Welcome to the two hundred and ninety-second of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, biographers, agents, publishers and more. Today’s is with novelist and short story author Leon Puissegur. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further.
Morgen: Hello, Leon. Please tell us something about yourself, where you’re based, and how you came to be a writer.
Morgen: I live some 70 miles from New Orleans, Louisiana, USA. I have been writing since in Jr. High, but never published any of my works. I lost almost all my writing from the Hurricane Katrina when 8 feet of water invaded my former home in Violet, Louisiana. I love to write and send articles to Louisianaconservative.com on a regular basis. It is only since I retired that I have had the time to devote to writing as much as I would like to. My ancestors came directly from France to New Orleans and they are now spread across the United States. I am a disabled Vietnam Veteran and do not have the monetary resources that may be needed to bring a good book to the forefront for all to be able to read and enjoy, but I am working on every avenue I can to get my latest work out so people will enjoy a good action / adventure novel.
Morgen: I think every writer dreads losing their work but obviously people lost a lot more so something to be thankful for. And as for bringing your book to the forefront, let’s hope this interview helps a little. What genre do you write?
Leon: I do fiction and have written short stories of science fiction in one of my books, called Approach To Reality. I had my first 3 books done without a very good edit on them and I am waiting for the contract to expire with the publisher so I can make them sing like my recent book, “THE OIL MAN”.
My first book, “Forward The Colors” is a book of facts seldom if ever told about the War Between the States. It covers facts that most history books leave out. It can also be found at Amazon.com also, along with “Approach To Reality”, a book of 14 short stories, and “The Iron Works” a book about reverse discrimination.
Morgen: “Make them sing” I love that. What have you had published to-date? Do you write under a pseudonym?
Leon: I use just my first and last name and have at the moment, 4 books in print, the last one; “THE OIL MAN” is perhaps my best yet. The first book I wrote was, “Forward The Colors” a book of seldom told facts about the War Between the States and it has sold more then the other books. My other books are, “Approach To Reality” a book of 14 short stories, and “The Iron Works” a fictional account of reverse discrimination.
Morgen: (love short stories :)) Have you had any rejections? If so, how do you deal with them?
Leon: I had many rejections, and my first 3 books were not given a very good edit even after I had requested one. I just kept writing and sending off queries and Savant Publishing liked my latest book, “THE OIL MAN”, and worked with me on a very good edit.
Morgen: I don’t think anyone, even household authors, can write a perfect book on their own. My editor not only finds errors (fortunately not many) but comes up with some great suggestions. Have you won or been shortlisted in any competitions?
Leon: I have won a couple of awards for a couple of poems I have written, but none for my books as of this date, but I am looking forward to maybe getting that soon.
Morgen: Fingers crossed. Do you have an agent? Do you think they’re vital to an author’s success?
Leon: I do not have an agent, but I am sure if an agent was working with me my books may have been done much better and gotten out to a much larger audience, not that Savant Publishing is a bad publisher, because they are the best ones I have been able to work with without an agent.
Morgen: More publishers are happy to work directly with authors now – it’s certainly an interesting time. Are your books available as eBooks?
Leon: I had some word that one of my books would be available on eBooks, “Forward The Colors”, but have not been able to verify that as of yet. “THE OIL MAN” will be an eBook later this year.
Morgen: How much of the marketing do you do for your published works or indeed for yourself as a ‘brand’?
Leon: I am doing a lot of work sending out emails, tweetering, facebook, and any other media I can find to get my new book, “THE OIL MAN” in front of the public. I also promote my others, but due to the lack of a good edit on them, I only push “Forward The Colors” as much as I do “THE OIL MAN”. If I had a good edit on the others, I would push them also.
Morgen: When you get them back… Do you have a favourite of your books or characters? If any of your books were made into films, who would you have as the leading actor/s?
Leon: My favorite book is my last one, “THE OIL MAN”, The characters of John Marx and Josh Platur, Josh’s friend through out the action / adventure book. I have one review that states, “I can see this story becoming a successful movie and especially at this time of political and environmental unrest.” Reviewed by Carolyn Dargevics. Given this idea, I would have a great cast with Bruce Willis as John Marx and Matthew McConaughey as Josh Platur.
Morgen: A great mixture. Did you have any say in the title / covers of your book(s)? How important do you think they are?
Leon: I had total control over every aspect of my books, and with “THE OIL MAN” I had the last say.
Morgen: What are you working on at the moment / next?
Leon: I actually have a couple of books in the works, but the Sequel to “THE OIL MAN” is going to be the next book and I hope to have that one out around November. After that one, I am going to have a science fiction novel – title to be determined.
Morgen: Do you manage to write every day? Do you ever suffer from writer’s block?
Leon: I try to write everyday, if not on my books, on an article or two. I do suffer writer’s block and when I do I go to the woods and look around and get back into the story I had on my mind. I seldom keep notes of what I am doing and never follow any planned format for the story. I keep track of the characters and their names so I don’t mess them or their descriptions up. In one of my short stories in “Approach To Reality”, I made the mistake of changing the girls hair color in the first few pages, I wanted to get it right, but that publisher ignored my requests.
Morgen: That’s what I find hard about novels; keeping everything consistent (which is why I stick to shorts now :)). So you just get an idea and run with it…
Leon: I usually just sit down and begin writing the story as it comes. I have tried to plot the story once and found out I just could not fit it to the way I write. I just sit down and begin the story and allow the words to flow with the story changing as it goes along.
Morgen: And the characters take over. Do you have a method for creating yours?
Leon: I draw the characters from people I have been around, from some at work, at the mall, from hunters out in the woods, all sorts of people. I have no tried and true method of creating the character, I just begin with what the main character does then move on from there. I build the story around that character then add what is needed to make it interesting.
Morgen: You mentioned short stories, do you write any non-fiction or poetry?
Leon: My first book, “Forward The Colors”, is actually a book on History, that has somewhat been swept under the rug in favor of the “politically correct” version of the War Between the States. I have had two poems published by Illiad Press.
Morgen: Do you do a lot of editing or do you find that as time goes on your writing is more fully-formed?
Leon: In my first 3 books, the editing is not there at all, of those 3, only “Forward The Colors” may be close to being right, and it really needs to be not just updated, but also to have a tighter edit. Now on my latest book, “THE OIL MAN”, a full and complete edit was done.
Morgen: And you’re clearly proud of it, which is lovely. Do you have to do much research?
Leon: I spent about 6 years doing research on “Forward The Colors” before I actually sat down and write it. On “THE OIL MAN” I did a little research, but most of the ideas had come from actually doing the work offshore myself along with some of the other ideas in the book. On the Sequel to “THE OIL MAN”, I am doing some research, but not that much as I am now trying to meet my own placed deadline of having most of it done in the rough by April.
Morgen: What point of view do you find most to your liking: first person or third person?
A: I like to move around in all phases since that develops the characters a bit more and it also allows me to get into their heads and see what they see along with doing what they may wish to do. I guess you could say that “THE OIL MAN” jumps around to nearly all phases of character writing.
Morgen: What’s your favourite / least favourite aspect of your writing life? Has anything surprised you?
Leon: I love to write but it is the idea that the books are not selling that drive me mad. I would love to see all my works fly off the shelves, but I know right now that only two of them are even worthy of that honor.
Morgen: So far. What advice would you give aspiring writers?
Leon: I would tell them to keep at it and one day if your work is good, you may well be able to make a living out of it. It takes a lot of determination to stick with the art of writing. If I would not be retired though, I may be just a tad lack of money as I am now. One has to establish themselves early in their life or have an extremely good book to make it into the big leagues of being an author.
Morgen: A successful author is one who didn’t give up. If you could invite three people from any era to dinner, who would you choose and what would you eat?
Leon: I would invite Earnest Hemmingway, Clive Cussler, and Mark Twain, I would have Louisiana style seafood of all types on a big table for all to eat then share their stories of how they come up with their ideas.
Morgen: Buffet. I love buffets. Is there a word, phrase or quote you like?
Leon: “The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who can’t read them.” Mark Twain.
Morgen: Absolutely. Are you involved in anything else writing-related other than actual writing or marketing of your writing?
Leon: In a way yes, I also write articles in “opinion” columns and sometimes they are published.
Morgen: What do you do when you’re not writing?
Leon: I love to go into the woods and hunt, and also go out on the water and fish, even if I don’t get anything, it is the idea of being out on the water or in the woods that calms me down.
Morgen: A lot of authors have attributed clearing their heads to fresh air. Are there any writing-related websites or books that you find useful?
Leon: I get the Writer’s Digest Magazine and it supplies a lot of information and I have used some of that information to bring to life some of my characters.
Morgen: We don’t have that here (although we could probably order it) but I subscribe to all the UK ones… it’s just finding time to read them all. Are you on any forums or networking sites? If so, how valuable do you find them?
Leon: I am on Facebook and also on Twitter@alvinpui. I find they are decent, but one cannot gauge if they do any good for promotions since they do not show people using the networks to obtain the books.
Morgen: I’m on LinkedIn too and whilst you get the occasional tout, people do tend to become interested (and buy!) other authors’ books but getting to know them. It’s a great resource and I’m so excited to be an author now. What do you think the future holds for a writer?
Leon: I believe that the next phase of writers will be on the internet and few if any will ever make a solid living from books due to the use of Kindle and the likes. They will be able to sell their stories, but at a much smaller dividend and many will just give up and go away. There will be many outlets for people to write, but few of them will pay enough to raise a family on unless one works for a magazine, or other type of market.
Morgen: Lots of fingers of lots of proverbial pies. Where can we find out about you and your work?
Morgen: Is there anything else you’d like to mention?
Leon: Anyone interested in contacting me about how a bookstore may obtain copies of my book may contact me at email@example.com for more information.
Morgen: Thank you Leon.
I then invited Leon to include an excerpt of your writing and this is taken from THE OIL MAN
John Marx was a self-made man. He’d worked himself through Texas A&M in petroleum engineering, and later through Stanford’s Department of Energy Resources Engineering, but in the end, there was nothing like the experience of working with a dedicated drilling crew and the thrill of the moment of discovery. He’d enjoyed working on contract to Rustic Oil ever since they’d returned to jack-ups like Rig Twelve, the particularly tall one he was standing on, were constantly animated by the ever- present hum from the hydraulics that kept the platform steady in all sorts of seas. This jack-up had three, 400-foot long legs when fully extended, and was much more stable than submersed or floating platforms since, in an emergency, they could be plucked from the sea and moved elsewhere.
John paused on his way to an interior door to peer down…
Leon Puissegur grew up just 7 miles from the edge of New Orleans, Louisiana, the Mardi Gras Capitol of the world. He wrote when he was young, but raising a family kept him from writing as a living. He retired and upon retirement, he began writing again and published 4 books, the latest, “THE OIL MAN” which may well be the best. His other books vary with themes from History to Science fiction. “Forward The Colors” is a history book of facts about the War Between the States that are seldom told. In “Approach To Reality” he bears 14 short stories ranging from fiction to Science fiction. “The Iron Works” is a rough idea of fiction based upon reverse discrimination.
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