Welcome back to Writing Wednesday, and boy do I have a treat for you all. We have here today a newly published writer on the scene and she was excited to do this interview when I asked her. So, please show lots of love and support to LaLa Leo as I give the floor to her.
- Please introduce yourself before we begin.
My (pen) name is LaLa Leo. I am a 32-year-old mother of three beautiful legacies (two boys and a girl) from southern Virginia and a newly published author as of December 2019. I am currently working from home as a part-time Virtual Assistant and a full-time writer and mom. Prior to this, I worked as an Assistant Residency Coordinator for the local hospital’s Internal and Family Medicine residency programs and as a Supportive Services Coordinator for a private independent living senior citizen community. I studied Healthcare and Business Administration and Network Administration/Internet Security in my years in college (Old Dominion University, Danville Community College and American InterContinental University Online). I began my professional writing career in November 2018 at the tail-end of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) which inspired me to begin writing my first real novel, OsDio: Requiem Unrequited which will be an epic urban fantasy fiction trilogy. I have strong aspirations to adapt the finished project into a graphic novel and future anime series. The stunning illustration of Akaiyuu (the main character of OsDio) was the beginning spark to everything in the creation of an unorthodox Afro-Grecian mythological tale. The deity descendant of Dreams was brought to life by Middnite Designs.
- Every writer has an origin story to tell, what’s yours?
Even though I started my professional writing career in November 2018, I have been writing since I was a small girl. I started reading feature-length classic novels at an early age and quickly fell in love with innate vocabulary and the use of literature to change the minds of others and thus, the world. That always stood out as immensely powerful to me. Throughout my early life, I avidly studied other forms of art as well including my very first love… music. In the 6th grade, I joined the symphony orchestra and played violin into my high school years when I finally quit to pursue Dental Assisting trade courses. By the time I left the symphony orchestra, I retired as a principal player of the 2nd violin section. I was hoping to return but I never did. In addition, I learned water painting and crafting which resulted in becoming highly skilled at event planning, project management, and refined coordination. Lastly, I felt the urge to learn other languages and enrolled in Spanish and Latin courses. Little did I know that all of these things that I had long ago deemed to be useless to know in my early adulthood would become the catalyst I needed to pursue my dream! Flash forward to present day, I am learning Greek and Japanese on DuoLingo and hope to become fluent enough to translate all of my work someday. I use all of my knowledge and experiences as a guide to teaching my children not what to do, but how to think for themselves.
- What was the first story, poem or novel you ever worked on?
Honestly, I can’t truly recall this enough to recant the title. I didn’t title anything outside of my personal journal until I was an adolescent. However, one of my favorite earlier poems that I’ve written is called “The Wind Star”. It is available to read on Wattpad in my poetry book entitled Survivor’s Remorse. As a child, I enjoyed writing fables and short stories to share among friends in class as well as poems, prose, and songs for piano and violin. I have written lyrics (rap, soul and R&B) earlier on and composed original music as well. The first song I ever composed was for my Chihuahua Nina and she would sprint around my family’s suburban home as I played it expertly on my piano keyboard just for her.
- What’s the hardest thing about writing?
For me, I can definitely admit that it is a mixture of procrastination, distractions and simply scheduling the ideal time. As a young mother of 3, my schedule is tight between caring for and spending time with my children, taking care of my household, working and planning. I also view writing as kind of like a “high” for me, for lack of a better description. I cannot force it. I dare not as my mind feels that it is forbidden in a sense. Creation, to me, is a sacred enlightenment that requires a bit of preparation of clearing my mind, focusing and then executing. Those are dilemmas that I cannot readily eliminate, yet must learn to work with, adapt and adjust to accordingly. I am a work in progress just as much as my project work itself.
- What Genres do you write in and do you have a favorite?
I aspire to try my hand at every genre out there at some point throughout my career. Currently, I write fantasy, YA, horror, thriller/supernatural/paranormal, romance, flash fiction, historical fiction, urban fiction, poetry, prose, lyrics/songs, erotica, personal journal work and more.
- Why do you write?
It spiritually fulfills me. It completes me. It is everything to me and all I’ve ever desired to do with my borrowed time in addition to creating music. I feel that I can achieve anything that my heart wants or that I set my mind to now. As Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “If you want to change the world, pick up your pen and write!” It can be true.
- Favorite author and/or book series?
My favorite authors are Stephen King, JK Rowling, Zane, Sista Souljah, Rumiko Takahashi, Naoko Takeuchi, Khaled Hosseini, Carl Weber, Robert Kirkman, Edwidge Danticat, Anne Rivers Siddons, John Grisham… oh my goodness! The list goes on for miles. I think one of my very favorite book series will always be Harry Potter and The Walking Dead for comic books.
- Okay, the tough question here. It’s no secret that Mental health is important for writers. Seeing that I want to be more of an advocate for it. Is there any advice you like to give to people to keep fighting, whether you’re dealing with it personally or know someone that is?
Mental health is tricky. One size definitely does not fit all when it comes to advice, medical treatment or personal and professional lifestyles. We all face our own individual adversities and they vary greatly. I struggle with quite a bit that most people do not even know about. It isn’t because I’m stronger than the next person. I am just very private. I wish that there was a tidbit or gem that I could offer to help alleviate the pain of someone else who struggles with their mental health. However, I have a different perspective now entirely. I believe that these less than fortunate instances that are jarring for most of us is what makes us who we are. How we cope and deal with them definitely defines our life path journey. I am life path 8 and learning that taught me a lot about myself and who I am. So, that is what I will say… discover your life path number and do some research on yourself versus seeking guidance from others that will never know everything that there is to know about you. Search your soul and it will guide YOU the right way every time.
- Before we leave is there anything you’re working on now or anything you have released?
As I mentioned, I am a newly published author as of December 17, 2019, when Fredric Shernoff’s Atlantic Island Universe anthology was released. It features an excerpt from him to his new novel and four incredible prequels/short stories by myself, AJ Kurtz, Rennie St. James, and Dawn Dagger. This anthology expands the universe of the original Atlantic Island trilogy by Fredric Shernoff (sci-fi/fantasy/time travel fiction). I gained invaluable experience working closely together with all of these talented authors in my second official co-authoring and group writing attempt. It was more successful than I could have ever imagined. Following our prequels, the other talented authors and I will be working on our own respective spinoff trilogies! Destiny: Genesis (Book 1) will release on May 25, 2020 to Amazon, Apple and Barnes & Noble. Fredric Shernoff’s Atlantic Island Universe is already currently available on the aforementioned platforms in eBook and paperback format. I am also still working on my own original trilogy, expanding my poetry book (Survivor’s Remorse), aspiring to finish my thriller novella about the Dyatlov Pass Incident of 1959 (Don’t Go There) and my newest horror novel project (Trapped). I have online writer profiles on Wattpad, Vocal, Inkitt, Narrative, Curensea and Medium. You can also visit my public Facebook Author page (www.facebook.com/LaLaLeoWriter) or my portfolio website (www.osdio.wordpress.com). 2020 is going to be a big year for creation!
- Finally, anything you want to say to new writers/artists?
Never ever… give up on yourself! Do not stop believing in your capabilities even if no one else around you acknowledges. YOU know what you’re capable of and that will always be the only thing that EVER matters. What you think and what you believe is your reality. The universe will reciprocate your energy, whether it is negative or positive. For those who support you and don’t give up on you, shower them with appreciation, gratefulness, love, and affection for never choosing to abandon or desert you throughout your (alkalizing) process. Also, be sure and don’t forget to equally support and applaud them in their journeys. Only another writer can truly understand the lifestyle of a writer. Set no expectations other than the ones for yourself. Sometimes our purpose can solely be to put the spark in another.
And there you have it, folks! If LaLa Leo caught your attention as she did mines. Please go on her pages and follow her journey as she goes on to do bigger and better things. I personally like to wish her luck in her journey and can’t wait for the release of her first book which I have already preordered and ready to go (If you haven’t you can do so here). Links to other bookstores will be listed at the bottom of the page. As well as her other pages for you to enjoy.
Just know it doesn’t matter where you came from. It can all lead to being a creative person in your life and it’s up to you to if you want to pursue it. LaLa here is a perfect example of that and I hope her words inspire you to do the same as she did. But that’s all we have for you all today, and I’ll check you guys out on Mental Monday and remember. Happy reading, writing, or creating whatever it is you’re creating, and have fun doing it.
Courage is simply fear that has said its prayer