BOOK FUN MAGAZINE - FREE READ

NORA INTERVIEWS LEANNA ELLIS



I just finished reading Ruby's Slippers,and loved it. How did you come up with the idea for the book? I know it's based on the movie The Wizard of Oz,but your book is so much more. How did that develop?






Oh, thank you! I’m glad you enjoyed it and that it meant something deeper to you. I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with Wizard of Oz. When I was a kid and it came on TV every year, I hid behind a pillow when the Wicked Witch of the West appeared.





But I also loved the music and the story. When my children were old enough, I enjoyed showing it to them. Surprisingly they weren’t afraid of the witch. They were afraid of Veggie Tales. Go figure. Still, one day I was thinking, ‘what would happen if Dorothy lost her ‘somewhere over the rainbow?’ And when I ask myself a question, I usually start trying to find an answer. A few weeks after that the title ‘Ruby’s Slippers’ came to me with the twist of Ruby being a name, not just a color. And the story took off. But does a wacky story develop into something deeper? I wish I knew. It’s a God thing. He shows me many things during the time I’m writing a book. That’s the only way I know to explain it.


When was the first time you saw the movie The Wizard of Oz? How did it affect you? How many time have you seen the movie? What was your favorite part?




I was probably five when I first saw the movie. It’s been a long time ago. Suffice it to say, I saw it every year for many years as it was shown on television once a year. Way back when, we didn’t have VCRs or DVD players. How did we survive? Anyway, I always loved the part where Dorothy sings Somewhere Over the Rainbow. I also love the part when she walks out of the house and into Munchkin land with all the vivid colors.

Did you ever read the original book by L. Frank Baum? If so, how did it differ from the movie? Were there parts of the book that didn't make the movie? If so, what?












I have read the book to my children. It is very different. It’s actually a whole series. One of the smallest differences is that the slippers aren’t ruby colored. They are silver. In fact, I used that as a question on my e-newsletter to give away a book to the first person with the correct answer. Sneaky, aren’t I? In Ruby's Slippers how much of you is in this book? Could you relate to Dottie? If you were in this book did it make it harder or easier to write?



I think I’m in every book that I write. It’s all filtered through my eyes and senses. And yet it’s not my story at all. Although I could relate to Dottie. My mother was a teacher and always told me I should be. But that wasn’t my cup of tea. But I was already teaching when I figured that out and had to try to find my own yellow brick road to travel. I think every book is hard to write. Even though I may not be writing about me, per se, it feels like I’m exposing myself.

Have you seen The Wizard of Oz done as a play? If so, which did you prefer? Movie or Theatre Show? why?

I’ve never seen the show on stage but I’m hoping to this summer when it comes to Dallas. I have seen Wicked, which I absolutely love! But I also love the movie, love Judy Garland.


What do you enjoy most about the writing process? What do you like least?


I enjoy having written. :D Actually, I love coming up with the ideas. I even enjoy rewriting (of which I spend the majority of my time).



But putting words on a blank page is probably the hardest part for me.



Could you tell me of two "Wow" moments you have had being an author? What made it a "Wow" for you?


In 2006, I was trying to break back into the writing business after a hiatus from having kids. It was not easy. I had prayed a lot about my book, Elvis Takes a Back Seat, and seemed to be knocking my head against a brick wall. Suddenly, during the summer of 2006, I felt God telling me to go to the CBA (Christian Booksellers Assoc.). NOW! What? I thought he’d wanted me to write in the ABA (American Booksellers Assoc). So I kept praying, and tugged the threads of the spiritual message to the surface in that book. I sent it off to an agent and BAM! Doors began to open. I realized after the book had sold to B&H Publishers that about the time God told me to go to the CBA, B&H was deciding to start their fiction line. Elvis Takes a Back Seat was their launch title.

What are you working on now? Can you give us a sneak peek into your new project?


I just turned in my next book called Once in a Blue Moon. It was a lot of fun to write because my heroine is quirky. She’s an obit writer carrying around a dark secret that haunts her. Also there are a few conspiracy theories floating around. Rumor has it the book will be out March 2010.



You have some really interesting and eye catching book covers, do you have a say in choosing the cover for your book? How does that process work for you?

B&H has done a spectacular job with the covers. I’ve been very pleased, especially with Ruby’s Slippers. They just keep getting better and better! Basically, they have hired outside the publishing house for the cover. When they have something workable, then they show it to me and my agent. They’ve been very good about accepting feedback. When I got Lookin’ Back, Texas’ cover, all I saw was brown. I suggested they make the dance hall red, and they did. I didn’t have any comments on Ruby’s Slippers. It was just a WOW.
In your first book you write about Elvis in Elvis Takes a Back Seat, are you an Elvis fan? If you are can you please explain to me this whole Elvis thing? What made him so it for that time period?











LOL! Well, I am a fan of Elvis. He had a tremendous voice. But I’m not the swooning type of fan (I don’t get that at all!). Maybe I know too much about him. I even read about his autopsy. Ick! My brother introduced me to his music when I was a young teen and the following summer Elvis died. So I wasn’t really a part of the Elvis craze. But I was fascinated by all the hoopla surrounding his death. Since then, I’ve always enjoyed his music, his movies not so much. But I do like Blue Hawaii mostly because of the setting.

Have you ever been to Graceland? If so, what was your experience like? What was the most unusual thing you saw there? What did you find out that really surprised you about Elvis?






After I sold Elvis Takes a Back Seat, my family and I went to Memphis to visit Graceland. My kids were not impressed. It was funny seeing the lightning bolt room which was Elvis’ media room. Boy would he be surprised at how things have changed electronically now. The morning we were going to take a tour, we went early so I could get a picture of the famous gate but it was open. The guard told us if we wanted we could walk up the drive to the gravesite. We did. It was quiet and peaceful, much nicer than later in the day when so many more people were there.


We went to Sun Records to see where so many famous singers got their start. On the tour they told us that Elvis sang where there was a big X on the floor. My daughter (who was 7 at the time) was standing right beside it. Her jaw dropped. She was thrilled be next to where Elvis had stood to sing.


What do you think the impact of how everyone reacted to Elvis affect our society? How has it affected you?




I think I sort of deal with that in Elvis Takes a Back Seat, so you’ll just have to read that book for a glimpse of that. :D I’m not sure I could write it in a paragraph. Took me a whole book to say what I was thinking.

Why are there so many Elvis impersonators? How did you come up with the idea for this book? How did you come up with the title? If this wasn't the original title what was your working title?




My original title was Open Doors. I still love that title and may use it for something else some day. :D Basically I had the idea of the three women and their emotional journey but didn’t know where I wanted them to go. So I called my best friend, :D. Anne Love, who is also a writer and we brainstormed. Frankly, I wanted a road trip through Europe. Obviously I would need a research trip for that. But unfortunately (or fortunately whichever way you want to look at it) she suggested Memphis.





Why Memphis? I asked. For barbecue and Elvis. When she said Elvis, I asked, how did you know Elvis is in my first chapter? She didn’t. I’d written a first chapter, with the garage sale, and in thinking about what someone would want to get rid of and yet not be able to get rid of because of sentimental reasons, I had come up with a three-foot Elvis bust. So when I told her, we started laughing and joking about it and talked about how Elvis could be strapped into the backseat of a vintage Cadillac for the drive to Memphis. Later I came up with the title.

How did you come up with the idea for Lookin' Back, Texas? How did you come up with the title for this book. If you had a working title, what was it?










Have you ever been to Texas? To Luckenbach, Texas? If yes, what was your experience like? If no, what made you write a story in this location? What is it about Luckenbach Texas that really got to you?








Oh, yes, we had to take a road trip to Luckenbach and had a wonderful time. I love the area of Fredericksburg. It’s a beautiful part of Texas, and the quirkiness just fits me and my story.

QUESTIONS YOU JUST HAD TO KNOW ABOUT LEANNE BUT WERE AFRAID TO ASK SO I DID!!

1. Do you enjoy live theatre? If so, what was the most amazing show you have ever seen? What made it so amazing? Please explain.

I LOVE live theater. Two of my favorite vacations have been going to New York and going to lots of Broadway shows and going to London and seeing shows in the Westend. Not sure I can pin it down to one experience or show but a few of the ones I’ve loved are: Les Miserables (London), Miss Saigon (London and New York) and Phantom of the Opera (London).

2. What special quality, talent or event you have or have experienced that would surprise people? Please Explain.


I used to dance but only taught, never danced professionally. I preferred choreography to performing.

3. What is the most amazing place you have vacationed? What made it so amazing? Where is a place you would love to go but haven't?

Hard for me to narrow down. I love London and Edinburgh, love Wyoming and Colorado and love Hawaii. We had a wonderful trip to Hawaii 5 years ago with my parents (who had lived in Hawaii when they were first married and my dad was in the service) along with my siblings and their families. It was a very special time for all of us and is especially dear to all of us now that my dad is so ill.


My husband and I honeymooned in England and Scotland so that has special memories for me as well. Even though I love the beach and ocean, I am a mountain girl and just feel closer to God when I am in the mountains. Right now, I’m enjoying taking our kids to places that we love. Can’t wait to take them to England. And some day, I want to travel to Australia.

4. If you had 48 hours to hang out with anyone alive or dead in the history of the world, what two people would you pick and why? What would you do?

C.S. Lewis, which means we’d hang out at a pub in England. Frank Capra, and we’d watch movies and discuss.


5. What is your favorite restaurant to have breakfast at? What would you order? (money or time are abundant here) What is your favorite place to have dinner? What would you order?


Honestly, I’m not a breakfast person. But I do love fresh bagels and cream cheese and you have to eat those fresh in New York. It’s a must.





Pappa’s Steak House where I would order their wonderful salad with walnuts and green apples, a delicious rib-eye (cooked perfectly medium), creamed spinach and fresh asparagus and their fabulous crème brulee.

6. If you had to pick a super hero to be for 48 hours who would you pick and why? You are the author her you can mix and match powers and costumes of your choice.



Uh, not really into super heroes although I did love The Incredibles. Maybe a publishing super hero, one who could write a book in a day, get it sold quicker than a lightning bolt and hit the best seller lists, knocking out the rest of the competition.

7. What two movies you watched as a kid really impacted your life? Why?













True Grit was one of my favorites even though I wasn’t a tomboy. It showed me girls could be tough. My other favorite movie as a kid was Born Free. I love animals and want to help protect them.

8. If you had all the time in the world (and just as much money), what would you do and why?





Probably what I do now, drive my kids around to all of their activities and write, but I’d probably get someone to cook for me. :DI’d also travel more and donate to charities even more.

9. You have just found a magic lamp and the Genie has just given you three wishes, what would your wishes be and why?



For my children to grow up strong, healthy and with an unshakeable faith (is that three already?). After that, I’d need to ask for more wishes.

10. Someone has just created an invention that would allow you to change one thing about yourself? First of all would you use that invention? Second of all if you used the machine what would the change look like in your life?


I would be able to sing. And I would! Anywhere. Everywhere! And my daughter wouldn’t cover her ears and say, “Puh-lease, Mom!”


ANY FINAL COMMENTS YOU WOULD LIKE TO LEAVE MY READERS WITH?

Hope you’ll stop by my website and join my newsletter. I like to run little contests each month and give away either a book of mine or one I’ve read. Thanks, Nora, for having me here! It was a pleasure.
Blessings, Leanna

Thanks for hanging out with me today Leanna. Love the picture of your dog and the other pictures you shared. I totally enjoyed your book Ruby's Slippers, Remember if you are ever in the Atlanta area we will have speak to our book club members. All the best to you Leanna. I can't wait to read your other books.

Sincerely,

Nora :D

7 comments:

  1. What a great interview! Honeymoon in England and Scotland...sigh. How romantic!

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  2. Enjoyed the interview Nora. Sounds like a great book and a great writer. See ya soon!

    Gail Mundy

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  3. Oooh Elvis and OZ, two of my most favorite things.... I have never read any of Leanna's books and would love to give her a try, please count me on for your giveaway.

    Thanks,
    Helga
    QallieQ (at) gmail (dot) com

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  4. What a great interview! Nora, you do an amazing job finding all the photos!

    Leanna, I've been the same way with the Wizzard of Oz! I used to be scared to death of the storm and witch. Then loved when it went to color. Then once it got scary again, I would quit watching! But every year, I would put myself through it once again. :)

    I love your cover for Ruby Slippers!

    Missy

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  5. It is great inteview and enjoyed to know her better .. Love all the covers of her books. I will have to add this to my wish list.
    Nora, You have done wonderfully job on blogs. love those photos you found them for your blogs

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  6. Hi, y'all! Missy, B&H does wonderful covers! I especially thought they did an exceptional job with Ruby's Slippers. Thanks again, Nora, for having me here! You do an amazing job! Blessings, Leanna

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  7. Nora and Leanna
    Loved the interview... Nora, you do such a great job. I haven't read any of Leanna's books, but am feeling they must go on my "want to read list"!
    Leanna, Thanks again for sharing your life and your heart with us.

    See you at book club, Nora.
    Ann Kinamon

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