AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT: SARAH-JANE LEHOUX
With the rerelease of Sarah-Jane Lehoux’s debut novel Thief we were able to spend a little time with her…
Tell us a little about Thief and what inspired you to tell this story?
Thief is a fantasy novel with romantic and horror elements, as well as a lot of adventure and intrigue. It follows Sevy, a streetwise, stubborn, self-proclaimed bitch, as she tries to gain her heart’s desire. But happily ever after doesn’t come without a price, and Sevy has to decide just how much she is willing to sacrifice to get what she wants.
I first created the character of Sevy as part of a writing exercise. I had joined an online writing group, where several writers took turns creating a story. Sevy was one of two characters I created for this, but I loved her so much that I decided to tell her story from the beginning.
When you start writing, do you already have the story plotted out or do you let the characters dictate what will happen?
I’ll have a general idea of where I want the story to start and where I want it to end, but that’s about it. I may have one or two characters in mind, but I don’t really know what to do with them. I basically just let it flow out whichever way it wants to.
I work that way in terms of chapters and scenes too. I know what the beginning and end will be, but I don’t know how to get from point a to point b. Sometimes the characters just take things in a completely different direction than I intended, but it all works out for the best.
I find that minimal plotting helps me to create a more authentic story. That way, I’m not forcing characters to behave in ways that are unnatural to them.
What inspired you to write in your genre? Is this the genre you started writing in or have you morphed to this one?
I prefer writing stories with some sort of fantasy element to them because I enjoy playing around with extremes. Fantasy is kind of like hyperbole: an exaggeration used to make a point. With fantasy, I can put characters in all sorts of different situations and then watch how they react. I find I can better explore human nature and the human condition this way, which, to me, is the whole point of story telling.
Do you have a favorite character you have written?
I think that would have to be Glor, who is introduced in Shades of War, the sequel to Thief. I like his optimism and I like how he views the world. But that’s all I can say about him as I don’t want to spoil anything.
Do you have a character that you look back on now and don’t like?
Not really. The closest I’ve come to that feeling is when I have secondary characters that I wish I had spent more time developing.
Of course, when it comes to Sevy, the main character of Thief, I often find myself yelling at her. “Why do you have to be such a bitch all the time?” She’s a fun character to write, but man, she drives me crazy sometimes.
Do you draw inspiration for your characters from real life? Any fun stories you could share?
I enjoy observing people, and take little snippets of what I see and use them to develop characters. This does not mean that I base characters on people I’ve known. For example, if I have a character that has a nervous personality, I’ll think about what quirks people I’ve seen exhibit when their nervous and I’ll use that to flesh the character out.
I once told a co-worker about this method, and she became convinced that I was going to put her in a book one day. Even after I explained again that I don’t write about people I know, just their behaviours, she still believes that she’s going to open up one of my novels one day and see herself.
Name one thing that your readers would be surprised to know about you.
I’m incredibly introverted. Despite how wordy I may seem online, in real life, I don’t talk a heck of a lot. And when I do talk, I tend to be as succinct as possible. I could probably go days without talking to/seeing anyone and not feel out of sorts because of it. In fact, it’s my dream to buy a house out in the middle of nowhere and become a complete recluse.
Do you have a guilty pleasure?
Watching Jem and the Holograms and other 80’s cartoons on YouTube.
What do you need before you start writing? Anything that is just a must have or the creative juice don’t flow?
Music is a must-have for me while I’m writing. I need it to help shut out the rest of the world and focus solely on what I’m creating rather than on what my husband is doing or what sounds are coming in from the window.
Other than that, I need time and something to write on, and that’s about it.
Does music influence your writing? If so, do any of your stories have a theme song?
Definitely! As I said above, I have to have music while I’m writing. I try to match the tone of the music to the scene I’m trying to write (ie upbeat music for a humorous scene, sad music for an angsty scene, etc).
While I was writing Thief, I listed to a lot of Radiohead and Sarah McLachlan. Follow Sevy_Thief on Twitter to view my imaginary soundtrack listings.
If your story was optioned for a movie, who would play your characters?
Wishful thinking, but fun to imagine nonetheless.
Sevy – Rhona Mitra
Jarro – Tom Welling
Revik – Kazunari Ninomiya (although he’s a bit too short and small of frame, but he has the look and attitude I imagined)
Irea – Kate Winslet
There is a website called www.storycasting.com where you can cast your favourite books. I’ve done up a full cast list for Thief there. And if anyone happens to read Thief, I’d love to see who you think would be suitable.
Where were you when you got your first contract? Who did you tell first?
I was at my computer, checking my email before going to bed. When I saw the email, I figured it was of the “thanks but no thanks” variety. So when it actually said Thief had been accepted, I re-read it fifty times over before screaming and calling for my husband. I had him confirm that it was indeed an acceptance, and then we screamed and freaked out together. Looking back on it, I wish I had captured it on camera because I’m sure I looked ridiculous.
How old were you when you read your first romance book?
I generally don’t read romance books. Although I like a bit of romantic tension between characters, I prefer it on the side rather than the focal point of the novel. I think the first of the few romance novels I’ve read was a Sweet Valley High book my father bought for me when I was in high school.
What are you currently working on, and what else is in the wings?
Shades of War, the sequel to Thief, is set for release at the end of November of this year.
Right now, I’m currently working on the first draft of Masquerade, the third in the Sevy series. I’m also working on a comedic fantasy called Red Rover. I’ll be putting an excerpt for RR on my blog in the near future, so stop by if you’d like to have a sneak peek. (www.sarah-janelehoux.blogspot.com)
Where can readers find you?
The best place to find me is my website www.sarah-janelehoux.com. You can click on my contacts page to find a list of links to other pages I hang out online, including facebook, twitter, myspace, and more
And for the silly side – What is your favorite type of chocolate?
Milk chocolate in massive quantities. Preferably with some sort of nugget filling. Or nuts. Or toffee. Basically, it’s not so much the kind of chocolate as the amount.