by Leisl Leighton
One of the questions people ask when they find out I’m a writer is, ‘Do you plot out the story before you sit down to write?’ My answer is a profound ‘Noooo’. I am absolutely not a plotter. I usually have a scene or character in my head that keeps playing over in my dreams or speaking to me until I have to write it down. Sometimes those scenes grow into something and sometimes they don’t, but it is as much of a world of discovery for me as the writer as it is for a reader when they sit down to read and enjoy a book.
When I sat down to write Dark Moon, I had a scene playing in my head of two people meeting on a ski slope – one having smashed into the other and taken them for a tumbling toboggan-style ride until they stopped, arms and legs a tangle, bodies aligned in a more than friends kind of way. It was a scene that kept playing in my dreams, one of ice cold snow against heated skin and astoundingly blue eyes revealed with a sexy lift of goggles. It was a scene that would not leave me alone – so of course I had to write it down and see where it led me.
It had all the feel of a sexy contemporary romance and so I started writing it as such. But my characters and plot had other ideas.
My hero, Jason, kept on growling low in his throat and was given to animalistic actions, like being far too aware of scent and skin to skin contact. And then, astonishingly, he turned into a wolf.
I almost fell off my chair when this happened. It was so unexpected. Although, when I read back what I had written, I could see quite clearly that it wasn’t unexpected at all. The seeds of it had been playing throughout every scene. But if he was a wolf, what did this mean to my story and the other characters? My heroine? Was she a wolf too? Most definitely not. Skye had her own deep dark secret that turned my story from being a werewolf story into something quite different.
Skye was a bit more coy and reticent to show me her secret, unlike Jason. But I think that was partly because she really didn’t want to face it herself. But when the blue fire erupted from her fingertips in one scene, she could hide it no longer. She was a Witch. And her powers were exactly what Jason needed to save his people, if only he could persuade her to use them.
The simple scene had morphed into a story about an age old pact and an ancient curse. It was darker and full of a vibrant history that I’d had no idea about when I started. It certainly wasn’t the sexy contemporary story I’d had in mind to write – it was something far more involved and intricate, still incredibly sexy and sensual, but with a plot arc that would play out over a series, not just one book. The redrafting process made me focus on the story and journey my characters were trying to tell me from the start, but I was just too ignorant to see at first. And that’s how it became Dark Moon, the first in the Witch-Were Chronicles.
Non-writers often think I’m a little crazy when I tell them my characters tell me what to write, but I don’t think it’s crazy. It’s just my process and it’s one I’m glad I follow. I love the discovery, the wondering what comes next, the surprise of ‘hey, I’m a wolf’. And I wouldn’t write any other way.
Jason claims to know things about Skye that can't be true, and it's obvious he's hiding secrets of his own. Yet despite herself, Skye can't resist the attraction between them, and her surrender will set in motion a chain of events that will have consequences for everyone she holds dear.
Gradually, Jason convinces Skye that she has to trust him if she is to solve the riddle of her past and learn the truth about her power. But believing Jason means that her entire life has been based on a lie.
As her enemies gather strength and the danger increases, Skye is forced to accept who she really is. Will she risk everything and fight for those she loves? Or save herself and let them be destroyed by the forces of darkness?
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After starting a family Leisl stopped performing and instead, began writing the stories that had been plaguing her dreams. Leisl's stories have won and placed in many competitions in Australia and the US, including the STALI, Golden Opportunities, Heart of the West, Linda Howard Award of Excellence, Touch of Magic and many others.
Leisl lives in the leafy suburbs of Melbourne with her two beautiful boys, lovely hubby, overly spunky dog, Buffy, and likes to spend time with family and friends. She sometimes sings in a choir and works as a swim teacher in her day-to-day job.
Leisl writes paranormal fantasy and romantic suspense.