An Interview with Leontii Holender

Author Image 8Leontii Holender lives in the sleepy little town of Greenville, South Carolina. She was born in Boston, Massachusetts and was raised all across the United States. She’s called New Orleans, Memphis, and Atlanta home, just to name a few. She moved into the area in order to help take care of her ill mother and has since found herself with a plethora of free time to write.

Leontii has been writing for about eight years now and is a full-time author. The writing bug bit her rather early in her life and since she discovered she enjoyed it, she hasn’t stopped. She started writing short stories in high school and has since moved on to focus on novels. She likes writing erotic fiction the most and tends to lean toward strong elements of horror, suspense, fantasy, mythos, and the paranormal.

Q: We’ve noticed a trend in the underpinnings of horror and romance in your Devil Enchained series and The Garden of Elich series. What inspired you to take a darker turn and add in the elements of violence, fear, and things that go bump in the night?

A: You’ve caught me! I’ve always been a bit of a horror junkie, but there is a deeper reason I include these violent and fear-invoking situations into my characters’ stories. Out of the range of human emotion, fear is one of the most interconnected to our human nature to draw upon.

If a reader is afraid for a character’s safety, or anxious about the outcome of a given situation, I personally think it heightens the eroticism of the romance and the strength of those loving ties that bind. There is something beautiful to me, as a writer and reader, in a love that can transcend not only intrapersonal complications, but also the threat of certain death, the stressors related with violence, or the need to save a life.

Q: Will all of your series and books have those base aspects of the horror genre?

A: No! While the dark and depraved antagonists will always be a draw to me, I am working on a new contemporary series that centers on a family of shifters. I don’t want to give away all of the surprise, but I will say that there are little to no horror trends in this series. I’m taking some time to focus on modern-day situations and characters as they live their lives. Sure there will still be serious situations, but there generally won’t be that over layer of terror.

Q: When you begin a series, do you plan the number of books and whom each book will focus on?

A: Yes and no. In the Devil Enchained series, I know exactly how many books there will be. I have a series-wide storyline that arches across the books, and I have a general concept of each character I want to focus on. There’s a specific story to be told there that isn’t defined in one book. As it expands and takes a life of its own, there might be an addition of a book or two, but overall I have a distinct vision of where I want it to go.

In the Garden of Elich series, that answer is not so simple. In Haunting Memories I establish a plethora of secondary characters, each screaming in my mind to have their stories told. As these characters grow and expand, they become unpredictable. There are layers built on each that entice me to delve down the rabbit hole, so to speak. Where it will come out? I’m not so sure yet, but I am having a blast along the way.

In the series that I am in the process of writing now, there is a specific chain of events, but the number of books is still up in the air. Often characters have a mind of their own and lead me to unexpected places. I try to let it be fluid, as in any form. Setting specific parameters, unless I am dead set that is what the characters want to do, can constipate the whole writing process.

Q: We noticed you like to write in the paranormal and fantasy genres. Will you be sticking with the vampires, shifters, witches, demons, ghosts, and ghouls in the books and series to come?

A: I’ve always been told to write what is in my heart, so that is what I do. I can’t say that I will always be so intimately drawn to the world of the paranormal, but for now I don’t see it stopping any time soon. I do have an interest in exploring the real world complexities of gender and sexuality issues, but I don’t think that has to mean I need to strip out the paranormal. Let’s face it, I’m in love with all the possibilities to be explored in the paranormal and fantasy genres!

Q: You’ve taken a little break in your writing. When can we expect to see more books and do you have new projects in the works?

A: Life for me has been kind of hectic, and it is finally settling down! From being engaged to finding out I am expecting a baby girl in October, things have been going a hundred miles an hour. Thankfully, I have gotten my bottom back in gear when it comes to the writing front.

The second book in the Garden of Elich series is finished and submitted. I am currently working on something a little more futuristic and then it will be on to the shifters! After that, I’ll be circling back to work on The Devil Enchained series and the next saga in the Garden of Elich series. You can say that I am making up for lost time.

Q: Are there any occupational hazards to being a novelist?

A: I think the real hazards come from when I stop writing. I’m the clumsiest person I know. On top of that, I have horrible luck! When I was in high school, my mom worked as a hotel receptionist while she applied for her massage therapy license. She brought home some industrial strength air freshener in a soda bottle. As a voracious teenager, I didn’t notice until it was too late. One hospital visit and a stomach pump later, I was back in my room. For some reason the light wouldn’t turn on. I pulled my roller chair over, and sagely stuck my finger in the light socket in hopes of figuring out what was blocking the socket. A zap, a fall, and a crash into the coffee table later and it was back to the ER for me!

Q: Are the characters in your books based on people you know?

A: Not at all. The people in my life are very close to me. I’m the kind of person that has intimate friends and not many acquaintances. When I write about a character, I can be that person for a while. I get to slip into their mindset and cut loose. I just wouldn’t be able to do that if I tried to write a friend into a character. I don’t think I could ever do the amazing people in my life justice in the written form.

Q: What drew you to writing ManLove?

A: Who doesn’t like spending time with good-looking beaus all day? No, really, that’s almost what it feels like when I am writing! I’m a lover of beauty, in a variety of forms. From art and classical music, to scantily clad, hunky men, I find my life enriched by involving these elements. What is more beautiful than getting to write about a blossoming love grow to fruition between two sexy men? Let’s not even mention the steamy sex scenes!

Q: What do you think the cultural importance of romance literature is?

A: As humans, we all need an escape from reality. There is a beauty and freedom in art that I almost want to say is much more fluid than how often life tends to be. In any form of literature, a reader can transform their mindset. They can slip into a world that is different than anything they’ve seen before. In what other form of art can a person transcend their social class, personal drives and motives, gender identity, or even sexual preference? Romance offers all of that, plus a more intense emotional release, in my eyes. Instead of a reader simply knowing there is a love forming between these complex characters, they get to experience it through a character’s mindset. Our society would seriously be missing something if there wasn’t this avenue of human emotion to be explored by anyone willing to pick up a book.

Q: What do you find rewarding about writing ManLove?

A: In short, I find everything rewarding—the sexy men in my head, the release of finally finishing a story, and working to make a finished product. I like knowing someone out there is going to be able to relate, even on some small level, to what I write. I know I write about a lot of emotionally intense situations, and I like to think it makes the reader question what they know about themselves. To me, the best kind of book is one that changes your entire view of the world once you have set it down, and knowing that maybe I’ve done that for someone is all the reward I need.