13 Aug 2016

Manipulated Lives by H.A Leuschel - FREE this weekend!

Five stories – Five Lives. 

Have you ever felt confused or at a loss for words in front of a spouse, colleague or parent, to the extent that you have felt inadequate or, worse, a failure? Do you ever wonder why someone close to you seems to endure humiliation without resistance?
Manipulators are everywhere. At first these devious and calculating people can be hard to spot, because that is their way. They are often masters of disguise: witty, disarming, even charming in public – tricks to snare their prey – but then they revert to their true self of being controlling and angry in private. Their main aim: to dominate and use others to satisfy their needs, with a complete lack of compassion and empathy for their victim.
In this collection of short novellas, you meet people like you and me, intent on living happy lives, yet each of them, in one way or another, is caught up and damaged by a manipulative individual. First you meet a manipulator himself, trying to make sense of his irreversible incarceration. Next, there is Tess, whose past is haunted by a wrong decision, then young, successful and well balanced Sophie, who is drawn into the life of a little boy and his troubled father. Next, there is teenage Holly, who is intent on making a better life for herself and finally Lisa, who has to face a parent’s biggest regret. All stories highlight to what extent abusive manipulation can distort lives and threaten our very feeling of self-worth.

Manipulated is FREE this weekend until 15th August!! 

Download your copy from Amazon UK | Amazon US

My Review

I don’t usually read short stories or novellas - actually, I never read them… until I was introduced to the deeply moving stories in H.A Leuschel’s Manipulated Lives.
I decided to read one per night, which was just the perfect length before bedtime. Manipulated Lives tells the stories of five very different people who have been affected, one way or other, by extremely manipulative people. And the hardest part on finishing each story, is knowing that these horrible things happen to so many people in their everyday lives.
H.A Leuschel demonstrates with her wonderfully talented way with words, just how these people use manipulation techniques to get exactly what they want - it could be a husband abusing his wife, an old man who has twisted things to his liking all his life or a troubled youngster simply looking for a better life. Whether it’s the main characters themselves who are the manipulators or who are being manipulated, you’ll see through H.A Leuschel’s masterpiece just how easy it is to be affected in this way.
If you’re intrigued by people’s lives and relationships, then I urge you to read Manipulated Lives. It’ll sadden you for sure, but I have no doubt that you’ll be sucked in to these worlds the author has created. You might even start to look at those around you just a little differently…

Author Interview

Hi Helene! I'm delighted to have you on Fiction Dreams this weekend! 

Can you tell us a little about your latest book.
‘Manipulated Lives’ is my first published work of fiction and it is a collection of five novellas where I explore the core theme of psychological manipulation from five different angles:
The first story is centred around a narcissistic pervert and his mysterious visitor who is attempting to make him acknowledge his past fatal mistakes
The second story focuses on an elderly lady who has to live with the devastating consequences of having taken a wrong decision
In the third story, a young woman is falling for a little boy and his troubled father
A teenager is the central character in the fourth story, who is charmed by one of her fellow students and finally, an ageing mother in the fifth story who is questioning her parental responsibilities in contributing to her son’s demise.
All five stories aim to highlight to what extent abusive manipulation can distort lives and threaten a person’s feeling of self-worth.

What inspired you to write it?
During my recent research for my MA in Philosophy, I developed a keen interest for psychology, the philosophy of mind and more specifically the human capacity for empathy. Personal tragic circumstances and the completion of a couple of creative writing courses with the OU and Oxford University have eventually made me pick up a pen, then transfer my ideas into the writing of this collection of novellas.

Is it part of a series?
No, it is meant as a standalone collection of stories. I am working on a second collection at the moment but the stories will be themed around a different topic. I am also working on my first novel.

If your latest book was made into a movie, who would you like to play the main characters?
I can imagine any of the stories as a base for a movie but having said that, could actually imagine them being an interesting base for a TV series which takes the theme of manipulation as a central topic. As for who could play the various roles, I would like Colin Firth to play one of the main characters impersonating a narcissist.

What made you want to become an author?
I have wanted to be an author ever since I learnt to read and devoured Enid Blyton’s books as a child. I have no idea what I would have done without the blissful escape of being a voracious reader ever since.

Name one of your all-time favourite book covers?
One of my favourite covers – and there are many – has to be the one for Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger because of the colour schemes that evoke mystery and depth to me and the way the twins are dressed and stand together almost as one person.

Name one book that made you think 'wow'? Why did it have such an effect on you?
I would say it has got to be the all-time classicThe Fifth Child by Doris Lessing. I read it years ago on a long haul flight from Brussels to Boston and have devoured it at the same pace a few times since. The writing is superb, the build-up of the plot addictive and thought provoking. All these ingredients contributed to my ‘wow’ feeling. Thank goodness my two children are kind, beautiful and gentle people.

Who, or what, inspires you?
Philosophical essays, novels, art (especially paintings) and simply everyday life inspires my thinking and my writing.

Where is your favourite place to write?
I write anywhere and at any time …but a favourite is definitely sitting at my laptop at home in our lounge because every time I look up I have a splendid view of the Atlantic Ocean.

What is your favourite movie that was based on a book?
I am a big fan of Michael Ondaatje’s The English Patient. I love both the book and its movie adaptation. Although they are quite different from each other, what they have in common is a wonderful sense of atmosphere and characters of great depth.

Who is your favourite author (s) and why?

It always depends on the mood I’m in but all-time favourites are Simone de Beauvoir (because she wrote great fiction as well as non-fiction), Helen Dunmore (because she conveys what our senses make us feel, smell, hear and see in a memorable and compelling way), Iris Murdoch (because I feel as if I was part of the plot, a shadow of her characters), Daniel Dennett (because he talks about philosophy in an engaging, stimulating as well as entertaining way) & Amélie Nothomb (her long novellas have convinced me that nothing is ever what it seems) and finally I need to mention Jacqueline Harpman (because she writes stories that are hugely imaginative and thought provoking and are always set in my home country: Belgium).

If you could have a dinner party with any authors from any time in history, who would you choose and why?
I would love to invite the Bronte sisters, Jane Austen and Simone de Beauvoir. To sit by the fire, drink a cup of tea and get to know women who have produced timeless fiction as well as non-fiction such as challenging the way people look at women’s rights would be a great treat! To balance it all out Aristotle should be there and so should Immanuel Kant, Charles Darwin, William James and John Rawls.

Tell us a random fact about yourself.
I drink tea (all colours, white, black, green and red) as soon as I get up, before and after lunch, a few cups during the afternoon and always before I go to bed.

Tell us something interesting about the area where you live.
I have been living in Portugal with my family for the last seven years, in a small town called Praia da Luz. It is located in the Western Algarve boasting some of the most stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean. 

Helene Andrea Leuschel was born and raised in Belgium to German parents. She gained a Licentiate in Journalism, which led to a career in radio and television in Brussels, London and Edinburgh. Helene moved to the Algarve in 2009 with her husband and two children, working as a freelance TV producer and teaching yoga. She recently acquired a Master of Philosophy with the OU, deepening her passion for the study of the mind. Manipulated Lives is Helene’s first work of fiction.
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