Interview with Lee Winter

Lee Winter is one of the most talented writers I have ever read, in any genre. Her books are thought provoking, captivating, filled with humor and when you have reached the end, you want to start all over again. I am so thrilled to have the opportunity to chat with her.

Lee, The Awkward Truth is set to be released on November 24th and I am thrilled that Felicity from The Brutal Truth is getting her own story.  She has this underlying vulnerability that I can’t wait to see how you bring to the surface. What can we expect to see from her in this book and will Elena and Maddie make an appearance?


The thing about Felicity Simmons is she was only ever meant to be the comic relief in The Brutal Truth. She says thoughtless, awful, blunt things that just should never be said in polite company—or any company. And she’s pretty unlikeable as a result, although I think she’s hilarious due to her absolute lack of concern about what anyone except her beloved mentor, Elena, thinks of her.

What I found so interesting to do in The Awkward Truth was to make her both likeable and understandable, but without changing her character too much. There is a reason she says those awful things—and it’s a surprisingly good one. Not to mention, there’s something understandable about someone doing the best they can with the hand they’re dealt, especially when they finally admit to themselves and the person they care about why they are who they are. It’s a vulnerable and powerful thing.

By the end of the book, I admired and loved Felicity, instead of just laughing at her bat-shit crazy nonsense.

Maddie has a very small cameo in The Awkward Truth – a couple of phone calls, and a meeting. Elena, being Felicity’s immediate superior, and a woman training Felicity to take over her role when Elena moves to Sydney, has a much larger role. And, it turns out, Elena has much to teach Felicity about leadership. You will see a slightly softer side to Elena, partly because this book coincides with the time when she is falling in love with Maddie, and partly because she’s consciously decided to let Felicity in a little and is allowing her to see the woman under the Tiger Shark mask.

Everyone loves your ice queens. But just as impressive is your writing of the woman who break down their walls. They must be strong in order to stand up to and stand up for their women. Which of these women do you most identify with?

It’s no secret I wrote Maddie, in the Brutal Truth, a little bit based on my early life struggle with being sent to do a midnight shift in Melbourne at age 19. It was my first time away from home. I hated the city, my life, my all-round patheticness! I was lonely and homesick and always tired and sad. But I did manage to bounce back a little, too. I blogged about that time of my life here if you want a laugh at the whole mess! (

So yes I relate to Maddie being miserable in a city and doing a job everyone told her she should be delighted about. Alas, unlike Maddie, I didn’t meet some hot media mogul to give me a reason to want to rush into work, either. Damn you, universe!

Angela Dawe. The combination of your words and her voice are what perfection sounds like. What is it that makes her so damn good?  And will you please sign her up to do all of your books moving forward.

I think the sheer variety of character voices she has make her exceptional. Plus she has that one deep throaty sex voice for ice queens.
I remain astonished by the audiobook of Breaking Character. At one point Angela has to differentiate five or six friends in a party, ALL with English accents. She’s an American! How?!
That’s not all: She’s getting better. In Sliced Ice, my audiobook anthology of short stories, Angela managed to come mighty close to perfecting her Aussie accent (which is really hard for non-Aussies) and she has this new little boy’s voice which had me laughing my head off. She’s just incredible.
And I’d love to sign her for many more books in the future

What is so appealing about writing ice queens for you and which is the one that you love the most? 

I love ice queens, fictional and real. Hell, I live with one, so I’m clearly writing what I love. The appeal is the melt. How they can be frosty to the whole world and have this adorable mushy side they only share with their love interest. The fictional ice queen I love the most is probably Elizabeth Thornton in Breaking Character (who I had a crush on!), followed closely by Natalya in Requiem for Immortals (who scared and impressed me in equal measure).
Of other people’s ice queens, I love most Assistant in Lily and the Crown by Roslyn Sinclair, and Jess Lea’s Margaret Gale in A Curious Woman.

Everyone knows you started at an award-winning journalist and are now one of the best writers in our community. If you had to choose a career that didn’t include writing what would that be? 

As a child, all I ever wanted to do was draw Superman comic books to the end of time. I think even now that’d be fun, being a graphic comic book artist, but I suspect now my heroes would be all women, and my talent gravely insufficient!

Your fiancee is the gardener in the family. She is going to open a new botanical garden and she has asked you to recruit four other lesfic writers to join the new venture who will handle the gardening, publicity, customer interaction, etc. Who are you going to recruit and why?

Publicity? Oh, Jae for sure. What that woman can’t dream up for marketing isn’t worth knowing. She’s a very creative, hardworking lesfic writer who shares her time and talent with everyone. I’m pretty sure she’ll have gardeners leaving with arms full of plants AND lesfic novels.

I’m recruiting EJ Noyes for customer interaction because I think it’d be hilarious. She’d be kind of blunt and to the point and telling people to move it or lose it and to not stop to smell the roses “because there’s a back log, people, no dawdling, eh”. I’ve added the ‘eh’ there in deference to her moving to NZ. It’s a Kiwi thing.

Fletcher Delancey could maybe help out with the gardening, if she doesn’t mind jetting in from Portugal. There’s a succulent patch here that’ll be perfect for her. I’ve seen her succulent pics—that woman grows such pretty plants.

I’m also going to get Jane Waterton in to help out. She’s big on gardening and, bonus, lives in my state, so she’ll be full bottle on climate conditions and fertilizers and how to step lively around the wild quendas and doves.

As an American, like Felicity from the dreaded Midwest, what I know about Australia is limited to Steve Irwin, koalas and the Great Barrier Reef. If I were going to vacation in Australia, where should I go for the most authentically Australian time?

All of Australia is authentically Australian. I’ve lived in almost every state and they each having something that’s so bloody Aussie and/or nutty. For example, there’s the acquired-taste, famous pie floater from Adelaide (a small steak pie that floats in a pea soup – do not ask. If you must look, go here:

But I’d probably send you off to Queensland—there’s some wonderful beaches at the southern end on the Gold Coast. I’ve lost count how many times I almost drowned under the crashing surf at Main Beach when I was nine, which I admit doesn’t sound like a selling point, but the beach is seriously awesome. And the rainforests of Far North Queensland are beautiful and divine. They’re just so rich and the diversity of bird calls will make you feel like you’re in the Amazon. The Daintree Rainforest was the lush inspiration for the movie Avatar.

Have you read any books this year that have completely blown you away? 

Completely blown me away” is a really specific description and I’m really selective about books I endorse as being in the exceptional category. There are two this year though that I cannot stop thinking about. One, I heard the audiobook of Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir. Wow.

Disclaimer: I’m big ole scaredy cat about blood and bones and all that, and there’s some of that content in Gideon, but the story was so compelling and well told, that even I could slide on past it to be genuinely delighted by the book.

The other is a one that’s not out yet, but a novel that I’m editing. Debut Ylva author Ana K. Wrenn has written a book called Strange Attractors. Set in American academia, the romantic suspense novel tells the story of Sonja, the world’s frostiest ice queen who is convinced someone (or several someones), is waging a campaign of intimidation against her. The writing is superb, descriptions so evocative. I was engrossed. I can’t wait for it to be out (next year) so others can enjoy Ana’s story too.

What I love most about our community is how supportive and genuinely nice everyone is. Like you taking time out of your life to answer the questions of a virtually unknown blogger/reviewer. Thank you so much for chatting with me.  It’s been an honor!

Thanks for asking to talk to me – and I really appreciate the originality in your questions. How excellent!