Hey, bloglet fans, here’s the first interview for the tour. Welcome, Leslie Conzatti! Have a look at this gorgeous cover for one of her works right here.
Leslie Conzatti is an avid reader, a passionate writer, and a committed lover of all things fantasy. A native of the Pacific Northwest, she has been running the blog “The Upstream Writer” since the beginning of 2013, to promote her own writing and as a medium for interacting with readers. In addition, “The Upstream Writer” is an “indie book blog” as well, since Leslie willingly uses it as an excuse to get free books. (to review, of course!) Leslie’s “day job” is a staff assistant at a local elementary school. She is currently in the process of publishing her first novella, “The Princess of Undersea,” and hopes to be ready for release by the fall!
Mermaids are marvelous, darling. Simply marvelous! Ahem. Okay, here are the questions Leslie so graciously answered for me.
D.R.- Dancing or singing?
Leslie- BOTH. No, but I am definitely better at singing. But I LOVE dancing… Like watching other people dance, or wishing I could dance, or fantasizing about being able to dance like that…
D.R.- Beach or woods?
Leslie- BOTH AGAIN. 🙂 But probably woods more, since the beach is sort of exposed and the woods are just more peaceful to me.
D.R.- Coffee or tea or something else?
Leslie- COFFEE 100%. I have tried to like tea, I really have. But no, coffee wins this one.
D.R.- What’s the food or drink you always tell other people to try?
Leslie- Jicama—a root vegetable with the texture of raw potato but it’s sweet and juicy like an apple. Not many people have heard of that one.
Huckleberry—my favorite berry, exceptional because it’s rare in non-mountainous areas. They grow wild here in the Cascade mountains, so every year we head up and pick a few gallons to have. They’re small and the flavor is intense, like a super-condensed blueberry. I love it.
Gnocchi—(nYOKE-key) A traditional potato pasta that is part of my Italian heritage. My grandma taught my mom how to make them, and we still make it exactly that way every year for Easter. They are dense, rich little potato dumplings, drenched in red or white or pesto sauce—molto bene!
D.R.- What book do you recommend the most?
Leslie- I can’t answer that; not because I don’t have a recommended book, but because I have hundreds. I would just direct your attention to the Reader’s Review page on my blog, and just pick the one that sounds most interesting to you! (All I ask is that you leave a comment telling me which one you liked, just so I know the kinds of books my followers enjoy hearing about!)
D.R.- Where is the one place you think everyone should go?
Leslie- Not having been many places myself, I can’t really say, but a dream of mine is to tour the British Isles someday!
D.R.- How do you get ideas for stories?
Leslie- There have been a few times I dreamed a scene and then woke up and made a story to go with it. Most of the time, I think like a fanfiction writer: I think about a story or an idea I like, some book that I wish existed because I want to read it—and then I write it myself.
D.R.- Which genres do you write and what’s your favorite one?
Leslie- When I write, I usually gravitate toward fantasy, either urban fantasy or high fantasy. I also do some sci-fi of the cyberpunk variety, and sometimes I’ll end up with something akin to contemporary fiction, but fantasy wins most of the time, particularly if there are dragons or mermaids involved.
D.R. Perry- What’s your best writer’s block buster?
Leslie- There inevitably comes a time when I am writing and then I hit a snag; but while I am writing, I allow for the times when a new, different idea crops up when I am in the middle of writing something. I let things do that, and I just start jotting down notes for the new idea, because invariably, when one project stumps me, suddenly the plot of another idea becomes crystal-clear. So I tend to jump around ideas, depending on where my mind is at. It helps, too, to read books in many different genres and watch TV shows that sound interesting to me, becomes sometimes a story I have not written can give me ideas for my own projects. Whatever I do, I don’t force it out.
D.R.- What’s the best advice you’ve gotten about writing?
Leslie- Your first draft is never your last one. You WILL rewrite—several times—so don’t get too attached to any one scene. Pay attention to the story; if the scene contains necessary information and it fits the narrative, you can keep it. If it’s just a “fun part” but it really doesn’t add anything, or there’s a better way to say it, then the scene is just taking up space and it has to go.
D.R.- Tell me about the biggest surprise your own character, story, or setting has given you.
Leslie- That would probably be the moment that I realized that this main character in my first full-length original fantasy novel, the one with so much untapped potential, was destined to be a writer.
It came as a surprise because I didn’t know the world I created was going to have writers; there were no books to speak of, and storytelling was kind of taboo, a forbidden magic art normally used to create specialized objects like clothes, earthenware, and jewelry. It was called “Wordspinning” and I thought my main character was just going to be part of one particular “guild” out of the syndicate of four guilds. But then she showed signs of being able to interact with all the groups, and yet her skills seemed inherently distinct from them… Then I realized there was a fifth guild, a guild of writers whose job it was to write down the tales that the other Wordspinners told… and by the end of that train of thought, I had a whole series of four books planned. So that was unexpected.
Check back next week for another great author!