Let's start with you telling us a little bit about yourself, Lee.
I’m an Australian journalist and I live to snuggle my girlfriend, sleep and eat chocolate. In that order.
What would people be most surprised to learn about you?
That I spent four years training and boxing in an urban gym against businessmen. Unlike some of them, *I* still have my original nose. Just sayin’.
When did you start writing, is it something you've always been interested in, or did it develop later in life?
I’ve always written for my job. In recent years, when my job became more managerial and less about writing, I began writing fiction for pleasure to fill the creative void.
Has it been everything you thought it would be or not?
Writing is a rotten little beast of a child. It demands all your attention every waking moment. But all it has to do is give you a toothy grin at certain times and you forgive it all its wicked sins. Once you’re published, your baby becomes a perfect little angel. Well, until the next time.
How did it feel when you realized that your very first book was going to be published?
It’s phenomenally exciting. An adrenalin rush. Like red cordial meets 100-proof vodka meets Xena ricocheting her chakram off 15 Maori extras’ heads, all screaming “Oww, bro”.
Or something like that.
What's your favorite part of writing a book?
When the words flow so freely you can see it. I had one scene like that in my book, a car chase that I barely had to edit because I could visualise it like a movie in my head. Also, never knock writing the best two words in the English language: “The End”.
Do you get time to read for pleasure? If so, which books do you enjoy?
I don’t have much time, no. I do sometimes read shorter fanfics, and some of them are just brilliant. There’s a bit of fanfic shaming going on out there, and I get it, quality really varies a lot. But it’s how many authors get started, myself included. So I proudly embrace my, ahem, roots.
Are there any other genres you'd be interested in writing?
I’d love to have the time to commit to a sci-fi world-building series, with different cultures clashing on a space station. I doubt I ever will. Apparently sci-fi is a tiny genre in lesbian fiction. I don’t want to write for a vacuum. My gf would rightly say, “Wait, we lost snuggle time for three readers?”
Please tell us a little about your most recent release.
My debut book, The Red Files, is about a pair of snarky, warring, witty journalists forced to work together to unravel the story of a lifetime. The more they pull the loose thread, the more incredible the story becomes. And in the process they find that, maybe, they don’t hate each other quite as much as they thought.
What can we look forward to in the future from you?
A brief change of genre tack. I am writing a dark, 30,000-word short story about a lesbian assassin cellist, called Requiem for Immortals. It’s part of a series from Ylva called the Law Game, which has different authors.
In my story the cold, dispassionate killer, Requiem, gives little thought to those she dispatches in her line of work, until one day she is tasked with taking out someone who seems so average, so boring, so innocent it gives her pause. And she can’t work out why – why has this woman been targeted, and why does Requiem even care?
Anything you want to say to your readers?
Damn I love them. Not in that “Love yas all” cheesy way people fling around so freely, but in a, holy cow, you bought my book?! You, glorious human being, put your hand in your pocket and spent hard-earned cash on MY words? I will never forget that as I continue to write. I will always strive to give fans more – more plot, more depth, more layers, just more – remembering the story always comes first. And if I don’t, may the Parking Goddess smite me down.
Lee Winter's most reent release:
The Red Files
Ambitious Daily Sentinel journalist Lauren King is chafing on LA’s vapid social circuit, reporting on glamorous A-list parties while sparring with her rival—the formidable, icy Catherine Ayers. Ayers is an ex-Washington political correspondent who suffered a humiliating fall from grace, and her acerbic, vicious tongue keeps everyone at bay. Everyone, that is, except knockabout Iowa girl King, who is undaunted, unimpressed and gives as good as she gets.
One night a curious story unfolds before their eyes: One business launch, 34 prostitutes and a pallet of missing pink champagne. Can the warring pair work together to unravel an incredible story? This is a lesbian fiction with more than a few mysterious twists.
Excerpt from The Red Files:
Lauren stalked furiously into editorial on the second floor. It felt like a morgue now, but on deadline, it was a sight to behold.
Copy boys – well, teenagers – would run around with printouts or coffees, drop them on desks of department heads, and then scamper off at the next bellow of “Copy” to get new orders.
Lauren had done her time as a copy kid back at the Liberty Gazette in Iowa. It could be backbreaking work hauling stacks of freshly printed papers up from the presses to the editorial floor. Ink would cover her hands and clothes in black smears and the stairs had made her extremely fit.
The Daily Sentinel at least had an elevator.
As she was heading for the videographer’s office, Lauren spied her gossip-writing and car-crowding nemesis sitting regally at her desk as her manicured fingers flew across her keyboard.
The Caustic Queen, Catherine Ayers, was all prickles and smug attitude. Lauren, still fuming, made a sudden detour.
Ayers was in her early forties, a decade older than Lauren. Her cool, grey eyes took in everything, and she famously did not suffer fools. She screamed old money with her cultured tones and compact, immaculately dressed frame – all of which belied a granite-hard, icy disposition.
She’d been known to make seasoned newspapermen crumple with a single cutting, well-aimed insult. And, given that all her insults were well aimed, that was a lot of crumpling newspapermen. So no one – from editors down – dared to take her on. Although that probably also had something to do with her immense reputation earned long before she was reduced to being a lowly celebrity gossip writer.
Lauren didn’t give a crap about any of that. Or the fact that the fancy Armani suit flattering her curves probably cost more than Lauren earned in six months. She stomped over to Ayers’s desk and flapped her parking ticket under her nose.
Before she could get a word out, Ayers glanced up and offered a slow, feline smile.
“Well, well – Lauren King, goat botherer and socialite destroyer, darkening my desk on a Saturday. One of the signs of the apocalypse, I’m sure,” she drawled.
Lauren glared at her. “Thanks for this.” She slapped the parking ticket on the desk and shoved her fists in her pockets. “If you could stay between the lines, I would have to park on the street and get a ticket. Again! You can pay it! I sure as hell won’t.
Ayers picked it up lazily between an elegant forefinger and thumb and looked at it with sharp, amused eyes. Her lips twitched. Then she carefully put it down again.
“I see your paranoia is back, King. You should consult a psychiatrist about these fantasies involving my supposed vendetta against you.”
“It’s hardly delusional that you keep crowding my parking space!”
Ayers quirked an eyebrow. “Delusional? That’s a big word. Are you getting tutoring, dear?”
“Were you like this as a kid with a coloring book?” Lauren snapped, ignoring the jibe. “The lines you’re supposed to stay between were merely fun suggestions?”
“I wasn’t aware you would be in today,” Ayers stated oh so reasonably. “So how was I to know to leave space for that ridiculous urban tank you drive?”
She leaned back and gazed at Lauren, taking in her rumpled outfit for the first time.
“My my, King, it’s like old times,” she said, her eyes glittering. “Or end times. Remember that first ball you ever attended? When I was training you? And you turned up dressed as, what would we call that outfit? On-trend pallbearer?”
“Let’s…not,” Lauren ground out. “Shit, between overlord mentoring approach and territorial expansion in the parking lot, you missed your calling. I’m sure there’s a small third-world country somewhere that needs a new despot. Hell, I’ll even write you a reference.”
“They certainly breed them soft in the Midwest if you couldn’t handle my gentle instructions for a single week.”
Lauren snorted. “Gentle? Riiight. And Stalin was just misunderstood. The point is you should park within the lines every day whether I’m scheduled or not. It’s about being a decent human being, which I realize isn’t exactly playing to your strengths, but I live in hope. Now stop stalling and take care of my ticket.”
She pushed it across the desk toward Ayers. They both stared at it for a beat.
“Well, I’ll file it with the rest,” Ayers said serenely and positioned it over a thin metal spike which held half a dozen identical pieces of white paper. She slammed the ticket on it. Ayers gave a shit-eating smirk as Lauren’s mouth fell open.
“Now, will that be all, King? Or do you have an audio commentary to add to our paper’s most popular clip of the day?”
Lauren narrowed her eyes.