Interview with Leah Starr Baker

Originally Posted at Bibliophile’s Retreat by Melissa Meeks

1. Who do you want to meet and why?
This is a tough question to start out with…wow! There are so many amazing people that I would enjoy being around, picking their brain or simply just hanging out with them. If I have to choose one, I would choose my Great Grandma Miller. She died long before I was born. My dad speaks of her so highly and I grew up listening to bedtime stories about her. Every Saturday night, my Dad would ask my opinion on what I thought he should preach about on Sunday and every time, I would answer, “Preach about Grandma Miller or your baby sister Caroline.”

2. What’s your favorite comfort food?
Homemade Chicken and Noodles is my favorite food of all times. My mom’s is amazing, and so is the version by my mother-in-law. My mother-in-law always makes it for me when I am sick.

3. What would be your dream vacation?
It’s a toss up between an Alaskan Cruise or a trip through Europe. I adore Alaska in all its splendor yet I’ve always wanted to tour Europe, to see the Eiffel Tower, to shop in Italy, to see the amazing Greek Islands, to stare in wonder at the Alps in Switzerland. Either trip would be a dream come true.

I’d love to see more of Europe myself one day – I studied in Paris during college but would also love to see more of France.

4. Is there anyone who has influenced / encouraged you to write other than God who ultimately gives us any talents including creativity? Who and how / why?
My father has been encouraging me to write for years and years. As an author himself, he said that he could tell that I had a special talent in this area. But it took me a while to decide that it was what I wanted to do as well. Thanks Dad for continuing to push me and for believing in me even when I didn’t myself.

5. Can you give a brief synopsis of your journey to publication with The Bunko Babes?
My journey was an interesting one and an unusual one as well. I had been bed-ridden for many months due to my systemic lupus and a broken foot. I was depressed, lonely, and emotionally struggling with my life. I had to have my mother live with me for 12 weeks at a time to help take care of me, my kids, and my home. It was difficult on us all but God is a redeemer and he did redeem this situation.

As I struggled God began to birth in me a desire to write a story for Him. So I wrote. At the end of fifty pages, I knew that we had something special on our hands. So I showed it to my father and asked his opinion. He agreed, and recommended that I put together a brief synopsis to go with my first fifty pages.

I did and put together a packet to send to Emerald Pointe Books and get their opinion. Two months went by without a single word. I kept writing but was getting very nervous about my chances on getting a contract before the book was completed. But at last, it happened. I was given a contract on the basis of finishing my manuscript and having it available within four months. It was tough but I did it. Then came the edits—round one, round two, and round three. Finally, it was complete and was heading to publication.

6. What else have you written / are you currently writing (including unpublished works)?
I have one completed manuscript and an uncompleted non-fiction book about life after having your first child.

7. What first gave you the idea for The Bunko Babes?
I owe a huge thank you for the title at least to my husband Douglas. We were sitting in the hot tub trying to relieve my incredible joint pain, when he simply tosses out that he has an idea for my next book. I asked what did he have in mind? His answer, “A book named Bunko about a group of women who play Bunko as a cover up for a methamphetamine ring. I thought it was an interesting idea but I wasn’t sure if it was the right story for the title. From there, I began to brainstorm and to pray seeking God’s direction. About a month later, I had my story line and began writing it.

8. What else would you like to share with readers about yourself or The Bunko Babes?
“The Bunko Babes” is an incredible story involving eight women who spend one night a week playing Bunko. As the story progresses, you come to know and love each and every one of these ladies. “The Bunko Babes” will draw you in and bring you along with them on a sometimes heart-wrenching, all-the-time enjoyable ride. By the end of the book, you will be moved emotionally, your faith will be strengthened and you will want to know more about these wonderful characters.

9. Share with us one of the craziest things you’ve done or that’s happened to you?
By far the stupidest thing I’ve ever done was to drive through a blizzard and even sleep in the car on the side of the road in Kansas just so that I could ski on Thanksgiving weekend in Colorado. I was only 22. That’s my excuse.

10. What five books would you take with you to a desert island?
Only five? Okay fine. I’ll choose. The Bible, The Alabaster Cross by Richard Exley, Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell, The Bunko Babes by me, and Suzanne’s Diary for Nicholas by James Patterson.

As an avid reader I know it’s hard to pick only five and my favorites list just seems to continue exploding with new books I read.

11. What concept or scripture is God revealing more deeply to you in this season of your life? And how is that revelation influencing your life?
The concept that God has continued to place upon my heart time and time again is “Being Real”. It is so important that we as Christians and as women begin to open ourselves up without fear of repercussions. So often we hear that people don’t come to church because they are afraid of being judged. I believe that each and every one of us, Christian or not, have that same central fear. But God says, “Come unto me all who are weary and I will give you rest.” What is more restful than finding a place and people who will accept you for who you are?

12. Why did you start writing and when?
I’ve been writing off and on since my daughter Alexandria was born. My first attempt at writing a book was one entitled, “Does This Baby Come With An Owner’s Manual?” I wrote about 12 chapters that included a short story about the trials and triumphs of parenthood and at the end, I would include a scripture reference and some tips on how to deal with that particular topic. It was fun and definitely gave me a feel for the joy of writing.

13. How do you choose names and get to know your characters?
In “The Bunko Babes,” my character’s names kind of chose themselves. I didn’t really write this book the way that is encouraged. I didn’t take the time to lay out a plot line or to get to know my characters. No, instead, I simply turned off Jewelry Television, picked up my laptop and began to write. As a result, the characters were often named after people who have influenced my life or names that I have always loved. Some of the character’s names had to be changed because it was determined that the crazy, fun names might detract from the story.

14. What’s your favorite character / scene from Bunko Babes (so far, if it’s a series)?
I’m partial to Becca because the story is told through her eyes. I really got into her shoes. Of course, many of my friend’s and family say that I am just like Becca and I admit that a lot of my self did come out in the character.

As far as a favorite scene, I’d have to say the shopping scene between Becca and Jessica. “These girls will rise again,” is my favorite line.

15. Do you have any teasers you can share for your next book (a second Bunko Babes if this is a series or your next project if this is a standalone book)?
I am currently working on the very first novel that I ever wrote. It is a family drama/political thriller and Emerald Pointe Books has requested that I get it ready for publication. So that’s what I am doing and after I finish that I am planning on writing a sequel to “The Bunko Babes”. Especially since it has had such a positive effect on my readers. I am very excited about what the future has in store for me and The Babes.

So now that those of us who’ve fallen in love with Becca and her crew know there’s another book coming when can we expect to see it release?

16. Are there any closing remarks you’d like to share?
Life doesn’t always turn out the way you plan but God is a redeemer and He can make right anything that life or yourself has done wrong. You just need to believe this and focus on the good. It is imperative that we learn to set aside the trials of life and learn to forgive. When I was ten, my father shared with me this poem:

“Two Men looked out through prison bars.
One man saw the mud and one man saw the stars.”

What I want to know is this. Do you want to be a star seeker or a mud sucker? The choice is up to you.

So true life doesn’t always happen the way we’d like for it to but I’ve seen firsthand how God’s way can be so much better than whatever I had in mind despite the rough road from here to there.

Thanks for taking the time to share with me and my readers. I am impatiently looking forward to the next Bunko Babes installment.

In the meantime you can read my review of the first book and enter to win a copy (I am giving away two of them).

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