How did you make the jump from software engineer to mystery writer? I know the engineer demands a lot of analytical thinking, did that help you to write mysteries?
I never thought of my engineering career as helping with mysteries but I guess you’re right! I am very logical and that helps with coming up with the plots. I cut my teeth on Nancy Drew and read mysteries my whole life, so I think the what really helps is that I have read so many of them that writing them is almost second nature.
Goodreads shows over 90 books with your name on them, with some of them being compilations. That’s a lot of books. What is your daily writing schedule?
I’m actually slowing down on my publishing a bit, but up until now, I’ve worked probably 12-hour days 6 out 7 days a week. That’s why I have so many books! I work at it full time (when I started I had been laid off from my engineering job) so have all day to plot and write.
What are the essentials that make for a good cozy mystery?
For me, a good cozy mystery must have a lot of clues, suspects and red herrings. It can’t be easy to solve. Also, I like quirky characters and a bit of humor and pets. Of course, it has to have an overall light tone and I like people to have a smile on their face when they get to the last page.
How do you go about writing a story?
I usually start with the suspects, figure out what they are hiding and then figure out who the killer is and why. Then I do a timeline of the killer’s actions (before the book opens) and figure out what clues they might have left behind as well as what they do after the book opens.
You’ve written numerous series. How do you decide it’s time to move on to another lead character and series?
I have too many series, but when new characters pop into my head and want to have stories written about them, it’s hard to say no. Plus it helps me from getting bored if I can take a break and move on to another series before writing the next book in an ongoing series.
You are an indie writer, why did you decide to do that rather than seeking out a publisher/agent?
I actually started writing books when self-publishing first became available, so I didn’t see the sense in getting an agent. Why do that when I could just publish the books myself? It seems to have worked out pretty well.
Are your books sold in both print and e-book options?
Some of my series are only on Kindle, and some are available on Nook, iBooks, Google Play and Kobo. I have readers that read in Kindle Unlimited as well as readers that read on non-Amazon, so I try to please them both by having some available everywhere since the book must be elusive to Amazon if it is in Kindle unlimited.
The hardest part about being an indie author is that you have to wear all the hats. You have to do the marketing, figure out the covers and hire the artists, coordinate the audios, do all the tasks of publishing (uploading, pricing etc.) You don’t get to just sit and write books and have someone else worry about all the other stuff.
What has surprised you the most in writing/publishing? What surprised me the most is that people actually bought my books.
What frustrates you the most?
The most frustrating thing is trying to keep visible to the readers. There are so many books being published now that you can easily be forgotten if you aren’t putting books out frequently.
What do you know now about writing that you wished you had known sooner?
I don’t know if there is any one thing I wish I’d known sooner. I wish I’d developed my “process” sooner and known some of the key components necessary to write a really good story. I’ve learned a lot over the past 4 years. The way I outline and right now is very different from how I started. I’m actually still working on that, maybe I always will be.
Best advice - Figure out what unique thing readers get from your books that they can’t get anywhere else and give them more of it.
Can you give me a short synopsis of the next coming out?My next book is book 5 in my Sam Mason series (as L. A. Dobbs) which comes out today. In the book, Chief Sam Mason gets a call to investigate some bones in the woods which turns out to be more sinister than he first imagined. The case ties back to someone in town who Sam has been trying to arrest for years and hits close to home for his right-hand colleague, Sergeant Jody Harris.
That’s all for today’s interview. If you’re a lover of mysteries and haven’t read one of Leighann's yet, here’s two ways to learn more about her books and buy them.