What a way to kick off our blog turning 2 but with an interview with Leslie Gould AND a giveaway of her newest release, Amish Weddings!!! If you don’t know who Leslie is she is a fabulous author of Amish fiction and historical fiction. She has collaborated with author Mindy Starns Clark on several projects in both genres. Now on to our interview with Leslie…
TG: How did you and Mindy Starns Clark decide to collaborate initially?
LG: Our agent, Chip MacGregor, paired us together. He recognized that our writing styles are similar and thought, personality wise, we’d work well together too. He was right.
(On behalf of readers everywhere, we would like to thank Chip MacGregor for this brilliant pairing! 🙂 )
TG: Would you mind sharing with your readers how the process works with the two of you regarding research, character and story development on your collaborations?
LG: It differs a little from project to project, but basically we brainstorm the story together and then we each research and write different sections. After that’s done, we edit each other’s work until we’re both happy with the end product. It’s definitely an “iron-sharpening-iron” sort of process!
TG: Do you find it easier or more challenging to collaborate with someone than to write on your own?
LG: I love the creativity that flows back and forth in collaborating with Mindy. The “what ifs” are great and with two brains working on a story we come up with all sorts of plot and character twists that neither one of us would have on our own. Deadlines can be a little trickier because we are coordinating two schedules, but we always pull it off in the end!
TG: Cousins of the Dove is a fantastic series and we’re anxiously awaiting the next book My Daughter’s Legacy. Can you please give us the expected release date?
LG: June 2017. Mindy and I are working on the story as I answer these questions. I’m just taking a little break.
TG: How many books are in the series, Neighbors of Lancaster County? This is another series we’ve both loved and looked forward to.
LG: There are three books in the series~ Amish Weddings, the third, releases January 3. I’ve really grown attached to the two families in this series and often find myself thinking of the characters, making me a little sad that I’ve finished the stories! But I’m so excited for readers to have the final book!
TG: The Neighbors of Lancaster County involves a military family interacting with an Amish family. Did you draw upon your experience as part of a military family to write this storyline?
LG: Yes, my husband served in the Army Reserve for 30 years and commanded a field hospital in Afghanistan for a year in 2011. As I wrote fiction about the Amish, I thought, What would happen if a military family moved next door to an Amish family? I loved the juxtaposition of a non-resistant, pacifist family interacting with an Army family, and the idea created lots of conflict between the two, but also lots of love and support. In the end, it meant a lot to me to explore what it means to love our neighbors as ourselves, even among very different people with seemingly different values.
TG: We’ve read that The Courtships of Lancaster County are Amish versions of Shakespeare plays. Is this true and if so, how did you come up with the idea to turn his works into Amish stories? (This is a wonderful series by the way!) Which was the hardest to write and why?
LG: Yes, I retold Shakespeare plays! Really, a dream-come-true for me as a fan of Shakespeare since I was a child. As far as inspiration, about a decade ago, when I was getting my Master’s of Fine Arts in creative writing, I took a Shakespeare class where one of the assignments was to retell plays in modern settings. When I started writing novels about the Amish, I realized that Plain settings and characters absolutely lent themselves to retelling Shakespeare’s stories. Courting Cate (inspired by The Taming of the Shrew), Adoring Addie (inspired by Romeo and Juliet), Minding Molly (inspired by A Midsummer Night’s Dream), and Becoming Bea (inspired by Much Ado About Nothing) were the end products of that crazy idea.
As far as which play was the hardest to retell, there’s no doubt it was Romeo and Juliet. It’s the only tragedy in the group, although it starts out like a comedy and then switches halfway through. As I get older, my heart breaks a little more every time I watch the play. It’s such a sad story, and I’ve wanted to retell it for years, lol, so it was both a challenge and a rewarding relief.
TG: You have written over 20 b0oks! How do you think you have grown as an author?
LG: I’ve definitely grown in my understanding of story structure, character motivation, and anticipating what my readers want from my novels. I’ve also learned to write faster~my method is to get my first draft done as quickly as I can and then rewrite, rewrite, rewrite! I’ve also learned to juggle a couple of projects at once, and I hope I’ve learned to manage my time better, although that’s an ongoing process.
TG: You’ve written both historical fiction and Amish fiction. Is one easier to write than the other? Would you rather live the Amish lifestyle or live in a certain time period?
LG: Is one easier to write than the other? is a great question! As far as the actual storytelling, I don’t find one easier than the other. As far as the research, I have experts on the Amish I can consult if I can’t find an answer to a question, so in that way it’s easier. A few times I’ve come to a dead end with a historical question and have had to make a “best guess” decision or reroute the story a little.
As far as if I’d rather live Amish or in a historical setting, I’d rather live in my present life, lol. I love researching, visiting, and writing about the Amish, but I’m very much a contemporary kind of gal. I’m a bit of a news and international-events junky (although I’m cutting back!), and my thirst for researching all sorts of topics never stops. Honestly, I enjoy cooking and gardening and I used to can and do all sorts of those things, including handwork, but more and more I find myself devoting myself to writing about those things instead of doing them.
As far as historical settings, I love the initial idea of living in the past, but then reality sets in. The first thing I think of is physical health and the lack of proven medical interventions in the past. Next, I think of the horrible sanitary conditions. Then I think of the lack of rights and safety for women. Then there’s all the hard work (unless I could be part of the ruling class, lol), and how difficult it was to travel regardless of who you were (I love to travel!). I guess I’m too much of a realist! I’ve always loved history, though, so I revel in researching the past and figuring out ways to weave interesting details, actual settings, and documented events into the lives of my characters.
TG: What is your all-time favorite book that you’ve written?
LG: It’s really hard to choose a favorite book. Courting Cate was one of those stories that practically wrote itself. Cate was so vivid in my mind from the start~the words just flew onto the screen! I really love her as a character and that made me very partial to her story. But my very favorite book that I’ve written would have to be Beyond the Blue, my second novel, which was inspired by the adoption of our youngest child. It’s a complicated love story that absolutely still fills my heart and always will.
TG: When did you realize you wanted to be an author? Did any one person inspire you?
LG: For as long as I can remember, I was enchanted with writing. I clearly remember as a preschooler penning my first word: sky. I was amazed that three little letters could represent the whole entire space above me. By junior high, I knew I wanted to be a writer and by high school, I was writing short stories. After majoring in communications and history in college, most of my early jobs included non-fiction writing, but it wasn’t until my late twenties that I consistently began writing fiction. It was another decade after that before I signed my first contract for a novel. I practiced writing a lot!
As far as an author who inspired me, a few years after I first started writing fiction my book group read Jane Kirkpatrick’s A Sweetness to the Soul, and I invited her to join us for our dinner and discussion. Amazingly, she drove hours from her ranch in Eastern Oregon to our home in Portland to attend! I honestly hadn’t considered writing for the Christian market until I met Jane~she definitely was and is a big inspiration to me.
TG: Can you briefly describe a typical “work day” for you?
LG: I catch up on emails and marketing first thing, and then I get busy writing. Weirdly, I really hit my stride in the late afternoon and early evening. Somehow I manage to get some sort of dinner prepared (most days) and keep writing! I also teach a class two afternoons a week, so on those days I write until it’s time to teach and then write afterward too. Often I’ll write in the evening in the living room if my husband is watching sports. Honestly, I have to be careful not to work too much. It’s so easy to do!
TG: What can we add to our TBR piles from you in 2017? Will there be any standalone books, or will there be a new series and what genres?
LG: Thank you for asking! Yes, I have a couple of different things ready to release or that I’m working on and will release this year. The first is Amish Weddings (that you already mentioned) and then the next book with Mindy (that you also mentioned~thank you!), My Daughter’s Legacy.
I’m also working on a new Amish series, The Sisters of Lancaster County. The first book in that series is A Plain Leaving, which is a timeslip story with a Revolutionary War thread.
Mindy and I are also going to do a fifth book in our Women of Lancaster County series in the near future so look for more details on that soon. (I’m so grateful to have a full writing card!)
We don’t know about you but we are glad Leslie has a full writing card, too! For the more she writes the more great stories we get to read. 🙂 Many thanks to Leslie for taking the time out of her busy schedule to answer all of our questions.
Would you like to win a paperback copy of Amish Weddings by Leslie Gould? To enter, simply comment by telling us what your favorite Leslie Gould book is and why. Haven’t read one of Leslie’s books yet? Tell us which one you want to read and why it appeals to you. Be sure to include your email address in your comment so we can contact the winner. The contest runs through January 7 and the winner will be announced/contacted January 8. Good luck to you all and happy reading!!!!!!