This week, author/photographer Jenn Leblanc joins IBRU for a one-on-one. Thanks for stopping by Jenn!!!!!
1. What was your inspiration for the project as a whole, and what influenced your decision to release TRATR as a serial novel?
The book came from a dream, as kitschy as that sounds, I woke up with the first line, and incidentally, an image, in my mind. I knew I had to write the story of the girl running, I needed to know what she was so terrified of. I finished the manuscript in about three months, and I started edits with a content editor. In October I figured I needed to start querying, and I decided to shoot a cover for my book to try and stand out, maybe get some attention. When I found my hero, Derek,
we went into my studio to do just that. I knew exactly what I wanted the cover to look like, a strong portrait. Simple. But we had so much fun that I decided we should just keep going, and he was game. That’s where it went illustrated. The serial came because it was SOOOO long, and it naturally fell into a serialized format. Of course, between the illustrations and the serialization I didn’t think any publisher would ever be interested, and the answers I was getting from agents was really confirming that.
2. You’ve worked on several non-book-related (and award-winning!) projects. How did shooting for TRATR differ from these experiences?
SO very much. I have done studio and art photography in the past but my primary focus has been photojournalism, and yes, I’ve won awards for my work as a photojournalist. In photojournalism I have no control, I don’t know what I’m walking into most of the time,and have limited amount of time to find an image and shoot it, I’m not allowed to set things up, I’m not allowed to edit the images, it is about as far from studio as it can get, for those simple reasons. TRATR was also a very extended project, it really was like shooting a movie in that I had to plan the scenes and costuming, schedule the shoot to make it more efficient, cast the characters, design the sets. It was very intense. I worked on several extended documentary projects, but of course the subject matter is so different.
3. Certainly Gideon and Francine, Perry and Lilly, both couples are show stealers, but what inspired architect Amberley Shaw’s relationship with Alice?
Amberley, I’m not sure where he came from. I’m a pantser so he showed up basically without notice in the garden, just when Francine needed him. But he was such a genuine and endearing character, and I needed Gideon to feel safe with him, so I decided he needed to be one of those rare men who was undeniably smitten with a woman. One he couldn’t have. They have taken on a life of their own, my readers want to know their story now, how they met. They know just the ending, but want me to fill in the blanks. I probably will.
4. What challenges did you face while writing Lilly? Francine?
SPOILER ALERTS!! 🙂
Lilly was certainly a challenge considering her history. I was shocked when he pulled her from the carriage, I didn’t know she was in there until the light hit her face and he saw the scars. So the surprise you have when reading it? That was the surprise I had when writing it. I had to put it away for a couple days and really think about it. One, she is a servant and two, she is terribly misused. But, they spoke to me in those two days, Perry and Lilly, they told me they belonged together. Perry really did the convincing, and it took a bit because he had to make me believe he wasn’t just in it for the fun stuff. I know this must sound funny to some people. *shrugs* These people have conversations in my head that end up on paper. They are very dear to me.
As for Francine, I had to figure out how she was to survive in her new world without ending up like Gideon’s mother. That wasn’t an easy thing to work through either, but she was sure she could do it. She was also convinced, after seeing him that first day that she would do whatever it took to remain, and that he felt the same. Turned out she was right.
5. What’s next for you? Will there be more pictures?
There will ALWAYS be more pictures. Always. That isn’t something I do, it really is who I am. Right now I am shooting for some authors, and finishing up my next manuscript, BETWEEN A FRIEND AND FOREVER, which I should be shooting this summer. I’m excited about it, because the main heroine is just so different. She has a few issues, I thought originally she had tourettes but I’m now thinking she has extreme anxiety or Aspberger’s with a chaser of OCD. To top it off she is the daughter and sole heir to a Duke, who is ill, and she must secure her future and that of her mother before they are cast out of his properties. She has come to be known as Twitchy on twitter, because of her little quirks, and those who have met her have found her quite endearing. I read a teaser for an interview once, and now get asked about her all the time. After this is another epic serial novel…and the heroes of this one will be Calder and Warrick. Readers are already fighting over them. So I have to get busy.
I hear you ladies would like some of the unpubbed images? So I’ve included some of those that didn’t make the cut. Because I can 🙂
If you like what you see, there’s more available in The Rake and the Recluse (obviously), and they are delicious.
Without further ado, here are those pics Jenn promised. Enjoy 😉