Los Angeles, CA (The Hollywood Times) 02/06/2020 – Christian Author Leslea Wahl’s series began with the book, “The Perfect Blindside.” When a teen snowboarding superstar reluctantly moves to a small Colorado mountain town, he must abandon his ego and team up with a studious and standoffish local girl to solve a mystery at the abandoned gold mine before he’s framed for the crimes, ultimately discovering who God wants him to be. Her new book, “Extreme Blindside” is a thrilling sequel to The Perfect Blindside. Join Sophie as she travels into Jake’s exciting world of extreme sports. Jake and Sophie become suspicious when the premier athletes, at the Mountain Madness Games, are plagued with problems. Is their faith strong enough to survive the perils of fame? Things are about to get EXTREME!
Share your upbringing.
I was born and raised in Colorado. A true Colorado native. For as long as I can remember, stories have swirled through my brain. But as I got older, I veered away from my stories and focused my creativity on other interests.
What is it about creating stories that moves your soul?
What a great question. Creating stories is just part of who I am. Over the years I’ve tried many different outlets for my creativity, but it wasn’t until I began writing novels that I felt that I had found my true calling. Being able to share my stories with others and to have people respond so positively to them has been such an incredible blessing.
Did anyone influence your decision to become an Author?
Storytelling came back into my life when I became a mother. Once all the kids were in elementary school, I began thinking about turning the stories and activities I had created for them into picture books and workbooks. Around this time, I also began searching for books for my oldest son. He was an advanced reader and longed to start reading YA novels. However, many of the books did not reflect the values that we were trying to instill in him. I searched for fun, adventurous, value-based novels and was frustrated that it was so difficult to find these kinds of books. Suddenly the idea for my first teen novel, Perfect Blindside, popped into my mind. Characters, scenes, and ideas kept coming to me until I finally had to write them down.
You have encouraged teens in their faith through exciting adventurous mysteries through your books, the “Perfect Blindside” and “eXtreme Blindside.” What is your vision?
Unfortunately, there is often a disconnect between faith and entertainment. But I believe that exciting, adventurous stories can also reflect Christian values. I like to create entertaining stories with faith infused in a natural way through the characters and storylines. Relatable characters faced with difficult situations can act as positive role models for teens.
What would people be surprised to know about you?
I am known as a Christian Author, but when I first wrote Perfect Blindside, I did not plan on it being a faith-based novel. I just wanted to create a fun, clean read.
I was sending out lots of query letters but not gaining any interest. But then I came across a book at my local bookstore that was a YA mystery but also had elements of faith interwoven into the story. This changed everything for me. I realized this is what was missing in my story. Once I made those additions, I suddenly had interested publishers and soon signed a publishing contract.
Tell us about “Perfect Blindside.” Can you share an important lesson from your book?
Perfect Blindside is about Jake, a snowboarding superstar, that shocks the nation by winning a silver medal. Instant fame is hard for him to handle, and his parents move him to a small Colorado mountain town to get away from the chaos. There he meets Sophie, one of the few girls who is not impressed by him.
As they begin to get to know each other, they unwittingly uncover an illegal operation based in the town’s abandoned gold mine. This is an exciting mystery full of adventure, humor, and romance. The underlying message of Perfect Blindside is to use your gifts and talents to help others.
When you were developing your story, where do you look for inspiration?
My stories all usually start with a general idea then I let my imagination run wild.
Unlike some authors who plan and outline, I just start writing and see where the story leads. As the book develops the themes that I want to focus on become apparent. Part of my inspiration does come from my family. I usually include a few personal incidents that have happened to us. And so far, each of my stories has included at least one of our pets.
How did you ramp things up for your second book? eXtreme Blindside?
I had always hoped that Jake and Sophie could have another adventure together. I pictured it being set at an extreme sporting event, but the rest of the story remained elusive. While I waited for inspiration, I wrote two other novels, An Unexpected Role and Where You Lead. Finally, the Blindside sequel began to take shape in my mind. eXtreme Blindside takes place soon after Perfect Blindside. While Jake is competing at the Mountain Madness Games, Sophie gets an opportunity to write an article for the event. When the top athletes begin having problems, the teens become suspicious that someone is sabotaging the event.
This book was so much fun to write. Not only was it great to revisit these characters and continue exploring the difficulties of fame, but I was able to create even more exciting scenes with the extreme athletes which was a blast. The underlying theme in this book is keeping your focus on what is truly important and putting God first.
Share your philosophy in life.
For years I’ve believed that we all have gifts and talents, and we are to use these to help others. To me, this means encouraging faith through my writing. It took many years and many failed endeavors before I felt like I knew my purpose and began my writing ministry.
What is next for you?
I have two projects that I am currently working on. One is a family mystery/adventure tentatively titled A Summer to Treasure. This one is a little different than my other books. Since it’s about siblings, it doesn’t contain as much romance, but it is a project I’ve been excited about for a few years. The other is the third adventure for Jake and Sophie. eXtreme Blindside ends with a bit of unfinished business that I will explore in the third book.
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