Jennifer Lamont Leo

Enjoy historical fiction? May we introduce Ms. Leo — writing novels set mainly in the early 20th century.

Her titles include:

  • You’re the Cream in My Coffee
  • Ain’t Misbehavin’
  • Moondrop Miracle
  • The Rose Keeper (due for release on March 15, 2021.

Do you have a writing routine? Where and when do you write?

I write every weekday morning between 9 and 12 in my home office.

Do you have any patterns or rituals associated with your writing time?

I write in 45-minute sprints with 15 minutes of exercise in between, because I’ve been reading about the dangers of sitting too much. By “exercise” I mean I put on some tunes and dance around the room!

What do you do when you hit a wall with your writing?

I take a break, maybe go for a walk or play the piano or take a nap. If I’m on a deadline, I might take a notebook and pen to another room and try to noodle out the problem that’s got me stumped. Sometimes a change of scenery is all that’s needed. Other times I have to do some digging into the plot.

The eternal question: Are you a “pantser”, a “plotter”, or something else entirely?

I plot loosely. I like to know the beginning, ending, and major plot twists, but I don’t plot each scene in detail. 

What’s the last book you read that made you go “wow!”?

Whose Waves These Are by Amanda Dykes. It’s both beautifully written and has a compelling story that drew me in. 

What book or author do you often find yourself recommending and why?

I enjoy fiction that moves between two or more time periods. Susan Meissner and Melanie Dobson are two of my current favorites. 

What’s on your To Be Read pile?

Murder with Cinnamon Scones by Karen Rose Smith. A friend lent it to me, saying I’d enjoy it, so I’m looking forward to reading it with a cup of coffee and something sweet.

What advice do you have for readers?

Keep a notebook of what you read, who wrote it, and what you thought of it. You think you’ll remember forever, but you won’t.

Also, you’re doing the author (and other readers) a tremendous favor when you review the book on sites like Amazon and Goodreads.

What author, past or present, would you wish to have a long conversation with?

Dorothy Parker, because I admire her sharp wit, although I wouldn’t want to be the target of it. 

What’s the first book you can remember reading on your own?

The World’s Best Fairy Tales

What books and/or authors have most influenced you as an author?

Barbara Pym, who wrote in the mid-20th century, because I think we would have been good friends. Even though she was British and I’m American, we look at the world in much the same way, and I enjoy her quiet wit.

What do you most enjoy about being a writer?

Doing research, getting to know the characters, and playing around with language.

What do you least enjoy about being a writer?

Writing the first draft is very hard for me. Revisions are easier.

What would you tell a new writer?

Read authors whose books you enjoy and study how they do it, from vocabulary choices to sentence structure to the way they handle dialogue or end a chapter, not to copy them, but to let them influence you. Try to pinpoint the techniques you really admire and test them out in your own work.

What might people be surprised to know about you?

I used to perform with a Scandinavian folk dance troupe.

Thanks to author Jennifer Lamont Leo for participating in our Idaho Author Interview series. If you’re interested, or would like to recommend someone, please contact the IWU website editor.

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