Author Lesley Mang has a short story in each She-Bang crime fiction anthology, although in the first book she used the pseudonym of A.J. Richards. Find out why, and more about Lesley, in the continuing “Interview with an Author” She-Bang series.
Tell me a little about yourself.
I graduated with a degree in English language and Literature from the University of Toronto back in the dark ages. I thought literature would teach me the meaning of life. I’m still searching. I’ve taught English in high school and also worked as a textbook editor for 14 years. During my years as an editor, I wrote five textbooks, two of which have my name on the cover. Published in 1990, they are still in print.
Let’s talk about your writing process.
I try to write for a couple of hours every morning. Life, however, often interferes. I think about my writing as I go for a walk. Often the solution to a problem in plot or character will pop into my brain, like a gift from the collective unconscious.
Do you read submission guidelines and then write a story, have a story you’d been working on and “tweak it,” or are you lucky enough to have a whole stockpile of stories ready to go?
The Whole-She Bang contained my first work of published fiction. I wrote the story hoping to have it published in the anthology. It felt like a safe place to start. The idea for the story came from a news story I had read about a diplomat who misbehaved in an appalling way. I had members of my writers’ group read it first and incorporated some of their suggestions. For The Whole She-Bang 2 I submitted two stories, one of which was inspired by actual events. The other came from a book of plot suggestions. I was surprised that the first story was not accepted as my writers’ group really liked it. I’m thinking about where else to send it. I do think the story that was accepted is a good one. Mystery stories, as someone once said, are about creating order out of chaos. In my case that order also has to reflect justice, whether personal or social.
“An Unexpected Christmas Gift,” in The Whole She-Bang was written under the pseudonym of A.J. Richards. In The Whole She-Bang 2, your story “No Honour Among Thieves” was written under your real name. Why the change?
I used a pseudonym because I was writing a children’s novel called Dream of the Eagle, which is a fantasy set in the present day and the prehistoric past and planned to use my own name for that. I thought a different genre might need a different name, but I’ve since had second thoughts. Dream of an Eagle is now complete, and I’ve started the process of looking for a publisher.
What was your experience with the editing process?
Editors often have good suggestions. Having worked on that side of the fence I appreciate the thought they put into their work. I have also found that the best editors will accept reasoned arguments for keeping the text as the author wrote it. Janet Costello is one of those editors.
Thank you, Lesley. I look forward to reading you.
You can find Lesley Mang on Facebook