Book Nerd Interview
What’s one thing that readers would be surprised to find out about you?
I wanted to be an actress when I was in high school and always dreamed of playing on Broadway.
What was the greatest thing you learned at school?
Before I went to college I was more interested in acting and signing and didn’t think I was especially smart or had any talent for academics. All that changed after I got to school and fell in love with learning. So I guess I learned not to confine myself to pre-conceived limits and instead to follow my heart.
What is the best piece of advice you ever received from another author?
Just write. Don’t labor over every word, revising each sentence as you go. Plow ahead, slap the words on the page and worry about revising later.
What are some of the common challenges that new and experienced authors face and what advice do you have for over-coming them?
When I was a new writer I made common mistakes like using filler words, not balancing dialogue with narrative, and including scenes that didn’t always propel the plot forward. Now as an experienced author I find I have difficulty balancing my writing with the need to do promotion and reaching out to folks on social media. My advice to new writers is to read as much as possible, and join writers groups like the Romance Writers of America (RWA) and its local and special interest chapters like the Young Adult Chapter of RWA. Also I highly recommend writing workshops that can be accessed through RWA or other organizations like Savvy Authors. As for my present challenge with balancing writing time with social media and Internet roaming, I rely on the Freedom program which shuts off my Internet access so I can work. Then after I’ve made my word count, I let myself play as a reward.
For those who are unfamiliar with your novel, Conjure (The Hoodoo Apprentice #1), how would you introduce it?
Three teens discover a hidden 18-century pirate treasure and unwittingly unleash a wicked flesh-eating curse that only hoodoo magic can break. It takes place in the South Carolina Lowcountry which is one of the most beautiful and romantic places I’ve ever been, and features heinous demon dogs called plateyes, and fascinating Gullah hoodoo magic.
What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating Emma?
Underneath her initially shy and sensitive exterior she’s one tough cookie. I love her strength and determination.
For those who are unfamiliar with Cooper, how would you introduce him?
The best way is to repeat Emma’s words from the first page:
Cooper Beaumont, our best friend and sole heir to this beach and the rest of High Point Bluff Plantation. Cooper, whose golden-brown hair turns blond in the sun, and whose eyes switch from blue to green depending on his clothes. The same Cooper who smells like a perfect combination of summer and the sea. That Cooper.
The unrequited, secret love of my fourteen-year-old life.
Do you have a favorite quote that you keep visible in your work environment to help inspire you?
I do most of my writing in a coffee shop so I don’t have any formal quotes to post on the wall. But when I need a particularly swift butt-kicking I write a foreboding note on a napkin, usually to remind myself of an impending deadline, and drape it over my laptop. It stares at me all day and motivates me to get ‘er done.
If you could introduce Jack to any character from another book, who would it be and why?
Jack goes through a lot in CONJURE so I’d want him to be with someone sweet and kind, but he also needs someone who’ll stand up to him and won’t take his crap. So, I’d introduce him to one of my all time favorites, Hermione Granger, though she wouldn’t have to work too much magic because Emma’s got that covered.
What are some of your current and future projects that you can share with us?
I’m working on Allure, the sequel to CONJURE. The plot gets darker and creepier and has lots of twists and turns.
What’s the best advice you can give writers to help them develop their own unique voice and style?
Don’t worry about writing like anyone else. Write like yourself, put your personality into your draft and you’ll find your voice.
Where is the best place in the world you’ve been?
Galway Bay, Ireland. If there’s a such thing as past lives, I’m sure I’ve lived there before.
What book are you reading now?
Love Story by Jennifer Echols. I got to spend a little bit of time with her at this year’s RWA Conference in Anaheim, California and love her to death.
Who was your first boyfriend?
I can’t remember who my first official boyfriend was, but it might have been a guy named Rob who was a science and math genius. I was a freshman and he was a senior. After we went on a date and “parked” at the beach my father stepped in and put an end to our relationship because Rob was too old for me. I was crushed, but my dad was right.
Tell me about your first kiss.
Kindergarten. Back of the bus. With a boy with a runny nose. Gross, but at least it was only a peck.
First French kiss: Summer between seventh and eighth grade in a Spin the Bottle game. Considerably less gross, but far from spectacular.
When asked, what’s the one question you always answer with a lie?
I honestly don’t think there is a question I always lie about. After thinking about this for a while, I still can’t come up with anything.
What's the worst summer job you've ever had?
When I was 14 I worked at a small ice cream shop owned by my neighbor. She hired me so I’d run the store and she could stay at home. She refused to hire any other staff so I spent hours all by myself in that shop, scooping ice cream, cleaning equipment, and running the cash register. In retrospect it was incredibly dangerous to be alone for such long stretches. I was vulnerable and am very lucky nothing bad ever happened.
What did the last text message on your phone say?
It was from my husband and said, “On my way home sweetheart!” After twenty years of marriage he still calls me sweetheart. How adorable is that?
When was the last time you cried?
Last week. On my birthday. *Sigh*
Where can readers stalk you?
On my website www.LeaNolan.com, Facebook www.facebook.com/LeaNolanAuthor and Twitter https://twitter.com/Lea_Nolan. Please drop me a line, I’d love to hear from you. If you’ve got a question you can post it here and I’ll answer you in a video! I’ll do my best to answer without giving out any secrets from the next book.
Emma Guthrie expects this summer to be like any other in the South Carolina Lowcountry--hot and steamy with plenty of beach time alongside her best friend and secret crush, Cooper Beaumont, and Emma’s ever-present twin brother, Jack. But then a mysterious eighteenth-century message in a bottle surfaces, revealing a hidden pirate bounty. Lured by the adventure, the trio discovers the treasure and unwittingly unleashes an ancient Gullah curse that attacks Jack with the wicked flesh-eating Creep and promises to steal Cooper’s soul on his approaching sixteenth birthday.
When a strange girl appears, bent on revenge; demon dogs become a threat; and Jack turns into a walking skeleton; Emma has no choice but to learn hoodoo magic to undo the hex, all before summer—and her friends--are lost forever.
There are so many surprises within this book. The mystery they discovered and reluctantly uncovered is so clouded with much mystery. The plot is certainly unique as there are not many YA books that touch on the Gullah culture. The research that author Lea has done is quite remarkable. One might think of voodoo as associated with this culture, however, Lea focuses on healing and intertwines this in her book. Her writing style is easy to follow, even for readers who have little knowledge of this unique culture. After doing some research, this book was accurate and felt authentic with its element of the Gullah culture. I also like the fact that a love triangle was absent but manages to deliver a very sweet romance, even if it was just a little.
Conjure is a wonderful story full of mystery, vengeance, sacrifice, and romance. There are plenty of unexpected twists and turns to keep readers flipping through the pages. It will certainly not disappoint.