Skip to main content

Author Interview - Leah Petersen

Hey y'all, please welcome Leah Petersen to the blog today! She's touring with Goddessfish Promotions. So let's jump right in!

What's your book/current WIP about?

FIGHTING GRAVITY is a sci-fi story about a young man who comes from poverty and is thrust into the political and social center of a world where money and power are the only measure of a person’s worth. It’s also a love story.

Care to share your favorite line(s) from your story?

My favorite bits are more about the emotions they evoke than the order of the words, and most of that’s meaningless out of context. I’m thinking of my favorite lines from others’ books and it’s the same thing. One that I acquired just recently, from Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller, is simply “I remember.” The line gives me chills when I read the book, but it hardly stands out as anything remarkable by itself.

So I guess when I think of a particular sentence from FIGHTING GRAVITY, I always come back to the first one: “I was eight years old when they came for me.” I love the sense of, pardon the pun, gravity that hangs around it, the implications wrapped up in such a young age and in ‘them’ coming.

What's your next project?

The boring answer is that I’m working on the other two books in the trilogy. But I play around with other stuff from time to time. Most recently there was a thing with an android who was there when life first appeared on a planet and who watched and nurtured its evolution. It was fun.

Describe your writing in a sentence.

If I make you cry, then I’ve succeeded.

Do you choose character names or do the characters whisper them in your ears?

Honestly, I either use a random name generator or if that’s not working, I ask a writer friend who’s better at names that I am. Names have never been my thing. I often walk away from a book I loved not even remembering some main character’s names, just that it was the long one that started with an E or not the Cr one but the Ch one. It’s a real handicap when you have a conversation about the book. ‘Oh! Remember when the L girl said…’

Plotter or panster?

Pantser. Definitely.

Do you like background noise or do you prefer a quiet space when you write?

Oddly, one of the best places for me to focus on writing is to take my laptop and go sit at a small table at the pub. I won’t deny that beer is part of that equation.

What are you currently reading?

I’m about to start Mockingjay again. I almost always re-read a book I loved, usually right away. I didn’t love Mockingjay, but I loved Hunger Games, and Catching Fire, and I just can’t stop without reading to the end. Again.

What question have you always wanted to be asked in an interview and how would you answer it?

It’s going to sound really weird when I say that something I miss having a reason to talk about is breastfeeding. I know. I told you it was strange. And it also has nothing to do with writing gay sci-fi.

People think I'm weird because...

I talk out the most important dialogue scenes I’m writing. I usually do this when I’m alone in the car. Unfortunately, I sometimes get too into it in it to realize I’m, for example, stopped at a red light with a bunch of other cars around me. I’ve more than once been caught having a screaming fight with myself.

When Jacob Dawes is Selected for the Imperial Intellectual Complex as a child, he’s catapulted
from the poverty-stricken slums of his birth into a world where his status as an unclass is
something no one can forget, or forgive. His growing scientific renown draws the attention of
the emperor, a young man Jacob’s own age, and they find themselves drawn to each other in
an unlikely, and ill-advised relationship. Jacob may have won the emperor’s heart, but it’s no
protection when he’s accused of treason. And fighting his own execution would mean betraying
the man he loves.

After dinner, a servant summoned me to the emperor. This was now twice in as many nights.
Was it about something I’d said the night before? That stupid ring?

I was led to where the emperor was talking with the ship’s captain in one of the hallways.

“Good evening, Mr. Dawes. I see you survived the lift-off.” He walked as he spoke, gesturing for
me to accompany him.

“It was an incredible experience, Excellence. This is a nice ship you have.”

“Thank you. It’s not a new ship, there was no time for that. But many things were upgraded, the
engines included. They’re the best of the best, I’m told. I thought about you during the lift-off. I
wondered what you’d make of it.”

“You did?” I asked, stunned.

“Is there something wrong with that?” he asked, his mouth twisted in what looked like

amusement but was probably something more dangerous to me.

“No, sir. I guess not…”

“Does it bother you?” He seemed to be teasing me again.

“Some,” I answered.

He stopped. “Why?”

“Because I’m afraid of you.”

He laughed, and started down the hallway again. But after a sideways glance at my face, he
quieted. “You really mean that?”


“Oh.” His answer was soft, subdued, even. I got the distinct impression that I’d hurt his feelings.

“You must get that all the time.”

“I do,” he answered, but didn’t look at me. I was more and more sure that I’d offended him

“So why should it matter, then, Excellence?”

He thought for a moment. “I don’t know. I should be used to it. Of course, no one ever comes
out and says it in so many words. It’s a bit of a shock to hear it confirmed like that.”

He stopped again, facing me, a slight furrow between his eyes that I would have called
uncertainty, even vulnerability, if I hadn’t known who he was. “Why are you afraid of me?”

“Who wouldn’t be afraid? You can do anything you want with my life and there’s not a damn
thing I can do about it.”

The furrow deepened and he waited, as if I hadn’t explained myself at all.

“You uprooted my life a couple of weeks ago, who knows what you might do tomorrow?”

“You mean, you didn’t want this assignment?” he asked.

Apparently I wasn’t frightened enough to keep my mouth shut. “I want to be here,” I pointed to
the ship around us, “but I didn’t want to be reassigned, no.”

“Mr. Dawes...” He hesitated. “I had no idea. I’m sorry.”

I shrugged but didn’t look at him.

“Would you like to be assigned back to the IIC?”

“Yes, Excellence.”

“Then you will be.” He started walking again, gesturing to me to accompany him. My stomach
was jittery. I couldn’t believe what I’d just said. But he wasn’t reacting like an angry sovereign.
He was acting like just another guy whose feelings were hurt.

“I’m sorry if I offended you,” I tried.

He turned to me. “Actually, you have no idea how much I appreciate your honesty.”

There was no reason for me to believe he was lying or just being diplomatic—and I couldn’t
imagine why he would try to spare my feelings—but that didn’t make me feel much better. I was
still on edge, certain I’d said far too much.

Author Bio and Links:

Leah Petersen lives in North Carolina. She does the day-job, wife, and mother thing, much like
everyone else. She prides herself on being able to hold a book with her feet so she can knit
while reading. She’s still working on knitting while writing.
FIGHTING GRAVITY is her first novel.


Thanks for coming by, Leah! Good luck on the rest of your tour and much success with your book!


  1. I love the excerpt. Also, I just really love the idea of an android watching the world evolve.

  2. Thanks for having me!

    And thanks, Jane. It's a fun idea to play with.

  3. I entered your giveaway on Goodreads today. Thanks so much.

  4. Thanks, y'all, and good luck, Catherine!


Post a Comment