Episode 96 on Legit KidLit features middle grade author Mariama…
Lindsay Leslie. A Slytherpuff Ravenclaw Who Writes Books
Introduction: About You
3 Little Known or Interesting Things About You
- I’ve finished an Olympic-distance triathlon.
- I became a certified scuba diver at the young age of 10.
- I used to co-own a pie company.
I’m a Ravenclaw. Although my sister likes to call me a Slytherpuff.
If you or one of your books was the answer on jeopardy, what do you imagine/wish the question would be?
This author used her battle with anxiety to pen her debut picture book, which is anything but spineless.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I love to pants. I’ve never outlined in my life! It kills the creativity for me. With picture books, if I’m in love with an idea and passionate about the topic, the draft flows right out of me. If I kind of love it, I have to wrestle the manuscript a lot. Many drafts, many revisions.
What is the first book that made you cry?
Where the Red Fern Grows. I cried buckets. BUCKETS!
Does writing energize or exhaust you?
Energizes, especially the first draft. Now, revisions on the other hand…
About Your Books
Tell us about your book(s)-length of time it took to write, journey, publishing, release dates, etc.
I have two books on the shelves now: This Book Is Spineless (Page Street Kids, Feb. 19, 2019) and Nova the Star Eater (Page Street Kids, May 21, 2019). My third book, Dusk Explorers, comes out June 2, 2020.
I began writing This Book Is Spineless around August 2016. I’d say I worked on it on my own and with critique partners for about three months. I queried agents traditionally, as well as through conferences and Twitter. I connected with my publisher via a hashtag event on Twitter called #PitMad. The publisher gave my pitch a heart, asked for a revise and resubmit, and then about two months later I got an offer! In my contract there was a clause giving the publisher the first right of refusal. When I presented both Nova and Dusk Explorers, Page Street made offers on both.
Favorite line or quote from one of your books.
I have too many and for different reasons, but I’ll go with this one from the upcoming Dusk Explorers:
Searching for tag competitors
who love to spring between huddle homes lined with shrubs and memories
and lose track of their breath as they call “Time-out!” right before getting caught.
Describe the character that is most like you.
The book in This Book Is Spineless. The story is about a book that is afraid of the story that might be on its pages. It’s very autobiographical. When I wrote it, I was afraid of the story that might be on my pages. Page turns were scary, but I faced the them. And with each turn, I got braver and braver, just like the book. There’s more about this story on my blog: https://lindsayleslie.com/2020/02/19/the-real-inspiration-behind-this-book-is-spineless/
Do you have any suggestions to help me become a better writer? If so, what are they?
Read, read, read…across genres, adult, picture book, middle grade, whatever. Just read. Then, when you find where your voice is landing and where your story might settle in terms of age range, read those books. Study what you like about them and what you don’t. Also, there are so many blogs with fantastic advice for writers. Give yourself the time to be a learner and to delve into the craft. Sometimes we don’t allow ourselves that. To be the novice.
Leave us with some wise words. What advice would you give the readers of this interview?
Be authentic and true to yourself. When you are, your best work will pour out.
Other Questions and Topics of Discussion:
How did you take your childhood and use it as inspiration for your books and still keep it relevant for today’s readers?
I pulled on my childhood heavily for Dusk Explorers. I was always out romping around with my friends after dinner during the summer time and trying to squeeze in as much fun before the sun dipped below the horizon and the streetlights blink, blink, blink, blinked on. I thought about those times and compared them to what I see today, particularly with my children. They rarely are dusk explorers and that saddens me. Part of it is where we live and access to other children. Part of it is the draw of other things. I wrote this as a call from the outdoors to all the children to come out and play.
Can you explain how a writer can push themselves as a writer out of the box they think they should be in?
I’m a firm believer of not being in any prescribed box. I know that folks talk about a brand and writing similar books to keep within that brand, but HOGWASH! Nothing kills creativity more than that. With your writing, go where your passions are and go where you are drawn. Magical things will happen. We need more of that magic. More of that heart. So how do you do that? I think putting on the student hat works. Go find a blog, a class, a webinar that will push you and make you think. OR, go do something completely out of your wheelhouse. When we put ourselves in new situations, our minds blossom. Who knows what kind of connections or feelings will come about and inspire you?
Leave some links for us to follow you and buy your books:
@lleslie on twitter
@lindsaylesliewrites on Instagram