After a brief career in criminal law, Fort Worth resident Leanne Kale Sparks is returning to her first love—writing about murder and mayhem.
The backdrop of The Wrong Woman is the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, the playground of Sparks’ youth. Being married to a career Navy man, they’ve moved around every two years — she’s moved to eight states (two twice—Texas and California) — before landing in the Fort Worth area last summer.
When not writing, and with all the kids grown, Sparks and her husband spend time reading, mountain biking, and spoiling their German Shepherd, Zoe. And drinking wine. This energetic 53-year-old recently talked about her writing life.
Does writing energize or exhaust you?
Both. It sounds like a cop-out answer, but it is true. When the story hits me and my fingers can’t keep up with the flow of words coming from my head, it is fuel for the soul, and I feel like I’m queen of the world. But the exhaustion borne of inability to get anywhere with my story is bone-weary fatigue… Eventually, inspiration strikes, and I get my writing mojo back and all is right with the world again.
How do you balance making demands on the reader with taking care of the reader?
I’m not sure I do. The Wrong Woman was turned down by several publishers who were too squeamish about the subject of pedophilia. I have no graphic scenes in the novel pertaining to pedophilia, but the mere discussion of it in the book was enough to turn off publishers who thought their readers would feel the same. I’m not for the fainthearted reader.
What kind of research do you do before beginning a book?
If there is a new subject I am unfamiliar with (in The Wrong Woman it was electrophilia) then I will research that upfront. Usually, however, I end up returning to notes I have on certain subjects—typically pertaining to law enforcement procedures, etc.—or doing research “on the fly” as I am writing.
What did you edit out of this book?
I had more chapters/scenes from the serial killer’s point of view sprinkled throughout the book. My editor and I decided to take those out. One day, I may add them to a newsletter or something because I think they do delve into the mind of a madman a bit and are a fun read.
Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?
My close friends and family find little nuggets every once in a while. It’s fun when they let me know they recognized the literary hat tip.
How different is the final product from the first draft?
Very different. The basic plot is usually the same, but there are so many machinations along the way, the story doesn’t mirror the first draft closely at all. For example, in The Wrong Woman, there were many characters and subplots added. In fact, the serial killer changed during one of the final drafts.
Does your family support your career?
My family…they have been the loudest cheerleaders from day one. No husband could be more understanding when—almost out of the blue—I decided I no longer wanted a career in law and wanted to write. He said, “Okay.” And has never once told me I had to get a “real” job, even when I was not bringing in any income. Those were some lean years, and he shouldered the entire burden of supporting our family. I hope to be able to return the favor soon.
The Wrong Woman published February 8th, and is available on Amazon.