Behind the Book: Leigh Raines
Today we have author Leigh Ranes at Behind the Book talking about her debut novel We're all mad here. You can read my review here of the same. It is always interesting to hear them talk about all that came together to make this book THE book.
Born and raised just outside of New York City, Leigh Raines is the youngest of 5 wild siblings. As a kid they all made fun of her for staying up late to read under her covers with a flashlight. Her love of reading also turned into a love of writing and Leigh enrolled at Lehigh University where she earned a BA in Journalism. Today she uses that degree to review TV shows for work. She also used her 4 years there to help inspire some of her debut novel "We're All Mad Here."Leigh spends most of her time writing, watching her shows, draining the battery on her Kindle, babysitting her nieces and nephews, and cuddling with her French bulldog puppy. Now instead of using a flashlight when it's bedtime, she pulls up the Kindle app on her phone for just a few more pages...or until the end of the book.
1. Extending a warm welcome to you at Reviews and Musings. Talking about your debut book “We’re all mad here” – can you tell us more about it? What is it about?
Hi! “We’re all mad here” is about a 19-year-old girl with a seemingly normal life who suddenly has an emotional breakdown. There is no outward, imminent reason why this suddenly happened to her so the novel is her journey over a year’s period of ups and downs, self-discovering, and ultimately coming of age.
2. How did the whole idea for it get conceptualized?
I went through a similar experience at 19 and writing this started as something cathartic to me. A book I wished was around 10 years ago when I went through the first flutters of bad anxiety. From there I wanted to make it relatable and a little bit fun. I wanted to add characters and build a world around Jade.
3. How much of the real you is in this book, in other words to put it simply is it a true story based on your own life?
It is inspired by an experience I had and some of the characters are inspired by people I know, but ultimately my own life is just not that interesting! Fiction had to take over to make it a cohesive story.
4. According to you what is that one thing that sets this book apart from the other coming of age stories doing rounds these days?
I think it’s very realistic. A ton of people I know have had similar experiences, where you don’t necessarily come from a traumatic background but it just happens anyway. The emotional stuff that is discussed in this book is now taking a stronghold on shows likes “Girls” and other pop culture outlets. It’s also not tied up neatly in a bow. Lots of the characters are left opened ended, which is how life is.
5. Jade as the central character comes across as a very strong young individual with very clear thoughts given her age, was it inspired from someone you knew?
Despite having a similar experience, I was utterly clueless at her age. I drew Jade’s strength from her friends, support system, and what she learned about herself. All of that just came from building the character. I think in my mind I probably drew traits from characters I either know or have read about or watched somewhere.
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6. If I can call it so, this book for me is a multi genre for it is part YA, part drama, funny at places and at times very touching. What are your thoughts on this?
When I started writing this and first submitted it to publishing houses, there was no such thing as “New Adult.” Books were either YA (and a lot less edgy than today’s YA) or chick lit about girls in their late 20s/early 30s. I love how much has emerged now that takes place in that middle area of 18-25, when you are really transitioning from child to adult because those are formative years where so much takes place.
7. What is the message you want to convey to the readers through this book of yours?
That there is no formula to life. Things happen every single day that will surprise you and shock you. You’re going to fall down and it’s not something to be ashamed of. Surround yourself with good people who are loyal and supportive. Learn to pick yourself back up.
8. Can you please take our readers through your journey of becoming a published author? Any particular incident (good or bad) that you might want to share with our readers?
When I initially wrote this story (which was pre-revisions and pretty different) I submitted it the old-fashioned way to agent and got a ton of rejection letters that it just didn’t fit into any place or genre. I found French Press Bookworks/Pen Name Publishing through twitter. Most of the people I read are indie authors. The publishing world is changing- take advantage of it!
9. That moment when you felt this is it, I want to be a writer!?
I started interning pretty early and in high school worked for the press side of a political office. I wanted to do journalism from the get-go. However, I was never great in reporting class in college, because I was told I always put too much of my own opinion into it. I’m just more of a creative person to that effect so I started taking creative writing classes and it grew from there.
10. How different is the real Leigh Raines to the Author Leigh Raines?
“Author” is the newest description for me as opposed to “aunt” which I’m about to be titled for the 8th time. Author Leigh Raines is a little scared for this new journey, but still excited. Otherwise we’re pretty much the same! I’m not great at separating things or censoring myself.
11. Do we see you experimenting with genres in future?
I’m not sure yet, but anything is possible! Maybe historical fiction.
12. We would like to know about any future projects you are currently working on.
Yes. Right now my intentions are to have a spin-off book for each of the main girls. Up next is Ella’s book, which I’m already writing.
13. Some words for your readers and any advice you would like to give to all aspiring authors.
We all get rejected. JK Rowling was basically homeless and rejected over 100 times before Harry Potter came to be. Be resilient and believe in your project. Also edit, edit, edit until you are blue in the face. The publishing world is definitely changing, so always keep an eye on new ways to get your words out there.
Thank you very much for your time! Here's wishing the wonderful author all the best for her future endeavors. She is one we will be looking out for!