Wednesday, January 1, 2014
Meet Patricia Leppo
Hi Pam, thanks for having me. I was born in San Luis Obispo, California. Although I still have family in that area, I have resided primarily in the central valley. In addition to writing, I work as a paralegal for a civil litigation law firm in Bakersfield, California. I enjoy genealogy, traveling and research. I am currently working on my second book.
Please tell me about your novel. Who or what was your inspiration behind it?
There were three major factors involved. I’ve always been very interested in the Civil War. One of my favorite movies is Cold Mountain. I also loved the North and South miniseries, and of course who can forget the impact of movies like Gettysburg, Glory and Gone With the Wind. It’s difficult for me to imagine our country torn apart by a war of this magnitude. When I watch the news and see the tension that exists between races, religions and political parties in our country I often worry that this could happen again. Our country was devastated by the war and it took years to re-build. One of my hopes in writing this book is that it will influence people to try to more peacefully resolve their differences.
Also, despite being called the “heartbeat of the military” I have also always felt that the Civil War drummer boys did not receive the recognition that they deserved. I have never watched a movie or read a book that focused on this subject. Boys as young as eight enlisted, bravely marched alongside the soldiers during battle and were often killed and buried in unmarked graves on the battlefield far away from home. I thought it would be interesting to place a teenager with today’s perspective in this situation.
The last factor was my obsession with my family tree. My ancestors have been here since the Mayflower and I discovered while doing genealogy that I have had family members involved in every war since the Revolutionary War. I chose to write about the Battle of Stones River that took place in Murfreesboro, TN after I discovered that two of my great-great-great-grand-uncles, James and Adrastus Tolle, had been Union soldiers during this battle. They were enlisted with the 21st KY Infantry. I also learned from a family member that my great-great-grand-uncle, Joseph Haas, was a Civil War Union drummer. Rumor has it he met both President Lincoln and General Grant, and received 850 acres in land grants that were signed by President Lincoln himself.
What are some of your favorite genres to read and to write?
I have gone through many different genre stages in my life. These have included the classics, westerns, romance, mystery, crime, horror, and non-fiction such as biographies, spirituality and psychology/self-empowerment.
What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What was the biggest compliment? Did those change how or what you did in your next novel?
My writing has not yet been criticized by anyone other than myself. I am the toughest critic of my writing. I was very surprised when those who read my book told me that they really enjoyed the story and could not put it down. The main reason this surprised me is because I intended my book to be read by teenagers, and these compliments came from adults.
When you sit down to write, do you do it the old-fashioned way with pen and paper or do you use a computer? Do you prefer one way or the other?
I prefer to write using a laptop. I do not write my stories in chronological order. I write portions of the beginning, middle and end as they come to me, and then I continue to add a little at a time to these sections until I am able to join them together. I would not be able to do this if I wrote with a pen and paper.
What do you do when you are not writing? Do you pick up some from you to be read pile?
I select a book from a stack on my nightstand and read for about 20 minutes at bedtime. Much of what I read beside this are Facebook posts made by friends and family, or online articles about current events, science, and psychology.
Compared to when you first started writing, have you notice any big changes in your writing style or how you write compared from then to now?
I am experimenting with different types of voice, such as using first person point of view in the teen romance I am working on.
What do you look for in a book when you sit down to read for fun?
What I read for fun now are non-fiction books. I also enjoy online blogs. I have not read fiction in a few years.
What has been your favorite part of being an author? What has been your least favorite?
I find that I tend to lose myself in the writing process, and this is very fulfilling. I feel like I am doing what I was born to do. My least favorite is my tendency to make writing my least important priority after everything else I have to get done during the day. By the evening I am usually too tired to write.
When you walk into a book store, where do you head to first? Why?
The clearance section, then on to psychology/self-empowerment and lastly the magazine section.
Did you get to quit your day job and become an author or do you still have a day job and writing is something you do for fun? If you still have a day job, what is it?
I did not quit my day job to become a writer. I currently am a paralegal and work for a litigation attorney. I was working for a real estate brokerage when I began writing The Drummer’s Call.
What has been the strangest thing that a reader has asked you?
Do I need a college degree to publish a book.
What is your favorite junk food vice?
My favorite junk food are pastries of all varieties.
Besides writing and reading, what is your most favorite thing to do?
Spend time with my daughter. We have a very close relationship. I also love traveling to new places, sightseeing and hiking. I live just a few hours from Los Angeles, the Pacific Coast and also Yosemite. Whenever we have the chance to visit those places we enjoy browsing through clothing, antique and book stores and trying new restaurants.
Did you have any teacher in school that encouraged you to write? Did you take their advice?
Yes. I began writing short stories in sixth grade. My teacher would read them to the class. She used to tell me that I should try to have them published. I stopped writing stories after elementary school and did not pick it up again until 30 years later. During those 30 years I chose to read rather than write.
We all have our little things when it comes to reading, is there anything that bugs you when you read a novel? What is it?
I hate not knowing how a book will end, and throughout my life I’ve often read the last few pages long before I was done with the story!
What do you listen to when you write? Do you find one type of music over another that inspires you to write? Why?
I find I am distracted by music or television when I write.
On a typical weekend, what can we find you doing? Who are you with?
I try to balance out chores and something fun, like a day trip or a get-together with friends or family.
What genre are you most looking forward to exploring during your writing career? Why?
Writing different types of novels aimed and various age groups. I am currently working on two books – one is the sequel to The Drummer’s Call which is going to be written as a teen historical romance, the other is a fictional book for grownups about a woman who escapes an abusive relationship and her path to healing.
Who was your current novel dedicated to? Any particular reason?
My book is dedicated to my father, brothers and grandfather. I include a lot of humorous bantering between the soldier characters in my book. All of the men in my family are very funny. From my earliest memories most family get-togethers involved a lot of story-telling, teasing and laughing. In addition, almost all of the men in every generation of my family have served in the military. For these two reasons I dedicated my book to my father, brothers and grandfather.
What are you currently reading?
I am alternating between 3 books depending upon my mood: The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron & Mark Bryan, A Spiritual Solution to Every Problem by Wayne Dyer, What Matters Most by James Hollis.
Who are your favorite authors?
Taylor Caldwell, Jane Austin, Jack London, Wayne Dyer and Don Miguel Ruiz.
What authors inspired you to write this particular novel? Why?
I really do not know what author inspired me to write my novel. My book has been compared to Tom Sawyer so possibly a mixture of Mark Twain combined with various other authors whose adventure novels I’ve read.
What 7 words would you use to describe yourself.
Introspective, empathetic, persistent, non-judgmental, shy, family-oriented & inquisitive.
Is there anything else that you would like to share or say to those who will read this interview?
I literally spent hundreds of hours doing research for this book. All of my sources are listed on my website. Everything I write about from the weather, the geography, the Civil War and the daily life of the Civil War drummer has been researched. I never enjoyed history in school. I tried to write The Drummer’s Call in such a way that the reader enjoys the story so much he or she does not realize how much they have learned about the Civil War until they have finished the book.
Which is your favorite character in your book and why?
Josh is my favorite character. Like me, he has many fears that he must face – fear of the dark, fear of public speaking, etc. Also like me, he learns that not only must you take life and its’ problems one day at a time, but often that your fears are much worse than reality and by facing them the end result is that you become a stronger and wiser person.
Contact the Author: Website