Interview with Author Len Handeland – Ramona Portelli Blog

Interview with Author Len Handeland

Len Handeland’s creativity took him from attending FIT (Fashion Institute of Technology) in Manhattan to hair. He studied fashion illustration, then years later to a long and successful 27-year career in the hair industry as a sought-after hair stylist, hair colorist, and salon owner. Len owned a salon in San Francisco’s Union Square for nine years and two salons in the town of Sonoma, Wine Country; for eight years, now fully retired from hair, Len became a full-time writer in the spring of 2021.

Len is a dynamic writer specializing in fiction, specifically horror, paranormal, and crime drama novels. Len has enjoyed writing as far back as middle school. To further enhance and better his writing, Len has taken many creative writing classes and, in 2017, attended The San Francisco International Writer’s Conference, which inspired him to write his first book, “The Darkest Gift,” based on his love of vampires. He credits the late Anne Rice for being the author that inspired him the most to write his own dark vampire story. His first book earned him 5-star reviews from readers and professional book reviewers. His first novel became a finalist in the American book fest contest in the fall of 2021.

This spring, Len’s novel “The Darkest Gift” was awarded first place in the Bookfest 2022 awards in the category of Fiction/Horror. In addition, Len’s book and author interview were featured in the fall literature issue of “DeMode” magazine, with Len’s book named one of 10 must-read books of 2021. With the completion of Len’s second novel “Requiem for Miriam,” and his third based on his 27 years in the hair industry, “Tales from the Chair,” he’s writing his fourth book (“Transplant – The evil that lurks deep within”) to release in January of 2023.

Tell me more about your latest book

My latest book is called “Tales from the Chair – Adventures and sordid tales of my life in the hair industry.” It’s the story of my experiences over the past twenty-seven years in a career known for creativity, artistry, and self-expression, a profession known as the hair industry. A job where I was surrounded by equally talented hair professionals who sometimes were entirely off the wall. It’s the story of my interactions with some former coworkers and clients that were positive and meaningful and some downright contentious. While some of these individuals endeared themselves to me, others I barely tolerated. To some former clients, I was not only their hair guru but their therapist as well. This is the story of my humble beginnings, struggles, failures, and triumphs of being a sought-after hairstylist, colorist, best friend to some, and bay area hair salon owner. Welcome to the beautiful, wacky world of hair!

What was the most challenging aspect of writing this book?

I highly identify with being a fiction writer. This book is based on my former profession, and everything written in the book is true, so it is nonfiction; all of it occurred. To be candid, I found it challenging to write about myself. I find it much easier to create an imaginary world with scenarios and various characters that never existed but were formed in my mind.

What is your normal procedure to get your books published?

I’m a self-published author; once I’ve written my manuscript, I go through it entirely, starting from page one to edit and reword specific sentences. If anything sounds awkward, it’s changed. Next, my manuscript is sent to an editor (two sets of eyes, including mine and the editor, are certainly better than one, especially for someone who edits professionally!) Once I receive my manuscript, I follow the editor’s suggestions and make those changes. Then my manuscript is sent to a formatting company, so it is adequately formatted. The last step is finding a highly talented graphic artist to create a gorgeous and exquisite book cover. Lastly, my manuscript is uploaded on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, and many other online book retail websites.

Do you view writing as a kind of spiritual practice?

I consider writing not only storytelling but it’s an escape for my readers and me. I create a world in which others can lose themselves, at least temporarily, through the story and plot and the diverse and exciting characters in my books. So, yes, I would consider writing a spiritual experience as well.

How many books have you written so far?

I’ve written three books. Two are fiction specifically horror “The Darkest Gift” a vampire paranormal romance novel set in the 17th and 18th century Paris and Haiti and New Orleans in the 1980s inspired by the writings of the late Anne rice and “Requiem for Miriam” which is a murder crime drama with a paranormal twist set in Manhattan and Mexico in the 1980s. My third book is my only nonfiction book based on my 27 years in my former career as a hairstylist and hair salon owner called “Tales from the Chair – Adventures and sordid tales of my life in the hair industry.”

What’s the best way to market your books?

I’m a relatively new author. I’ve been a full-time writer for a year and a half, so I’m still figuring that out. I sell my books on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online retail websites. In terms of marketing, my two fiction books are available in paperback and hardcover and on Kindle. I sign up for EBook promotions which increases sales, and I market my novels on social media (Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.) I’ve had two “book trailers” made, which is the latest thing to inspire prospective readers. It’s very similar to a movie trailer; there is no dialogue, only the narrator and various scenes depicting certain essential events in the novel.

How hard or easy is it to establish and maintain a career in writing?

It’s very challenging to be a full-time writer. An individual has to be highly disciplined and motivated to write on a daily basis. There are a few obstacles that many writers face, myself included, such as writers block, everyday life challenges that can interfere with the writing process not to mention if someone should leave a less then flattering review. A writer needs to be able to listen to constructive criticism but also be able to distinguish that from someone who is merely being negative and unjustly degrades a writer’s work. 

What is your advice for aspiring writers?

My advice for aspiring writers is to take as many creative writing classes you can. Never stop learning and growing. Make the time to write. Listen to the voices in your mind, those voices and their thoughts need to be written on paper perhaps you’ll have the next bestseller?

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