Author Interview & Giveaway: Leen Lefebre

With Easter coming up, what better a way to celebrate the holiday (if you happen to do so) than to read a heart-warming tale regarding a hare who finds herself on a journey. Ebba, the First Easter Hare is a story about a young hare trying to find her way in the world and tries to come to terms with her own bravery as she leaves her Uncle’s harsh kingdom and ends up on an adventure on which she not only experiences new places but makes new friends and finds where she belongs. It’s a great family read and it definitely was a pleasure to experience, but that will all be further expanded on in the Reader Review which will be posted this upcoming Sunday (see what I did there?) so stay tuned!
I got the pleasure of being able to (metaphorically) sit down with author Leen Lefebre to get a closer insight into her experience as a young author, what she does in her free time, her writing process, and her inspiration sources. We’ve also teamed up to host a giveaway where we will be offering 5 copies of Ebba, the First Easter Hare which is the perfect family story for this time of year. For more details on the giveaway, keep reading and check it out after the questions!

Do you have any favourite authors?

I am not really specifically a fan of one or more specific authors. I like to read very diverse genres (also non-fiction/ informative books about all kinds of subjects) from very diverse authors, often written by lesser-known authors. As long as their stories are not long-winded ones with endless descriptions (as I myself have enough imagination to fill in such things myself), I will read almost anything I guess.
Are there any specific books you’re looking forward to in the upcoming months/year?
Well, the books that are always on my list are interesting non-fiction books with philosophical, psychological, scientific, medical, feminist and/or comic impact. I also would like to discover more of the fantasy genre, especially the subgenre of magical realism.

What are some great books you’ve read recently?

The last English book was The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to living a Good life of Manson, Mark and the last Dutch books were Borderlines Times: het einde der normaliteit of De Wachter, Dirk (that means: Borderline Times: the end of normality) en Liefde, een onmogelijk verlangen (that means: Love, an impossible desire) of the same author/psychiatrist. These books make us think about the perfection that everyone tries to pursue in this modern society, while in fact, that is, of course, false or a kind of utopia we can never reach – it is actually rather abnormal and artificial to constantly strive for such constant happiness/kicks/highs. I just like to read such books.
How did you think of the idea for your book? Did it take long to develop?
In the late summer of 2013, after writing the short story ‘Frede and Santa’ (#1 in FOUR SEASONS, a standalone as well, namely the WINTER story), I wanted more of this, so I decided to write an Easter /SPRING story. The Magic Flute by Mozart was the first source of inspiration. After all, in this opera the idea [that] the light conquers the darkness is the main theme for me. At the publisher house where my first long story and debut Arendsjong (that actually means: Young/Child of an Eagle) would see the daylight, the story of this specific opera was already on the role of another author. Under the motto ‘the worst thing that can happen to me is to bring a story that reminds me of that of a colleague’, I decided to distance myself from this story plot/idea to write about the opera characters. On the other hand, Easter is and remains the festival of light, spring and life/birth. So in the end, my resulting Easter novella also shows how spring conquers wintertime, the day/light/life overcomes the night/death and the good wins it from all the evil in the world. For clarification: in my region, we speak of an Easter Hare instead of an Easter Bunny, in other countries it is in fact sometimes a totally different animal. This Easter story is intended for adventurers (more specific 10+), but can also be enjoyed by adults through the deeper meanings you can find in it. This is also ideal as a family read, where (grand) parents read it to their (grand) children around Easter. A great holiday activity!
Are there any main messages you want readers to take away from your book?
There is a quote in my book, or it is, in fact, more of a Tibetan proverb: A child without education is like a bird without wings – and for me, that was a very appropriate quote for the story. But, I like it even more when people get their own meaning or messages out of it. That’s the kind of books I love to read myself too.
How do you cope with writer’s block?
What is that exactly? I do not really have any experience with that. I sometimes do have problems with shortage of time or energy or a sufficiently relaxed mind or a long enough quiet environment – but I never ever have had too little imagination.
Do you outline in advance or do you just write whatever comes to mind and edit later?
I do not outline too much in advance. I am more like: go with the flow and see where and when it will all end – I am taking the story as it comes or where the characters want to go/travel.
Do you have any advice for new writers who are trying to break into the industry? How long did it take you to have the courage to do so?
Do not lose too much time thinking about it, just start doing and wait and see where you will end up. You know, giving up is always easier and writing is not something for people who give up quickly. It’s a cliché but it requires a lot of a person’s energy and precious time. When I had the idea to start writing, I just started with my debut Arendsjong. It took me one entire summer inside alone instead of being outside enjoying a lazy holiday with family and friends under a well-deserved warm sun. So, just start and carry on to the bitter end!
What has been one of your most rewarding experiences as an author?
What is very rewarding is completing a story and also re-reading a self-written story and feeling almost like an outsider and thinking: Did I do/write that? See your story transform into a movie in your dreams and be very proud of yourself.
What inspired you to write a book aimed towards younger audiences? Did you face any challenges in doing so?
I guess when you do write fiction for younger audiences, you must have a kind of inner child in you and that comes to the surface while writing. And, if I read a story to myself, to see how it sounds, then I also kind of play the characters with voices. So, it just comes naturally I guess for me.
Do you draft by hand/use a journal or do you prefer to work digitally?
In the brainstorming phase, I collect tons of small papers on which I write ideas, but I also mail thoughts to my own e-mail address (to not forget them) or I also type ideas in lots of files on the computer. So, in the end, I usually drown in too many ideas to be able to start very comfortably. I grab one and start with that one or I try to make/create a kind of puzzle with all these ideas.
Aside from writing, how do you spend your free time?
I do spend time at work as well and with family in front of a book or television. Now and then I try to move a little too as I am spending way too many hours in the digital world.
What are the upsides and downsides of being an author?
Upside: having something you can do on your own, on your own conditions, at your own pace. It is really fun doing what you want to create and decide how much effort you want to put in. It’s like your baby and you decide how it flows and grows and that’s why the results are something you can be really proud of. I truly like the fact you’re independent. Downside: the fact that it is really difficult to write in a world and time where images/the appearance are considered more important than texts/the inner/the content. And it’s not easy to get noticed by lots of readers as a self-publishing author. Sometimes you just want to write, but then you must pay bills and do another job as well. Sometimes you want to write, but then you have to put too much time in promoting your work… Too many ideas, too little time, but that might be the downside of life in general… not only for us creative people.
Do you have any favourite quotes that keep you inspired or motivated?
If you don’t go for your dreams, who will? of Joe Vitale for example – as my Christmas/winter tale Frede and Santa starts with this quote. But, I must admit: I am a big fan and collector of creative and life quotes, so there are lots of other quotes that keep me inspired and motivated. Like Einstein states: Imagination is more important than knowledge – I find hard work more important than talent.
How many drafts did your book go through?
First I wrote the first draft of this story (original Dutch title: Ebba, de eerste paashaas) in the summer of 2013. In 2015 I did a second draft and published the Dutch ebook on Amazon (KDP). In 2017 I had a third draft and I created the paperback edition. After that, I started the translation and published the English ebook and paperback. As you probably will notice, I am not a native speaker or writer at all. So in 2018, I looked for two native editors to take my book and translation to a higher level and right now I have a 2018 Revised Edition of my English translation. So, I really hope my book is more readable than my answers to these questions.
Which part of the book are you proudest of? Do you have any favourite scenes?
Each time I read about little chickabiddy Sapristy, who is, in fact, sweet, affectionate and funny, a huge feeling of cuddliness and cuteness is bubbling up in my tummy. But I can empathize with all characters as I’m reading my own story over and over again – aloud – as if it’s a fairy tale/audiobook.
Does writing energise or tire you?
Definitely both – as I want to do my best and mostly both at the same time. While writing I really kind of become the characters themselves.
How often do you try to write?
If it depended on me, much more than now. Other obligations in life are often calling my name too.
One of the elements of the book that I picked up on is that family can mean more to us than just our blood relations. Was this an intended message?

I cannot remember that it was a message that I consciously wanted to insert but it surely is a fact of life. You can’t choose your family/those with same blood ties, although, you are right, friends can be as close or even closer than family too.

Is there anything you would change about the final version of the book?
I guess it is typical for any author that if you get the chance to rewrite, then you would always change something – since writing and thinking is just a snapshot in time. So, better ask me again later.
Why would you suggest readers pick up your book and give it a read?
It’s an Easter story, so ideal for this period of the year. A must read (aloud/together) for the entire family – it is truly an adventure for readers of all ages. And, if you have ever wondered what the history/origin is of the Easter Hare, this is the moment to discover this well-kept mystery.
Lastly, as I’m an aspiring author, are there any words of warning or wisdom that you would like to impart?
Don’t hesitate too much, find your own ‘voice’ and hold on! 

I just want to say thank you again to Leen Lefebre for getting in touch with me, sending me a copy of the book, and being willing to partake in this author interview. It’s been a pleasure working with you and I wish you the best in the continuation of your work!

Make sure to check her out on Amazon and GoodReads.

 Giveaway time! Like I said, Leen and I are offering 5 copies of the Easter tale ‘Ebba, the First Easter Hare‘. All the winners will be emailed a digital copy of the book in either a .mobi or .pdf format from the author herself.
Please Note:
Ebba, the First Easter Hare‘ is a standalone book, though it is one part of a collection of four. You do not have to have read the other stories in the collection to read the book itself as they are all separate stand-alones.
There is also a free promotion for the book lasting from March 29th until April 2nd, so if you would like to grab a copy and not miss out on this lovely Easter story, do make sure to check that out!
If you’re willing and happen to receive a copy of the book during the giveaway, please do consider posting a review of the book on GoodReads or Amazon! It really does make an author’s day, and I know they love to hear your feedback.
The giveaway will be open for a week – so it will be closing on Thursday 5th April. Good luck!

Thanks for joining us for this author interview, and I’ll write you later. 

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