Ask the Author: Celeste Straub
What would you like readers to know about you?
Writing and reading have always been two of my favorite pastimes, which is no big surprise because I’m a total introvert. I started writing fanfiction around 12 and have been writing ever since. In college, I played the role of the perpetual student for a while. I earned degrees in archaeology, sociology, and secondary education: citizenship before I joined the real world as a medical case manager for people living with HIV/AIDS. I’ve been with that agency ever since and now serve as their grant writer and Director of Programs. Besides writing, my life revolves around my four-year-old son. I live in rural northeastern Pennsylvania on a tract of land that used to be part of the family farm. One day we might embrace a garden, a few chickens, and a goat, but for right now, two lazy house cats and one human kid is crazy enough.
My debut novel, Leather and Lies, was released last October through 5 Prince Publishing, a small indie press. It took me nine months to write it and then another three to edit. I’m honored and still tickled pink that it won two awards in 2018: 3rd place, romantic suspense category, in the Valley Forge Romance Writer’s annual Sheila contest; honorable mention, unpublished single title romantic suspense, in the Kiss of Death’s annual Daphne contest.
I’m currently working on a sequel, as well an unrelated standalone second chance romance. If readers want to keep up with my progress and future publications, one of the best ways is to sign up for my monthly newsletter: https://mailchi.mp/bdd4c165b1fd/leatherandliespreview
Readers can also find me on social media:
What is Leather and Lies about for those who haven’t read it?
Leather and Lies is a contemporary romantic suspense novel with the soul of a crime thriller. It’s told from the point of view of Skye Winters, a young criminal profiler in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania whose personal and professional lives collide after her cousin mysteriously disappears. With both her family and the police looking to her for answers, she welcomes help from Wes Carson, the sarcastic, smart-mouther new biker in her father’s motorcycle club. She ends up falling for him, then uncovers a secret about his past that shatters her heart and entangles them so deeply in the investigation, it leaves all their lives hanging in the balance.
What has been your inspiration for writing Leather and Lies?
I was searching for more romances featuring strong female leads who refused to be damsels in distress. I also wanted more at stake than just broken hearts. There’s not as many out there as I’d like, so I decided to write some myself. Most of the plot came to me while I was making dinner in my kitchen. My husband gets some of the credit too, as he does criminal profiling as a hobby and rides a Harley, so he became an important resource for both my main characters. I also drew heavily from my career as a social worker when developing Skye’s cousin and the circumstances that led to her disappearance.
What was your favorite scene or part of Leather and Lies to write?
My absolute favorite scene takes place at almost the halfway point. Skye confronts a known drug dealer in the middle of a seedy dive bar to find out what he knows about her cousin’s disappearance. This edgy, innuendo-laced banter goes back and forth between her and the dealer while the entire situation balances on the blade of a knife. Skye’s just an absolute badass in that scene, totally reckless, and I love it because it’s a turning point for both Skye and the reader, realizing just what risks she’s willing to take to find her cousin.
What books or authors inspired you to become a writer?
I’ve been writing as a favorite form of expression since childhood. Much of my earliest writing was fanfiction based on television and movie shows, so Sailor Moon and Star Wars get most of the early credit. The first author who impacted me was J.K. Rowling. Like so many others, I crawled into Harry’s world and tried to live there. My first novel length works were Harry Potter fanfiction and that’s what gave me the desire to one day see my own fiction on bookstore shelves. I tried my hand at original YA Fantasy for a bit but fell in love with crime fiction when I read Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series. That’s what led me into the romantic suspense genre.
What advice would you give to aspiring authors who want to write a book?
Be patient and practice. If you’ve never written anything before, give yourself the time to hone your skills. You wouldn’t wake up one day and decide you were going to run a marathon when you’d never jogged for more than a mile, would you? Writing a book is no different. I’m a huge advocate for fanfiction as a way for aspiring authors to build their skills and confidence. Pick a fandom you love and start playing around with the characters. Experiment with writing from different perspectives. Try 1st person and 3rd person, past and present tenses. Use different methods of plotting. Accept constructive criticism and work on your weaknesses. Meet smaller milestones. Then, when you feel ready, enter that marathon and start on your original fiction.
Readers can find Leather and Lies at all major e-book retailers, as well as in paperback at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
Amazon Kindle and Paperback: https://amzn.to/2Rn5Dr1
B&N Nook and Paperback: https://bit.ly/2Qg0l0B
Google Play: https://goo.gl/BjhFc4