Interview With Author Leilanie Stewart
Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.
I’m a writer and poet from Belfast, Northern Ireland. I’m the author of three novels and three poetry collections. I write mainly dark psychological fiction and poetry and my writing confronts the nature of self; my characters will usually have a crisis of identity and create a new sense of self.
What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
My latest book is my third novel, The Blue Man. I wrote it originally as a short story during covid lockdown in 2020 as I had an idea for a disturbing Irish ghost story and wanted to set it in my home country of Northern Ireland. This was because I hadn’t read any ghost stories from my hometown, Belfast. The short story version of The Blue Man was published in Scarlet Leaf Review in May 2021. I found that the ideas for this particular story kept coming however, especially to explore the backstory of the titular character, The Blue Man, and so I started expanding it into a novel-length story.
Do you have any unusual writing habits?
It takes me a longer than usual time to develop my story ideas: the quickest it can take is six months. But on the other hand, once I have my fully developed concept, outline and chapter plan ready to go, I can write without distractions at any place. Some people find this weird, especially my husband, or friends, who laugh when I can be typing and having a full conversation with them without losing my writing thread.
What authors, or books have influenced you?
I try to read widely in as many genres as I can, so lately I wouldn’t say I’m influenced by any specific books or authors, although I do admire Lucinda Berry’s page-turning style of prose. When I first started trying to write seriously twenty years ago, while I was a university student writing a young adult fantasy novel, I was inspired very much by Tolkien and H.G. Wells.
What are you working on now?
I have just finished my fourth novel, which is another psychological horror book based on Irish mythology. It’s the second standalone novel in my Belfast Ghosts series, with the first book being The Blue Man, published in July 2022. I’m anticipating a release for my fourth book later in 2022 – title and cover reveal coming soon.
What is your best method or website when it comes to promoting your books?
I promote my books on my author website blog and across all of my social media channels. My YouTube readings of novel and poetry excerpts have gained interest lately. I find that reviews by book bloggers have helped to spread the word as well as running occasional ads, as my budget allows.
Do you have any advice for new authors?
First of all, don’t give up on your book. Make the time to write regularly, even if it’s only a sentence a day. Once your manuscript is done, accept advice from your beta readers as they’re there to help you. The best thing you can do, if you want to put your writing out in the world, is to have a thick skin. Believe in your story – and yourself.
What is the best advice you have ever heard?
Carry a notebook at all times. You never know when inspiration will strike. A writer friend gave me a lovely pocket notebook with a front cover reading, “Lost in a sea of words”. It has saved many an idea from getting forgotten on a busy day to day basis.
What are you reading now?
My tbr list is always big. I’m reading Barbara Erskine’s ‘River of Destiny’, Lucinda Berry’s ‘Under her Care’, James Joyce’s ‘Finnegan’s Wake’ and Susan Hill’s I’m the King of the Castle’.
What’s next for you as a writer?
I have started drafting my fifth novel, which will be the third standalone novel in my Belfast Ghosts series, and I’m also planning to release a full poetry collection soon, a third of which was previously published in literary magazines and as a chapbook by a small press publisher in the UK.
If you were going to be stranded on a desert island and allowed to take 3 or 4 books with you what books would you bring?
Finnegan’s Wake, as it might contain information for how I could escape the island – or at the very least, save me from ever being bored. I’d also bring a survival manual as I wouldn’t know the first thing about getting food for myself, and maybe a book on how to build a raft. That’s pretty boring, I know, but I’m a practical kind of person.
Author Websites and Profiles
Leilanie Stewart’s Social Media Links