#blogblitz #QandA with H.A. Leuschel, author of Manipulated Lives @HALeuschel @rararesources #giveaway
Welcome to my stop on the blog blitz for Manipulated Lives by H.A. Leuschel. Thank you to Rachel Gilbey from Rachel’s Random Resources for asking me to take part. I have a Q&A with Helene to share with you today along with the chance to win a signed copy of the book.
Five stories – Five Lives
Have you ever felt confused or at a loss for words in front of a spouse, colleague or parent, to the extent that you have felt inadequate or, worse, a failure? Do you ever wonder why someone close to you seems to endure humiliation without resistance?
Manipulators are everywhere. At first these devious and calculating people can be hard to spot, because that is their way. They are often masters of disguise: witty, disarming, even charming in public – tricks to snare their prey – but then they revert to their true self of being controlling and angry in private. Their main aim: to dominate and use others to satisfy their needs, with a complete lack of compassion and empathy for their victim.
In this collection of short novellas, you meet people like you and me, intent on living happy lives, yet each of them, in one way or another, is caught up and damaged by a manipulative individual. First you meet Tess, whose past is haunted by a wrong decision, then young, successful and well balanced Sophie, who is drawn into the life of a little boy and his troubled father. Next, there is teenage Holly, who is intent on making a better life for herself, followed by a manipulator himself, trying to make sense of his irreversible incarceration. Lastly, there is Lisa, who has to face a parent’s biggest regret. All stories highlight to what extent abusive manipulation can distort lives and threaten our very feeling of self-worth.
1. Where did the ideas come from for the stories in Manipulated Lives?
When I found out what a deceptive and narcissistic manipulator had done to someone I love, behind closed doors, I was determined to somehow make her voice heard. There are many excellent self-help books on the market giving advice on how to deal with controlling and manipulative individuals but I felt most comfortable taking the idea into fictional territory. By opening up to people about this topic during the initial stages of plotting my ideas, I was stunned to hear that everyone had a story of their own. This was the reason why I decided to explore the impact of psychological manipulation on people of different ages and backgrounds. The five novellas can be read separately yet each aims to take the reader to question the fact that as an outsider, nothing is ever what it seems at first sight and that toxic manipulation happens in a wide variety of human interactions.
What a fascinating premise!
2. You have written Manipulated Lives, which is a collection of five stories, and My Sweet Friend, which is a novella. Which did you prefer writing and do you think is it easier or harder to form a story in a more condensed way like short stories/novellas?
I’d say that writing novellas and short stories is as difficult, absorbing and time-consuming as writing a novel. I’ve just made that very experience because I finished my first novel which will be with the editor in a month.
3. Your background is in journalism and more recently you have been studying philosophy. How much do you use your knowledge of both in your writing?
What philosophical writing has taught me is that being concise and limited to an exact word count can be hugely rewarding because being meaningful with less can be more impactful and thought-provoking I found. However, that approach can apply to a novel as well, even though it’s a longer text and allows the plot to develop with more layers and characters. Studying philosophy has certainly contributed to my initial choice of genre – short stories and novellas because they aim to zoom into an aspect of a character’s life, give it the proportions of a story within the confines of more limited space than a novel.
4. What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before starting to write?
Research may be needed at any time of the writing process. This can range from talking to a psychologist, reading scientific papers to reading articles in specialized fields. I think it is very important that fiction is engaging and entertaining but that it is also accurate when it comes to specific facts mentioned.
5. And related to that, do you plot your book meticulously before you start or wing it and see how it comes together?
My preparation process and planning has changed since I wrote my first novella. I’ve come to realize that for me a rough outline of chapters and short summaries for each helps me more than meticulous planning or too loose a plan.
6. If you weren’t a writer what do you think you would be doing now?
If I had the money and the time, I would have liked to continue research in philosophy, attempting a PhD.
7. Tell me about your writing day. Where do you write and do you have a daily routine?
I write anywhere and at any time …but a favourite is sitting at my laptop at home in our lounge because every time I look up, I have a splendid view of the Atlantic Ocean. I tend to use the uninterrupted time I have while our two children are in school to write, edit and plot.
8. Do you have time to read yourself and if so what kind of books do you enjoy?
I read a lot, any moment I get! My preferred genres are literary fiction, psychological thrillers and all things philosophical.
9. Do you have any interesting writing quirks?
I love notebooks, any shape and size. I travel with one and I keep any ideas, quotes, everyday observations and interesting facts in them. I’ve got a colourful collection already and I still find that whenever I’m stuck in a paragraph, I just need to peruse one of them and I’m motivated to continue where I’ve left off!!
10. What are you planning to write next?
As mentioned above, I’m in the process of producing my first novel. In this book, I hope to have successfully combined literary fiction with psychological thriller elements. Watch this space 😊
Thank you for answering my questions, Helene.
Giveaway – Win a signed copy of Manipulated Lives by H.A. Leuschel (Open Internationally)
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Helene Andrea Leuschel grew up in Belgium where she gained a Licentiate in Journalism & Communication, which led to a career in radio and television in Brussels, London and Edinburgh. She now lives with her husband and two children in Portugal and recently acquired a Master of Philosophy with the OU, deepening her passion for the study of the mind. When she is not writing, Helene works as a freelance journalist and teaches Yoga.