Today, we welcome acclaimed Southern fiction author Leslie Hooton! Her novels have been praised for their “sparkling characters” and “funny but heartfelt, plot-driven yet profound,” and she has been called “a gifted writer and natural storyteller.” Let’s find out more about her together!
What drives your story forward in your books the most, the characters or the plot, or do you feel they are intertwined?
The characters. If characters are well written, that is all the drama you need.
If you were a character in one of your books, which would you be? The protagonist, mentor, villain, love interest, etc.?
It would be my dream to be the love interest! My characters get all the best guys. But, I think I am the mentor overseeing the action guiding my protagonist into the right guy’s direction.
If you had the power to make any of your books into a film, which would it be and why?
That’s a hard question. The Secret of Rainy Days is about female friendships. There are so many complex female parts that it would make a great movie. However, Bailey and Griffin’s adventures in both Before Anyone Else and After Everyone Else, would provide a fun escape. And you have murder!
Fiction that you have always wanted to write, but haven’t yet tackled?
A retelling of a classic tale.
If you could meet a literary character or author, who would you most like to meet?
As with the rest of us, you have a real life to live. So, in your most recent book, what was happening in your life and how did it influence your writing?
This is hard and easy. I was writing about the sibling relationship between my protagonist, Bailey, and her brother, Henry. In real life my brother had just passed away, and I think I was writing more scenes for Henry because I needed to spend time with my brother.
Was there something in your first edit that didn’t make it in the final copy that you sometimes wish you would have kept?
Oh yes! But, I will never tell.
What do you do to prepare your mind to write? To get into the mind of your characters.
Before I go to bed each night, I think about what my characters are going to be doing in the scene I am about to write. In the morning when I get up, I work out some of the “what if’s”. Writing for me, is so much more than being in front of the computer.
What book as a child/adolescent most influenced you as a writer?
How much research went into your last book?
A lot of research went into After Everyone Else. It doesn’t always make it onto the page, but I want to have the research at my fingertips. Bailey is a restaurant designer, so I spent a lot of time researching restaurants, researching hot food trends in the restaurant industry and researching cocktails. The last part was my favorite! After Everyone Else includes Brazilian food which I was not familiar with. As luck would have it, I met a woman on a recent flight and peppered her with questions about Brazilian cuisine until we landed. Luckily for her, it was a short flight.
What’s one of the most important things you’d like your readers to know about you? What defines you most as an author?
I think my past and my upbringing define me as an author. I grew up in the South and because I had a stroke at birth, I spent a lot of time on the sidelines. I used that time to observe. To this day, I can tell you in detail what people I meet are wearing, even down to their shoes.
What is one thing about you that may surprise your readers?
I’m not sure. I don’t know what preconceptions the readers have of me.
Can you tell us what prompted you to write your latest release?
So many of my readers wanted a sequel. Griffin and Bailey continued to camp out in my brain rent free. A scene took shape in the middle of the book that bloomed with possibilities. It made me ask “How do you get over that”? And then those magic words, “What happens next?”
What’s next for you? What are you working on now?
My next novel explores the contours of a marriage when it meets an immovable force.
Publication Date: June 28, 2022
From the acclaimed author of Before Anyone Else comes a captivating new novel about the lengths we will go to protect the ones we love.
Bailey thought she’d gotten her happy ending. She is married to the man she loves, she has started a family, and her design business is flourishing. But when Bailey’s ex-husband, a famous TV chef, is found murdered with her DNA all over his apartment and body, she is suddenly facing murder charges in a high-profile case. Already burdened by the demands and challenges of marriage, motherhood, and her career, Bailey now must do everything she can to prove her innocence. But it’s the ones she thought would surely be on her side—her enigmatic lawyer and her husband—who might be doubting her innocence the most.
Alternating between the past and present, After Everyone Else chronicles the grip of the past, the challenges of forgiveness, and the resilient love we save for the person we love after everyone else.
Leslie Hooton is many things: a fabulous friend, a powerful speaker, a flower enthusiast, a lover of language, a seeker of color in a black-and-white world, but most recently she became a newly published author. You don’t want to miss the sequel to her first fantastic debut novel, Before Anyone Else. Coming soon June 28th, 2022 is “After Everyone Else.”