe mental illness symptoms, and I ended up staying home
with a tutor instead of attending school for about six months. Along with my normal assignments, my tutor challenged me to write some things about how I was feeling. I started experimenting with extended metaphors, and I've been trying to tell my stories ever since.
AJ: In what genre would you classify your works? And, is there one event in your life that led you in the direction of writing for your genre?
LAS: Growing up, I read a lot of science fiction and fantasy, so that's what I gravitate toward when I write. My latest release, Under, doesn't quite fit into either of those genres. I don't know what to call it, exactly. It has elements of mystery and action, but it doesn't adhere to the rules of those genres. There's no magic or technology to speak of, but it's set in a long-ago desert empire full of fictional people groups.
AJ: What inspired you to write your first book?
LAS: The first book I published (called The Black Throne) is about a girl who wanders into the woods beside her village and gets caught up in a faei (fairy) curse. The idea first came to me when I read a flash fiction that my best friend wrote about a fairy-hunter. It took me several years after that to write the book, and enough of the original idea got written out that you wouldn't guess it's related to my friend's original piece at all, but reading her glimpse of a story sparked something and convinced me that I should try to make the same thing happen for someone else.
AJ: How many have you written? And, what are your current projects?
LAS: Currently, I only have "Under" and "The Black Throne" available for sale, along with a small book of poetry called How to Survive. Under is the first in a trilogy, so I'm editing the second book and drafting the third right now. I'm always writing poetry, but not all of it is good so I don't expect to have enough for another book for a while. I've also got a high fantasy series and an inter-galactic sci-fi series in the early planning stages. I'm really excited about both of those!
AJ: Do you enjoy reading, as well? If so, whose books do you read for inspiration?
LAS: I love reading, and I try to read everything I get my hands on. I'm one of those people who goes to the library and checks out 18 books. Then again, I'm also pretty critical of the books I'm reading, so I tend to stop in the middle a lot of the time. I've found that specific authors don't inspire me as much as
the act of reading does, whether I like a book enough to finish it or not. I just enjoy learning more about writing as I read. I also read a lot of books about Christianity because I find that actively trying to deepen my understanding of my faith makes me more inspired and also more compassionate. I want to be both of those things when I tell stories.
AJ: What do you do to get book reviews? Does this seem to work for you?
LAS: I feel like I'm still way behind on things like marketing and connecting with readers, but I've found that when I do get a chance to interact it's easiest to just mention how much reviews help me. I'm also trying to trade free eBooks for reviews through a few of my social media channels with Under this time around, so we'll see how that goes.
AJ: Does your inspiration come from real life or is it purely fictional? If from real life, can you give an example?
LAS: I mentioned that my first serious experiments with writing were extended metaphors and that I've struggled with mental illness. In "Under", Ana (the main character) winds up working in a maze of tunnels, trying to make sense of them for her master, who is a mapmaker. The idea for this came when I was a teenager, and someone asked me what praying feels like. At the time, I wasn't even sure what I believed, and I just knew that whatever they were teaching me at church wasn't helping me get better. So while I've never had a real-life experience with pitch-black tunnels, the feelings and challenges I wanted to address came from my real life experiences with my own emotions. I also tend to write characters who would look like they belong from the outside, but who don't fit (or at least don't feel like they fit) anywhere. That's a feeling I struggled with for a long time, so it's important to me that I write stories where those people find a home and a family of their own.
AJ: Do you have any tips on how to get through the dreaded writer’s block?
LAS: The one I've heard the most is to do something unexpected in whatever scene you're writing and see where it takes you. You might have to scrap it later, but at least you built a good momentum back up. That one almost never works for me, though. Instead, I've found that I often need to get up and take a break, or move to a different workspace entirely. Atmosphere has a big effect on how well I can think and how confident I am, so if I get stuck and I start to feel like I'm just running in circles or writing terrible trash, I know it's time to move from the desk to the couch or to work at a coffee shop instead of home for the day.
AJ: Out of the protagonists you’ve written about so far, which one do you feel you relate to the most?
LAS: I originally thought of the idea for "Under" when I was about 15 years old, so Ana has been a part of my imagination and my life for almost ten years now. I've known her the longest, and while her world is completely different from mine and her experiences don't reflect mine at all, a lot of her internal struggles are the same. Of all the characters I've ever come up with, she's probably the closest to me as far as personality goes. Her doubts are my doubts and her method of thinking things through is a lot like mine.
AJ: How can readers discover more about you?
LAS: I have a Twitter account, an Instagram, and a writing tag on my Tumblr (in case you like tiny snippets of flash fiction that may or may not belong to a fandom). And finally, here's my author page on Amazon, which has links to my available books (and an extremely outdated picture). Thank you so much for this opportunity to share the story behind my stories!