We’re going to wrap up our interviews of Romance Writers of America® Golden Heart® Contemporary Single Title 2013 finalists with Leslie Lynch, author of Hijacked. This is the premier contest (worldwide) for unpublished manuscripts in the romance genre.
Tell us about your manuscript, Hijacked, that just finalled in RWA’s Golden Heart contest!
Pilot Lannis Parker’s carefully constructed, sterile life is upended when her small plane is hijacked before dawn on a wintry Louisville morning. Her captor does more than force her to fly him to the Appalachian wilderness, though. He resurrects memories she’s tried to bury, memories of a brutal attack she’d survived four years earlier, an attack she didn’t report and tries to pretend didn’t happen. During a week in the wilderness, she learns her hijacker is fair and honorable, compassionate and insightful—strange attributes for a criminal. And when he discovers her secret, he vows to be the friend she desperately needs but refuses to accept.
Undercover DEA agent Ben Martin is determined to offer restitution for the harm he caused his unwilling pilot in his last-ditch bid for survival, for the wounds he inadvertently ripped open. In spite of her prickly defenses, or maybe because of them, she captures his heart, even as he witnesses her misguided efforts to cope with the aftermath of a rape years ago. He must walk a tightrope of trusting Lannis to navigate her own path to healing while holding her accountable for her occasional less-than-stellar choices that run uncomfortably counter to his life’s work.
Will she come to terms with her past? And will he be part of her future?
Tell us how you feel about the Golden Heart experience!
Still smiling, three months after the phone call! Excited, and a little nervous as Atlanta will be a very different experience than past conferences for me. Surreal is a good word, too. I stepped out of my comfort zone and dove into the blogosphere with the Ruby Slippered Sisterhood and the Firebirds – which turned out to be loads of fun! I’m glad I did. I’m also glad it occurred to me to interview my fellow Contemporary Single Title finalists. This has been a blast, and I’m so glad everyone was willing to try our grand experiment! I think we’ll be a very close group once we get to the award ceremony, and I know we are all rooting for each others’ successes.
Where do you get the ideas for your stories? And/or for this story, in particular?
I am a pilot. One of my favorite jobs was flying traffic reporters over Louisville, Kentucky. Arriving at the airport at zero-dark-thirty and prepping the plane before anyone else was on the field spawned the seed of the story. This was back before cell-phones, and there was plenty of opportunity for miscommunication. Like all writers, my imagination got going one morning (what if…?), and the story took off. Beyond that, my life experiences and the newspaper are great fodder. Truth really is stranger than fiction.
What has your writing journey been like?
Long. I’ve been a writer all my life. My first rejection was from The New Yorker magazine when I was sixteen or seventeen years old. I went to college not sure of what I wanted to major in until I was accepted into a creative writing class. When my mom called a few weeks into the class, I told her (with great excitement) I was going to be a writer. There was dead silence on the phone, and she finally said, “Why don’t you become a secretary or hairdresser instead?” To her credit, she was looking toward an ability to support myself, but she could not have chosen two careers for which I have less aptitude.
I let the idea of writing go (one must be practical!) and became a nurse. Nursing provided funding so I could learn to fly, which was the second thing I always wanted to be, and served well to help support our family over the years. Fast forward to ten or twelve years ago, when the idea for Hijacked came to me. I bought a used laptop, taught myself how to use it, and I wrote. Until it was done. Then I learned about RWA, joined, and began revising. Everything you can possibly do wrong, I had done. Uncounted revisions later, I had given up on Hijacked and moved on to new manuscripts. I joined a critique group a couple of years ago, and that is the single biggest factor in my development as a writer. On a whim, I ran the first fifty pages of Hijacked through them, entered it – and here we are.
As an aside, I stumbled into writing for my Archdiocesan newspaper a few years ago (circulation 70,000 households weekly), and have been blessed to interview some extraordinary yet ordinary people. This experience has also taught me to work on a deadline and with an editor, pretty handy training for what I hope is to come! Plus, I get paid, which is an affirmation all its own. I also blog monthly for the Catholic Writers Guild, usually on the subject of advice for new authors.
What’s your ideal writing environment?
I can write anywhere – and I have. Noise doesn’t bother me, but music sometimes does. My favorite place to write would be outside, with water in some form nearby.
Can I say here that like so many other women, I’ve also managed to squeeze in writing between more important activities like helping to care for my parents before their deaths, and helping various family members when they’ve had need? So when I say I have written anywhere, I am not exaggerating. I know I am not alone!
How can fans (and agents and editors!) reach you?
You’re here, so you’ve found my website, www.leslielynch.com I’m on facebook at Leslie Lynch Writes, and Twitter @Leslie_Lynch_ I’m on Pinterest and LinkedIn, but they are secondary at this point.
Is there anything you’d like to add?
Thank you, fellow CST finalists, for making this a fun eight weeks! I wish each one of you the very best in your publishing careers!
For those of you who have followed this series, we hope to have a group blog on Thursday, July 25, with brief comments about our impressions of the RWA National Conference in Atlanta. By then we’ll know which of us won the Golden Heart, and we can celebrate that, too!
Meanwhile, has your life’s journey gone how you planned? What detours have you taken, and have they provided silver (or even golden!) linings to the clouds?