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  • Leeann Mays

BEHIND THE MASK: An Insight Behind The Author of The Lotus Keeper

Updated: Mar 8


Many of you may be wondering who I am, and while I would like to say the answer is simple—it’s far more complicated than that. A quick read over my author’s page would tell you that I enjoy writing, hiking, and have a mischievous and obese cat named Mert. (Now two cats. I swear I am a dog person…but no one believes me.) But you’re probably grumbling because there isn’t much there…

Alongside that vague explanation into who I am, is a simple black and white image of a young woman in her prime. Her shoulders are bare. Her hair is curled in tight ringlets, trailing down the ridge of her spine. Her eyes are dark, mysterious, and her lips silent and sealed.


If she had a voice, it would be soft spoken.

If her eyes met yours, you would see a story untold.

If her thoughts were transparent, they would still a room.


But she can’t translate the chaos inside her head into spoken words, and so she writes. With pen to paper, and the tapping of her keyboard, she brings to life the world trapped inside her mind. She creates the story that immerses each and every one of you.

That mysterious girl behind the mask is me.

And this is my story.


—END DRAMATIC OPENING—


But seriously, that photograph is not me.

It’s an altered image of a young actress from 1918—I think. I can’t remember her name. The imagery I use to represent myself in my work was the product of an old college assignment. We had been tasked with by our department to honor the one-hundred-year celebration of the program in some artistic way. (Often with a one-off metaphor that made literally no sense, but the professors gobbled it up like stagnant water in the middle of the Sahara Desert.)

See what I did there?

I used to hate metaphorical imagery. I struggled with it for most of my college education, and still do now. I think writing helped, but at the time, I hadn’t found this creative outlet. You see, I prefer to say what I mean, and mean what I say and unrealistically, I expect those around me to do the same.


Sarcasm has caused so many problems in my life, or rather—my inability to understand sarcasm for the above reason.


You could say I’m flawed.

In an attempt to not completely dismiss the assignment altogether in an act of rebellion, I did what any college student would do—I procrastinated until the very last day. We had been given two, maybe three weeks to come up with our product and then at the end, the staff members would silently vote on the best creations, at which point, the winners and honorable mentions would be showcased during the celebration.

With less than twenty-four hours before submission, I finally sat down at the computer. The objective was to create a tangible object that embraced the centennial in some way, shape, or form and I hadn’t the first idea where to begin. It had taken me nearly six of those hours to come up with an idea, a way of simply completely the assignment but not actually having to put much effort into it.

And can I say, I could not have been more wrong.

The idea was simple—I wanted to showcase one hundred women through the course of history.

My professors thought I was a feminist after that assignment and while it had not been my intention to make a case for feminism, but rather to show the growth, the progression of beauty through time in the form of portraits of women, the correlation had been made.

I found a brown newspaper-toned cardstock and subject the paper to coffee stains, crumbles and crinkles (mostly because I was frustrated with the assignment and found amusement in throwing the crumpled balls against the wall) and other misgivings before threading them through the printer. Each woman’s photograph was altered to create a two-tone image, a simpler, more linear reflection of itself.

People—THIS TOOK A LOT OF TIME!

You see, I am a perfectionist, when I want to be, and if I am going to do something, I like to do it well. Unless it’s annoying and frustrating, then I’ll say f— it and find something more entertaining. At this point, I’d already committed to the first few images. I had another ninety-six more to go.

I could not walk away now.

In the waning hour of the night, I pressed on into the early rise of the morning; I had soon regretted my stubbornness. Listen to your parents when they tell you, nothing good ever comes from procrastination—they’re right. And because I am one of those rare creatures who does not like coffee, pulling an all-nighter with little to no caffeine is excruciatingly painful.


I know, may the coffee God strike me down, spit in my tea, and cast caffeine withdraw symptoms upon me so that I never turn down a cup again.


I handed in the stacks of black and white printed silhouettes on the murky bayou-water colored paper and fell asleep under my desk.

No judgements. I’d sleep about anywhere when I was in college.

A few hours later I had woken to hear the news. For a project I didn’t want to complete, for an assignment I thought was only cast upon us as a form of busy-work, for my one night of sleepless panic, I had won the honorable mention.

There wasn’t a prize, or anything like that, but I’d take it, considering I thought the entire assignment was dumb anyway. That was how I’d come to relate to the imagery I have now, the one you see in all of my books and plastered on my website. Created in a sleep-deprived haze.


I studied architecture, graduating with a Bachelor of Science and a Master’s in Architecture. When I tell people that, I often get a shocked expression, but not because I am writing in my spare time and have published a few novels now, but because people think I look like a child and they’re convinced I am not old enough to have completed a Master’s program, let alone go to college.

It’s a never-ending battle, and one I never thought would bother me so much.

Writing is a hobby for me, I don’t do it full-time. I don’t rely on the royalties to sustain myself. I found writing through an insanely unbearable lapse of boredom and pain and it saved me. And it will continue to be something that I love.

In the meantime, I do work in my field, mostly; I often dance back and forth between engineering and the project management realm. This is why I keep my writing behind a veil of mystery. The stories I tell would ruffle the feathers of some and create unnecessary attention with others.


When I was younger, a wise old man told gave me a piece of advice; he told me to seek a career in something that I’d enjoy. Hence the architecture. But he also gave me another piece of advice that day: don’t turn your hobbies into work. They’ll never satisfy you in the same way ever again.


In part, that is why I try to keep my writing separate from my day-to-day profession. But even in my attempt to keep those realms of my life separate, there is still overlap. I enjoy bringing architecture into my literary works, and giving dull, lifeless mundane documents a little pizazz. It’s how I stay sane.


My work has allowed me opportunities that I might not have otherwise been afforded. Travel is a large part of my life, and I’m always venturing to new countries, getting the chance to explore new islands, and of course, climbing the highest points of those islands. It’s in these travels that I am inspired by new cultures, people, and places and I try my best to bring those into my stories. My favorite part of my adventures are the ideas that stem from them. For every trip I embark on, I probably return with no less than ten new novel ideas.

It’s a different pace from the one I grew up in. It wasn’t until I had turned twenty-four had I left the United States for the first time. Most of my childhood had been stationary, growing up on the bayous of Louisiana for half my life and then the frozen tundra of North Dakota.

I know, shocking right?


I often get, ‘How could you move there?’ ‘People live in North Dakota?’ or my personal favorite, ‘Isn’t that the same as South Dakota?’


North Dakota is a wonderful place, if you’re looking for endless horizons, an amazing economy, or just like the idea of nothing but farmland for miles and miles around. Since then, I’ve moved a handful of times and I’ve enjoyed each individual place in its own way.

My two little fluffies keep me company, embarking on my travels with me. I have two cats (one beast, and one kitten) but I’m confident when I say, they chose me. Right time, right place. I’m convinced my oldest and most mischievous cat carries Maine Coon genetics, because he is a horse—and the vet keeps telling me he’s not overweight. My lungs would disagree with he sits on top of me. All twenty-two pounds of him.

The second kitten entered my life unexpectedly. She was struck by a car just outside my office, and because I am a sucker for injured creatures, I took her to the vet and went home with a new cat. She was diagnoses with what was believed to be a temporary paralysis from her midsection down and could not stand on her hind legs. (Likely where the vehicle struck her.)

It took about two weeks on rest and massaging her hind legs, but the kitten was able to walk again. Each day was an improvement and there are still moment where she’ll lose her balance. Whenever she plays with Mert, and tries to sprint away at full speed, she’ll often fall over and have to move a little slower, but it doesn’t stop her.


When I’m not drowning in work, have my head in a book, or writing, I am often off exploring, snorkeling, scuba diving, hiking, or really—anything outdoors. Saving Netflix for the rainy days, I try my best not to avoid an opportunity at adventure. Despite being done with college, I find myself constantly craving the need to learn more in many fields: psychology, anatomy, physiology, herbal medicine, all STEM related fields, sociology, English literature, poetry, and criminal law in hopes that those further bouts of knowledge will help propel me into writing better stories.


Well, my cup of tea is empty now—because, remember, coffee is repulsive—and I’m not sure what else to tell you.


That being said, if you have any questions about me, feel free to ask. I’m more or less an open book and will pretty much answer any question directed toward me within the realms of appropriateness.


For those of you still reading, I’m still typing away on several new novels.

Subscribe to my website, www.https://leeannmays.com for news on upcoming novels. You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for additional information on book giveaways, short story releases, and other book related events.

Facebook Page: @OfficiallyLeeannMays

Twitter: @leeann_mays

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