The clouds rolled in and so did Leigh M. Lane. Expecting an escape from the weather, she found winding corridors and a final grammar test (which she passed with flying colors, a free kitten, and a hamster-tooth necklace).
Why writing? What drew you to it? Why do you continue?
I first started to write out of admiration for the stories I enjoyed reading in my childhood. As much as I loved to read, I found writing to be even more enjoyable. It’s been my creative outlet for 30 years now, one I find just as rewarding as maddening. I continue because there are so many stories in need of being told. I can’t just leave them in my head. Regardless of who ends up reading them or whether they end up getting published, they need to be told.
If you were freezing to death and the only thing left to burn were the books in your library, what 5 books would you burn last? (And yes, everything else burnable has been burnt.)
- The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse by Louise Erdrich
- One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey
- Last Men and First Men / Starmaker by Olaf Stapledon
- A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf
- Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut
What’s the most challenging thing you’ve done (in life or in writing)?
I think finishing college was pretty damn challenging, especially that last grammar class. You have no idea how complicated grammar is until you actually study it. I was dealing with some serious health issues on top of it all, and there were times I wanted so desperately to give up. I’m really proud of myself for sticking it out, and I think the entire experience—the education and the personal trials—left me a better person on many levels.
What’s one word or phrase that drives you nuts? Why?
There isn’t one specific phrase that bothers me, but poor grammar bothers me to no end. (I didn’t survive grammar in college only to suffer quietly from others’ ignorance of its proper use.)
Do you have a favorite character you’ve created? If so, who is it and why?
My favorite character is Karina from Finding Poe. I love how not even she knows who (or what) she is or what part she ultimately has played in Poe’s writing.
Creepiest place you’ve ever been? Has it appeared in your fiction? Why or why not?
Missoula, Montana. It’s so beautiful in the spring and summer, deceptively so, and then the clouds roll in and darkness takes over the valley for six months straight. Maybe it’s just that I’ve never lived anywhere where the seasons actually change, but I feel like Wendy or Danny in The Shining when the snow starts to fall and everything feels so … closed off. I based The Hidden Valley Horror on the feelings that arose during my first winter in Missoula. I know it sounds insane, but I felt like the town was sucking the life out of me and wasn’t sure if I’d make it long enough to see the next spring.
What’s the best rejection you’ve ever received?
I’ve received a handful of rejections that basically said, “The story you sent doesn’t suit our current needs, but please send more of your work.” It’s a little disheartening when you feel like you’ve sent just the right story to just the right magazine or anthology only to learn otherwise, but the invitation to send more definitely buffers the blow.
How did you get that scar?
I worked in pet care for many years, my first job being a worker for a mom-and-pop pet store and my last being a manager for the pet care department at a local corporate chain. Part of each job has entailed working with birds, reptiles, and small animals. I’ve been bitten by several breeds of snakes, lizards, parrots, and rodents. Once, after catching a runaway hamster and ending up with a vicious bite in the fleshy part of my first finger, I ended up with a broken shard of tooth lodged in there for a year. I’d thought that area remained sensitive due to scar tissue. You can imagine my surprise when the tooth began to fester through the skin and I pulled out a nearly ¼-inch sliver of hamster tooth!
What song would precede your entrance into a room if we all had personal soundtracks?
Promote yourself and/or your writing.
I think I have a story for just about everyone—at least among those who enjoy reading to think as opposed to reading to escape. I’m old school. I like to disturb on a personal level, and most of my readers seem to appreciate my eclectic literary style. Author Trent Zelazny, who has read nearly everything I’ve written, recently volunteered this blurb: “A versatile literary maestro, Lane’s characters breathe, her language sings, and her plotting is nothing short of remarkable. You owe it to yourself to give her a read, no matter what kind of fiction you like. You’ll love her work. I promise.”
You can find a full list of my novels and anthology contributions here: http://www.cerebralwriter.com/books.html
Final thoughts before you run screaming for your life?
I just want to thank you for interviewing me. I enjoyed your questions and appreciate the opportunity to promote my books.
Thank you, Ms. Lane. You’ve been more entertaining than you could imagine. The last door on the left leads to the exit in a roundabout way. Just keep one hand on the wall and follow your instincts. Your parting gifts are waiting at in the hallway.