Monday, August 27, 2012

Interview with author David LeRoy

Today's guest, David LeRoy, did extensive research on the German occupation of France for his debut novel The Siren of Paris. This historical novel follows the journey of one American from medical student, to artist, to political prisoner at Buchenwald Concentration Camp during World War Two.  

David LeRoy is an accidental author. On his way to becoming an artist, he suddenly came down with an incurable condition and began to write instead of paint, to the horror of his instructors. He holds an undergraduate degree in philosophy and religion, which are recurring themes through out his first novel. Aside from writing, he continues to paint and draw on a regular schedule, while holding down an unspeakable day job in telecommunications.

Welcome, David. Please tell us about your current release, The Siren of Paris.
The story is a unique experience of World War II, told from the perspective of a French-born American art student who becomes trapped by the war. This transforms the protagonist from an innocent and rather naïve young college student into a physically, emotionally, and spiritually wounded member of the French underground resistance. Ultimately, he is faced with the task of overcoming his own sense of survivor’s guilt as he re-enters the world after his release from Buchenwald concentration camp. This is when faces the loss of his comrades and struggles with facing his betrayer.

What inspired you to write this book?
A single statue inspired me to research this book. It is located in a small plaza in Antibes, France and captured the sense of crushing oppression that members of the resistance faced. I wondered if Americans living in Europe had become trapped by the war and if any had joined the Resistance. My initial research confirmed that both were the case. Forty-six books later, along with countless other documents, I had the details that contribute to the story The Siren of Paris.

What exciting story are you working on next?
The Flower of Chamula, which explores the effect of complex trauma upon a young child who becomes an orphan twice before she is 12 years old. The book is about that curious condition of being young, yet old and mature at the same time, which is common in children who lose their childhood innocence due to tragedy.

Writing life:
In my fantasies, I only write a book once, and it is brilliant. In reality, after I have written the book once, I am condemned to a purgatory of re-writing and editing for at least another 10 drafts. But my friends all seem to think I just sat down and wrote it on a weekend, and I sometimes foster that fantasy if I think there is a chance they actually will take the bait.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
After my very first really shitty first draft, when I was staring at a huge collection of 50 to 60 thousand words full of spelling errors and punctuation problems, I knew then I had become a writer. Not because anyone could actually read the beast, but because I took it out 30 days later and worked towards the next shitty draft that was slightly better than the previous one. Some call this persistence and others an addiction, and I will let you decide.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
My day job does deal with writing, but it is legal contracts. When I am working on a draft, I set aside time every day to work towards at least 3,000 words. I am a goal driven “type A” personality in recovery, so I keep track of everything on an excel worksheet so that I know exactly where I am in the process and how much more I need to complete. Each draft of The Siren of Paris took me, on average, 22 working days to complete. Then I take a 30-day break from it all, making sure not to read the text at all until the time is up. During this time, I terrorize the world finding something else to obsess over.

Fun: When not writing, I am painting or drawing. It is another form of the same creative process, but it quiets my mind.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I incorporate some of the same design principles I use in composing a painting into my writing. Underneath my stories, I often use numerical principles to construct scenes. But that is not the only crazy thing I do. I choose music that captures the mood of the story, and I listen to the music over and over again until it is in my consciousness. Then I imagine the scenes of the book that go with this music. It sounds crazy, but I am using the music to match my own emotions to the mood I am trying to create in the story.

Since I am confessing my crazies, I have been known to use a candle. I will take a candle and place it into the bottom of a large bronze Tibetan singing bowl, (you will only get this show here folks), and then I will rhythmically tap the bowl, focusing on the flame, and imagine the life of my characters. I would just use pot, but it is boring compared to a flame in a Tibetan singing bowl at midnight.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I was obsessed with the dream of joining the merchant marines and working on some ship. How I ended up studying philosophy and religion is a mystery to me, but maybe it has something to do with the fact that my college was on the ocean.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Dream. Use your imagination and dream before you write, and when someone shakes their finger and says, “You can’t do that,” then jump on it until you have done it like no one else. 

Thanks, David. Readers, you can purchase The Siren of Paris in Kindle e-book format from Amazon -- and learn more about this author and novel at

For more information about this virtual book tour, please visit --

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