Today I have writer and fellow Twitter peep (Tweep) Leigh Hartman on my blog. You can follow Leigh on Twitter at @HistFicHartman.
BETH: Hi Leigh! Thanks for agreeing to be interviewed on my blog. I’ve followed a lot of interesting people on Twitter, and you are one of them, hence the name of this blog series: Interesting Tweeps. Catchy, right? No, don’t answer that.
Tell me, please, what is your favorite thing about Twitter? What makes you stay on?
LEIGH: As with anything, Twitter has its time and place. Since deactivating my Facebook in January of this year, all of my writerly connections now happen on Twitter’s platform. However, as a budding minimalist, I’ve found it very hard to keep up with all the trends and contests and tags. I wouldn’t say that Twitter is a favorite thing of mine to do, but it’s certainly a useful tool when used wisely.
Here’s some advice with having an online presence that I’ve been attempting to apply to my own involvement. Carve out your own path. You don’t need to participate in everything available because you’ll burn out. Not only that, it’s okay to take breaks, schedule out time to be online and time to stay offline. One can easily say so much yet accomplish so little. Trust me – your mental health will thank you for it.
BETH: I understand, from your username and profile, that you write historical adventure fiction. What is your favorite era to write about and why?
LEIGH: My chosen era to write is Victorian. I think it’s mostly because my guilty pleasure books to read are fairy tale retellings, and many of them have Victorian undertones (unless otherwise specified). So much human, scientific and essential development happened between the mid-1800s and 1900s that there’s enough material to keep a researcher busy for a lifetime. The rich settings and often parallel concepts can still teach modern audiences lessons about the past and provide insight into the future.
BETH: If you could time travel to the era you write in, would you? If so, what would you be tempted to change? Forget paradoxes and consequences for a moment and just be honest.
LEIGH: I swear you put that last statement in because I’ve been watching a lot of Dr. Who recently, so paradoxes are all I’ve been thinking about as of late! If I had access to a T.A.R.D.I.S., I’m uncertain if I’d enjoy even a quick visit. My Star Trek brain’s knowledge of how the Temporal Prime Directive works would keep me from wanting to make any changes. Sure there are some things that we wish didn’t happen, but how else can we, as the human race, learn from our mistakes? So you see, as a lover of certain science fiction shows, I can’t but help think about the consequences of changing history.
BETH: Your profile says you live in Pittsburgh, PA. If I ever visited your area, what are some local attractions I shouldn’t miss out on?
LEIGH: I believe this question is about to open a can of worms that cannot be stopped! I don’t think “can of worms” is the proper phrase here, but it’s what I’m going with. Here I’ll give you my top five picks of things to do in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania:
- Visit the Cultural District
The Byham Theatre, Greer Cabaret Theatre, the Pittsburgh Opera Headquarters, Trust Arts Education Center, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra – need I go on? Pittsburgh’s theatre scene has been around for decades, drawing in visitors and performers from, well, everywhere. My uncle is also well known for his involvement in many productions in Southwest PA, so of course, I need to give my uncle Tim Hartman a shout out!
- Spend an afternoon at the Phipps Conservatory
- Tour the ever-growing indie bookshop scene
From Beyond Bedtime Books and the White Whale Bookstore, to City Books and Phantom of the Attic Comics, so many new book shops have popped up in the Pittsburgh area that one can really spend an entire week visiting them all. It’s something I’ve been meaning to do myself.
- Take in a ballgame at PNC Park
Regardless of your feelings about baseball, PNC Park really is one of the best places on the North Shore to view the city of Pittsburgh. I worked there for a summer about six years ago and it was a great learning experience. Regardless of the politics within the MLB, try to attend a game on a Zambelli Fireworks Saturday night, or a Free Tshirt Friday for some swag. There’s nothing more gorgeous than seeing the sunset and moonrise over the city across the river over the course of an evening baseball game.
- Indulge in a hearty meal at the Hofbrauhaus restaurant in the Southside Works area
The Pittsburgh food scene is ever-changing, but one staple that’s been in place since 2009 is Germany’s famous Hofbrauhaus restaurant. With a history going back over 400 years, and as a German myself writing historical adventure fiction, you can imagine how much I appreciate a place like this still exists. But if you don’t feel like indulging in delicious spaetzle or weinerschnitzel, don’t worry! There’s loads of other cuisines to choose from.
I really could go on and on with this question, but there’s so much that can’t (and logically shouldn’t) be included in a short, online interview! I knew I’d run the risk of sounding like a tour guide there, but I think everyone should visit Pittsburgh at least once.
BETH: Finally, you can travel to any setting in any book you want. What book would that be and would you follow the hero in their adventure or create your own?
LEIGH: This one took me a while, but I think I’ve finally landed upon a scene I think any writer would appreciate. In Cornelia Funke’s Inkheart, she describes Meggie’s (the MC) aunt’s library. It’s a grandiose yet cozy sounding library, with all the trimmings and books one might expect in, say, the Beast’s library he gifts to Belle but on a smaller scale. There are any number of libraries in books I could’ve chosen, but as Funke is a favorite author of mine, I don’t think I’d pass up the opportunity to spend a weekend away in that place. If you’ve read any of her Inkworld series, you’ll know that magical things happen when certain characters read from books. Terrifyingly so at times, so I think I’d create my own adventure there.
BETH: Thanks again so much! Have a great weekend.
More about Leigh:
As a procrastinative historical adventure writer, Leigh fills her time with research, ornament making and reading. She’d love for writing her full-time job but, as life would have it, that’s still a work in progress. Her first attempt at a novel and its subsequent series, THE FIREDAMP CHRONICLES, is forever on the mind. Writing historical fiction, of any kind, is tricky business in the 21st century! For now, she’s busy outlining, researching, and creating more characters than what’s necessary.
Keep your nose in a book,