Falling for genre: meet Emily Leigh

There’s one simple truth about writing that I think most authors would agree, we didn’t choose to write. In this week’s blog, we’re getting to know one author who not only embraced that sentiment, but supercharged it when she allowed an unexpected genre to find her.

Meet Emily Leigh working mom by day and published author by night (or afternoon, or weekend, or at soccer practice). This unique talent has found a specific style of storytelling that inspires a bigger world vision.

“My goal is to provide people with a story that takes them out of the real world and into a world where love always wins and friendship is always on the table,” Emily told me by email this week.

To wit, Emily has made it her mission to write, “… contemporary romances that focus on community and relationships between women in addition to the romance.”

Spoken like an author who owns her genre.

I can relate to the desire to tell the female friendship story, my character’s female friendships are vital to her story and in author-speak, help to move my A plot forward with their B plot story lines.

Emily, naturally, puts it way better than I can: “I have found the kindest, sweetest women and a support system that is irreplaceable. I didn’t always have this group of amazing women, it took a long time to find them, and I think it’s important to pass the message that this kind of relationship is out there, even if you haven’t found it yet.”

The interesting aspect of Emily’s author journey is that she never set out to be a contemporary romance author.

“ I love, love, love historical romance, particularly westerns and regencies. I have files and files of old stories taking up space in Dropbox that I’ll never delete and dread to read,” Emily explained.

During a particularly fruitless creative time where her frustrations were running high, a writing group she joined suggested trying contemporary stories instead of the historical ones she had methodically researched.

“ I knew that I could never give up writing (even though I threatened to on more than one occasion) and that I would be miserable if I ever did,” Emily said. “So I eventually gave in (to a contemporary story idea) and within two months I had a beautiful first draft about a contemporary woman in a contemporary world. The words literally flowed from my fingers.”

That’s not to say she’s turned her back on historicals, she’s just waiting for the right time to return to them. In the meantime, the modern genre has given Emily a place to rely on her finely-tuned research skills.

“In my current project, I am writing about two people who struggle with the idea of failure. The hero — a country music producer — tanked his own career three years ago by becoming involved with one of his artists,” Emily explained. “One of my strengths is research. I love to figure out new experiences, learn about different jobs and personalities. I’m having a hard time with the music producer aspect though because it’s an industry that varies so widely in experience. I’ve found the best resource so far has actually been Instagram,;following the stories of producers through their pictures.”

But like all writers, she is still facing down some of the writing quirks that she’s always had.

“I have a writer friend who is a total plotter from beginning to end and she’s been trying to get me to be like her for years. So in this book, I’m trying, and … it’s hard.”

Don’t each of us struggle with that one thing we can’t seem to shake? I know I do.

So where does this busy mom of two find the time to write?

“With a full-time job and two young kids, my writing process is write where and when I can. In the car, on lunch break at work, late at night, early in the morning, at soccer practice … I brainstorm in the shower, in the car, when I’m making dinner and I have a notebook that I carry everywhere to quickly jot notes,” Emily said.

Romance author Emily Leigh

If that’s not dedication, I don’t know what is.

Finally, I had to know what her hope was for the readers who are smart enough to discover her books.

“For me, words strung together in a sentence with flow and feeling is one of the most beautiful things in the world,” Emily explained. “In my mind, my books will be read by the people who need to read them; women (or men) who are looking for quiet moments in their lives, who need hope or escape or relaxation.”

What could be a better wish than that? Find Emily and all of her books at www.emilyleigh.com or follow her on Twitter at @emilyleighbooks.

Redding Walters is a Californian with a debut novel in the steamy romance genre, find “Even seahorses are free” on Amazon and Kindle now.