Author Spotlight – Mark Leslie Lefebvre

Mark, welcome to Lavender Lass Books, and thank you so much for agreeing to this interview!

Today, we are interviewing two authors in a way. Mark Leslie Lefebvre, known for his wonderful non-fiction books…as well as Mark Leslie, who writes amazing fiction books. Let’s start with Mark, the non-fiction author.

A self-confessed book nerd, Mark, who is a former President of the Canadian Booksellers Association and the former Director of Self-Publishing and Author Relations for Rakuten Kobo (and founder of Kobo Writing Life), thrives on innovation and excellence within all aspects of the publishing and bookselling industry.

With more than a quarter century of experience, Mark has been involved in bookselling as it evolved from strictly bricks and mortar operations and into online and digital venues, and has continually been at the forefront of applying digital solutions to publishing and book selling.

An author who has embraced both traditional and self-publishing opportunities for himself as well as the thousands of authors he has coached, advised and consulted with over the past two decades, Mark not only believes that each author’s journey is individualized and personal, but that each specific project a writer embarks upon can have its own unique goals, elements and desired outcomes.

And now Mark Leslie, the fiction author.

Mark Leslie would be the first person to admit he’s still afraid of the monster under his bed.

Proudly adopting the term “Book Nerd” for himself, Mark is a writer, editor and bookseller and is most comfortable with a pen in hand, fingers on keyboard or with his nose stuck in a book.

His first book, ONE HAND SCREAMING (2004) collected mostly previously published short stories and poetry along with a few original tales. His other fiction includes I, DEATH (2014), EVASION (2014) and A CANADIAN WEREWOLF IN NEW YORK (2016). Mark’s dark fiction is often compared to “Twilight Zone” or “Black Mirror” in terms of style, exploring “what if” themes with contemporary settings that include speculative elements, gently skipping around the genres of sci-fi, horror and urban fantasy.

He is also the editor of the science fiction anthologies NORTH OF INFINITY II (2006), TESSERACTS SIXTEEN: PARNASSUS UNBOUND (2012) the horror anthology CAMPUS CHILLS (2009) as well as FICTION RIVER: EDITOR’S CHOICE (2017) and FICTION RIVER: FEEL THE FEAR (2017).

Mark’s first non-fiction book, HAUNTED HAMILTON: The Ghosts of Dundurn Castle & Other Steeltown Shivers (2012) is an appreciation of his hometown told in a combination of historic journeys combined with ghostly legends. His second non-fiction paranormal title SPOOKY SUDBURY: True Tales of the Eerie & Unexplained (2013) is co-authored with Jenny Jelen, about the city they both grew up in. TOMES OF TERROR: Haunted Bookstores & Libraries (2014) explores the types of places Mark most loves to haunt. CREEPY CAPITAL: Ghost Stories of Ottawa & The National Capital Region (2016) explores the eerie and ghostly tales from Canada’s capital city. HAUNTED HOSPITALS: Eerie Tales About Hospitals, Sanatoriums, and Other Institutions (2017) is co-authored with Rhonda Parrish.

Mark continues to publish short fiction in small press horror magazines and anthologies and most recently had stories appear in TESSERACTS SEVENTEEN (2015), FICTION RIVER: SPARKS (2016) and 2113: Stories Inspired by the Music of Rush (2016)

Born in Sudbury Ontario, Mark has courted with a serious addiction to reading and writing his entire life. He has called both Ottawa, ON and Hamilton, ON home for about a decade each and currently lives in Waterloo, Ontario.

Mark’s most recent fiction book is Fear and Longing in Los Angeles, Book 3 in the Canadian Werewolf series.

WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE.

If New York is the city that never sleeps, then L.A. is the city where you have to sleep with one eye open.

Michael Andrews learns quickly that it’s not just the cut-throat world of Hollywood you need to fear. There’s something deeper, darker, and far more disturbing lurking just beneath the shadows of the city, waiting for any moment of vulnerability to grab you by the throat.

An extended trip to Los Angeles to be on set for the movie adaptation of his latest novel leads Michael into a twisted and macabre underworld where he becomes entangled with an intriguing, sexy, and mysterious woman. At times she seems just what he needs in order to finally get over the unrequited love of his ex-girlfriend; but at other times, she appears to be the gateway to a Pandora’s box of B-movie nightmares.

Can he trust her? Can he trust himself with her?

Michael’s supernatural wolf-enhanced powers and special abilities might not be enough to survive this particular harsh and gritty jungle and the unique and deadly predators that crawl out of the shadows.

And now to the interview:

1.  What do you want to share with us about this story?  What really stands out about it and made you want to write it?
I was curious to take a darker turn in this humorous urban fantasy adventure world of a man gifted with heightened senses and strength due to the wolf-blood running through his veins. Michael Andrews is a beta human who turns into an alpha wolf during the phase of the full moon. But his story is more about the man dealing with this curse, and adapting his extraordinary powers to help others. He is a self-effacing everyman turned reluctant hero.

FEAR AND LONGING IN LOS ANGELES is the third title and second full-length novel in the “Canadian Werewolf” series. Up until that point, the main character, Michael Andrews, a man trying to live with the side-effects of turning into a wolf during the cycle of the full moon, had only ever encountered one other paranormal creature. In A CANADIAN WEREWOLF IN NEW YORK another werewolf is stalking the streets of New York and encroaching on his territory. But in FEAR AND LONGING IN LOS ANGELES, more paranormal and supernatural beings come crawling out of the shadows.

In this novel, Michael heads to Hollywood to work on the set of a film and distract himself from the fact that the only woman he has ever loved has rejected his desire for them to be more than friends. When he gets to LA, he finds his distraction in a beautiful woman who, like Michael, has a secret that she hides from the rest of the world. He ends up falling for her and discovering her link to a secret underground cult seeking to create a new super-race of supernatural powered soldiers that feeds on hatred, fear, and lies.

2.  Why do you write in this genre?  What makes this genre particularly appealing to you?
I have always enjoyed the concept of “What If?” and have long been drawn to speculative fiction. In this particular case, the entire universe came out of wondering what it might be like to live in a large metropolitan area while dealing with a werewolf curse. Where and how might a man living in a concrete jungle deal with the fact that for ten nights every month, he has to figure out a way for the beast within to be able to run around on all fours? The predicament can be frustrating, and exploring how Michael deals with difficult and challenging situations with a wry and sardonic sense of humor, is enjoyable.

3.  What made you decide to become an author?  Can you tell us a little about that journey?
I have always had a powerful imagination and from my youngest years loved making up stories with little action figures. As I got older, and discovered the magic of reading and writing – the permeance of putting words onto a page that someone else could pick up at a later date and enjoy within their own imagination – the world changed.

From that point on, I knew I wanted to be a writer.

I wrote my first “novel” (if you can call the 30,000 word “epic” I typed out on an Underwood typewriter all summer) at the age of 14, and received my first short story rejection at 15. After numerous rejections, my first short story (a YA humor tale) was published in 1992, and in 1993 my first published horror story received honorable mention in The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror. My first book came out in 2004.

Since then I have published nearly one hundred short stories and more than thirty books.

4.  Why did you choose to self-publish?  Are there advantages to self-publishing?  What about the challenges?
I work with traditional publishers for some of my books, and have self-published other titles. There are pros and cons for each, and the way I look at it, the goals and intents for each book a writer creates may have its own unique path.

When I self-publish, I’m in control of everything. The release schedule, the cover design, the editorial content and the formats it is published in. I keep up to 70% of the retail price on eBook sales and get paid monthly from multiple retail and distribution paltforms. I am also free to leverage and exploit my IP book in the way I want. For example, all the books in my “Canadian Werewolf” series are available in Hardcover, Trade Paperback, eBook, and Audiobook, and if I want to share pieces of any of the books, or participate in a price drop promo for the eBook, I can do it quickly and easily, and I don’t need anyone else’s permission.

When I traditionally publish, the rights are usually locked up by the publisher, and for the most part, they usually will release a trade paperback and an eBook edition. I typically earn about 8% of the retail sales and get paid once or maybe twice per year. On the positive side, traditional publishers can get my print books broadly distributed and have gotten my book into indie bookstores, chain bookstores, and even Costco and WalMart. This is something that is extremely difficult and near to impossible for the average indie author to get.

5.  Where do you get ideas for your stories?  Do they come to you over time, or do you suddenly think of an idea and realize it would make a great story?
Ideas come from everywhere and everything. They derive from daily conversations and observations. Someone might say something that inspires a chain of thought that leads to a story idea. I might witness something and wonder what story behind the story led to that moment or event. I’ll watch or read something and wonder if, given a similar scenario, how I might have written that story. I’ll hear a song lyric that’ll inspire a moment or a scene.

Ideas can also morph and develop. For example, I’ve taken the single idea of wondering what might actually happen is snowmen came to life, like in that classic Christmas Carol Frosty the Snowman. I’ve written three different stories over the years featuring anthropomorphic snow creatures that come to life.

6.  Do you write (or plan to write) in any other genres?
So far I’ve written thrillers, urban fantasy, dark fantasy, horror, contemporary fiction, young adult, science fiction, dark humor, true paranormal and ghostly tales and non-fiction books on the business of writing and publishing. I am in the process of beginning to co-author a romance novella with a good friend of mine that is set in my “Canadian Werewolf” universe. And that’s specifically to satisfy requests from several of my readers who wanted to learn the back story of how my two main characters in the series first met and fell in love.

7.  What do you look for in a story?  Especially in your genre?  (Original ideas, plot lines, character development, world building, research, etc.?)
I look for the ways in which characters react to, interact with, and create the situations in their life. All story is about conflict and goals and either achieving or overcoming something.

I don’t worry about original plot lines all that much. I just worry about the way that I’m going to share this particular story at this particular time. I worry about what the characters in the worlds I’m writing are doing and how they are feeling. And hope that their stories and actions are compelling enough for readers to enjoy, be entertained or even inspired by.

8.  What is one thing you wish you’d known when you first started writing?
I wish I’d known that there is no single way to define success as a writer. For one person success might be hitting the New York Times Bestseller list. For another it might be earning 6 or 7 figures a year from their book sales. And for someone else, just finishing and writing a book – something most people will say they want but will never do – is a gigantic and monumental success.

Nobody else should tell a writer what success is. That’s something each writer needs to explore and discover for themselves.

9.  Are you working on a new book?  Can you share any details?
I am wrapping up the writing of FRIGHT NIGHTS, BIG CITY, which takes place immediately after the events of FEAR AND LONGING IN LOS ANGELES. Michael returns to New York, but apparently the evil cult of supernatural beings has followed him back home and begin to terrorize the Big Apple.

10.  Do you have any advice you would offer to writers who plan to self-publish?
Take your time to learn about the business of writing and publishing. (Heck, that’s one of the main reasons I started my weekly Stark Reflections on Writing and Publishing Podcast – to help inspire and inform writers about the realities of the writing and publishing life). There are so many free resources, writer groups and other writers out there willing to share and help.

And don’t be afraid to ask questions. Lots of questions. Writers are often very generous in wanting to help others. In particular there are so many pitfalls and predators operating within the publishing and self-publishing circles that if you take the time to learn and understand the business of publishing, you can determine the best pathways that work for you and your long term writing and publishing goals.

You can find Mark Leslie’s book at Amazon and many other retailers…and his next book in the series now on preorder! https://books2read.com/fearandlonginginlosangeles

And you can also find Mark’s many non-fiction books, including this one, under Mark Leslie Lefebvre!

Thank you so much for sharing all this with us today, Mark! You can find out more about Mark and his books here:

Website – www.markleslie.ca

Books2Read – https://books2read.com/ap/nE2Wv8/Mark-Leslie

YouTube – www.youtube.com/markleslielefebvre