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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Interview with Leah Giarratano, author of 'Disharmony'

Today is the happy release of Leah Giarratano's new Australian paranormal YA book, 'Disharmony', the first in a new series called 'The Telling'.

'The Telling' follows three siblings on their path to destiny; a psychopath, an empath and a genius. From Romania to Sydney Australia, these three teenagers hold the fate of the world in their hands - and whether or not their coming together will bring about peace, or destruction, is entirely up to them.

And, yes, it is as cool as it sounds. I was lucky enough to get my hands on an early copy of 'Disharmony' and I was thoroughly impressed with this dark new paranormal tale... and I was doubly-lucky when I got to ask Leah Giarratano a few burning questions!

So, rush out and buy 'Disharmony' today! And in the meantime, check out my interview with the lovely author;

Q: How long did it take you to write ‘Disharmony’, from first idea to final manuscript?

Well, that's a tricky question - and it's only your first one (LOL!). You see I have a 'day job' too, practising and teaching psychology, so I tend to have blocks of writing time between blocks of 'shrink' time. I think that writing and planning Disharmony took around a year... no, probably longer when I think about the editing process to arrive at the final manuscript, but by then I'd already written the second book in the series.


Q: Are you a plotter or a ‘pantser’? – That is, do you meticulously plot your novel before writing, or do you ‘fly by the seat of your pants’ and let the story evolve naturally?

Well, I'm quite organised, ordinarily, and there is a lot of planning involved in writing a series. Having said that though, once I have a plot, I do enjoy following my characters down alleyways and through portals and uncovering their adventures on the run. It can be scary not knowing what's going to happen to them next - being a 'pantser', as you say. Sometimes it's so scary I end up with my pants on my head in a corner, rocking!

Q: Where do story ideas generally start for you? Do you first think of the character, theme, ending? Or is it just a ‘free-fall?’

My stories usually begin with my characters. In this case, I just had to have an adolescent psychopath: think of all the hell he could get up to! As he grows into his powers, his darkness really begins to emerge in Book Two.

Q: ‘Disharmony’ is your first foray into YA, after releasing four adult crime novels. What made you want to write for a younger audience, and what has been the biggest challenge in writing for young adults?

I've always wanted to write YA urban fantasy - way before I wrote my first crime novel. But after completing my doctoral placement in Long Bay gaol, studying psychopaths, I had so many gruesome and terrible stories in my head that my tales were far too dark and bloody for young minds. After four crime fiction novels, though, I'd slaughtered enough baddies and was zen enough to write YA. The biggest challenge - to be honest - has been not using too many swear words when my characters speak! I realise that lots of teens swear (some kids I've worked with in lock-ups are particularly gifted at finding new and creative uses for the F-bomb), but I don't want to potentially alienate some younger readers.

Q: One of the characters in ‘Disharmony’ is Samantha White, and she’s a gypsy fortune-teller living in Bucharest, Romania. Sam’s background was so interesting to read about – from her perspective on Gaje (a Romany word for non-gypsy) lifestyle, to her curious pickpocket friends. What inspired you to write a gypsy character, and how did you conduct research into the Romany gypsy life?
I'm fascinated by all types of magic - gypsy magic included. And the romance of the nomadic gypsy lifestyle has always appealed to me. I liked exploring the juxtaposition of the romance and magic with the hard realities of the modern gypsy lifestyle - poverty, a crime culture, facing extreme racism. I read a lot about gypsy traditions and spoke with lots of people to try to understand the Rom.

Q: On the other side of the ocean is Luke Black, staying in a Juvenile Detention Centre in Sydney. Luke has a really sad history of foster homes and violence. What’s really interesting is that you have a background as a psychologist, and are an expert in psychological trauma, sex offences and psychopathology. Did you draw a lot on your work experiences in creating the character of Luke and his ordeals?

All of my characters have been influenced by people I've worked with, and I've certainly met lots of 'Lukes' in my work - well, maybe not quite as special as this Luke. I think the best thing about having a background in psychology is that I have a lot of insight into how people think and behave. I also have had access to 'special' worlds, like psychiatric hospitals, gaols and juvenille detention centres, which can add authenticity to the settings.

Q: What was the last great book you read?

'What I Loved', by Siri Hustvedt and I enjoyed 'The Magicians' by Lev Grossman.

Q: Favourite authors of all time?

Thomas Harris, Stephen R. Donaldson, Enid Blyton, JK

Q: Is ‘Disharmony’ the first in a trilogy, or an open-ended series? Can you give us some small hint about the second book (and when it will be released?)

Well, that depends on what happens when I'm writing the third manuscript. At the moment it's planned to be a trilogy, but the series could extend to five books. In the second novel the siblings are hunted and tempted by dark forces, and the psychopath, especially, begins to feel the power of the plans his mother put into effect decades ago. I believe it will be released Feb 2013.

All pictures were found on 'we heart it'


  1. Amazing interview! I cannot wait to meet this gypsy lady. I love all the photos you included. Very fitting. :)

  2. Like!

    I enjoyed her books so thanks for the interview. It's interesting to know that she always meant to write YA and I'm appreciative that she's restricted the swear words.

  3. So cool,
    Can't wait for the second book, it's driving me crazy


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