Q&A With New England Author Leah Erickson

Amanda K. (BookBuzz)

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Lean Erickson and her book The Vesper BellPhoto byBookBuzz

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Leah Erickson is a prolific author who has penned four novels including "The Brambles" (2017), "Blythe of the Gates" (2018), "The Gilded Lynx" (2019), and "The Vesper Bell" (2022). Her writing has been recognized with several prestigious awards such as the 2018 Independent Press Award, the Independent Book Award, a silver medal from the Reader's Favorite Awards, and a Gold Medal from the 2019 Independent Publisher Book Awards. Erickson's short fiction has been published in numerous magazines and journals both in print and online, such as The Fabulist, Pantheon Magazine, The Saint Ann's Review, Eclectica, The KGB Bar Literary Journal, The Coachella Review, among others. She currently resides in Newport, Rhode Island with her husband and daughter.

Author Q&A

Do you have a specific writing style?

I’ve been told my novel writing style is “dark literary,” though I’ve written short fiction that is classified as speculative, slipstream, or horror. I branch out more in my short pieces.

How did you come up with the title?

Just wordplay, I guess. I still get very titillated by language. Experiment with various word combinations until something sings to me.

How much of the book is realistic?

Well, “The Vesper Bell” is a bit over-the-top, and reads like a very surreal telenova. But in order to make it work, I tried to make the characters well-drawn and nuanced. If the characters ring true, and there is a real emotional resonance, then I have more lattitude to work with a plot that is at times far-fetched or fantastical.

Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

Absolutely, but the characters and events are amalgams. You can’t overwhelm the reader with too many characters. Pick and choose different traits and condense them. It is good to be as succinct as possible. It’s an artistic principle. Select one thing to stand in for the many.

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

As a kid I used to sneak around drawing people without their knowledge. Then I started writing what people said and did if I thought it was particularly startling or funny. (Teenagers think EVERYONE is startling or funny, or at least I did.) So a writing notebook replaced my drawing pad. And I enjoyed inventing my own characters from bits and pieces of people I knew. Like playing Legos.

What was the hardest part of writing your book?

Simply finding uninterrupted time.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Keep a journal! It keeps you sharp. It keeps you in touch with yourself. And what you write down that day may seem like nothing. But you’ll see it differently when time passes.

What is your favorite movie and why?

I never really have absolutes as far as favorites anymore. The last movie where I rewatched the trailer and started dying laughing was “The Magic Christian,” starring Peter Sellers and Ringo Starr. Peter Sellers plays a super rich guy who adopts a street person (Ringo Starr) as his son, though they are pretty much the same age. Then they just go around messing with people, because they are rich, and they CAN. It’s super-1960s. Psychedelic! (My husband once ran an art house video store and so corrupts me with stuff like this.)

Do you feel like you’d be a better writer if you wore sparkly socks during your writing sessions?

I prefer to wear a latex catsuit while writing. There is no situation that can’t be improved by showing up in a latex catsuit.

How do you think being a writer has helped you as a person?

It has instilled patience and a sense of discipline, because there is little short term gratification, what with rewrites, editing….it is real work. It also has enabled me to learn new and surprising things about myself, all the time, because when you blurp out your subconscious, sometimes things come out that you didn’t know were there. And that’s the most exciting and invigorating thing of all!

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Amanda is a PR manager and book lover from Georgia. When she's not working, she enjoys spending time outdoors with her husband and two doggies.

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