Monday, January 14, 2013

FAST FIVE Interview with Author L. LEANDER

Please join me in welcoming today's guest, L. Leander, author of INZARED, Queen of the Elephant Riders.
Linda, an author and award-winning singer/songwriter, spent her youth in small-town Michigan where life consisted of farming, blue-collar jobs and innocence. She credits teachers for feeding her desire to learn and exposing her to the world outside. She yearned to travel and experience different cultures. Her dreams have come true.
Linda's interests include history and the circus. She has combined the two to create a series of Young Adult books about a Gypsy circus and a young woman from Appalachia who joins them to become the star performer in the show.
Ms. Leander lives with her husband in Wisconsin and Mexico.

FAST FIVE: Linda, rather than the 140 characters we’ve grown accustomed to on Twitter, can you share with us a more detailed account of the novel and your research for INZARED, Queen of the Elephant Riders? 

LINDA LEANDER: INZARED, Queen of the Elephant Riders is a book about a girl who becomes a strong woman. Growing up dirt poor, hating her name, and misunderstood by her family, Bertha Maude Anderson longs to travel and find excitement.  A Gypsy circus comes to town and by a strange twist of fate, the girl meets the boss handler, Paytre and his elephant Cecil.  It’s instant attraction for the girl and the elephant.  Persuaded to join the troupe, she leaves in the dark of night without telling anyone.  She’s given the stage name of Inzared and her new life begins as she learns to ride the elephant and becomes the main attraction in the circus. 

Some of the Gypsies aren’t so accepting of the Gajji in their midst.  There is trouble brewing and the old fortune-teller Vadoma warns Inzared that her life will not be easy.  She and Paytre fall in love and seek to solve a mystery that has plagued the circus for years.  Inzared learns healing and fortune-telling from Vadoma.  She works hard to be accepted into the clan even while she worries that her family will never want to see her again.  She wonders if the dreams she has had all these years were worth it after all?  Should she go home?  Will Vadoma’s predictions come true?
I researched for two years to make this story accurate.  From correspondence with European circus museum curators to interviews with elephant trainers, I learned much about the circus in 1843.  I got in touch with Roma Gypsies to learn about the customs and dress of the day.  The research was fascinating and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

FAST FIVE: My first impulse is to compare INZARED to “Water For Elephants,” but watering the elephants isn’t the main focus of your protagonist’s work. Is “the job” the most important part of your protagonist’s life? 

LINDA LEANDER: While the “job” of riding the elephant and becoming a famous circus performer is an important part of Inzared’s life, it’s not the most important part.  That is her inner strength and willingness to live with other people and their beliefs.  She is constantly subjected to differences she has never witnessed.  She is eager to be accepted and is hurt by the indifference she receives from some of the Gypsies.  Hard work is part of her upbringing and she uses that to gain a foothold in the Gypsy community of circus performers.

FAST FIVE: The Mystery/Suspense genre is the focus of Fast Five interviews, but what unique twist makes your novel stand out? 

LINDA LEANDER: I think it’s the year (1843) and the twist of the circus being a group of Gypsies.  They were just becoming accepted in America, although distrust and hatred was rampant among the Gajji (non-Gypsies).  Their colorful pasts, clothing and traveling from place to place made them unique.

FAST FIVE: How does your main character’s profession draw her into suspenseful situations, (murder, for instance?) 

LINDA LEANDER: Inzared is a girl of sixteen when the story opens.  Inquisitive by nature, she notices things going on around her and asks questions.  Even though her mind tells her to beware she can’t help researching what has happened in the past and comparing it to the events that are taking place now.

FAST FIVE: Is this book part of a series, and are you working on a sequel? 

LINDA LEANDER: Yes, the book is part of a series.  INZARED, Queen of the Elephant Riders is book one of the series.  The second, INZARED, The Fortune Teller, will be published in the spring of 2013.  It continues Inzared’s story as a healer and fortune-teller and of going home to attempt to make peace with her family.

FAST FIVE: This last one isn’t a Fast Five question, more an “if/then” scenario: If Paris is not an option, then where would you most like to spend your time writing and why. 

LINDA LEANDER: Easy.  Mexico.  And the great thing is – I already live here.  Mazatlan is a city on the Pacific, it’s full of life and it’s where I love to write.  The ambiance of the city is old-world European.  The beaches are beautiful and the sunsets to die for.  I have a whole studio to myself where I do my best creating.  I couldn’t ask for a better place to write!

Links to where readers can follow Author L. Leander:

Book Title:  INZARED, Queen of the Elephant Riders by L.Leander 

Video Trailer for INZARED, Queen of the Elephant Riders:


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