10 Questions with Leanbh Pearson
Leanbh Pearson lives on Ngunnawal Country, in Canberra, Australia. An LGBTQI dark fiction author inspired by mythology, folklore, archaeology, history, and the environment, her short fiction features in numerous anthologies. Partially fictional, she is a keen nature and wildlife photographer, bookshop, and Museum devotee, and enjoys the Australian wilderness with her dogs (the canine assistants). Leanbh’s alter-ego is an academic in archaeology and prehistory.
1. Tell us a bit about yourself! Where do you call home and what do you write?
Firstly, Leanbh Pearson is a pen name for the real-life alter, Alannah Pearson. I currently live on Ngunnawal Country in Canberra, Australia. I write adult dark fiction and fantasy, with my short stories, novellas and novels inspired by folklore, mythology, legends, and history. I am also an academic researcher and lecturer in biological anthropology with a background in prehistory, archaeology, anatomy, and evolutionary sciences.
2. What drew you to that particular genre and/or age group?
I have always loved reading horror, and dark, psychological fiction. I have an equal passion for fantasy fiction and fairytales. I wanted to infuse my own writing with the themes that I loved to read, explore them in different ways and create my own unique pieces.
3. What are you currently working on?
I recently finished a Fantasy novel inspired by Norse mythology and Icelandic Viking Age and an Australian alternate history, dystopian LGBTQI novella. I am currently working on a fantasy Trickster-folklore novella and novel.
4. What inspired you to write these?
The dystopian novella was inspired by climate change and war, the disintegration of society and the struggles humanity endures just to survive against all odds. My Trickster folklore novella and novel explore three different Trickster lore and legends from different cultures around the world. I am fascinated by the Trickster in legend and mythology—this figure that is revered and shunned in equal measure.
5. Tell us about your writing process. Are you a plotter, pantser or somewhere in between? How do you research?
I am a plotter. I usually begin with some inspiration, a small idea or a character then develop the world around that basic conception. I research a lot, using books and Google, reading history and folklore. I also really like to get a feel for landscape as I think the world where these mythologies or folklores have developed is key to understanding the world I plan to create. So, I travel a lot too (back before Covid when travelling was possible!) and use virtual options like Google Earth, Images, and virtual museum tours. I have started using World Anvil to develop online world encyclopaedias for my long fiction works which I hope to make accessible to readers too.
6. What’s the strangest or most interesting thing you’ve researched for your writing?
The strangest thing I researched was for a story on Algonquian wendigo legend (a cannibal monster) published in Gluttony by Black Hare Press. In the legend, ordinary people are possessed by the monster and turn into insatiable cannibals. The story was written in first person and so I researched the psychological basis behind cannibalism which was disturbing to say the least!
7. What’s the most personal story/scene you’ve written and why?
The most personal story I’ve written was “Three Tasks for the Sidhe” a second person narrator tale for the recently released Stories of Survival by Deadset Press. In memory of Aiki Flinthart, my aunt and a family friend, the story I wrote was harrowing for many reasons—foremost was capturing the sense of hope, enduring struggle, surviving, and adapting to a new way forward.
8. Who are your literary influences? In what way?
I would count many authors among my literary influences. Stephen Graham Jones for his wonderful fiction that is equal parts literary skill and psychological horror. Juliet Marillier for her fantasy realms that have a real feel of the Otherworld, the veil always just parted between the mortal and realm of the Fair Folk. Anne Rice for introducing me to gothic horror. Angela Slatter for the wonderful storytelling blend of fairytale, folklore and grimdark and Kate Forsyth for her strong female protagonists and the combination of history, fairytale and myth.
9. What books are on your bedside table right now?
I am currently reading a book in a fae urban fantasy series A local Habitation by Seánan McGuire, an early release review copy of My Heart is a Chainsaw by Stephen Graham Jones.
10. Last and most important, where can we find your books/stories?
I have stories in many different anthologies and longer fiction due to be released next year. Best place to find all this information is my website: www.leanbhpearson.com.au/publications
Follow Leanbh on these platforms!
Liked this interview? Sign up to Nikky's mailing list to get a free story along with monthly updates, articles and interviews delivered straight to your inbox!