Please meet Leslie Ray. Her latest book – Exposure – is now available and it’s one you shouldn’t miss. Part rom-com, part angst – go for it!
* You are going to be new to many of my readers. Tell us about yourself.
Born and raised in the south, I’m a Southern writer through and through. I love to capture the essence of growing up in a small-town in my books. When I am not writing, these days I spend most of my day negotiating with my youngest to actually pay attention to virtual school. Thank you Covid. One day, when the world returns to normal, we’ll go back to our adventurous lives of exploring new places.
* Tell us about the book that’s just come out.
EXPOSURE is the first in my new Carefree series. Beaufort, SC is the inspiration for this series setting and I’m so excited to do a coastal series. Especially on these dreary winter mornings, it’s nice to escape to the warm sun and sand of the SC coast.
EXPOSURE follows the lives of freelance nature photographer Julia Hawthorne and police chief Miles Scott, two perfect strangers who have a troubling connection in their past. This saucy rom-com quickly becomes an emotional journey as the past collides with the present, leaving Miles to make a tough choice between hiding his scars or exposing his heart.
Find out more at Welcome to Carefree
* What started you on your love of writing?
Funny story, I was living in Pennsylvania, about to move back to the south. In preparing for the move, I went into the bank to close out my accounts. You should know, I’m a klutz. It’s my superpower. So here I am, walking into the bank, not paying attention (per usual, I was trying to get my life together while in motion, always a good idea), and I took one step in the door only to crash into a wall. A roughly six-two, very fine wall of a man. He was decked out in his dress blues and looking very sharp. I have no idea what branch of the military he was, but it got my approval. The man was pure male perfection. I would like to tell you this is the part where I said something charming or witty, but those off the cuff comments apparently are reserved for my books and not real life. Instead, I stuttered some unintelligible “I’m sorry” and went on about my way hoping no one else saw me. When my bank business was finished, I got back in my car and texted my best friend the words “If I ever write a romance novel…”. And so, my first novel was born. I spent the first six weeks of our move in coffee shops, bouncing between looking for jobs and writing my first novel. You can read about my amazing collision in RUN TO ME. Though Emerson and Preston don’t meet in a bank, they do have quite the first collision.
* Do you write in more than one genre – tell us a little about each one and the books you’re working on in each?
I have only ever published contemporary romance novels. They are my great love. I have a series set in the NC mountains (Spruce Pine Series) and now I am starting my series in SC (Carefree Series).
I have a YA Dystopian novel started. I don’t know if it will ever see the light of day, but it’s a story that came to me one hot summer day. I was walking our dog, who’d just had surgery, and the grass was dry and crunchy. As I walked in the heat, listening to the sound the grass made beneath my feet, the story came to me. I still think about it from time to time. It will hit me out of nowhere, which is a good sign one day it will get written.
* Have you attended any writing conference or classes? Tell us about some that and some that have been especially helpful.
The only major conference I have ever attended was RT (Romantic Times) which unfortunately does not exist anymore. What I will say about the big conferences is they are an amazing place to network, and meet fellow authors and readers. Not to mention it’s just fun to be around a ton of people who have the same passion as you.
* Are you a member of any writing groups?
I am a member of RWA (Romance Writers of America) and our local RWA chapter Heart of Carolina Romance Writers. I am also part of an amazing critique group comprised of 6 other extraordinary romance writers.
* How attached do you get to your characters? Do you know what happens after the book ends?
My characters live in my head so long, they’re like family. I think that’s why you’ll see previous characters pop up throughout a series. I have a hard time letting them go.
I do usually know what happens in their lives post book. Again, sometimes the reader gets little glimpses into their lived as well later in the series. Maybe one day I’ll do a crossover and bring some of my favorite characters together from different series. I’m sure I can find a way to make it work.
* Describe your ‘perfect’ writing day.
Oh, how I imagine this one often. Ha! My perfect writing day would be a long morning writing session in a coffee shop, lunch with a friend for a little break, and then a nice long writing session on my front porch on a nice, warm, sunny spring/summer day. I recently left my day job to focus on writing so hopefully, one day post COVID, I can actually make this happen.
* Could you tell us the one question you wish people would ask about your writing… and don’t forget the answer.
I don’t know that I have a specific question I wish people would ask, but I love when people do ask questions. I LOVE talking about my writing. It can be such a solitary journey so I love when people want to step into that world and talk about it. It’s like watching a behind the scenes clip after the movie.
Check out her other books as well!