Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Author Interview: Leslie Smith


Detective Veronica Sloan isn’t shocked by much. Having lived through the worst terrorist attacks in history—which destroyed much of Washington, D.C.—she’s immune to even the most vicious brutality. But even she is stunned by the discovery of a murder in the basement of the under-reconstruction White House. 

Because the victim was a participant in a top-secret experiment, Sloan and FBI Agent Jeremy Sykes have been assigned to investigate the homicide. Veronica has been training for just this kind of case, waiting to use her  special skills, anxious to learn if a recording device implanted in a victim’s head can help solve their murder….before the killer strikes again.

Meet Leslie:

Leslie A. Smith is a best-selling author who has written more than fifty novels under various pseudonyms. She lives in Maryland with her husband and their daughters. Visit her online at or

Let's chat:

LTSF: Your Character, Ronnie, is intriguing.  Is she based on someone in particular?

Leslie: No, Ronnie is straight out of my mind. I’ve always enjoyed really strong female characters and tend to write them that way. Having a background in romance, I’ve gotten used to writing strong, confident women and being able to make her not only strong but kick-ass was a lot of fun. 

LTSF: Don’t Look Away is the first book in the Veronica Sloan series.  Is this your first novel?

LESLIE: No! I’ve written and published many books—maybe fifty?—under my real name (Leslie Kelly) and under the pseudonym Leslie Parrish 

LTSF: This is a somewhat disturbing prophecy of what may come in the future.  Give us some insight as to how you came up with the idea using a horrific terrorist attack on the White House and other DC monuments?

LESLIE: I know this might sound strange, but it was a dream. I grew up in a town about 40 miles outside of Washington D.C. and loved taking the train down to the National Mall. One night, many years later when I was living in Florida, I woke up having had the most vivid dream. I was riding up one of the extremely long escalators, coming up from the D.C. Metro to the stop near the Smithsonian. And as I drew closer to the top, I saw that the sky was gray and smoky. Coming up into the day light, I looked around and most of the monuments and recognizable buildings were in flames or reduced to rubble. And while I was standing there, in shock, some men came racing up behind me, pushing me out of the way, saying they’d bombed the capital by using both Metro tunnels and the not-so-secret tunnel system beneath the White House. 
That dream really affected me. So much so that I sat down and wrote it all out. Later, I began playing around with using it to launch a book. It took several years to sell it and I went on to write and sell many other projects in the meantime. Traditional publishers were a little skittish about the subject matter. 
As it turns out, I ended up selling the series, on proposal, to a German publisher who’d published my Parrish books and wanted more. Having that safety net to write the book—and get paid—allowed me to just go for it, with an eye on indie-publishing it here in the U.S. afterward. And that’s exactly what I did. 

LTSF: Did you have any misgivings using a terrorist attack as a backdrop?  

LESLIE: No, I really didn’t. I spent a lot of time thinking about how the world changed so much after 9/11, and wondered how much more drastically it would change if something even more catastrophic were to strike the country. I liked the idea of an incident so affecting the entire country that our entire political system took a drastic turn, which then had a ripple effect throughout the world. As a writer, I sometimes have to shove aside things that make me personally uncomfortable in order to explore the stories I want to tell. 

LTSF: The use of technology in this book is both fascinating and chilling.  Are you tech savvy,  or was your knowledge more research based? 

LESLIE:  No, not tech savvy, I just like to read and research. And make stuff up…lol!

LTSF: Did the ideas of the microchip and ocular recording device come from your imagination, or was it based on research?

LESLIE: The microchipping has been a no-brainer to me since I had my dog microchipped in 2002. It just seemed a very simple leap that someday, somebody would want to start chipping their kids or the elderly, and that law enforcement might then like the idea of chipping people to keep track of the movements of criminals. It just seemed like an endless—and terrifying—possibility to me. And, frankly, still does. 
The O.E.P. device was just something that popped into my head as I was plotting. It seemed futuristic but not “woo-woo” paranormal, which was something I wanted to avoid with this series. 

LTSF: In developing characters, there is a lot of information authors have about their characters that never makes it onto the page.  What don’t we know about Ronnie, Mark, and Jeremy?

LESLIE: Ooh, what an interesting question! Hmm…well, Ronnie was closest to her brother, Drew, who was killed on the Metro train on 10/20. The two of them were very close in age—Irish twins, less than one year apart. He was a jovial, funny guy, and brought out Ronnie’s lighter side. 

Daniels has been married twice. His first marriage was a teenage-pregnancy one, but his young wife had miscarried and they split up. His second wife is still in love with him, and they maintain a friendship, but he feels only friendship for her. 

Jeremy is a silver-spoon guy. His family is super rich and expected him to be a senator at the very least. They’re going to cause some trouble in the future because Ronnie is definitely not the type of woman they envision being with their golden boy. 

LTSF: This book has just been released, yet I see you are already working on the next book in the series.  When can we expect the next installment to hit the shelves, or e-readers?

LESLIE: Book 2, titled DON’T EVER STOP, will be coming out in July. It will be available in e-formats, as well as in print in a trade-sized paperback. 

LTSF: While you are hard at work on the next Veronica Sloan thriller, do you have time to read?  If so, what are you reading currently?

LESLIE: I read every single night. I can’t fall asleep without spending at least an hour reading in bed. I tend to go through binges where I’ll glom (or, often, re-glom) my favorite authors. I’m on a John Irving kick right now. Just finished re-reading, for about the seventh time, A PRAYER FOR OWEN MEANY, which was a Kindle Daily Deal a few weeks ago. Even though I have all his books in hardcover, I then went in and started buying Kindle backlist and am currently reading THE CIDER HOUSE RULES. I have also been on a non-fiction kick and about a month ago went through probably ten books about the Tudor era. It’s one of my favorite historical periods. Who knows what I’ll latch onto next month? Sometimes it’s suspense, sometimes romance, probably my favorite genre is horror. 

LTSF: Thanks so much for your time, Leslie. We are looking forward to the next Veronica Sloan thriller.

LESLIE: Thank you! I so appreciate the chance to talk about my books and am so glad you enjoyed DON’T LOOK AWAY. 

Now for the Tease from Don't Look Away:

She scrolled to the last ten minutes of Leanne Carr’s life, highlighted the entire list of images—six-hundred of them—drew them into a slideshow and set the speed on its slowest setting. For now, she wanted to see each picture individually, to note and interpret each impression. Later, she’d speed things up and watch the events closer to real-time. 

Obviously, people didn’t go through their lives capturing visual images only every second. The human brain processed what the  eye saw much faster than that. The average movie, for instance, displayed roughly twenty-four frames per second. So seeing the quickest possible progression of a series of still images recorded from someone’s eyes made the experience seem more lifelike—and less like a series of drawings in one of those old-fashioned cartoon flip-books.

For right now, though, the one-by-one approach would be best for noting specific clues. It would also be easier on her, would allow her to build one small wall of separation between herself and the victim, to remind her brain that these were pictures of something that had happened in the past, not something she was truly experiencing right now.

She needed to dip her toe into this icy cold pool of death, not dive into the deep end.
Ronnie grabbed the remote control, then swiveled her chair, too filled with tension to even regret having moved fast enough to jiggle her aching head. Sykes did the same thing, scooting his chair closer to hers until they sat side by side. Ronnie looked at him, silently asking a question, and he nodded that he was ready.

She clicked the Start button and the lights in the room immediately went down, the better to see the projected images before them. A pause as tense expectation filled the air, and her heart began to beat in time with each screen change.

The movie of Leanne’s mind began. 

See my review 

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