Interview with Anne Leonard, Author of Moth and Spark

Today is a great day, and I’ll tell you why! It is with great excitement that we welcome Anne Leonard, author of Moth and Spark, to the BiblioSanctum. As you can see from the review, I loved her book! A perfect blend of romance and fantasy, her debut is not one to be missed.

Anne has graciously agreed to an interview and she joins us today to talk about her new book. I hope you’ll enjoy!

* * *

Mogsy: Hello, Anne! Welcome to the BiblioSanctum, we’re so happy to have you join us today. Let’s start with questions about your new book. First, I think congratulations are in order. Moth and Spark is your debut novel, you must be so excited! I know I’m looking forward to telling people all about it. How would you describe the book to someone new to your work?

Anne Leonard: It’s an adult fantasy that has both adventure and a love story (but not a bodice-ripper). It’s character-driven, and it uses many standard fantasy tropes – dragons, princes, wizards, swordfights — but tweaks them here and there. My male and female leads have equal stage-time and are equally important to the resolution of the story. My prose style includes a lot of details but I try to keep it adverb- and adjective-lean, so that it’s descriptive but not flowery.

Mogsy: In your author’s bio, you mentioned that the science fiction and fantasy genres have always drawn you in because of the world-building. What aspects of world-building appeal to you most?

Anne Leonard: I enjoy making up the places – the human-made places like cities and buildings, and the natural geology – and the customs and social structure. I also have a lot of fun with the backstory and history, much of which never makes it into whatever I’m writing. In Moth and Spark most of the world is very much like our world, but I look forward to creating much stranger things in future books.

Mogsy: For me, romance has always worked well with fantasy. A plot must contain conflict to engage me as a reader, and love is an area often fraught with it. Those kinds of complex and intense feelings have always added to my favorite stories, and it’s what I loved most about Moth and Spark. Were there any challenges to striking a balance between the romance and fantasy elements when you were writing the book? 

Anne Leonard:It was really important to me that the romantic elements matter equally to the male and female leads, rather than dominating her life while he was all about action. This was tricky to do when I had constructed a patriarchal, hierarchical world where men had the power and made the decisions. Also, I had to balance relationships and external events as much as the characters did because I didn’t want either the love story or the main plot to dominate the other.

Mogsy: I just have to say the characters in Moth and Spark are wonderful. I enjoyed Tam and Corin as the main protagonists, but I think my next favorite character would be Joce (I have a thing for those mysterious mages and wizard types, I guess). Of all your characters, do you have one who is particularly near and dear to you?

Anne Leonard: I’ve lived with these people for so long that I can’t say I have a favorite among the major characters – it’s kind of like asking me to compare my family members. The minor characters are the ones I really want to get to know better.

Mogsy: When I first heard there were dragons in Moth and Spark, it just made me want to read it even more. I mean, who doesn’t love dragons! Do these mythical creatures hold any significance for you? What can you tell us about the dragons in your book, what makes them unique?

Anne Leonard: I had no idea that dragons were as popular as they are when I started writing this – I just liked them because I wanted something big and dangerous and more powerful than human beings. I like the idea of a world where people aren’t in control of everything. One of the things that makes dragons extra-interesting for me is that I imagine them as gloriously beautiful, even if terrifying. My dragons are somewhat unique in that they are subject to magic which controls them – they are slaves, not domesticated animals. They also have an existence beyond the physical realm.

Mogsy: Do you have a favorite dragon, whether from myth, literature, art, film, or anywhere?

Anne Leonard: I like Ursula K. Le Guin’s dragons in her Earthsea books a lot, and of course I have a fondness for Smaug.

UK Edition, published by Headline

Mogsy: You’re probably tired of hearing me gush about the cover by now, but I do think it’s beautiful! To me it’s eye-catching and speaks such volumes about the story within. When the book arrived, I just couldn’t wait to open it up and read. Just wondering, what are your thoughts on the cover and how do you feel about it?

Anne Leonard: I LOOOOOOOVE the cover too. (I also like the cover of the edition put out by Headline in the UK.) I like it because it is gorgeous in its own right, because it’s unique to this book and doesn’t look like lots of other books out there, and because it really does capture the magical elements of the book – there’s this neat, civilized, palace, but flame is turning into moths. There’s a really wonderful symbolic element to it. Also, it doesn’t show any characters, so people can imagine them as they wish and aren’t led by a standard cover into thinking the book is something it’s not.

Mogsy: So whenever I read a debut novel I really like, I always want to find out more about the author. Anyway, I saw that one of your hobbies is photography! Do you have a favorite subject when it comes to photography, any specific area of interest?

Anne Leonard: I do a lot of landscapes, and I also like to do close-ups of textures and colors – I do rocks, and sun on plant leaves, and interesting patterns. Going out and taking picures is a way I refresh myself; it’s almost meditative at times. A lot of the detail in the novel comes from the way I look at the world with a photographer’s eye.

Mogsy: Are you currently working on any other writing projects? And I know Moth and Spark is a stand alone, but is there a possibility that we might see future stories set in this world?

Anne Leonard: I am working on another novel, which I don’t want to talk about a whole lot because it could still crash and burn, but it is set in the same world. It’s darker and much less romantic, though it’s not grim and violent the way “grimdark” fantasy is. I’ve also thought some time it would be fun to write a prequel. I don’t want to go into Series-Land, because I want to stretch myself as a writer with different plots, characters, and even writing styles, so any future books in that world will also be standalones.

Mogsy: Sounds fantastic! Once again, I appreciate you stopping by the blog and giving me the opportunity to interview you. Thank you so much for your time! For more information on the incredible Moth and Spark and Anne Leonard, please visit her website at http://anneleonardbooks.com!

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