Sharlene Leker, local author of The War Within, was here on Saturday the 13th of November where we had a book signing and also celebrated National Indie Author Day. I, and the other librarians, was able to sit down and talk with her a little about her life and what inspired her to write her novel. The War Within was inspired by her brother who passed away and she wrote it as a tribute to him.
When we sat down, I started our little interview with asking if she had always wanted to be a writer and if reading helped her get to that point. Sharlene replied that she had been a reader all her life, and yes, she wanted to be a writer but had no confidence that she would make it. This kept her from pursuing it as more than a passion.
This led me to ask what inspired her to finally sit down and write The War Within. Leker wrote it as a tribute to her brother. Most the situations in the book are true, but she built the fiction around them. Her brother passed away in 2011 and in the years following his death, memories flooded her with the time they spent together and she felt the need to start her book. Leker states it’s a story of redemption and hoped many can relate to the story. A lot of the situations that happened in the book happened to him and she believes many will be able to relate to those experiences as well.
Leker is a member of the Silver Valley Writers group that meets in Osburn twice a month. Through her journey of completing the book, she would share her progress with them and a chapter at a time. The group is a place where writers in our valley can meet and share what they have been writing, will write, and get peer evaluation. She shared her book with them over the three years that she had put into writing it.
I asked her if there was ever a time that she struggled with self-doubt. She replied of course, but she was able to work through it to complete her goal, which her goal was to help others with this book. She hopes that The War Within can help others see that there is a light at the end of the tunnel and that life is about choices.
I asked roughly what the process was to go from writing to publishing and Leker replied that it took a total of three years. She wrote for three years, edited all the time, and the publishing process was about eight months. She says even now that she could see places where she could change something, but she knew at one point she just had to be happy with what she wrote. Sharlene said what started this whole process was a memory from her childhood, and it became the books prologue. One of her favorite things about the writing process is seeing the characters come to life on page. Seeing how the characters you’re writing tend to tell you where they need to go.
Sharlene said she knew she was complete with her novel when the character went through their life story and when she thought she got through all she wanted to say. Even now she still has some notes from what she couldn’t quite fit into the book.
When asked if she plans on another novel, she said that she loved the writing process and does plan on writing again but no ideas have come to her at this time.
We asked her what her earliest writing influence was and she stated that in high school her teacher was very impressed with her writing, but she was embarrassed at the time. It wasn’t until she took a writing class in college that she really felt better about her own writing.
When asked who her favorite author was, she chuckled a little and said that she couldn’t answer as there were too many that she loved to read. (I can’t blame her; I also can’t name my favorite author.) However, C.S. Lewis was the author she named as the most influential to her, and she really enjoys “The Walk” by Richard Paul Evans.
We asked her if there were anything she would like people to know, and she left us with some one final parting thought; “they say everyone has a book in them, I always encourage people to write as you never know what’s going to come out.”
The War Within was published by Covenant Books and can be found at bookstores everywhere and can be ordered from Sharleneleker.com, Amazon, iTunes, and Barnes and Noble. Oh! And of course, we have a copy to check out here in the library!
If you’re a writer and want to attend the Silver Valley Writers group, they meet every 1st and 3rd Saturday at 4th and Idaho Ave, the old Cornerstone Christian church, in Osburn.