Welcome to Hooked On Romance, Leslie. Thank you for taking the time to chat with us today.

NO! Thank YOU!

Your books keep me in stitches, especially STAND BY YOUR HITMAN. You’re very funny in person. Is it hard for you to be funny when you’re writing? Or do the jokes come naturally to you?

It usually is easy for me to be funny when writing, but sometimes it isn’t. How’s that for a straight answer? Sometimes if I’m not in the mood because of projectile cat vomiting/kids unsupervised with sharpies/dead hookers I write straight and add the funny later. If I’m on a deadline I often write that way. But most of the time, I can write the jokes as I go. I credit a stint I did with an improvisational comedy troupe in college for this. I learned a lot about thinking on my feet and coming up with outrageous situations (when I’m not gleaning them from my real life) on the fly.

Being that we’re easily entertained authors, what’s your favorite amusement or guilty pleasure? Does it have any impact on your writing?

I’m a tv junkie. I get all my news from the Daily Show and Colbert Report which, now that I think of it probably isn’t good since they advertise it as “fake news.” I LOVE 30 Rock and The Office. I have the whole season of The Tick (the one with Patrick Warburton) and every season of AbFab to watch when I need a laugh.

I also knit, practice archery and eat cake. A lot of cake.

If you could be an extreme sport, what would it be? Why?

I would love to be Freestyle Canoeing. I saw a video of that once, people posing in crazy configurations while making a canoe do unusual maneuvers. It looked like fun! I think I’d be good at it because I like big sticks and retain water well. I can also hold my balance while carrying four bags of groceries, standing on one leg and fending off a basset hound who smells meat.

And the toughest question for last...Your books have all centered around the Bombay Family of Assassins. Coney is next, right? Can you give us a little insight into what you have in store for him? Maybe share an excerpt?

Coney is a little more serious than the other Bombays and his book, I SHOT YOU BABE, comes out this summer. I modeled him on Daniel Craig’s James Bond. He’s a carney with a Ph.D. in philosophy. You might remember him in his carney persona in the first book and helping Dak and Paris “off” Mickey Mouse at Disney World in book 2. For those of you who’ve been paying attention, I mention Mongolia (I don’t know why) in every book so I have Coney (or Cy as he’s called) go to Mongolia to wrestle in the Naadam festival. Here’s a brief excerpt that takes place in Mongolia while he is training. I might mention the book hasn’t been fully edited yet so this might not appear exactly this way in the final book.

The Exceprt:

“You really gave us a show today.” Sansar-Huu and Chudruk sat down next to me on a rock beside the stream. They hit it off immediately, so now I had two of them giving me a hard time.

“I aim to entertain.” I pulled off my boots and stepped barefoot into the icy water. It felt wonderful. I felt alive. Battered, but alive.

“Oh, you are, my friend.” Sansar-Huu answered. “My wife wants to know if you will actually eat dinner tonight or are you planning to insult us by going straight to bed again?”

I wiggled my toes in the cold water, enjoying the shock. “I am sorry I offended you, my most gracious host.” I wasn’t being facetious. I really was sensitive to the fact that my non-appearance at dinner as a guest was noticed. You can’t go to a country like this, where hospitality is an important part of life and act like an arrogant American.

“I will be there and bring my appetite.” I nodded.

“Good.” Chudruk said. “And be thirsty. I’m bringing airag.”

“I can handle it.” At least I hoped I could. Airag, or koumiss as it is sometimes called, is a potent alcoholic drink made of fermented mare’s milk. I know, it doesn’t sound tough, but the first time I drank it I lost my voice – and the lining of my esophagus – for a day and a half. And these men were serious drinkers. I would have to walk a fine line of drinking enough to make my hosts happy and not too much that I’d be in a coma in the morning.

“Just be ready.” Chudruk said. Yalta is going to start with the mekhs.”

There was a word I didn’t know. “Mekhs?” I asked.

“It means…” he scratched his chin thoughtfully for a moment. There was no dictionary or internet out here on the steppes. I hoped he could figure it out. The light came into his eyes and he smiled. “Techniques. My father is going to show you how to wrestle the way his father and grandfather taught him.”

Stepping out of the stream onto the grass felt good. I toyed with washing up but decided against it. The sun was low in the sky and I wanted to make sure I changed before dinner in Sansar-Huu’s ger.

The two men rose and started to walk away as I put my boots back on.

“By the way,” I shouted. My stomach rumbled and I realized I was very, very hungry. No power bars tonight. Tonight, I was going fully native. “What are we eating?”

Sansar-Huu waved and shouted back, “Testicle soup!” As he turned and continued away, I had the distinct feeling that he was smiling.

The next few days went as you can imagine. I survived the testicle soup and found it really was not that bad…if you imagined it more like Campbell’s chicken and dumplings, and had a lobotomy to rid your brain of the meaning of the word “testicle.” The mind works in mysterious ways. I would eat almost anything they gave me. Who was I to say what was alright and what was not. When I say almost, I must admit that I draw the line at one thing. I will not eat tarvag. Tarvag is marmot. You may not realize this, but the bubonic plague still exists in some pockets of the world. It exists in Mongolia and is carried by marmots. I don’t care how hungry I am, or how burned the meat is. I can’t do it. Fortunately, I warned Sansar-Huu about this before I arrived and it was taken off the menu.

As my training continued, I found, like I always did, that my stamina increased. So did my stubbornness. And slowly, very, very slowly, I started to understand what I needed to do. In my opinion, fighting is eighty percent mental. Every time I was thrown, I learned something. Granted, I wasn’t as good as even the most amateur wrestler, but I was beginning to understand the physics of this form of wrestling. (Psst…it’s all leverage.)

I asked Chudruk to forget the archery and horseback portion competitions (partly this was because I was afraid Sartre would see the horse as a compatriot in her mocking of me). It would take everything I had to get through the wrestling. And I had my first naadam in a couple of days. Trying to concentrate on two sports didn’t make much sense. All of my faculties would be needed to stay upright and avoid as much humiliation as I could. I knew I would lose my first few competitions. But the longer I stayed on my feet, the more I would learn.

The naadam was a local competition, lasting only one day. These were held throughout the country with the crowning event being the National Naadam, which was three days, in mid-July. I wanted to prove myself. So I started training harder. Before Yalta made it to the stream where we worked, I was already there and had completed sixty, then seventy push-ups. I could lift larger stones over my head. I even managed to catch my zazul off-guard, tripping him to where he landed on one knee. It counted. Anytime you catch your opponent off-balance so that a hand, knee or back hits the ground – it counts. I didn’t even gloat when I helped him up.

Of course this also meant that I’d had a couple more evenings of airag and various, questionable boiled sheep parts. But I didn’t mind that anymore. Sansar-Huu and Chudruk’s families were becoming my families. And I didn’t have to kill anyone to be part of it. That was very refreshing.

Check out more from Leslie by visiting her blog.

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Chat it up and keep loving romance.

Naughty Nikki D

Comments (4)

On February 12, 2009 at 12:00 PM , Naughty Nikki Duncan said...

I love this excerpt and am really looking forward to Coney's book. He's an intriguing character

On February 12, 2009 at 2:08 PM , Leslie Langtry said...

Thanks! I like him too! Especially when I think of that scene in Casino Royale where Daniel Craig strolls out of the surf...

On February 12, 2009 at 4:03 PM , Abigail McKenley said...

This was a great interview and I loved the excerpt too! I can't wait to read the book.

On February 12, 2009 at 6:39 PM , Naughty Nikki D said...

I hope they give Coney a deserving James bond-ish cover.