Welcome to Author Wednesday. Today I’m pleased to welcome Leona DeRosa Bodie, author of an Amazon bestseller thriller-suspense novel, Shadow Cay. Leona and I met years ago when she was first drafting Shadow Cay, and I did the first editing of the novel. I’ve followed her success with this novel, and was excited to see that she was working on a historical novel with another Florida writer, G. E. Gardiner. The two collaborated to create Glimpse of Sunlight, which will be released in 2014. I must disclose that I also edited this novel recently.
Hello, Leona. I’m so happy you dropped by today to talk about your books and life as a writer. Who has most influenced your writing and why?
I write about what I know. Since I’ve lived in Miami for thirty-five years, it’s a natural for me to write about South Florida. The fact my husband has been a forensic expert for twenty-one years and worked on 37,000 cases influenced me as well. It means that I have a ready resource to ensure the police procedurals, the forensic science, and quality assurance aspects are accurate.
Although the story bounced around in my head for fifteen years, I actually wrote Shadow Cay in three months on a 34-foot Morgan Out Island Sailboat in the Bahamas in the Southern Exumas. Imagine 700 islands, like a string of beautiful gems to treasure. Imagine no interruptions, pristine water, white and pink sand beaches, uninhabited islets, dramatic ocean, and bay views.
What a wonderful way to write a book. Now I know why the descriptions in Shadow Cay are so spectacular. Let’s talk about what you’re working on today.
I just completed my next two novels: Seas of Fury, a high-octane prequel to Shadow Cay, and Glimpse of Sunlight, a collaboration with author G. E. Gardiner. It’s book No. 1 of a historic suspense trilogy based on Jonathan Dickinson’s life. Both of these books will be published in February 2014. Every book I write regardless of genre is picturesque and fast-paced with lots of action. Our newest trilogy is a perfect example. It has a tropical storm, hurricane, tsunami, landslide, and cannibal Indians, and it’s all true!
What role does setting play in the creation of your novels?
My settings are always an integral part of my stories. I create word pictures to make the settings as believable and authentic as possible.
Do you have a favorite character that you created?
Of all my characters, I truly admire Madeleine Nesbitt (Shadow Cay) the most. Her bravery is unique. Although young, sheltered, and naive, she’s stronger than she realizes. Even when her world falls apart, she manages—despite the odds—to pull her life together. She’s one of the strongest female characters I’ve seen in ages.
I agree that Madeleine is a strong character. What’s the best thing said about Shadow Cay by reviewers?
Bella Online Mystery Editor Edie Dykeman wrote, “Her work sets a strong pace from the start with riveting action and dialogue. The beautiful Bahamas background adds contrast to the frightening action and gritty texture of her story.”
Naomi Blackburn, a top Amazon reviewer and Goodreads administrator for the “Sisterhood of the Traveling Books” said, “The story flowed like liquid gold!”
Every book I write regardless of genre is picturesque and fast-paced with lots of action.
Let’s talk about Glimpse of Sunlight. What is the message conveyed in your book?
Ever since the Spanish conquered the peaceful Arawaks in the early sixteenth century, Jamaica has endured a painful history tinged with an undercurrent of violence. A Glimpse of Sunlight is an epic tale of resistance to tyranny and passion for freedom. This action-adventure trilogy transports you from Africa to Ireland and England to “The Wickedest City in the World” and ultimately shipwrecks you on the Florida shores. It shows how one pacifist and three freedom fighters and the perseverance of the Jamaican people, leave a multi-cultural imprint on the global community that forever captures the power of the human spirit.
What type of research did you do in the writing of this book?
It was extensive! It took my co-writer Glenn Gardiner and I the better part of year to research everything from locations, culture, food, dress, religion, politics, and historic characters who actually lived and breathed.
It’s been my pleasure, Leona. I hope you’ll come back after Glimpse of Sunlight is published next year. My best to you in your next endeavors.
About Leona DeRosa Bodie: Leona is a New Jersey native whose family’s seafaring roots inspire her tales. She attended Fairleigh Dickinson University and began a career teaching high school English before relocating to Miami. Eventually, after twenty years in private industry, she decided the novel churning around in her brain for fifteen years really deserved her attention. So she left her job to write full time. Since her emergence on the thriller-suspense scene in 2010, Leona has been praised for her ability to create action and intrigue in her novels. She’s a past vice president and current Treasure Coast Regional Director for the Florida Writers Association, and the founder of the Palm City Word Weavers.
Leona wrote three children’s books before she shifted to the dark world of suspense and sea adventure fiction. There’s no doubt being married to a forensic specialist influenced her. When not writing crime fiction, she spends time in the kitchen. Leona also enjoys her family and boating.