Interview with Leslie Ann Moore

Leslie Ann Moore

Leslie Ann Moore

I first met Leslie Ann Moore at Fanstory which is a community for writers to give and receive feedback on their work. I always valued every word of critique Leslie offered (she is the person who taught me about passive voice and helped me purge it from my writing). I often felt bad because I wasn’t able to offer any helpful critique of her work, it always seemed so polished! Anyway, she must not have held that against me because now that she’s released the second book from her trilogy she took a few minutes out of her crazy schedule to answer a few of my questions. 🙂

I know everyone asks this and I’m afraid I’m not going to be an exception; what inspired you to write the Griffin’s Daughter trilogy?

LOL! It IS a logical first question! The seed idea for GD came to me many years ago in a short story I wrote for a college creative writing class. I’d actually come up with the proto main characters as far back as middle school. I used to make up tales about a young girl and her elven lover to entertain myself while lying in bed at night, waiting to go to sleep. It was all quite romantic in a chaste sort of way back then! Lots of passionate embraces and kissing, but nothing else.

The catalyst for me, the one event that actually got me started writing the trilogy was meeting Terry Brooks, the best-selling fantasy writer. It was at the 2001 Los Angeles Times Festival of Books. He was on a panel with other well-known fantasy writers, talking about how he’d managed to transition his career out of law and into full-time writing. A light bulb went on in my head. Hey, if Terry can do it, why can’t I? When it came time for me to get an autograph from him, as he signed my book, he asked what I did. Instead of saying “I’m a veterinarian”, I said, “I write fantasy, like you.” To this day, I don’t know what made me say that, because I hadn’t actually written anything fiction-wise since college. Terry replied, and I’m paraphrasing here, “Well, don’t ever give up. Keep writing, no matter what.” I know he probably says that to everyone who tells him about their writerly aspirations, but his words just galvanized me! That night, I bought a copy of a book on writing that Terry had recommended in his talk—The Writer’s Journey, by Christopher Vogler—read it from cover to cover over the next two days, then sat at my computer and began the outline that would ultimately become the GD Trilogy.

In reading “Griffin’s Daughter” I was struck by how seamlessly you’d woven the setting through the book. Did you do research to find details to set an authentic tone?

I did a lot of research on both feudal Japan, which the elven society is loosely based on, and ancient Rome and medieval Europe in the immediate post-Roman period, from which I borrowed heavily for the Soldaran Empire. For personal and place names in Alasiri, the elven country, I used real Japanese names and either changed the spellings slightly, or took parts of names and combined them to make a new name. The single exception to that is the name of the elven castle where a lot of the action takes place in the second half of the book. The name Kerala is actually taken from a state in modern India. I just loved the way it looked and sounded!

The Soldaran personal names are all straightforward Latinized names most people would recognize as still in use today. Later on in the trilogy, in Book 3, to be precise, there’s a large battle scene. Well, I knew nothing about how to write convincingly about military action, so I read a book about military strategy written by a career army officer. I based that battle and the strategy behind it directly on a real battle from ancient times.

What was the biggest challenge you faced in writing this trilogy?

The biggest challenge for me was finding a way to divide the story into three parts. I wrote the entire thing as one very long story. I soon realized that I’d have little to no chance of finding a publisher who would be willing to take a chance on a 1200+ page manuscript from a first-time novelist; however, three 400 page manuscripts just might have a chance! So, I had to go back and look for three natural break points in the overall story. After I identified the best places to break, I then had to write new material to serve as the beginning chapters of Books 2 and 3, and a suitable ending for Book 2. It took some thinking, but I got it done in what I believe to be a satisfying manner.

Congratulations on winning the Benjamin Franklin award for the Best First Book in Fiction. Can you tell us a little bit about that?

The Ben Franklin Awards are given out yearly by the Independent Book Publishers Association, a large international trade group of indie publishers both big and small. Perhaps the best known of its members is St. Martin’s Press. I got to go to the ceremony, which was held in L.A. in 2008. It was very exciting! I got to get up in front of an entire ballroom full of industry folk and give a little thank-you speech.

And then on top of that, Publishers Weekly gave you a great review for the sequel, “Griffin’s Shadow”. You must be very happy.

“Happy” is too tame a word! “Ecstatic” is more like it! The Library Journal has also now officially endorsed “Griffin’s Shadow” as well.

I haven’t read “Griffin’s Shadow” yet, but the style of the cover art is dramatically different from that of “Griffin’s Daughter”, can I expect a similar shift in the style of the novel?

Only in that “Griffin’s Shadow” is darker in tone. It deals with loss and adversity, and how the main characters cope. The change in cover style was a marketing decision. The publishers wanted to avoid some confusion about the series that the first cover created. A lot of people mistakenly thought GD was a YA or Young Adult title, aimed at teens. The look of the cover and the fact that the two main characters were both very young contributed to this. The publishers have since re-issued GD with a new cover more in line with the cover of GS.

What is the title of the third book in the trilogy, and when can we expect it to be released?

The third book is titled “Griffin’s Destiny” and if all goes according to plan, it should be released sometime in 2011.

So, what comes after this trilogy for you? Are you working on something now, or still focusing on Jelena and her adventures for the time being?

I am currently working on a science fiction project. No magic or elves in sight! It takes place on a distant planet that was colonized by humanity, but instead of learning from the mistakes they made back on Earth, they brought all their prejudices and war-like impulses with them. The story takes place 400 years after the first colonial civilization destroyed itself in a war. Their surviving descendants have managed to rebuild and regain a technology level equal to the late 19th-early 20th century, so I guess you could say it has elements of steampunk in it, though it’s not specifically a steampunk-genre novel.

If your fans want to find you, where’s the best place? Your website, or will you be attending any live events this year?

I’ll be at LosCon again this year, which is the Los Angeles Science Fiction and Fantasy Convention, which will be happening in November. People can always contact me through my website at

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