Monday, January 7, 2008

Meet Leanna Ellis! Interview & Book Giveaway

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Meet Leanna Ellis!

I’m thrilled to present Leanna Ellis, author of the great new book, Elvis Takes a Back Seat. Leanna’s as sweet as she is talented. Let’s get to know her better…

The Bio

Leanna Ellis writes quirky women's fiction for B&H Publishing. She has won the Golden Heart award as well as the National Readers’ Choice Award. Her next book, Lookin’ Back, Texas will be out in September 2008. With her husband, two children and wide assortment of pets, she makes her home in Texas where she homeschools her children.
Visit Leanna at www.leannaellis.com.

The Interview

JA: Your new book is Elvis Takes a Back Seat. Tell us a little bit about it.
LE: A young widow, determined to fulfill her husband’s last request, hauls a three foot bust of Elvis strapped in the back seat of a vintage Cadillac from Texas to Memphis to return it to its rightful owner. The road trip with her eccentric aunt, who knew the King of Rock n’ Roll, and a temperamental teen, hits roadblocks and detours as the three women uncover pieces of their own past along with the bust’s mysterious history. The discoveries change the course of their lives forever.

JA: I’m curious about your creative process. Did you wake up one morning and say “Hey, I think I’ll write a story about a woman driving around with a bust of Elvis in the backseat?” How did you come up with this wonderfully creative idea?
LE: I wish I was that brilliant! It’s actually a long process for me and very much God activated. God really pulled this whole story together. I’m learning to wait on him but he often doesn’t give all I think I need before I write chapter one … or even ‘the end.’ A lot of God’s work comes in the editing and revising stages. With Elvis Takes a Back Seat, I had written chapter one which starts with a garage sale. I had conceived the story of the three women, but I didn’t know where these three women were going on their journey. After I’d written the first chapter with the garage sale, where I placed a quirky Elvis bust just for humor, I called a dear friend, D. Anne Love, who writes YA fiction. We brainstormed the story. I really wanted them to go to Europe. I thought I needed a research trip. She suggested Memphis and Graceland. She didn’t know about the Elvis bust because it was such a minor thing. So when she mentioned Graceland, it all clicked.

PhotobucketJA: I have to ask… have you ever been to Graceland?
LE: I promised myself when I sold Elvis Takes a Back Seat that I would go to verify things in the book. So right after the contract went through, my family drove to Memphis and we took the tour of Graceland. I wanted to take a picture of the music note gates, so we went really early that morning. The gates were already open and the guard said we could walk up the drive to the gravesite. Only another couple was there. So it was very quiet and peaceful, not like later in the day after the tour when it was crowded. I’m really glad I went to Graceland. Everyone should go there once. Apparently, the folks that own Graceland are about to make a lot of changes to the area surrounding it. The Heartbreak Hotel is being rebuilt. The souvenier shops and museums across the street from Graceland are moving onto property. They’ve even hired part of the Disney team that created Disney World to help with building a theme park. It’s still amazing to me that 600,000 people visit Graceland every year.

JA: What do you hope people take away when they finish reading this book?
LE: We’ve all had losses of one kind or another. We’ve all made mistakes. We’ve tried to control our own lives, we’ve had different types of idols at times. It’s never too late to put God in the driver’s seat and let Him have control. Sometimes we have to give up an idol that we haven’t realized we’ve placed on a pedestal. But doing so can give us the grace to finally move forward.

JA: What’s next for you in the writing arena?
LE: I have another book, Lookin’ Back, Texas, coming out in September ’08. It’s about a devoted wife and mother who returns to her hometown of Luckenbach, TX to help her mother with her father’s funeral. Trouble is: he isn’t dead. And neither are the secrets my heroine buried long ago.

JA: And now, for some fun trivial questions… You and I share a love of musical theatre. What’s your all-time favorite musical?
LE: So many musicals, so little time! Going to London or New York to see shows is one of my favorite things to do! But I often settle for shows that come to my town, and occasionally a high school production, as I recently saw Phantom done in a high school for the first time any where in the world. I have several favorites that bounce around in the top slot : Wicked, Phantom of the Opera, Miss Saigon. But I would say Les Miserables is my all time favorite.

JA: Scenario: You’re alone on a beautiful tropical island. You have all the necessary creature comforts, including a Gideon’s Bible (because the Gideons are everywhere!) But you can only take two books with you. Which ones do you take and why?
LE: I could definitely live on a beautiful tropical island like Hawaii. But I don’t know about only taking two books. I’m usually reading four or five at one time, which is a terrible habit, but which goes right along with my random thinking process. Anyway, I guess I would probably take whatever book I’m reading at the time and whatever book I’m writing.

JA: What’s something that people would be surprised to know about you?
LE: I’m shy. Really! When I speak to groups, most people don’t have any idea that I’m so shy. But tis true!

JA: Last but not least, how can people keep up with the latest Leanna Ellis publishing news?
LE: You can visit my website at www.leannaellis.com where I post regularly on my blog. You can also sign up there for my newsletter. You also might want to check out my publisher’s site as they are running a contest right now for Elvis Takes a Back Seat. Go to: http://www.bhpublishinggroup.com/elvis

Thank you, Leanna, and continued blessings on your writing journey!

Win the Book
Elvis Takes a Back Seat is in stores now, but you can win a copy here. Just leave a reply to this blog. The winner will be picked at random on January 14th. Please leave an email address so I can contact you if you're the winner. (To prevent spammers from trolling for your email, please use this format with the brackets--you [at] yourmail.com--or something similar.) Good luck!

16 comments:

Janna said...

I saw this book talked about somewhere else and it looks so good! Please enter me...

Janna
ryanx6 at msn dot com

Julie Lessman said...

Great interview, Jen and Leanna!! I would LOVE to win a copy of Leanna's book, but if not, I'll just buy it! I have heard wonderful things about it.

And, Leanna, your response about "Sometimes we have to give up an idol that we haven’t realized we’ve placed on a pedestal. But doing so can give us the grace to finally move forward," is so dead-on!! I discovered that the hard way, as some of us do, but oh, the blessing when we put the REAL God on the altar instead of our own whims and desires!

Hugs,
Julie

lwatkins said...

This interview really touched me. I too loved your comment about giving up idols that we weren't aware of! How true that is! It still amazes me how vast God's grace is, and how unending is His love towards us.

I do look forward to reading your book Leanna, thank you for sharing your God given inspiration with us.

Lisa

mydimples6 [at] yahoo [dot] com

Hannah said...

sounds like a great book! i'd love to win a copy! hsmuda[at]gmail[dot]com thanks!

ladystorm said...

Hi Jen,

I have Leanna on my blog today also! So I thought I would stop by yours and enter your contest because the book sounds really cool! :)

ladystorm said...

Hello again,

oops forgot to put my contact info

ladystorm282001@yahoo.com

Stormi

Rose McCauley said...

This book sounds quirky and hilarious--right up my alley!rose crmcc at setel dotcom

carla stewart said...

Great questions, Jennifer, and Leanna, I really liked your answers, especially about the birth of your idea. It's not just out of the blue as we sometimes imagine, but something that is nurtured through brainstorming. I would love to win the book.
Contact: carla dot stewart at sbcglobal dot net. Thanks.

Leanna said...

Hi, all! I'm so pleased something I wrote rang true for you. Thanks for your interest in my book. Jennifer, thanks for having me on your blog. So appreciate it. Blessings to each of you.

Hugs,

Leanna

Sherrie Ashcraft said...

What a fun interview! I had the privilege of sharing a meal or two with Leanna at the ACFW conference in Dallas. She's a fun woman (I didn't see the shy part!) and we've kept in contact since then. I definitely want to win this book! When you pick my name, you can contact me at
sherrieashcraft@yahoo.com.
I'll be looking for your confirmation email on the 14th!!

Jennifer AlLee said...

Ha! Sherrie, you're so funny!

To all the lovely ladies that have visited so far, thank you! Let's spread the word about Leanna's great book. Tell your friends, your neighbors, the milk man... does anybody still have a milk man? You get the idea :+}

Kathy at Sumballo said...

Great interview! The book looks deliciously random - which appeals to me. I'd like to read it. Please enter me. sumballo [at] gmail.com Thanks!

Cara Putman said...

I would love to be entered for this book. I'm very curious about it, from what I've heard.

Cara
caraputman at gmail dot com

Donna Moore said...

If it isn't too late please enter me!

Jennifer AlLee said...

Donna, you made it! Today's the last day to enter. Check back tomorrow when I post the lucky winner!

Jennifer AlLee said...

And the winner is... Lisa Watkins. Congrats, Lisa, and thanks to all who stopped by!