Thanks to one of my fave peeps in the Austin writing community for being this month’s interviewee! Hailing from the world of journalism, Lindsay Leslie started writing kidlit when she began to tell her kids bedtime stories. Her debut picture book, THIS BOOK IS SPINELESS, earned a starred review from ALA’s Booklist, and two additional books – NOVA THE STAR EATER and DUSK RAIDERS WANTED – will launch in May 2019 and Spring 2020, respectively. The former owner of a pie company, you can still find her blogging at A Book and a Pie.
Want to spend some time with Lindsay and your own stories? Don’t forget to sign up for this year’s conference, where Lindsay will be part of the faculty. Thanks, Lindsay!
Where did you grow up, and how did that place (or those places) shape your work?
I grew up in Richardson, Texas, just north of Dallas. The place where I grew up shaped me, so that shapes my work, forsure.But in terms of its immediate impact on my work, Richardson shows up big time in my third book to be published by Page Street called DUSK RAIDERS WANTED (Spring 2020). The concept behind the book is the outdoors calling to the children to come and play during that special time after dinner in the summer. I remember many times playing on my block with all the neighborhood kids and my sister as the day turned to dusk. Those moments were magical, and I hoped to catch them in this picture book. I can’t wait to share this one with the world. I absolutely call it my heart on a plate.
Did you always want to be a writer, or did that come later?
I was always a writer. I consider it one of my superpowers. Writing has been a constant in my life from writing in my diary as a child to writing on the high school newspaper to my first career in public relations. I knew I could count on my ability to write. I didn’t connect the dots to creative writing and writing for children until after I had children. Also, I learn through immersion. I wouldn’t have become a children’s writer unless I was immersed in the world of children again from an observer’s perspective rather than being one. Also, I got to read so many fantastic picture books with them, and those books inspired me.
If someone were to follow you around for 24 hours, what would they see?
Talk about the most boring reality show EVER. You would find me at home most of the time. That’s where I do my bestcreative work. I switch from sitting at my computer in the office to sitting at the kitchen table to up in the loft. I rarely even go outside. I know! I know! When I have alone time, I like to use it all and work, work, work. Work makes me feel good. Around 3, I go get my kiddos and manage homework, piano practice, making dinner, doing all the things with my family. Around 9, the house gets quiet again, and my husband and I get to catch up and watch a show. Lights out at 10. It’s really exciting stuff, I tell you.
How does your everyday life feed your work?
It’s funny, sometimes I see it as how does my work feed my everyday life. When I feel productive, my brain’s cobwebs are sweptand I can engage more fully. Creating, to me, is essential. But everyday life and all the interactions I have go straight to my creative reserves so I can pull on them for my writing. You never know where an idea may come from.
Tell us about some accomplishments that make you proud.
I like to think of the moments that made me cry and become very overwhelmed. Those moments include my first book deal and then receiving a starred review from ALA’s Booklist for my debut, THIS BOOK IS SPINELESS.
What surprises you about the creative life?
The biggest surprise I have had was I thought my creativity would get a big-time zap when I had to go into marketing mode for THIS BOOK IS SPINELESS. It’s not true! I actually created two picture book manuscripts during January and February of 2019 when my book launched. Reflecting on why I was drawn to write, I figured out I needed to create to feel better, to feel grounded. Even when I was so busy and overwhelmed with all of the activity, my mind pushed me to sit and create. That was surprising.
When a reader discovers your work, what do you hope they find?
For my work in general, an honesty. Whether an honesty about the topic or an honesty about my love for what I’m trying to convey. Also, I hope people hear my voice, find something new and unusual in my work, and appreciate the quirkiness.
Quick Fire Questions:
Would you rather live in Narnia or go to school at Hogwarts? Hogwarts, hands down.
Would you rather be the hero or the villain? Definitely the hero.
Would you rather have a nosy neighbor or a noisy neighbor? I’d deal with noise any day over nosy.