1. Could you tell me a little about yourself?
So, I'm a bit of an oddball…isn't that a prerequisite for being a writer, though? I'm a military brat, so I grew up all over the country until my family settled in Texas. I still love to travel (especially to strange and hidden places); I obsess over languages (I make them up, too); I despise brussel sprouts (mutant miniature
cabbages!); I adore owls, chickens and pretty much anything that has feathers. I'm passionate about a bizarre variety of music, and have never met an instrument I didn't want to play. I love to learn about pretty much everything. I'm paranoid of car engines and electrical transformers, I train in street fighting, and, yes, I secretly believe that the Doctor will come to take me away.
2. When did you first decide that you wanted to be an author?
Oh, I was pretty young. My mom and older sister were always writing, and my whole family was passionate about story-telling, so writing just became a part of my life very early on. Of course people would always throw out that old line, "Most people can't make it as an author," but I didn't care about that. I just had to write, whether or not I could "make it" by my craft or not. That just kind of flowed into wanting to share my books with people, so, here I am.
3. Was it difficult to mix steampunk and fantasy?
Not as much as you might think! I've always been a fantasy writer; it's my natural habitat. But I love the whole steampunk flair and I'm fascinated by early modern culture, when everything is just becoming mechanized, with automobiles and aeroplanes and all of that. So many fantasy novels reflect a medieval kind of culture (I love those stories, too, but…you know. It's ubiquitous), and I've never read one with an early modern kind of setting. I just wondered, why not? There is something magical and fantastical about that setting for me. I didn't want to write yet another Victorian London story. I wanted a fantasy world with its own myths and countries and cultures, though the country Cavnal did draw inspiration from a number of sources — from revolution-era Russia to the heyday of the Chicago and New York mobs, to the quirky slang of Newcastle.
4. Do you find what you name your characters an important thing to think about?
Very much. The sound of names is hugely important to me. Sometimes a character comes with a name already attached. Sometimes I'll know what sort of ethnic sound I want to evoke, and I'll go to a site like Behind The Name to get a feel for different names before making one up that seems to fit. Usually I'll start with a very strong sense that a character's name has to begin with B, or cannot possibly start with R. I don't know why that is. In The Madness Project, a lot of the kids have "tags" instead of names, so it was more a matter of finding the right word to captures something about them — for instance, Coins, Red, Jig, Zip and Bugs.
5. What is the most important thing about being a writer in your opinion?
I think being a writer, like being an artist, carries a huge responsibility. I think we sell ourselves short when we don't appreciate the opportunity we have of helping people to see the world in a new way, or think about things differently, or make sense of things that, in the real world, are just too close to home to consider objectively. Watching characters in a book experience things gives readers a chance to safely wade those waters for themselves. Does all writing have to be deeply profound and philosophical? That would be tedious. But I think every story has a chance to make that kind of an impact on readers, even if just in a small way. That is something I find astounding and…honestly…a bit frightening.
6. If you could, would you go back and re-write the book in a different way?
Not this one, no. I had a bit of that feeling with my first book, Down a Lost Road, when I looked back on it after some time had passed. There were some things I wanted to change and I actually did go back and publish a revised edition to address some of those flaws. But for The Madness Project…no, I'm actually really happy with how it turned out. I'm still a bit baffled by the whole thing and find the prospect of writing #2 a bit daunting, but at the same time I am so, so excited to tackle it.
7. Any advice for aspiring authors?
You have a story to tell — hopefully, many stories to tell — so don't be afraid to tell them. Take the time to focus on bettering your craft. Being an author isn't something that anyone is entitled to, but don't ever let anyone tell you that you can't try to earn it. Find other writers or readers whose judgment you trust, and listen. Listen to their criticisms, even when it's painful. Don't blindly accept all of their suggested changes, either, but at least be willing to consider them. Being a writer is a constant work in progress. We always need to \ work on improving our craft, just like any other artisan. If being a writer is something you really want, you should be willing to put in the effort to be the best at it that you can be. And don't ever, ever give up. Find your voice, your unique and beautiful voice. Study, study, study. Meet wonderful and astonishing characters to populate your pages. Tell your story. The world is waiting to hear it.
Thank you so much for contacting me for an interview J. Leigh! I had an amazing time working with you!
Down below are the synopsis' of J. Leigh Bralick's books!
Synopsis of Down a Lost Road (The Lost Road Chronicles #1) (From Goodreads)
The way her summer vacation is beginning might be everything 16-year-old Merelin Lindon ever imagined - in her wildest daydreams. Her father has been missing for four years. So when she receives a small token that once belonged to him, she knows something strange is happening. Without any warning, Merelin finds herself drawn into a world somehow connected with Earth's mythical past. As she learns the truth of her father's past, the nightmare begins, and she finds herself the target of a terrifying hunt. With the help of a fascinating and sometimes infuriating young man named Yatol, she chooses to hazard everything, to suffer things she never imagined, in a foolhardy quest to rescue her father and save his people. But it may cost her more than she can imagine...
Synopsis of Subverter (The Lost Road Chronicles #2) (From Goodreads)
A year has passed since the Judgment of the Ungulion, and Merelin Lindon is beginning to believe she will never return to the world she loved. But when she begins to suffer from strange visions of a life and a love she left behind, visions that grow darker and harsher with each passing day, she comes to understand that her role in Arah Byen is far from over. But nothing can prepare her for what she will find. Peace should have been returning to the world, but a new enemy has crept from the shadows, plotting the overthrow of all that Merelin holds dear. With everything turned upside-down and nothing as it seems, Merelin must discover whose side she is really on, and who she can trust, before it is too late. But how can she know who to trust, when she isn't even sure she can trust herself?
Synopsis of Prisim (The Lost Road Chronicles #3) (From Goodreads)
Forced to take on a new identity to protect herself from a still-angry people, Merelin Lindon wants nothing more than to help bring the world of Arah Byen into some kind of balance. But nothing is going as planned. The High King Zhabyr is falling apart. Merelin's allies are turning on each other for no reason. Even Yatol is acting more mysterious and tormented than ever, and Merelin is struggling with a growing longing for her home and family. And just when she believes things can't get any worse, she is framed for a terrible crime, and deserted by those who should have defended her.
But Merelin soon realizes that she is not the victim of a horrible plot, but just one more pawn in a deadly game she never really understood. In the game immortals play, nothing she has seen or learned can prepare her for the truths about to be revealed.
In the coming war she cannot stand alone. But can she bring her allies together before it is too late?
Synopsis of The Madness Project (The Madness Method #1)
No one really knows Prince Tarik Trabinis. Not even himself.
He was born with a dual heritage—his royal title from his father, and from his mother, the gift of magic that would make him an outcast of society...if society ever learned the truth. For sixteen years Tarik kept his nature a secret. But on the eve of his seventeenth birthday, he is asked to help uncover the truth about the Rivanic Clan—an underground society of mages led by the enigmatic and charismatic Rivano. Using his ability to change his appearance, Tarik must slide into the dregs of society to learn the truth that could save or destroy everything he has ever loved.
Hayli wasn't born on the streets, but with her magery gift, the streets were the only place she could ever call a home. Afraid of her shape-shifting ability and ashamed to be a mage, Hayli only wants to belong in the Hole, a misfit crew of street rats who live deep in the south streets of Brinmark. But when Rivano takes notice of her gift, she must finally decide who she is, and what she wants to be.
When Tarik and Hayli's worlds collide, they find themselves enmeshed in a dangerous web of lies and deceit, crime and violent ambition. Hayli must decide how far she will go to save the people she loves, while Tarik must learn just how much he would sacrifice in order to learn the truth.
But what they will face will challenge everything they thought they knew, and make them question the true meaning of loyalty and betrayal, love and honor.