Foul Magic: In DARKER STILL, Natalie steps through a painting and discovers that magic and demons exist in 1880 New York City. Find out what makes a story have just the right amount of magic, mystery and suspense as Leanna lets us in on key elements that make her stories so thrilling:
My love of historical fiction was always entwined with my fascination with fantasy and the paranormal. The Victorian era is a perfect time to entwine spirits, ghost stories, magic and more because the time period was so fascinated with those topics. So I’m tapping in to a part of the Victorian psyche just by infusing my tales with fantastical themes. The trick is always balance. One aspect of the novel can’t entirely dominate over the other; my world-building on the magical sense can’t outweigh the development of characters, suspense aspects can’t get in the way of growth for a character, characters have to grow within their circumstances and I have to find the most tension-filled way to do so while still making it “believable”. If the magic, suspense and mystery can all work together to flesh out the historical world, to reveal character and to keep the plot humming along then I’ve created a finely-tuned novel. All the elements of a book have to take turns and pass the relay torch of the journey smoothly and equally.
A lot of help comes in the editorial department, and my editor was key in really helping me trim off the extra fat that didn’t further the plot or tension. A good book requires a few good exterior eyes that can see to the meat of the novel and bring it forward. I’m very good at taking direction and I think that makes me not only a better writer but also someone an editor wants to work with. Also, knowing your characters intimately; what makes them tick and also what makes them scared, it helps draw the reader along in suspense when the character dynamic is viscerally strong. I think the way Natalie’s nightmares play into the Magic Most Foul saga gives the reader a very intimate view into private fears and horrors, and that helps ratchet up the tension from one chapter to the next. My favourite genres as a reader are Fantasy, Mystery and Horror, and I’m not invested in the story if there isn’t a romance somewhere within the plot. I merely have blended all my favourite genres together into one series, and because I want to give each genre equal play, it ends up balancing out.