“Dragons do not exist.” Ella Hixson shrieked as the mythical beasts dive from the sky shredding her car with their impressively long talons and sending her careening across the road in an attempt to avoid the being flambéed. Escaping her car, she grasps the car door in order to prevent herself from tumbling down the slippery embankment. Pouring rain soaks Ella’s interview suit and her dress shoes as she searches the sky for the attacking beasts to find nothing but clouds heavy with their payload of rain.
Hallucinations, relationship destroying fights with her only surviving relative-her mother, and, thanks to a bodaciously bosomed, bottle-blond, jobless, Ella needs the universe to cut her a break.
Be careful what you wish for.
Circumstances conspire and Ella’s mundane existence evaporates when she discovers she is Drakkon, the hidden heir to an ancient dynasty, and she has an enemy who would see all the Drakkon race enslaved or dead.
No more ordinary days for Ella as she learns what it is to be Drakkon, tries to save a world she knows nothing about, and still be home in time to feed her dog.
~ Bewitching BT
Thank you so much for interviewing me. Let me introduce myself. My name is Leila Gaskin and I hail from Richmond, VA. My debut novel, Hot Flashes, was released on August 27, 2013. Most important thing to know about me? I’m a huge geek. I’ve read science fiction and fantasy all my life, and have always been excited by the ultimate question – What If?
What inspired you to write Hot Flashes?
I took a writing class in 2009 and one of the exercises asked us to tell a story about an object in our homes. Most everyone wrote about their bronzed baby shoes or their grandmother’s pearl earrings (nothing wrong with either of those items). Me? I used the Ottoman Empire cavalry sword, my father brought back from Ethiopia, that hung on our foyer wall. I came to class with 22 pages of single spaced prose and my main characters sketched out. My instructor’s last words to me regarding the writing exercise? ‘I think you have the beginnings of a novel.’
Have you ever been hit by the infamous “writer’s block”?
Picture me holding a skull a la Hamlet – ah, writer’s block, I know thee well. What did you do to escape it? Usually writer’s block hits me when I have over booked myself. The way I re-center and re-energize my creativity is by saying ‘no’ – a lot. I re-establish my boundaries, then block time to write. I hang with my writer friends, time spent with them leave me inspired and lighter. Or I take a nap, allowing my brain to reconnect with the characters or establish new characters and ideas. Does it ever go away? Not really.
Your all-time favorite book?
All I can say is so many books and so little time. I don’t know if I can boil it down to one. Maybe top five? Or not. My list just hit 30. I have a room devoted to books I cannot re-home. They are books I read again and again. So here are some of the authors I can’t live without (in no particular order): Mercedes Lackey, Anne McCaffrey, J.R.R. Tolkien, Samuel Coleridge, Edgar Allen Poe, H.G. Wells, Jules Verne, Nora Roberts, Kevin Hearne, Gini Koch, Robert Heinlein, Arthur C. Clark, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Seanan McGuire, Mira Grant, Patricia Briggs, Phillippa Balantine, Tee Morris, D.D. Barant, Susan Cooper, John Christopher – do you see my problem? All of these authors have inspired me, made me think, and entertained me.
What’s the longest time you’ve spent working on a project?
That would be the last five years I’ve spent writing Hot Flashes. I had the story, but I needed to learn how to write a novel. This time has been my own personal MFA program. Am I perfect? No, but the next installment in Ella’s story should move much faster.
Would you say becoming an author has changed you? In what way?
Saying I’m an author has been liberating and confidence building. I made the commitment and then made it happen. I’d been wishy-washy about my writing prior to that decision.
What does your day-to-day life consist of?
I have to manage my time carefully. I work for a Fortune 500 company and my days are full. I get a huge amount of writing done in the morning and on my lunch hour. By the time I get home from work I’m pretty brain dead. What else do you do, aside writing? When I’m not writing, I love to bake. I scour recipe blogs for yummy delicacies. I’ve been told that my pie crust was a thing of beauty.
How do you deal with bad reviews or acid criticism?
Here’s my philosophy when it comes to bad reviews or harsh criticism– you can please some of the people some of the time, but you can please all of the people all of the time. What would you advise other authors to that effect? Whatever you do, don’t rise to their baiting. There are people out there that write awful reviews for their own edification. A well-written review or criticism will be respectful and make you think. When the feedback becomes abusive and rude? Delete it.
Is this title part of a series? Without giving us spoilers, of course, what can we expect from the next e-books/books in the series?
Yes, Hot Flashes is the beginning of a series. We have not seen the last of the Chancellor. And betrayal will rock the Drakkon as they struggle through the Times of Strife and Miracles.
What do you have stored for us in the future? What are you working on/planning on next, aside this title/series? I have three more Drakkon novels planned out; a zombie novella; and another urban fantasy series that will take place in the near future as an elite squad struggles to keep the Earth from being destroyed.
What made you decide to go the self-pub way?
I’m an IT nerd. I see self-publishing as the next evolution of the publishing industry. Readers searching for fantasy and science fiction tend to look for a well-written and engaging story before they look at the publisher.
Where is your work being distributed?
My work is being distributed via Smashwords Premium Catalog which will distribute to iBooks, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, and Sony Reader. Then separately on Amazon.
How did you decide which one(s) to go with?
I did research and asked questions to authors I know who had self-published. Being a part of Smashwords Premium Catalog gave me an opportunity to sell through their site and through the partner sites. The choice to publish separately on Amazon was driven by royalties and market reach. Whatever the route you choose, do your research to see what works best for you.
If you could wish for any one thing, and it would immediately come true, what would you wish for?
The ability to travel the breadth of the universe at see the events of any time I chose. After all, there things that have happened and will happen that people just can’t make up. Being able to see it firsthand would be inspiring.
Fun Things about Leila:
Name your favorite fruit.
I love a crisp bosc pear. Sweet, juicy with a satisfying crunch. I really don’t like mealy, mushy fruit.
Coffee or tea?
Tea. My favorite is a ginger lemon herbal tea. Spicy with a note of citrus.
I love fall. The trees put on their finest, wowing us with beautiful yellows, burgundies, and oranges. The crisp bite in the air that signals one last hurrah before everything rests for a season.
How about fav time of 24 hours?
I love the early morning, just before sunrise. Watching the stars fade as the sun rises and colors the horizon delicate shades of peach.
Favorite food for breakfast?
I’m boring. I love a good bowl of thick oatmeal, not the mushy instant stuff.
My favorite quote?
‘I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living, It’s a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope. Which is what I do, And that enables you to laugh at life’s realities.’ Dr. Suess
Cats or dogs?
I love both, though I lean toward dogs. Pit bulls are the dogs that hold my heart. Their unconditional love is amazing. You haven’t lived until you’ve been kissed by a pit bull.
About the Author & Links:
Born on a dark and stormy night on the other side of the world from Richmond, VA, Leila Gaskin began a life full of imaginative wanderings. Inspired by her journey, Leila takes inspiration from the places she’s lived. She is the author of several short stories ranging from horror, speculative fiction, and science fiction. HOT FLASHES is her debut novel.
With her dog as her co-pilot and the cat as the navigator, Leila explores her world and tells her stories.