Friday, July 24, 2009

Author Interview: Leslie Goetsch

Leslie Goetsch is the author of Back Creek (Bancroft Press), which I had the pleasure of reviewing last month and which I called "a pure slice of heaven," perfect for fans of Sarah Dessen. (Check out the rest of my review here.) In order to spread the word about this little known but well-deserving novel, Leslie agreed to answer my questions for an interview. Hope you enjoy!

1. Hello, Leslie! What in your childhood / teenage years shaped your love of reading and writing?

I have always been a big reader; I remember getting my neighbor (who was in first grade) to teach me how to read because I was too young to go to school and I was too impatient to wait to learn. Writing seems a natural segue for someone who has a passion for literature, as I always have. I remember starting stories since I learned to write, but never finishing any of them.

2. You spent 10 years writing Back Creek. What kept you writing during those years? What held you back?

I think two things sustained me for the embarrassingly long period it took to complete this book: a faithful, supportive writing group of four women, and sheer bullheaded-ness. I was lucky enough to be invited to join a writing group when I had barely begun what would become Back Creek. Their encouragement and wise writing advice kept me writing, despite lots of crises of faith and a good deal of questioning just why I was doing this. And, truth to tell, once I got going, I became determined to finish. Bear in mind that I was teaching full-time and raising a family. Without knowing there were at least three people who were interested in what happened in this book, I am sure I would have given up a long time ago.

3. The town of Back Creek is such a vivid, detailed, and fascinating place. What inspired the locale?

The setting of Back Creek is really the only non-fictional part. My mother and stepfather built a house on a chunk of land on a deep creek near Yorktown, Virginia. Even though I never lived there, I did visit often and found the water and the locale powerfully evocative. It just stuck with me.

4. What is the story behind the cover of your book?

The cover of the book is actually a photograph taken by my brother from the deck of my mother’s house. You can “see” Cal’s boat, the marina, the Whythes’ house, and the Creek. I thought it worked out perfectly.

5. BACK CREEK is a coming-of-age story, but with a pace and feel that is not exactly young adult fiction. As a teacher, how do you believe your book can be used in the classroom setting? What do you hope young adults and teenagers will get out of it?

I teach at a girls’ school, and so I am reminded of, and involved in, the struggle so many adolescent girls have finding a sense of confidence and the courage to recognize their own strengths. Grace’s summer is like an intense, compact version of that struggle and I feel what she learns about herself and her family might prompt girls to reflect on their situations, their futures, their strengths and, hopefully, their sense of self. I have had really positive response from the girls who have read it, as well as great enthusiasm from their mothers who have read it.

6. Who are some of your favorite authors and books?

I always freeze up when I am asked this questions, because there are SO MANY writers and books I like. Perennial favorites include: Edith Wharton, Virginia Woolf, Scott Fitzgerald, Toni Morrison, Richard Ford, Richard Russo, Alice McDermott—I will stop here before your eyes start to glaze over. I just read a great first novel by Tania James called Atlas of Unknowns. It was wonderful!

7. What's the best part about being a published author? Are there any particular reader reactions or actions that stand out to you?

The best parts of being a published author are the satisfaction of completing a project and the kindness of people who read the book. I have been completely blown away by how encouraging everyone has been. I’ve enjoyed every one of the book clubs I’ve spoken to and the presentations I’ve made in connection with Back Creek. The business side is not so fun—but that’s another story.

8. I ask this question to many of the people I interview: tell us two interesting/unique/strange things about yourself that can spark a conversation.

Two interesting things about me? I’ll give my stock answers for such questions: I was a model when I was a baby and I am related to Robert Frost. I’m a pretty conventional person—wish I had something more interesting…maybe I’ll get a tattoo.

9. Any final words you would like to say to readers?

THANK YOU FOR READING BACK CREEK!!! I am happy to talk with groups about the novel and about the process of writing a novel—please just shoot me an email. And thank you, Stephanie, for this virtual chat!


Thank YOU, Leslie, for sharing with us the answers to my questions! If you're interested in contacting Leslie, her email is lesliegoe [at] aol [dot] com. Hope you considering reading this magnificent book!


  1. I don't know which is cooler--being a model as a baby or being related to Robert Frost! :)

  2. What a great article. I love inspiring stories. Congratulations on your book Leslie! A testament to never say quit on a dream! -twitter takeover 7/26 Jess takes over my twitter and YOU are invited.

  3. What a lovely interview!

    It is so nice to discover new authors, and Leslie sounds like a gem! I can't wait to read Back Creek.

  4. This is a wonderful interview...and it makes me want to read the book...well done! By the way, I think you won COLUMBINE on my BOOKIN' WITH BINGO blog...did you know and can you check? You should have an email from me about it? Thanks (need your address)

  5. After reading your review I really want to read the book, now I want to read it even more. Great interview :)

  6. This is the second time this book has caught my eye.... I love the interview. I am really starting to feel I need to read the book as well.


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