December 02, 2016

Author Interview with Leanna Sain / Red Curtains

Today I am pleased to welcome my fellow The Wild Rose Press author Leanna Sain. She is sharing her new romance-mystery with us, Red Curtains.

Welcome, Leanna!

Title: Red Curtains
Genre: Romantic Mystery
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Release date: 9/30/2016

Dead bodies, fake money and falling in love were NOT part of the assignment.

Cleo Davis must find a model for her senior art project or she won’t graduate. When she discovers Lily Telfair-Gordon, she gets more than just an eccentric old homeless woman who spouts famous quotes, talks to ghosts, and wears a weird hat. Lily has unwittingly stumbled upon a counterfeiting ring, and Cleo gets dragged right into the middle of it.

Jonas Holmes, an investigative reporter for the local paper, is asking the question: why do bodies of homeless men keep showing up in the river? But the homeless are scared and won’t talk to him. When he finds Cleo and Lily, he thinks his problems are solved; he doesn’t realize that they’re just 

While romance blossoms between Cleo and Jonas, they work together to see how the two things are connected, but will they find out before it’s too late?


1. What inspired you to write this book?

My husband and I were in Savannah, GA, celebrating our 26th anniversary. We were waiting for one of those little buses that take you around the historic district when I spotted a homeless person—I think it was a man, but I can’t be sure. He was wearing a long trench coat over ragtag clothing, but the most eye-catching part of his ensemble was his hat. It was the court-jester type, you know, the kind with the long dangly tails with jingle bells attached to each end. He was strolling down the sidewalk, talking animatedly with someone, though there wasn’t anyone there. He proceeded to walk right up to a nearby mailbox and sprinkled some invisible substance around it, chanting in some unknown language. I don’t think the others in the group even noticed him, but I was mesmerized. Right about then, the bus pulled up and everyone boarded. I hurried to a seat and scrounged through my purse for paper and pen, then I started scribbling ideas and storyline just as fast as the ink would flow. That’s where Red Curtains was birthed. That homeless man became one of the main characters in the story: Lily, a homeless woman who has found a bag of counterfeit money in a trashcan and has accidentally witnessed a murder. 

2. Is this book part of a series? (What books came before it?)

Red Curtains is the first book of my new series: GRITS (Girls-Raised-In-The-South.) It’s not your typical series, though. It won’t have the same characters showing up in each story. What makes it a ‘series’ is that each stand-alone novel will be set somewhere in the South and will feature strong, creative Southern women—GRITS, if you will. I do try to include little “links” in each book; something that ties the story with other books I’ve written. Don’t worry, though. If you haven’t read the other books, it won’t make you feel like you’ve missed something. It’s just a little “extra” for those of you who have.

3. Did you do special research for Red Curtains?

Since one of the main characters was a homeless woman, and I knew next to nothing about homelessness, I had to do quite a bit of research on the subject. I usually love that part of writing, but this…well, the more I learned, the heavier my heart grew. I had to do something to help, but what could one measly writer do? Increase awareness of the issue, yes, but what else? I decided to give all my profits from sales of this book to the “Stand Down” program that I talk about in the story. It’s a program held at the Savannah Civic Center every year that is funded by several big organizations. Its sole purpose is to help homeless veterans. 

4. How did you pick the title for your book?

My husband actually helped come up with it. On that same trip to Savannah, I was picking places that would be featured in the book and while we were walking around the historic district, I saw a house that would be perfect. It was four floors high, plus an attic. In one of the attic windows they’d hung red curtains. He said, “How about ‘Through the Red Curtains’?” That got shortened to “Red Curtains.”

5. Are any of your characters based on real people?
Yes. As I’ve said, Lily is based on a homeless person I saw, but Raymond, Lily’s homeless friend is also based on a real person…actually, two people. One is the man who created a palmetto leave rose, and the other is a person we saw sitting at a little table outside a little cafĂ©. He was bent over a spiral bound notebook, scribbling page after page of squiggles. I combined those individuals into a single character who has good days, when he can create the palmetto roses and bad days when all he can do is scribble in a notebook. There’s also an insignificant character at the end of the book who walks three Great Danes around Forsyth Park. He was real too. Cleo’s house is real. It’s on the corner, right across from the park. I actually found pictures of the inside, too because it was listed on a realtor’s website. There really IS a chandelier in the master bathroom!
6. If you could give your book to anyone in the world to read (dead or alive) who would it be and why?

I’d give it to my mentor/writing coach/editor/friend, Gerry Mills. Sadly, I can’t, because he died a couple of years ago, and it still makes me cry to think about that. I’m so thankful for the time I had with him, and for all that he taught me. He was the best editor ever, and I miss him and his red pen terribly. Well, maybe not the pen. No, even that. I’m the writer I am today because of that pen. Thank you, Gerry. I hope you’re proud of me.

7. Share three random facts about you.

I ran my first half-marathon (13.1 miles, in case you don’t know) at the age of 53. 

I can milk out a goat in about 4 minutes.

I’ve painted a mural on a wall in an orphanage in Kirov, Russia.

8. How long have you been writing?

My mother told me I wrote little stories, complete with illustrations, when I was a little girl. I’ve always loved writing. I had two teachers in high school who fed that drive: Mr. Collins and Mrs. McDaniels. I was an art major in college with an English minor, so I had the best of both worlds: drawing and writing. Once I graduated, and started “adulting,” life took over and writing got moved to the back burner. I did little books for my sons when they were little, but that was about it. Then in 2004, at a Halloween party at a friend’s house, I saw “the gate” that inspired my first novel. That actually turned out to be a trilogy. I never thought about writing a novel; never dreamed I had something like that in me, but after the first one, it was like someone had uncorked a bottle and the stories keep glugging out. I can’t seem to stop them, not that I want to, of course. The next story in my GRITS (Girls-Raised-In-The-South) series is at the publisher, as we speak. I have two additional novels complete, with another two started. And there’s such a long list of other ideas, I’d have to live forever to be able to write them.

9. Tell us about your writing process.

It starts with a “story seed.” I plant that in my mind and let it germinate, take root, grow. Then, when it’s crowding out everything else in my mind, I start writing. I don’t use an outline, but I wouldn’t exactly call myself a “pantser” either. I know sort of where I want to start, kind of where I’m thinking of finishing, and a few things I want to happen along the way. Once I start, the characters take over and many times take the story off in a direction I never saw coming. I love it when that happens. I call it “magic.” I write the entire story from start to finish and end up with what I call a “skeleton.” Then I go back through it and flesh it out, adding muscles, and all the vital organs until I can be like Dr. Frankenstein and yell, “It’s alive!”

10. Your advice to new writers

Two things; one from Winston Churchill and the other sort of ‘borrowed’ from Dory: Nevah, nevah, nevah give up. And…just keep writing, just keep writing. Just keep writing, writing, writing...


North Carolina native, Leanna Sain, earned her BA from the University of South Carolina, then moved back to her beloved mountains of western NC with her husband. Her “Gate” books have stacked up numerous awards, from Foreword Magazine’s Book-of-the-Year to the Clark Cox Historical Fiction Award from the North Carolina Society of Historians. Sain’s fourth novel, WISH, is a stand-alone, YA crossover. 

Her Southern romantic suspense or “GRIT-lit,” showcases her plot-driven method of writing that successfully rolls the styles of best-selling authors Mary Kay Andrews, Nicholas Sparks, and Jan Karon into a delightfully hybrid style that is all her own. Regional fiction lovers and readers who enjoy suspense with a magical twist will want her books. 

She loves leading discussion groups and book clubs. For more information or to contact her, visit:

Twitter: @Leannasbooks

Thank you for sharing Red Curtains with us, Leanna!

Please leave Leanna a comment. :)


  1. A wonderful interview Chrys and a most enlighening look on this aspiring author.

    1. Thank you, Yvonne! And thanks for your comment. :)

  2. Two good pieces of advice. I can see how delving into the homeless would sure be tough the more you learn indeed.

    1. It would be tough. Thanks for leaving Leanna a comment!

  3. She's from my neck of the woods!
    That's wonderful she gives her profits to Stand Down.

    1. Awesome! I think that's wonderful, too. Thanks for commenting, Alex.

  4. Amazing how one little thing can spark a story.

    1. Isn't it? Once, a rusted screw sparked a story for me. ;)

  5. I love when something small grows into a story. I just visited Savannah for the first time recently, and it's fun being able to picture the details now that they're real. I think a series that jumps characters but has a binding thread is always a neat idea.

  6. amazing i like it so mcuh keep rocking .

  7. The South is a big area. She'll have subject matter for years. I'm not surprised Savannah inspired the first one.

  8. Congratulations on your new book, Leanna. Gorgeous, spooky cover. I love the Old South. So much history and stories too. Best of luck to you.

  9. What a fun story about the inspiration for the book! And those are some great random facts. Now I am curious how long it takes the average person to milk a goat.

  10. The story sounds very interesting. I love the mystery of the red curtained window.

    As to that goat. I'm impressed you can get that little nanny to stand still for any time at, let along milk her dry. Congrats.

  11. Congratulations on your new book, Leanna. Eye-catching cover.

  12. SOLD! :D I want to read this!! Nice to meet you Leanna. great interview, Chrys. Some very unusual answers (milking a goat in 4 mins.). Great writing tips as well. nice bio pic, too. I was in Savannah Georgia for the first time last year. It is absolutely beautiful. I can see where you would be inspired by the history and the people.

  13. Shameful confession: I usually skim the profiles of authors I don't know, but I read every word of this one because Leanna is so interesting! Great cover, great concept, an amazing heart--donating all of her profits? Wow! And the acronym is incredibly clever.

    Thanks for introducing me to her. :)

  14. Wonderful interview with Leanna. I loved learning about her and her book. Sounds like an interesting start to a great series. How generous Leanna is to donate the proceeds to such a good cause. Wishing her all the best! :)