Erik was a ballet prodigy, a savant, destined to be a star on the world’s stage, but a suspicious fire left Erik’s face horribly disfigured. Now, a lonely phantom forced to keep his scars hidden, he spends his nights haunting the theater halls, mourning all he’s lost. Then, from behind the curtain he sees the lovely Christine. The moldable, malleable Christine.
Drawn in by Erik’s unwavering confidence, Christine allows herself to believe Erik’s declarations that he can transform her into the dancer she longs to be. But Christine’s hope of achieving her dreams may be her undoing when she learns Erik is not everything he claims. And before long, Erik’s shadowy past jeopardizes Christine’s unstable present as his obsession with her becomes hopelessly entangled with his plans for revenge.
I’m not good with interviews. The problem is I have an extremely eclectic personality—emphasis on extremely—so it makes it difficult to answer some of the questions asked. But before I try, be aware Lesa Howard is a pen name, so you may see my website and contact information with the name Lesa Boutin, or even Lesa Howard Boutin. They’re all me. Did I mention I’m a Gemini, which is represented by twins? Add to that my eclectic tastes in everything from books to food to home décor, and I could easily be described as octuplets rather than twins. That said, here’s my attempt to answer a few author questions.
Did you always want to write?
I didn’t start writing until I was thirty. I’d dreamed of it, though, since tenth grade when I’d written a short story which scored the highest in the entire sophomore class. The teacher had raved about my imagination and the twists and turns in the story. So much so that I was kind of surprised because I assumed everyone daydreamed like I did.
So why did you wait so long to start writing?
I wanted to be a grown-up, which when I look back on it is crazy, but I married and had children before pursuing a career. And even then I secretly dreamed of writing for a looong time before ever acting on it. I was terrified of letting anyone read what I wrote. Plus, I thought I’d be laughed at for reaching for something outside the realm of my abilities.
Umm, that didn’t really answer the question as to why you waited so long to start writing.
For me, writing turned out to be a lesson in getting to know myself, and along the way I discovered something that completely changed who I am, at least who I thought I was. When I finally decided to wrestle my fears to the ground and choke the ever-loving-life out of them, I started attending writing conferences, taking lessons, learning everything I could about the craft, but I still had these horrible doubts about my grammar. I never worried about coming up with a story or having writer’s block. My imagination is just too wild for that. But I knew that if there was anything holding me back it was my grammar. It’s not that I didn’t know the “rules” but sometimes I had trouble executing them. At this point, I’d been immersed in the education field. I planned to get a degree and teach junior high. Yeah, you read that right. I could be reduced to a quivering mass when posed a grammar question, but I was working toward becoming a teacher.
Then at some point, I can’t remember exactly when, but whether it was a series of events or conversations with other educators, I had an epiphany. I realized without a shadow of a doubt that I had a learning disability and it had a name, Dysgraphia. When I read all the symptoms of the disorder I was shocked. I’d suffered, dealt with, almost every manifestation on the list of warning signs since elementary school. The National Center for Learning Disabilities defines Dysgraphia as: a learning disability that affects writing, which requires a complex set of motor and information processing skills. Dysgraphia makes the act of writing difficult. It can lead to problems with spelling, poor handwriting and putting thoughts on paper. People with dysgraphia can have trouble organizing letters, numbers and words on a line or page.
I already know what your next question will be.
Why on earth do you want to be a writer if you can’t do it?
I did try not to. Honestly I did. I was going to school to teach math, or science, or maybe even become a librarian. I even have the student loans to prove it. But I couldn’t get away from writing. Finally, I had to say, “To hell with it! I’m already broke. Might as well be broke doing what I love.” And I have been blessed along the way to connect with people who help me. I rely heavily on my critique partners and beta readers. They help me spot the mistakes I overlook. Sure, that’s what an editor is for, but I’m still obsessive about trying to get it as right as I can on my own. So whether it’s an issue of incorrect punctuation (I seriously love commas) homophones (pair or pear?) or missing letters (appl) I will keep writing. Even if I’m the only one who ever reads it.
I’m not the typical author. I didn’t always enjoy reading or writing. While in school, I found it to be a chore I’d just as soon skip. I would rather have been daydreaming, my favorite past time. It wasn’t until I grew up and didn’t have to, that I realized reading was fun. I soon discovered that reading fueled my daydreaming. So, remembering a short story I’d written in high school, I began imagining expanding that story into a book. Before long I found I had loads of ideas for not just the short story but other books and stories as well. Fast forward a few years, a lot of studying about writing, practicing my writing, studying some more, taking classes from people who knew what they were doing, studying and practicing yet more, and ta-dah, author! In the same way I
had learned I loved reading, I learned I loved writing, too. It’s just that writing is a lot harder than reading.