LaToya: Hi Leila, thank you for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself and your background?
Leila: Hi! Thank you so much for having me. I am a romance author living in Michigan. My unique, yet titillating, genre blurs the lines between romance, interracial love and erotica. Now in my 40’s, I have been passionate about writing since age 10. I can often be found traveling the world, enjoying water sports, listening to jazz music or volunteering at Vista Maria, a local youth program for young women, taking care of my family and loving my life. Above all else, I love my friends and family. It is with their support that I’m able to create magical scenes of true human intimacy on every page.
“I think it’s important to present strong, beautiful, curvy women that have amazing female to female relationships,” commented Lacey, on what motivates her. “If we don’t provide alternative role models for people, they could fall into the trap of not loving who is looking them back in the mirror. Romantic fiction should entertain, but it should also help build confidence and a great self-image. I’m trying to cover all these things and more in my books.”
LaToya: What are your ambitions for your writing career?
Leila: First and foremost I want to be a voice, for the unsung reader. I wrote romance books and I LOVE to read them. But I haven’t always seen myself in the women I was reading. So I want to write books that the everyday woman, says “Hey that is so my sister” or “She sounds like me” I think the reader can relate to the story better, when the woman or man is someone they can relate to. Next I would like one of my series to be turned into a play maybe in a movie. Again to see women on a movie screen that I can relate to, that my friends can relate to, that would be the biggest blessing for me!
LaToya: Which writers inspire you?
Leila: Beverly Jenkins, Shyla Colt, LaShawn Vasser and Xyla Turner are who I am reading right now. They are all AMAZING!!!
LaToya: What are you working on at the minute?
Leila: I try to work on 3 books at a time. One is Chocolate Covered Valentine. (It’s a Valentine’s Day erotic romance) #2. Is. I Remember Me. It’s my first Romantic/ Suspense story. I am so scared but, so far so good. #3. Vengeance, it’s the 8th book in my Curvy Goddess Series. I can’t believe this series is at the 8th book already! These are my favorite characters to write
LaToya: What genre are your books and why?
Leila: My books are romance. I chose romance honestly, because I love romance books. I write plus size women, which are strong, CEO’s, doctors, smart, sexy, funny, and mostly secure. They just need that love in their lives but they don’t let it rule them. I write my stories this way, because THIS is most women. Most women are not some thin wafer on a ranch looking to be rescued, or some simple waitress that just needs a man to make her dreams come true. Most women, are strong, hardworking, curvy women doing big things without a man. The man is just a plus. These women need a voice in romance books. I want to be one of the people being that voice.
LaToya: In 10 words or less can you create a quote that describes you and your writing?
Leila: A everyday Goddess, writes the everyday Goddess, So Bow Down.
LaToya: Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead character from your most recent book?
Leila: I released 2 books within a week of each other in December so I will pick Her Best Man, I would LOVE to see Amber Riley or Queen Latifah! They are both feminine powerhouses! They are curvy and girly but they make their presence known when they are in a movie. I love them both.
LaToya: When did you decide to become a writer?
Leila: It chose me when I was 10. I decided to take the wheel (me and Jesus of course) in 2013 when I discovered, I could publish myself.
LaToya: Do you write full-time or part-time?
Leila: Full-time. I am not a half way kind of girl. I am all in or nothing at all. I some time to make up for too… so I have to focus.
LaToya: Do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured?
Leila: Well I am up at 5am usually. My daughters (11 and 12) are homeschooled. So I get up get me together (bath, hair, clothes), get my ice tea and check emails, and my calendar that I have set up, and see if I have any deadlines I need to meet that day. I then do about 2 hours of writing. At 7:45 I get my girls up, and help then get themselves together, and get to school. I am mom and teacher for the next 3 to 4 hours. Clean, be wife and mom, for the rest of the day until about 8pm, and then I go back to writing, and book related stuff until 12:30am when I usually go to bed.
LaToya: Do you aim for a set amount of words/pages per day?
Leila: At least 4000 words a day are a must for me. I am a bit of a slave driver of myself. BUT I am usually working on 3 books at a time, so it’s not that hard.
LaToya: Where do your ideas come from?
Leila: Life. Everyday things I see, watch, know, read. Just life, I will see something and go… That is story! LOL
LaToya: Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you
Leila: I work with character names, location names and the base of what I wanted the book to be about and I go from there. I let the characters talk to me.
LaToya: How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?
Leila: I am much, much more detail oriented with surroundings and locations actions. Not just the conversations between the characters.
LaToya: What is the hardest thing about writing?
Leila: The sex scenes in romance! I have a dirty mind and can be freaky but when it’s time to write it! I see my grandmother sitting next to me with that old granny look on face, with her arms crossed in her button down floral house coat talking about “ummm…hmmmm” and I immediately start sweating and draw a blank! LOL
LaToya: What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book?
Leila: The one I am working on right now is supposed to be Erotic. As I said before, granny has been looking at me with her arms crossed for 3 weeks now! LOL. (by the way she is dead, but I’m telling you she has left a lasting impression).
LaToya: What is the easiest thing about writing?
Leila: The character conversations and relationships. God has blessed me to be able to read people pretty well and know how they will interact with one another. Writing it is a breeze for me.
LaToya: How long on average does it take you to write a book?
Leila: Depending on the length. 20K or less 10 days. 30k to 50K a month. More about 2 to three months.
LaToya: Where can you see yourself in 5 years’ time?
Leila: A trail blazing author with 2 to 3 books on everyone’s book shelf or kindle/nook. Working on the second movie that is being made from one of my series. Teaching free workshops to young girls (9-15) that want to write.
LaToya: What advice would you give to your younger self?
Leila: Don’t let the pain of your mother’s abuse of you, make you “take what you can get” you are exceptional and deserve everything your heart desires. Don’t be afraid you can do it.
LaToya: Which famous person, living or dead would you like to meet and why?
Leila: Oprah! I think that is self-explanatory! That woman is a flipping genius! If I can achieve 1/8 of what she has I will be so proud of myself. Kris Kardashian Jenner, like her or love her that woman is a business powerhouse, she took her daughters “youthful mistakes” and made them all millionaires! I admire the hell out of that! LOL
LaToya: If you could have been the original author of any book, what would it have been and why?
Leila: The color purple, that book and movie has spoken to so many people. For DECADES, I just watched it with my girls and the sisterhood made them cry. That is touching GENERATIONS! I would love to leave a legacy of touching others in a good way forever.
LaToya: What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Leila: You are your biggest hurdle. NOTHING ELSE! You can do it. Put your mind to it and no matter how hard it gets, how many times you stumble, or hateful reviews you get. You can share your gift. Stop talking about it! DO IT!!
Connect with Leila:
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00K82W080
The Christmas Switch: http://smarturl.it/ji9reg
A Very Curvy Vacation: http://smarturl.it/t81dip
A Taste of Candy: http://smarturl.it/du1qg i
Her Best Man: http://smarturl.it/9nukxj
I Do, She Doesn’t: http://smarturl.it/igditc
Dr. Blacks Patient: http://smarturl.it/ilms5d
A Very Curvy Christmas: http://smarturl.it/b4znik
Phoenix Rising: http://smarturl.it/ep9ybk
The Legacy Series: http://smarturl.it/6ux0sd
The One That Got Away: http://smarturl.it/ytb1qs
Emancipation of Camille: http://smarturl.it/hvpu56
The Trainer: http://smarturl.it/pi0rlo
The Project: http://smarturl.it/qv362k
To Protect Serve and Betray: http://smarturl.it/glsdch
Sex, Sun, and a Barbatelli: http://smarturl.it/c9f4cd
Thank you very much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to take part in this interview.