Hieber is known for her Strangely Beautiful Series, Magic Most Foul, and the newly released Eterna Files
JMW: Hello, this is Jeanne Marie Ward at DragonCon for BuzzyMag.com. With me today is Leanne Renee Hieber, the best selling author of the [easyazon_link asin=”0843962968″ locale=”US” new_window=”default” nofollow=”default” tag=”buzmag-20″ add_to_cart=”default” cloaking=”default” localization=”default” popups=”default”]The Strangely Beautiful[/easyazon_link] series, the [easyazon_link asin=”1402262035″ locale=”US” new_window=”default” nofollow=”default” tag=”buzmag-20″ add_to_cart=”default” cloaking=”yes” localization=”default” popups=”default”]Magic Most Foul[/easyazon_link] series and coming soon, the Eterna Files. Welcome, Leanna.
Leanne Renee Hieber: Hi. Thank you so much for having me.
JMW: Our pleasure. As viewers can probably see from your beautiful costume, all of your stories show a dark, Victorian sensibility, very Penny Dreadful and [Inaudible 00:00:46]. How did a bright peppy girl from Ohio grow up to be such a goth?
[easyazon_block add_to_cart=”default” align=”left” asin=”1616643471″ cloaking=”yes” layout=”top” localization=”default” locale=”US” nofollow=”default” new_window=”default” tag=”buzmag-20″]Leanne Renee Hieber: Well, I’m always very fond of being a bit surprising and being not exactly what you would expect when you look at me. One of the things that I found growing up in rural Ohio, being a very energetic girl who is very into dark things, I would always surprise people with that particular aspect of myself. I fell in love with Edgar Allan Poe when I was nine years old and I never looked back. He’s always been my literary boyfriend, and I feel that the dark and the Gothic just simply calls to me. That’s just exactly what I want. It’s what I do, it’s what I feel I do best. And being a goth person just kind of adds to me whole branding. I tell everyone, if you like my clothes, you’ll like my books. I dress like I write. So, as I’ve grown up I’m a bit less of a surprise because I’ve really come to embody all of the things that I love and all the things that I write about. I just really kind of made a whole career out of the Gothic and I’m loving every second of it.
JMW: But you’re not a true Gothic in the Victorian sense. You tend to subvert their traditions. Why’d you choose to do that?
Leanne Renee Hieber: Well, my only issue with the Gothic novel as a literary tradition is the treatment of women in the average Gothic novel. In the Gothic novels of history, women are plot devices and women are very often victims. They are not allowed agency, they are not allowed the opportunity to change their circumstances . . .
JMW: Like 21st century movies.
Leanne Renee Hieber: Well, very true. Not a whole lot has changed from the Victorian era to the present day, in many different ways. We are living in a new gilded age. The words are different, the ways in which the power structure does hold certain things in place, it has slightly different names, it has slightly different vernacular, but we’re still dealing with a great deal of societal restrictions. I find that by retelling a Victorian tale with a woman of agency, often empowered by supernatural circumstances that would not have been germane to the average Victorian, giving the paranormal circumstance a way to circumvent certain restrictions, that allows for other possibilities to happen. And then through that also, lift up powerful female characters that are allowed a say over their own destiny. Not the fate upon them in the same way. Not society telling them what is going to determine their future, but they telling you the read how they are going to determine their future.
[easyazon_block add_to_cart=”default” align=”left” asin=”0843962968″ cloaking=”yes” layout=”top” localization=”default” locale=”US” nofollow=”default” new_window=”default” tag=”buzmag-20″]JMW: That sounds cool. Have you ever thought of bringing your Victorian sensibilities to a tale set in Ohio?
Leanne Renee Hieber: I have actually thought about that. A great deal of my work is set in 19th century America. There are several of the travels set in the Magic Most Foul saga go from New York City, across the country over to St. Paul, Minnesota where I did spend some time and there was actually a Victorian tour guide there. And if the muse so strikes that I find myself winding back a little bit south, I will try at some point to talk about Ohio. There’s a lot of possibilities. I just haven’t found exactly the right way in. Sometimes you have to have distance from a place in order to truly find the way in to talk about all of that. I think what’s interesting about Ohio is it’s the break of the northern territories, so there’s that edge of the north and the south of the American experience that’s right there in Ohio. It’s lead to some of it’s conflicts, and so I would like to explore some of that, the identity crisis that is that state.
JMW: Yes, and it was a frontier state for so many years, but we don’t realize that, as it’s in the center of the country.
Leanne Renee Hieber: Absolutely. Absolutely.
JMW: In addition to fiction, you also write plays and act. How has your work in theater and in film influenced your writing and vice versa?
Leanne Renee Hieber: I am an actress by trade and training. That was my my college degree. I minored in the Victorian era as well. And I am steeped both in Victoriana and in the theater. And I was writing my first books while I was working for the Cincinnati Shakespeare Company, and so it’s hard for me to know all of the seeds of theater that are woven in because the were so organically tied from the very first moments that I was writing the first pages of my Strangely Beautiful saga. I think as an actor thinks as I’m on the page. I think like a director thinks, like a cinematographer thinks. The theatrical is very much rooted into my narrative voice.
My stories are very sweeping and dramatic in nature. They lend themselves to dialogue, the lend themselves to reading. And so I love reading from my books at any chance I get. So, at any convention I do, if you come to my readings, I promise I wont’ bore you with my readings. I’m very, very much engaged and energized into what it is that I’m writing, and really trying to put myself in the mind of. I always try to really get into every aspect of that character’s physicality and mindset and emotional life and that’s just absolutely part and parcel of my entire writing process. From front to back. So, I wouldn’t trade that for the world because it does open up other aspects for me, and I do actually teach workshops on how to use theatrical techniques when you’re writing novels.
JMW: Could you give our viewers a little teaser of the Eterna Files? Because it’s very, very new.
Leanne Renee Hieber: It is very new. I am very excited about the Eterna Files. It is the first time in which I’m really allowing myself to have a very large cast of characters. I love a big cast of characters in books. So I’m finally allowing myself. I’m also going to be, for the first time, shelved just in fantasy. I have been shelved in many other different subgenres before, now I feel in many ways, I’m coming home to adult fantasy in a lot of ways. And so, I have a very broad cast of very quirky characters. We have a group of, basically detectives and paranormal investigators, both in London and in New York and they’re pitted against each other, they’re both trying to find the cure for death. It’s a race for immortality and both of them are doing it rather badly. I have a wonderful cast of characters who are not necessarily very good at their jobs and this provides a great deal of both humor and a great deal of conflict as they are trying, sort of bumbling toward, this sense of, these two opposing teams, a little bit of the Secret Service and a little bit of early MI5 Special Branch. And you’ve got these prototypes in the, it’s 1882, that’s before the Secret Service is what we know of it today.
JMW: It’s even before Sidney Riley.
Leanne Renee Hieber: Exactly. So we’re working with a very, very loose set of things that are very, very primordial in terms of the institutions we know of them today. And playing with what happens when the supernatural comes into those kinds of office environments. So it’s a bit of a Victorian x-files, a Victorian Dresden Files kind of idea, in which the cure for death and the pitting of London versus New York becomes actually the backdrop for an entirely other force, a far more evil force, to try and take over while London and New York are trying to go after each other. this gives a very insidious society a little bit of an upper hand to try to truly create an entire overhaul and undo the industrial revolution entirely.
Leanne Renee Hieber: That’s where we’re going with the Eterna Files, so . . .
JMW: Oh my goodness.
Leanne Renee Hieber: It’s going to get ugly. Class warfare is iminent. It’s going to get ugly before it gets beautiful.
JMW: Well one knows it will ultimately get beautiful.
Leanne Renee Hieber: Absolutely.
JMW: What are you working on now? Book two of the Eterna Files?
Leanne Renee Hieber: I’m currently working on book two of the Eterna Files, and also an upcoming project that has really, truly become one of the books of my heart. So, I’m collaborating on an upcoming novel with a dear friend and a really wonderful collaborator, Tom Truelove, who is going to be a bit of the science mind it a lot of my fantastical fantasy mind. A bit of the meeting of the minds in a multiple timeline tale that’s going to both me a historical fantasy a little bit of science fiction thriller, too. So we’re very excited about that and you’ll hear much more about Captain Liv Marlow and her adventures in the next couple of years. So we don’t know exactly a timetable on her, but we know she does not want to wait long to come out into the world and she’s kind of one of those characters that really just gets ya by the heart and pulls you along with her whether you . . .
JMW: She’s impatient to be born.
Leanne Renee Hieber: Oh, she is absolutely so. And I really love it with a heroine really takes over for me and I kind of become a medium and I just sort of channel her and she is one of my favorite inventions. And it’s been fun to have a partner on board for that, too, who loves her as much as I do. And that’s been a really wonderful experience so far and I can’t wait to share her with you.
JMW: Oh, I look forward to it. Anything you’d like to add?
Leanne Renee Hieber: I truly hope that you all will support the Eterna Files. I’m so excited. It’s my debut with Tor Books and it’s my first hardcover debut as well and I’m very excited because all of my three series are all parallel worlds, and they all tie in to each other. So you’ll recognize characters from the Magic Most Foul saga that come into the Eterna Files. You’ll also recognize some Strangely Beautiful characters that come into the Eterna Files, too. And my Strangely Beautiful saga, for those of you that might know, the first three books went out of print with the demise of Dorchester Publishing. Tor has bought the entire Strangely Beautiful saga, all four books, and will be re-releasing them. The first Strangely Beautiful addition is book one and two together coming out digitally in April and in print in the fall of 2015. I’m so excited to have Miss Percy Parker and the Strangely Beautiful saga back in the world and to finish her tale, finally. So look for the parallel worlds, come with me on the Eterna Files journey and I hope to see all of you at various conventions that I do. I do a lot of public appearances, so please come and say hi.
Jean Marie Ward writes fiction, nonfiction and everything in between, including art books, novels (2008 Indie Book double-finalist With Nine You Get Vanyr), and short stories such as WSFA Small Press Award finalist “Lord Bai’s Discovery” and “Personal Demons” in the award-winning anthology Hellebore and Rue. Her videos include author interviews and tutorials.