Friday, May 22, 2009

Author Interview: Kathy-Diane Leveille

Today's Author Interview is with Kathy-Diane Leveille, a former broadcast journalist with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, who discovered the only thing more thrilling than reading a wonderful story is harnessing the power of the imagination to write one. Her short story collection, Roads Unravelling, was published to critical acclaim after a selection from its pages, “Learning to Spin,” was adapted to radio drama for CBC’s Summer Drama Festival. The tale “Showdown at the Four Corner’s Corral” was revised for the stage and performed by New City Theater in Saint John. Kathy-Diane is a member of Sisters in Crime, International Thriller Writers, Kiss of Death RWA and Crime Writers of Canada.

I'm holding a comment contest attached to this interview, for readers in the U.S. and Canada. Make a comment (more than "me me!") and I'll put your name into consideration. The prize is an autographed copy of Kathy-Diane's new novel, Let the Shadows Fall Behind You. On May 29, I'll draw and post a name from amongst the commenters to be the winner. Said winner has until June 3 to send me their mailing address. Email me here. Include instructions on how you want the book inscribed (who it's to, if it's not to you).

Welcome, Kathy-Diane. Tell us who you are and what you do.
I’m a former broadcast journalist with CBC radio. Seventeen years ago, when I was home on maternity leave with my youngest son, I dug out an old file of story ideas and started scribbling. By the time the date arrived when I was supposed to return to work, I had already decided that I didn’t want to keep putting my dream of writing fiction on the back burner. Since then I’ve done different jobs, including being a janitor and typing medical transcription, to give me the time and energy to pursue my passion. My first book, Roads Unravelling, a collection of short stories set on the Kennebecasis River where I live, was published a few years ago. Let the Shadows Fall Behind You, released this spring, is my first suspense novel.

What type of writer are you? Do you plan ahead/plot or do you simply fly by the seat of your pants?
I usually begin by simultaneously visualizing a situation that causes an upheaval in life (mysterious disappearance), and hearing a character’s voice emote their reaction to it. It’s a very strange process and definitely has my husband worried some days; especially when he dusts the books on my research shelf: Handbook of Poisons and Crime Scene Investigation.

I need a brief synopsis to get started, and short character and setting sketches; but I usually don’t like to over think it during the inspiration stage.

Do you write best at a certain time of the day?
I’m definitely a daytime writer. I journal early morning, and then get to work on my current fiction writing project either mid morning or mid afternoon.

What food or snack keeps the words flowing?
I don’t eat when I’m writing, but I mainline coffee and green tea. It provides psychological oomph.

What sparks a story?
My novels are sparked by a question surrounding a mysterious disappearance. I actually have a blog to record them all at a blog called unsolveddisappearances. In the case of Let the Shadows Fall Behind You, Nikki disappears. The scenario unfolds like this:

On a grey morning in Northern Ontario in 1978, when the first fat snowflakes drifted down erasing all the familiar landmarks, Nikolai Mirsky headed out the door of the haunted cabin he shared with his lover, Brannagh Maloney. And disappeared…

Brannagh, a Natural Science illustrator, struggled to collate the data from their bird count through the long winter. By the time the icicles began to melt, she was filled with a growing dread that the infamous wilderness preservationist wasn’t returning.

When Brannagh left New Brunswick, ten years ago, she swore it was for good. But now her best friend, Annie, won’t stop worrying about her, and won’t stop hounding her to come back for a reunion of their childhood all-girls club The Tuatha-de-Dannans. Brannagh finally relents, but she refuses to go to her childhood home and face her irascible Grandfather. Instead, she hides out at her Grandmother’s summer cottage, even though it is far too close to the woods where her mother was murdered. As Brannagh struggles to put to rest the questions surrounding Nikki’s disappearance, she finds it impossible to ignore the family secrets circling the most tragic disappearance of all. Brannagh learns that nothing magical will ever change her past, but the fierce love of friends holds the power to transform the future.

What was it about your genre that interested you enough to choose to write in it and not in another genre?
I don’t think I could have written this novel any other way. In my opinion, suspense novels are about facing your fears (entering the heart of the shadow that haunts you), and begin resurrected, after accessing hidden strengths, into the light.

Character you wish you had created?
Ben on the TV series LOST. He is such a fascinating villain with sympathetic and evil qualities. He infuriates me; then turns around and does something to make me like him. He always keeps us on our toes.

What authors do you look to as a role model and inspiration?
Ruth Rendell, Nicci French, Harlan Coben, Patricia Highsmith.

What's the best advice you ever received?
No matter what happens, no matter what life or the profession throws at you, always GO BACK TO THE PAGE.

I believe good writers read a lot. What do you use to mark your page when reading?
Whatever’s handy: bills, napkins, match sticks, coins, coasters, photographs, pillows, my husband’s sock.

What one thing do you like most about writing? Least?
My favorite part is being published. Picture the arrival of Christmas morning, the thrill of hearing a newborn’s cry and the rush of your first kiss all rolled into one. My husband and I went out for dinner. He’s my number one cheerleader and gets more excited than I do!

My least favorite part is getting the rejection letter. Rejection of the work you’ve spent so much time on is always a blow. The only cure for my disappointment has always been writing. Before you know it, I’m caught up in the characters and the mystery of their journey again. Sometimes it helps to work on a completely different project. If anything, I figure I must have learned something by now to make this one come closer to the mark.

Your book is called Let the Shadows Fall Behind You, published by Kunati, Inc. Tell us what the book is about and why you wrote it.
At heart, this is a book about the power of friendship. When Brannagh returns home for a childhood reunion of the Tuatha-De-Danaans, despite Nikki’s vanishing, she finally confronts the shadow she’s been running away from. Nothing can change the past, but friendship holds the power to transform the future. It was important for me to write about this because it’s a lesson I’ve been processing, as is so often the case with writing. The story is a reflection of what life is teaching me. This is all very mysterious and happens subconsciously; and very comforting.

Why should anyone part with their hard earned cash and precious time to read your book? Sell it to us!
I think Let the Shadows Fall Behind You has the multi-layered depth that lovers of good psychological suspense are attracted to. I tend to discover a new author with an unusual slant on the genre and compulsively read everything they’ve written. Lately, I’ve been devouring the works of Nicci French, a husband and wife British team. Maybe I’m just intrigued that this collaboration continues without self-combusting. I really like sophisticated screen thrillers too like Fatal Attraction and Wall Street, and have watched both quite a few times. I love the mechanics of an intricate plot paired with superb characterizations. I think every movie I watch and book I read informs my writing to some degree, because when the story transports me, I’m always curious as to why, and try to nail it down. That seamless pairing of plot and characterization to heighten suspense is what I’ve tried to master with Let the Shadows Fall Behind You.

Where can readers buy your book?
You can purchase it on line at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Indigo.

What is your next project?
The suspense novel I’m currently writing, In Cold Storage, is about having the courage to be your own hero.

What advice would you pass along at this point in your career?
Rule number one: Go to the page. Rule number two: Go back to the page. Rule number three: Go back to the page again. I think it’s important to exercise your true voice, test it, settle into its strengths and weaknesses, and learn to trust it BEFORE you attend workshops. If you attend ‘how to’ sessions too soon, the tendency is to try and act on the information with the left brain and copycat what is being taught. If, however, you already write in your true voice, you will trust your gut instinct to take the information taught and adapt any parts of it to your style to enhance it, and discard the rest. How do you know if you’re writing in your true voice? The words catch fire, the room disappears and you hum along on a magic carpet in your imagination.

Rule number two: Devote at least half as much time as you spend writing to learning the publishing business.

Thank you for being my interviewee today, Kathy-Diane.
Thank you so much for inviting me to be your guest and meeting all your readers. I encourage all of them to drop by my web site,, and let me know what you think of Let the Shadows Fall Behind You. I always love to hear from readers.

Every Thursday I chat with some of the generous authors I’ve met on the road to publication at


  1. This sounds like an interesting book. I love the cover.

  2. The book sounds really intriguing, especially as I spent my high school years on the Miramichi. I also enjoyed Fatal Attraction and Wall Street. Best of luck with the release and future projects!

  3. I love short story collections, so that book sounds interesting. Plus suspense is always interesting too.

  4. Hi everyone,

    Great to hear from you. Thank you for your kind thoughts. I agree with CTW, suspense is always interesting! That's why there's a pile by my bed. I love the cover too Stephanie. My Artist Way group actually uses feathers to honour the sacred (the great creator in Native sprituality) so it has special meaning for me. Linda, high school in the Miramichi? How lucky are you? One of the most beautiful spots in Canada. I love it.

  5. I alwasys love your interviews, Marsha.
    Kathy-Diane it's great to hear from a Canadian writer.I grew up on a ranch in Alberta.
    It's always interesting hearing about how an author works and I always appreciate the advice they have to offer.

  6. Kathy-Diane, I love the comment "the only thing more thrilling than reading a wonderful story is harnessing the power of the imagination to write one." I agree. It's so fun and rewarding to do that successfully.

    Good luck with your book--it sounds like a good read. I enjoy psych suspense, so will definitely check it out!


  7. Hi Cathy and Heidi,

    Thanks for your good wishes. I've been out west to the Banff Center of the Arts, Cathy, to work on adapting a story for public radio, but never actually travelling through Alberta. Some day! Heidi, always love to hear from other writers(great handle). I agree that Marsha's blog is great!

  8. There are times I wish I could have an IV so I don't have to stop to eat!


I welcome your comments.

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