☆ ☆ ☆ Author Spotlight: Leylah @LeylahAttar ☆ ☆ ☆
When Leylah Attar entered the romance world with her debut, 53 Letters for My Lover, it was hard not to take notice. This book covers an affair (obviously), diversity, sickness (yes, I’m being vague), and rape. The manner in which the story was told, within a culture I knew little about, was unforgettable. And I felt like a locked up prisoner, desperate for release, her new release, he he.
The Paper Swan was so completely different yet just as mesmerizing as the 53 Letters, that she became an automatic 1-click author for me. And this book is one of the few books that gets the SHORTIES APPROVED rating (5 stars from more than one Shortie).
Describe your last release in 5 words or less.
Leylah: Intense, gritty, dark, light, hopeful
What was the hardest scene you’ve ever written (without spoilers)?
Leylah: One of the toughest scenes to write was the initiation ceremony that new recruits go through in The Paper Swan. If you’ve read the book, you’ll know what I’m talking about. What made it so difficult was that it was based on news articles and interviews. As I was writing, I felt an overwhelming sense of injustice, because this continues to happen to countless people in different parts of the world, even as we speak.
Who was your favorite character to write about so far and why?
Leylah: That’s a tough one, because they’re all special to me for different reasons. I have to go with Troy, from 53 Letters For My Lover. He’s the amalgamation of so many things: looks, loyalty, playfulness, tenacity, charisma, confidence. But more than that, his love is so raw and abiding, it diminishes every obstacle. He’s alpha and beta, all wrapped in one.
(from Michelle) I’ve only read The Paper Swan (which you already know was Shorties approved) and need to add 53 Letters to my Lover. I noticed from the blurb it is another diversity type of book (which I personally love), do you make a conscious effort to write about diverse characters?
Leylah: Writing is a form of exploration for me. Including diverse characters and settings expands and enriches my own world view and understanding. It also introduces themes and challenges that might not come up if I just stuck to what I was familiar with. I live in one of the most multicultural cities in the world (Toronto), and I think it’s important to embrace and reflect this richness of diversity in my books.
Why did you feel the need to state for The Paper Swan “this is not a love triangle “? Did you feel you did not want to turn off the reader whom may be interested in reading the book? Personally if it was a love triangle, I (Ivy) would have been ok with that lol.
Leylah: It wasn’t originally in the blurb, but I kept getting questions from readers. I think it’s the part that says, “…..her only way out means certain death for one of the two men she loves.” So I decided to clarify it. That way if a reader goes in expecting a love triangle and it’s not there, or if it’s someone who avoids love triangles and realizes that s/he could have read it all along, they’re not hella pissed off….lol
What is your thought process when writing diverse characters?
Leylah: I don’t think about it too much, because that in itself can stilt your writing. Whatever character I’m creating is first founded on one common denominator – the fact that we are all human, we all have human feelings, reactions, hopes, dreams, expectations. Only then do I add the finer strokes to any given scene.
What’s your next project – any teasers?
Leylah: My next book is set in Africa. It’s about how we’re all connected, how something that happens in one part of the world can radiate out and affect the lives of people everywhere. But that’s the theme. The storyline is about two ordinary people who come together and end up doing something quite extraordinary.
What’s your favorite subgenre of romance?
Leylah: I’m a moody reader. Suspense, erotica, paranormal…..whatever I’m craving, or if a blurb intrigues me. I can read anything as long as the writing grips me.
What has been most challenging about writing?
Leylah: Saying no to a lot of other things in my life. Allowing myself the time I need to write, without feeling like I’m letting some other aspect of my life down is a constant struggle.
Do you listen to music while writing and if so, what type of music do you listen to?
Leylah: I absolutely must have music to inspire me! It’s not so much the lyrics because listening to songs in a language that I don’t understand works equally well. It’s about the feelings it evokes, the atmosphere it creates, the places it transports you to. Oh wait. You asked if I listen to music while writing. No. I prefer silence when I’m writing. Music is for when I’m dreaming it up.
Your books include a lot of cultural references. How much is research and how much is from personal experiences?
Leylah: For both 53 Letters For My Lover and The Paper Swan, I did extensive research on the cultural aspects, traditions, clothes, food, how people address each other, their parents, friends, the slang they use etc. No matter how compelling a story is, it’s the little things that lend authenticity, the stuff that you don’t really even register while reading sometimes.
Rapid Fire Questions – 20 Questions
What is your favorite word?
Leylah: To hear or to say? Because there’s a huge difference….haha.
What is your least favorite word?
What turns you on?
Leylah: A great sense of humor. I can’t dislike anyone who makes me laugh.
What turns you off?
Leylah: Inauthenticity. Saying one thing, doing another. Although the latter doesn’t apply in the bedroom bc that can spice things up….lol!
What sound or noise do you love?
Leylah: The low growl that escapes a man because of something you’re doing. Sorry, I guess my mind is still in the bedroom.
What sound or noise do you hate?
Leylah: Snoring, when you think he should be growling (see #5)
What is your favorite curse word?
Leylah: I grew up really sheltered, in a strict family. Up until recently, I could barely write the F word, let alone say it. Now it’s in my head all the time. And my tongue thinks I’m playing favorites so I have to let it use it sometimes. You know, to be fair and all.
What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
Leylah: I have a full time job in health care. And before I started writing, I did professional newborn photography in my spare time. I think I’m all careered out, except maybe for a food or travel critic. Then again, I’d be handing out gold starts left, right and center, because I would just be so happy eating, and exploring the world.
What profession would you not like to do?
Leylah: Collecting elephant poop at the zoo.
What are you reading right now?
Leylah: At the moment, Coastal Living Magazine. It gets me through the winters.
What book(s) do you urge readers to read?
Leylah: Gone With the Wind, The Thorn Birds, The Bronze Horseman, The Sea of Tranquility, 50 Shades of Grey, anything by Anais Nin, Pablo Neruda, Kahlil Gibran, Maya Angelou, Stephen King, Agatha Christie.
What inspires you?
Leylah: People who find a reason to be happy no matter what their circumstance.
What is your favorite indulgence?
Leylah: Sleep. I miss it so much….lol
What is your favorite movie?
Leylah: ONE? I have to say E.T. It’s a heart-warming piece of movie magic about friendship, innocence, belonging, accepting differences. It makes you think and feel and laugh and cry. And bonus: you can watch it with your kids AND in-laws without cringing.
What is your favorite piece of clothing?
Leylah: An oversized pashmina that my husband got for me on a cruise. I snuggle under it when I’m reading, or watching TV; roll it up into a pillow on the plane; it’s great when the temperature drops; blocks out the sun if it’s too hot. It adds flair to an outfit and I can use it as my own personal fort when I want to block the world out.
What is your favorite ice cream flavor?
Leylah: Pineapple chilli sorbet. OMG. To die for!
What is something you like to collect?
Leylah: Cards, notes, letters from family, friends and readers
What item must you have with you at all times?
Leylah: My watch. When I’m caught up in something, I lose all sense of time.
What city could you get lost in for hours to explore?
Leylah: Barcelona. I drool over it in pics. One day
What is one thing about you that would surprise us?
I can’t touch my toes. Well, I can if I bend my knees.
After Dark Question: Who is your favorite Star Wars character?
Leylah: Yoda. I want to tickle him until he snorts.
Leylah Attar writes stories about love – shaken, stirred and served with a twist. When she’s not writing, she can be found pursuing her other passions: photography, food, family and travel. Sometimes she disappears into the black hole of the internet, but can usually be enticed out with chocolate.
Author Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Pinterest
If you haven’t read them already, check out Leylah’s books:
Book Title: 53 Letters for My Lover
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Length: 396 pages
Shayda Hijazi—the perfect wife, the perfect mother, the perfect daughter. For thirty-three years, she has played by the rules, swallowing secrets, burying dreams and doing whatever it takes to anchor her family. Shayda Hijazi is about to come face to face with the one thing that can rip it all apart, the one thing her heart has always been denied: Love.
Troy Heathgate—untamed, exhilarating, dangerous—a man who does exactly as he pleases. Life bends to his will. Until he comes across the one thing he would give it all up for, but can never have.
Born on the same day in opposite corners of the world, their lives collide. And nothing is ever the same again.
Spanning three decades, 53 Letters for My Lover is a fiercely sensual, emotional ride to the heart of an epic, forbidden love that defies it all—an intimate exploration of love, loyalty, passion, betrayal, and the human journey for hope, happiness and redemption.
***Indie Reader “Best Books of 2014″***
Contemporary women’s fiction: Ages 18+
Book Title: From His Lips (53 Letters for My Lover #1.5)
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Length: 90 pages
Troy Heathgate has it all – brains, brawn and the kind of smile that just begs a ribbon. Everything but the woman he loves. But now he’s back and determined to possess her. There’s just one catch – she’s married to another man.
This short story (90 pages) contains spoilers. It is meant to be read after the full length novel, 53 Letters For My Lover. For readers who want more from the hero’s point of view. From His Lips (53 Letters #1.5) expands on some of the crucial scenes, and includes a few new ones.
Book Title: Paper Swan
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Length: 390 pages
They say it takes 21 days to form a habit.
For 21 days she held on.
But on Day 22, she would have given anything for the sweet slumber of death.
Because on Day 22, she realizes that her only way out means certain death for one of the two men she loves.
A haunting tale of passion, loss, and redemption, The Paper Swan is a darkly intense yet heartwarming love story, textured with grit, intrigue, and suspense. Please note: This is NOT a love triangle.
A full-length, standalone novel, intended for mature audiences due to violence, sex and language. Subject matter may be disturbing for some readers.