I have always had an overactive imagination. When I was a child growing up in Michigan I dreamed of seeing the world and after I read Toby Tyler I was determined join the circus. The settings and animals drew me in. When the circus came to our small farming community it was a really big deal. My siblings and I begged our parents to take us and once there I was entranced by the sights and sounds; the hustle and bustle; the calls of the food hawkers, the smells of cotton candy and popcorn mixed with the odor of hay and animal dung. It held a fascination for me I can’t explain. I read everything I could get my hands on at the library and planned my escape. Mind you, I had a wonderful childhood and didn’t want to run away for any reason other than the excitement and anticipation of wanting to be part of something so grand and exciting. I was especially taken with an elephant that did tricks and a woman in a glittery costume who rode him in the ring. She looked so grand and happy. I was determined to be just like her when I grew up.
Of course, the next year I decided to be something else when I was older and put dreams of the circus away. The one thing I remember about those young days is that my mother was supportive. She told me I could be whatever I wanted to be (and I didn’t have to run away). Smart woman! I never lost my fascination with the circus, though. As an adult I am still interested in all things circus. I lead my children in a 4-H Clowning class. I have been to several circuses since those young days and it never loses the magic.
Q) Tell us about your novel, INZARED, Queen of the Elephant Riders. Where did you get the idea for this story and how did you include research into your writing?
I didn’t really decide to write about the circus – it chose me. I sat down one night and the words flew from my fingers faster than I could type them. Inzared demanded to be heard and I loved meeting her, the Gypsy circus family who took her in and, especially, Cecil the elephant.
Inzared was an interesting character to write about. She spoke to me in her local dialect from the Appalachian hills of North Carolina. I actually wrote the entire book initially in that voice but changed it to be more readable. She comes from a different type of family than mine, misunderstood by her parents and very poor. She knows there is a big world outside her little mountain home and when an opportunity comes she seizes it and never looks back. That isn’t to say she doesn’t feel guilty – she just knows it’s something she has to do.
Research is my favorite part of writing. I have pages of notes and have been in contact with circus museum curators all over the world. They are a wonderful bunch of people, gladly answering my questions about circus trivia in pre-Civil war America. I thoroughly enjoyed learning about the Gypsy people, who are often misunderstood and are close-knit people. As I said, I have read everything I can get my hands on about circus performers and the lives they lead. There seems to be a common thread in these folks – confidence and the desire to entertain. I tried to incorporate those traits in my characters.
Q) Have you drawn inspiration from other aspects of your life to develop your writing, if so where does that inspiration come from?
A lot of inspiration was way of life during the time period I write in (mid 1800’s). I have done Civil War Reenactment with my brother and sister-in-law and we actually live life during those reenactments exactly as it would have been in the day. Growing up in small farming communities in Michigan I learned to be self-sufficient, growing gardens, canning, sewing, cooking, churning butter, butchering and the like. As an avid camper I am a self-taught “campfire cook” so know well how to prepare all kinds of succulent food in primitive circumstances. It was comparatively easy for me to write these scenes. I based Inzared’s character on a 4-H teacher I had in my teens. She was from North Carolina, had a heart as big as the ocean, was confident and naïve at the same time, could do all sorts of things well, and always had a smile on her face. She accepted the life she was dealt and I never heard her complain, even though a lot of obstacles were thrown in her path. She was a strong woman and laughingly called herself a “hillbilly.”
Q) What’s next? Are you currently working on another project, can you give us some details of what we might expect to read in the future?
I am currently working on the second in the INZARED series. The working title is INZARED, The Middle Years, although that may change. I am editing the manuscript at present with plans to publish it in October of 2012. I am making notes and have ideas for a third book and will begin work on that this winter. My husband and I spend our winter months in Mexico and it is a very creative community with an excellent Writer’s Group. I do most of my writing and editing there, saving advertising and PR for the summer months when I am back in the US. I also write a blog on WordPress and a series of non-fiction “how-to” blogs on Blogger. My plan is to incorporate some of those blogs into more eBooks when INZARED is finished with me. Who knows what’s next? I’ll wait for the next character to speak!
INZARED, Queen of the Elephant Riders is available on Amazon.com as a Kindle eBook currently. I would love to have a print version, although I may wait until the series is complete.
Thanks for taking the time to introduce us to INZARED, Queen of the Elephant Rider. We’ll keep our eye out for future projects! In the meantime, check out the book trailer:
INZARED, Queen of the Elephant Riders can also be found at the following links:
FB Author Page: http://facebook.com/lleanderbooks
L.Leander Blog: http://lleander11.wordpress.com/