Wednesday, May 15, 2013
Shadow Cay by Leona Body: Interview: Orangeberry Tour stop
Tell us a bit about your family. It’s quite natural for me to write about sea adventures, since I’m descended from a long line of sailors and whalers. Originally from New England, the largest Portuguese community outside of Brazil, I’m a second generation American, the oldest of five and the first person in my family to attend college. Paving the way for the others, my brother and three sisters did the same. Thanks to two scholarships, and working to finance my education, I earned my Bachelor’s Degree from Fairleigh Dickinson University.
After graduation, I landed my first professional job in a New Jersey high school. How has my upbringing influenced my career? For me, reading is a passion that starts the moment you share a book with a child. Growing up, my four siblings and I had a house full of books, from novels to encyclopedias, and I credit my mom with instilling a love of reading in me. What I didn’t know until I became a teenager was that my father was illiterate. When I saw how well he could hide his personal challenge, I understood the clues, and brought them with me to the classroom as an English teacher. To this day, I’m not sure whether they or I enjoyed the courses more.
During this time, I met my husband, a seafaring forensic chemist. Seeking balmy skies and waters, we relocated to Florida where we raised two sons. Over the years, writing has been my passion and my release. Though at times it’s been quite a challenge finding time for everything, including raising a family in a dynamic city, working full time, reengineering my career, taking care of aged parents and simultaneously building our home, from scratch I might add. That’s right; we laid concrete foundations, erected cinder blocks, applied stucco, and learned to do electrical work and plumbing from Time/Life Books, while our youngest played in a playpen beside us.
To sum it all up, my career took me from a NJ high school English teacher to biotechnology executive and president of the Greater Miami Society of Human Resource Management before I shifted to writing books. Today, my husband and I live on the Treasure Coast of Florida, and my mom and our two grown sons and their families live nearby.
What is your favorite quality about yourself? Resourcefulness. I’m not a quitter and always find a way to get something done.
What is your favorite color? Deep Green.
What is your favorite food? Pizza
What’s your favorite place in the entire world? For a vacation getaway, the Greek Isles is my favorite place to visit, especially Santorini and Mykonos. However, if I ever relocate, I’d move to the South of France. Ooh La La!
Do you recall how your interest in writing originated? I always knew, even when I was five. Through the years, I’ve written poetry, corporate newsletters, training packages, policy and procedure manuals, articles and short stories. My articles have appeared in Cruising World and my short stories have been published in e-zines, university presses and various literary magazines.
What genre are you most comfortable writing? Thriller, Suspense, Action and Adventure. However, just this past year I stepped out of my comfort zone and started writing historic fiction. It’s been a learning experience, as well as a challenge. However make no mistake; every book I write regardless of genre will always be fast-paced with lots of action. My historic fiction is a perfect example. My newest one has a tropical storm, hurricane, tsunami, landside and cannibal Indians and it’s all true!
What inspired you to write your first book? I write about what I know. Since I’ve lived in Miami for thirty-five years, it’s a natural for me to write about South Florida. The fact my husband has been a forensic expert for twenty-one years and worked on 30,000 cases influenced me as well. It means that I have a ready resource to ensure the police procedurals, the forensic science and quality assurance aspects are accurate.
What do you consider the most challenging about writing a novel, or about writing in general? My biggest challenge is portraying the procedures of police-work. There’s a lot of misinformation out there. No crime lab in the world looks like the CSI ones, because there’s simply not the money for all those fancy machines. Even the Miami-Dade Crime Bureau which is well-funded (though could use more), doesn’t have everything, and there is a tremendous backlog to examine the evidence sent in. Consequently, nothing happens quickly, so when I’m explaining in a novel that DNA was found or that there’s a clue to be sent to the lab, I have to make sure the reader knows this isn’t going to come back in 45 minutes.
Readers are so familiar now with law enforcement, whether through news coverage or fictional portrays on television that crime writers do have to anticipate readers’ assumptions and find ways to surprise them.
I love writing, hate marketing and promotion! I love storytelling, writing passionately, creating word pictures, entertaining readers and building interest. What excites me is the burning drive to get something down the reader has to see.
Did writing this book teach you anything and what was it? Oh my gosh, yes! It taught me the advantages of having a writing routine, the importance of avoiding distractions and being organized. It also taught me that post-publication marketing must be ongoing. The best only way to be discovered in that Amazon slush pile of millions of books is to climb the Amazon Bestseller List.
How did you come up with the title? Shadow Cay is a “play” on light and dark. It’s a contrast between the island’s natural beauty and its unexpected underbelly. Like an over-ripe mango ready for plucking, the islet offered golden opportunities. Oozing out like nectar from rotten fruit, the temptations began here too.
The alluring, subtropical waters, bordered by the Straits of Florida and the Bahamian Islands, extend southeast from the eastern coast of Florida. The Atlantic Ocean overwhelms the eye with dazzling colors, turquoise seas, white and pink beaches, emerald green water, but a scattering of lovely islands and cays divided into neighboring groups by the dark blue tongue of deeper water give the area its incomparable charm. The early explorers took the word “cayo” from the Arawaks, the aboriginal island people whose extinction they brought about. The word cay, pronounced key, is a miniature, low-lying island trimmed in coral fringe and sand, set upon a limestone foundation.
Like rare jewels interrupting the Atlantic Ocean, the islands artistically dot the blue waves. The larger landmasses approximately a hundred miles long and the smaller cays form tiny string-like chains, like necklaces artfully displayed under the luminosity of the sun. Bordered on the west by Florida and on the south by Cuba, a cluster of unmatched Bahamian islands and cays form a string of lovely gems to the north and east.
Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre – Thriller / Suspense
Rating – R
SHADOW Cay is an instant hook thriller when a tropical island paradise with a seedy secret becomes a life-and-death nightmare. Already reeling from a rash of maritime disasters, a war and international intrigue, Madeleine Nesbitt and Peter Duncan are destined for even darker days when they investigate the man with no conscience behind the world’s most profitable enterprise. They find a sea of corruption, deception and lies.
While sailing 1,700 miles in the Bahamian Out Islands, Leona - the author of several illustrated children's stories - wrote her first adult novel. SHADOW CAY went on to become an Amazon bestseller and to win the Reader Views Literary Award for best Mystery/ Thriller/Suspense. That's when Leona started doing the happy dance and hasn't stopped yet. Her work, says Bella Online Mystery Editor Edie Dykeman, "sets a strong pace from the start with riveting action and dialogue. The beautiful Bahamas background adds contrast to the frightening action and gritty texture of her story." Carol Hoyer of Readers Views says, "Readers and reviewers are raving it's one of the best crime suspense novels in years."
Her next book SEAS OF FURY, the high-octane prequel featuring a professor addicted to boats turned amateur sleuth, will be released this winter. She's also working on one more Sea of Secrets thriller; FEAR THE WHISPERS, the Shadow Cay sequel in the series, is scheduled for release late 2014.
Leona's career took her from NJ high school English teacher to biotechnology executive and president of the Greater Miami Society of Human Resource Management before she shifted to writing books. Currently, she's Regional Director and past vice president of the Florida Writers Association. Leona resides in Florida and often collaborates with her husband, a Miami-Dade forensic specialist for 21 years, who appeared in the pilot episode of the long-running TV series, CSI.
Feel free to stop by her web site at www.leonabodie.com; she is also on Twitter (@ShadowCay) and Facebook (www.facebook.com/authorleonabodie), where you are more than welcome to follow her, friend her, and/or tell her to stop being distracted by the Internet. She has a life outside of Facebook but can't remember the password for it!
16th May – Guest Post at Books Are Magic
14th May – Book Feature at Journey Thru Books