Hi dear friends,
As I said in my review of Moti yesterday I was so enthusiastic and amazed by that book that I just HAD to reach Leylah and ask if she would agree to answer my burning questions!
Come on now! It’s not every day an author known for writing epic romance goes for romcom and does it so brilliantly that I could not find one single flaw!
The art of making others laugh while making them think at the same time is a difficult craft!
As I’ve already interviewed Leylah about her, her writing, likes and dislikes in the past (find that interview HERE) I focused on the “making of” Moti and her collaboration with Suanne Laqueur as an editor.
Ready? Let’s go!
Oh and as she had given me months ago some quotes from Moti way before its release, I’ve refreshed them to make this interview even more appealing 😉
Thank you for agreeing once more to answer my questions! After reading Moti I was feeling like a kid on a sugar rush and I wanted to know so many things about this writing adventure!
- First of all: what decided you to write something akin to a romantic comedy? I loved your other books and said about Mists of the Serengeti that it was epic and grand. Moti was so different but as good! I laughed all the time!
Thank you! When I finish writing a book, the slate is clean for new ideas, concepts, and characters. Everything starts from the ground up, so whatever gathers the most momentum and gets me excited is what I’ll follow through with.
This time it was a fun, light-hearted story, and I have to say, I have the most amazing readers. They allowed me to stretch my boundaries and totally embraced something different from me.
Moti is about pure joy and laughter. It’s about finding humor in hopeless situations, and celebrating family, love, and self-discovery. I wanted my readers to have a smile on their faces not just when they turned the last page, but throughout.
- You write some deep truths disguised under witty banter. I highlighted so many quotes, beginning with the role of everyone in a family. That quote “If you looked at a family closely enough, you’d see that everyone had a job. There were Bosser-Arounders and Bossed-Arounders. War Makers and Bread Bakers. Promise Keepers and Promise Breakers. When you did something enough times, you got a label so everyone else knew what to expect.” is funny but so thoughtful at the same time! How do you do it? Observe people while drinking coffee at Stabuck? Watch reality TV? Talk with your friends and family, musing about life and relationships? …
We notice and absorb things every day without being aware of it. As an author, I let my characters dive into that pool of random thoughts, observations, and memories and emerge with whatever resonates with them. It’s molded and filtered through them, so they’re not necessarily my opinions or even my words. I just give voice to them.
3. In your family, what job do you have? What label are you under?
Let’s put it this way – if this were a Quentin Tarantino movie, I’m the one you call to clean up the mess *slips on gloves*
4. There is lots of food talk in your book. Preparing meals, choosing herbs etc. Is food important in your life? Maybe is it part of a family tradition? Or is someone a cook? Or nothing at all and you just researched for this book?
It stems purely from my love of food. Stopping to savor a good meal or a piece of fruit is a bit like meditation. It brings you into the moment, it stops the train of thoughts running through your head all day.
5. I really was amazed by the intelligent humor in this book. I know that Suanne Laqueur edited the book. Knowing Suanne and her own brand of fun, I think your thought process and humor must have matched but …maybe I am wrong! Do tell us more about that collaboration. Why did you choose Suanne? How was it to work with her? Any memorable moment to share with us?
Working with Suanne was serendipity. And meant to be! I was referred to her for editing, and I thought, “Could it be? Would she really edit this book?” I read An Exaltation of Larks last year, and absolutely loved her writing, so I was over the moon when she agreed to edit Moti on the Water.
At one point, Suanne asked if she could feature one of the food scenes from Moti on her blog. She has an entire section dedicated to ‘Great Food in Great Books’. I had no idea until she sent me the link. It just goes to show what a perfect fit we were for Moti on the Water! < – She would totally slash this unnecessary exclamation mark 😛
Suanne’s editing is subtle, but powerful. Changing the order or a sentence here, deleting a few words there, and voila! Everything flows so much better. I adored Suanne before and I adore her even more now.
6.Was it difficult to write a funny book? What makes it different from your other writing experiences? What was the easiest and the most challenging parts?
I had to shift gears, but once I got into Moti’s head, the story started flowing naturally.
The easiest part was Moti. She fleshed out immediately and was so endearing and funny and quirky, I had no trouble getting her down on paper.
The most challenging part was mapping out the itinerary for the cruise, keeping track of where, how, and when all the relationships were progressing, researching the ports of call and making sure I captured them accurately and authentically, while moving the plot along so it didn’t turn into a travelogue.
7. Who inspired you to write Moti? Is she built from your own personality? From friends? And does Alexandros share some common traits with friends or family?
Most of my characters crystallize from the inside out. I assimilate the characteristics and mannerisms of people around me, but it’s an amalgamation of traits and personalities rather than any particular person.
8. I know that you love traveling. Have you visited the places you wrote about in this story?
Not yet, but I hope to follow in Moti’s footsteps and visit the Cyclades soon!
9.You never show your face on pictures. Such a tease 😉 Why is that? Do you want to remain a mystery and keep us interested? Do you hate selfies (I do)? Or do you want to separate your life as a writer from your other professional life?
Hahaha…so I give you excerpts, but not the whole book? When you’re juggling two careers it’s easier to keep things separate.
10. You always post gorgeous pictures about places to read on your IG feed. What does your personal reading nook look like?
I recently converted a corner of my bedroom into a personal oasis. I love summer, so I’ve brought it indoors with a hammock that hangs off the ceiling, some plants, a jute rug, and string lights. A perfect, cozy little reading nook!
11. Name your favorite romcom movies.
Off the top of my head…Legally Blonde, When Harry Met Sally, Muriel’s Wedding, Bend It Like Beckham…
12. Recommend us some books…
–ugly cry = A Thousand Boy Kisses, Tillie Cole
–hot but smart = The Siren, Tiffany Reisz
–dark and powerful = You, Caroline Kepnes
–perfect beach read = 100 Love Sonnets, Pablo Neruda
-historical fiction = Where the Crawdads Sing, Delia Owens
–fantasy = Fever series, Karen Marie Moning
-YA = The Sea of Tranquility, Katja Millay
13. Next project? Can you tell us something about it?
I can tell you it’s not light-hearted….muahahaha.
Thank you so much Leylah! Not only for answering my questions but for writing one of the best books that I have read in 2019!
Thank you! I had so much fun doing this!
Hahaha love the Tarantino reference! 😀 Thanks for sharing this interview!
You are so welcome Lashaan! Leylah is funny like that and is one of your compatriots! I know now who to call to clean my messes LOL