Our new author today is Leah Start Baker. Her book is Bunko Babes.
Welcome, Leah. Tell us how much of yourself you write into your characters.
I’ve discovered that to create a genuine, three-dimensional character that is believable and lovable to a reader, you must always incorporate pieces of yourself and others. In every character I create, a part of myself and those closest to me always makes its way into the mix.
What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
If you had asked me what the wildest and craziest or even the dumbest or bravest thing I’ve ever done, I think I could have answered it right off the top of my head. But quirky? Aren’t all writer’s a little quirky? The desire to expose your deepest thoughts to the world for their review is definitely what I consider to be quirky.
Okay, I’ll stop dragging my feet. I’d have to say that the quirkiest thing I ever did was to get in a car with my new husband and drive down to Nashville with nothing but a rinky dink demo tape, a week’s vacation, and a couple hundred dollars - thinking that I was going to actually get discovered in that amount of time. Funny thing is…I did meet an independent producer and ended up with a record of my own without paying a dime. Nothing ever came of it but I still got the experience of recording with some of the best in the business. What a blast!
Sounds like great fun. When did you first discover that you were a writer?
I’ve always been a writer, a lover of words and the beautiful pictures that they can create when put together just right. I love the sound of certain words, the way they roll off of your tongue. I just feel a certain kinship with books. They were my friends when I didn’t have any friends. I could escape from my everyday doldrums without ever stepping foot out of my bedroom. How many people can claim that they are a part of something that transforming? Writing for me is a way to reach people whom I would never come into contact with in my everyday life. Yep, I’ve always been a writer - it just took me some time to break out of my shell and be ready to share it with the world.
Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
I think I’m rather eclectic in my choice of literature, but my father would beg to differ. I love historical novels, mystery, romance, chick lit, books on music, marketing, and the transforming power of Jesus and God’s grace. I prefer stories to non-fiction. It’s true. And you can chase me away with a Western. Sorry Louis L’Amour - I’m just not a huge fan of the genre. My favorites of all time are Gone With the Wind, Jackdaws, The Thorn Birds, and Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood.
What other books have you written, whether published or not?
My first book that I wrote is entitled Shattered Trust. It is a family drama set against the backdrop of Oklahoma politics and old money. Hopefully, you’ll get to read it someday soon.
I hope so. Sounds as if I'd like reading it. How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?
That’s easy. I don’t. I am a Systemic Lupus survivor, and with Lupus you simply can’t keep up with even the pace of a normal life, much less the hectic, never stop, go-for-broke kind of world we live in now.
I once heard living with Lupus described this way: It begins with a pile of spoons. Ready?
Remove one spoon simply for waking up and doing your stretching exercises. Take away another for taking a shower. There’s goes another for getting dressed, and another for making and eating breakfast. Depending on how you were feeling when you woke up will depend upon how many spoons you have for the day. But let’s say it’s a good day and you have twelve spoons. You’re down to eight and you haven’t even left the house. Each action you do costs you a spoon, and when you get down to zero there is nothing left. No resources for you to draw upon. Zip, zilch, nada and there is no way to refuel for the day.
When you live with a disease like that, you learn that you have to measure everything you do and decide what in your life is truly worth giving up a spoon in order to do it. It’s amazing how many things in your life you discover aren’t worth the energy it takes to do them. It’s quite freeing when you get to that point. I no longer have the option of going, going and going. But I do have a great excuse for saying no.
How do you choose your characters’ names?
Great question. I love unusual names and I told myself that if I ever wrote a book my characters would have those kind of names. And The Bunko Babes did have a lot of my favorite names in it until the reviewers got a hold of it. At that point, I was asked to consider putting in more relatable, normal names. I was quite reticent but then I realized that creating beautiful names for all my characters wasn’t the point of the story. The “Babes” are everyday people with everyday problems, and if I wanted to touch people with their story then I needed to make sure that nothing got in the way of connecting with the reader.
After that, I went with names that have good memories associated with them. Names that I knew great people who had touched my lives who bore that name. It made it much simpler. With the exception of Mercedes, every name in the book is the name of someone I know or once knew, and loved very much.
What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
It’s a toss up between being married nearly 14 years, giving birth to two beautiful children, and finishing my novel.
If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?
A great white owl—wise beyond my years, on the lookout for trouble, and protective of the ones I love. A girl can dream right?
I love it. What is your favorite food?
Is sugar considered a food?
What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?
Understanding that sometimes even the best-written scene will need to be removed from the manuscript because it doesn’t add anything to the plot, or worse, it’s a detriment to the story. Boy, it’s hard when you have to cut something that you consider to be stellar writing, Oscar winning stuff. But the story always comes first.
That is so true. What advice would you give to an author just starting out?
If you are serious about writing, then you need to write on a consistent basis. And read. You can write well even if you aren’t well-read. If you want to write thrillers, then read thrillers, analyze the thriller genre, dissect your favorite stories. Then when you feel comfortable, confident that you can create that kind of a story, write. Every day write. I read that you can complete your first novel in 90 days if you write 3 to 5 pages every day and that is what I did. And guess what? My first draft was done in 3 months. Just don’t give up. You’ll never regret it. If nothing gets published, you will always have the manuscripts for your own pleasure and that of your family. You never simply want to write for the end goal of getting published. You want to write because it is in your soul.
What would you like to tell us about the featured book?
The Bunko Babes is a story from my heart. Focusing around 8 eclectic women who gather once a week to play that crazy dice game, The Bunko Babes is a journey of friendship and faith. You will laugh and cry as you walk with the “Babes” through struggles like infertility, infidelity, chronic disease, and the trials of life in general. By the end, your faith will have increased and you will feel as if you have gained another set of friends.
How can readers find you on the Internet?
Readers can visit www.thebunkobabes.biz or purchase The Bunko Babes at Amazon.com
Thank you, Leah, for spending this time with us.
Readers, leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy. If you don't, be sure to get your hands on a copy anyway.