Debut Author Interview: Leslie Vedder and The Bone Spindle Giveaway and IWSG Post

Happy Wednesday and Happy New Year Everyone! I hope you all enjoyed your holidays. Mine were good but still pretty quiet due to COVID. I was grateful to spend more time with my daughter this year.

Today I’m excited to start my 2022 blog schedule with an interview with Leslie Vedder to celebrate the release of her YA fantasy The Bone Spindle. It’s a retelling of Sleeping Beauty, one of my favorite fairy tales, so I’m excited to read it.

Here’s a blurb from Goodreads:

Sleeping Beauty meets Indiana Jones in this thrilling fairytale retelling for fans of Sorcery of Thorns and All the Stars and Teeth.

Fi is a bookish treasure hunter with a knack for ruins and riddles, who definitely doesn't believe in true love.

Shane is a tough-as-dirt girl warrior from the north who likes cracking skulls, pretty girls, and doing things her own way.

Briar Rose is a prince under a sleeping curse, who's been waiting a hundred years for the kiss that will wake him.

Cursed princes are nothing but ancient history to Fi--until she pricks her finger on a bone spindle while exploring a long-lost ruin. Now she's stuck with the spirit of Briar Rose until she and Shane can break the century-old curse on his kingdom.

Dark magic, Witch Hunters, and bad exes all stand in her way--not to mention a mysterious witch who might wind up stealing Shane's heart, along with whatever else she's after. But nothing scares Fi more than the possibility of falling in love with Briar Rose.

Set in a lush world inspired by beloved fairytales, The Bone Spindle is a fast-paced young adult fantasy full of adventure, romance, found family, and snark. 

 


Before I get to my interview with Leslie, I have my IWSG Post.

Posting: The first Wednesday is officially Insecure Writer's Support Group Day.

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

The awesome co-hosts with me this month are Erika Beebe, Olga Godim, Sandra Cox, Sarah Foster, and Chemist Ken!

Optional Question: What’s the one thing about your writing career you regret the most? Were you able to overcome it?

I don’t have a writing career, but this month’s question ties into one I’ve been contemplating recently. I’m writing my climax scenes in my current manuscript, which means that I will really finish my manuscript in the next few months. I’ve been kind of freaking out about it because it raises some constant questions I have that make me really insecure. Here’s a few of the questions this raises for me:

  • Do I want a writing career after already having a successful career as a writer? Or do I want my writing to be a hobby?
  • Can I write on contract if I become traditionally published? This is a big fear for me because I’m a slow writer.
  • Should I keep my current writing job where I work part-time and have made about $100,000 in about six years or quit it if I get a publishing deal? I really don’t want to have two jobs anymore.

I don’t have any answers to these questions yet. I’m just going to take it one step at a time and hope that the answers will become clearer after I finish and revise my manuscript.

What’s the one thing you regret about your writing career?

Interview with Leslie Vedder

Hi Leslie! Thanks so much for joining us.

1. Tell us about yourself and how you became a writer.

I’ve always loved fantasy books! When I was kid, after lights out, I would crawl under my covers with a flashlight and a book and read late into the night. There was something magical about that space. Just me and a tiny circle of light and the fantasy worlds I was transported to.

I continued to devour books all through my teens, and it wasn’t long before my love of reading also into a love of writing. It’s a little cliché, but I really have always wanted to be an author.

2. That’s awesome that you always wanted to be an author. Where did you get the idea for The Bone Spindle?

Shane and Fi and their partnership was one of the biggest inspirations for this book! I knew I wanted to have girl treasure hunters with these big personalities that would allow them to clash, and bicker, and really get under each other’s skin in the best way. Finding their voices was a huge part of that.

I spent a long time, before I even started writing, taking walks with my girlfriend (now my wife!) and just speaking possible dialogue aloud and finding these voices. I knew I finally had them when brainstorming together turned into laughing and cracking each other up.

3. You definitely made this retelling of Sleeping Beauty your own story. What was the process like and what advice do you have for other authors who want to write a retelling?

I think one of the most important steps in coming up with a retelling is deciding what you want to keep and what you want to change.  Some retellings take a lot of the elements of an original story and give them a fun remix or twist, while others are more like reimaginings touched off by just a few elements the source material.

In the case of The Bone Spindle, the big change I knew I wanted to make was genderflipping the story, so that Briar Rose would be the sleeping prince waiting for a girl to wake him with a kiss.  A lot of the other pieces of the Sleeping Beauty story fell into place during the drafting process, but that was the first puzzle piece for me, and what I built everything else around.

4. That’s a great tip to decide what to keep and change from the original story. Your story is described as fast-paced in the blurb and by reviewers. What techniques did you use to keep readers wanting to turn the page?

I always try to make sure each chapter ends with some kind of tension. Sometimes it’s situational, sometimes emotional—sometimes the characters’ lives are in danger, and sometimes they’re just breaking their own hearts. Either way, I hope every chapter leaves the reader wanting to read just one more page, which is the feeling I love when I’m tearing through my favorite books!

The Bone Spindle is an action-adventure, with a lot of emphasis on action, so I had a lot of fun coming up with traps for the treasure hunting scenes, as well as what I hope are some truly edge-of-your-seat fighting sequences!

5. Having every chapter end with some type of tension sounds like a great way to keep readers want to keep reading. What was a challenge you faced when writing The Bone Spindle and how did you overcome it?

One of the challenges I had drafting this book was worldbuilding. The Bone Spindle has a lot of treasure hunting and traps in ancient ruins—which meant that these lost, abandoned places needed to exist within the history of the fantasy world.

After struggling with some of the details, I realized I needed to approach the worldbuilding as though I was building two places at the same time.  There’s the world of centuries past, when all of these ancient places were flourishing, and the world the main characters inhabit, where all of it has been lost.

So many tidbits didn’t even make it into the book in the end, but just having them figured out in my head really helped ground me when I was writing.

6. Your agent is Carrie Hannigan. How did she become your agent and what was your road to publication like?

My road to publication was a little bit long and winding. Like many authors, I had a number of projects I queried that didn’t go anywhere—and then one project that actually got me an agent, but didn’t ultimately make it. In fact, that entire literary agency ended up closing down.

So by the time I was querying The Bone Spindle, I was definitely a bit weary, but a lot wiser about the process. It still took many months, but when I connected with Carrie Hannigan and Ellen Goff, they were so enthusiastic, and I knew they were the perfect agents for my book!  They saw me through an edit and then being on submission that stretched into the pandemic.

So I would say, no part of my journey was really fast, but I feel like I ended up exactly where I’m meant to be.

7. That must have been hard to have the first agency you were with close. What did you do for your cover reveal and your pre-release pre-order campaign if you did one? Would you do the same things again for your next book? Why?

My cover reveal was with Culturess, which was a lot of fun. They’ve covered some of my favorite fantasy books!

For my preorder campaign, I commissioned art from the amazing Arz28. In my heart I’ve always been a shipper, so having pictures of the couples was a dream come true!

I’m not positive the preorder campaign itself has really moved the needle on my preorder numbers. But honestly, I would do it again. It’s been really nice to have something gorgeous and fun to post about! Instead of having to come up with clever ways to say preorder my book, I can share the beautiful art and offer preorder goods. For someone who struggles with social media, it’s been a great help.

8. What are you doing to promote your book for your release?

I’ve had a lot of fun doing several Q&As with great sites (like Literary Rambles!)—as well as being on a few podcasts, which has been pretty nerve-wracking, since prior to a few months ago I’d never done an interview in my life!

One of the things I’m most excited for, though, is the book launch, which I will be doing in person with another debut author, Meg Long! Her amazing book COLD THE NIGHT, FAST THE WOLVES is a dynamite YA sci-fi and I think the whole event is going to be lots of fun.

So if you’re in the Denver, CO area, come join us at the Tattered Cover on Jan 11!

9.  I saw on your website that you are mostly on Instagram. Why do you prefer this social media platform?

There are a lot of great book people on Twitter, but I personally find the platform very difficult to keep up with. It feels like everything moves at a very fast pace and really wants a high level of engagement that burns me out.

Instagram is a lot more my speed. My posts can be long or short, and a lot of the message can be conveyed through pictures. Plus it gives me an excuse to take photos of my cats, which is my very favorite activity!

10. What are you working on now?

The Bone Spindle is a trilogy, so I’ve been working on editing book two and writing book three! No spoilers, but I’ve really enjoyed the chance to dig into the characters and the romances! Plus ancient libraries, more treasure hunting, and even a book code!

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Leslie. You can find Leslie at leslievedder.com. On twitter: @leslievedder, and Instagram: @leslie.vedder.

Giveaway Details

Leslie has generously offered a hardback of The Bone Spindler for a giveaway. To enter, all you need to do is be a follower of my blog (via the follower gadget, email, or bloglovin’ on the right sidebar) and leave a comment by January 22nd. If your e-mail is not on your Google Profile, you must leave it in the comments to enter the contest. Please be sure I have your email address.

If you mention this contest on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog and/or follow me on Twitter, mention this in the comments and I'll give you an extra entry for each. You must be 13 years old or older to enter. This giveaway is U.S. and Canada.

Upcoming Interviews and Giveaways

Monday, January 10th I have an agent/debut author guest post with Charlotte Wenger and Nancy Tandon and a query critique and MG contemporary The Way I Say It giveaway

Wednesday, January 12th I have an agent spotlight interview with Haley Casey and a query critique giveaway

Sunday, January 16th I’m participating in the Winter Wishes Giveaway Hop

Monday, January 17th I have an agent spotlight interview with Shannon Snow and a query critique giveaway

Monday, January 24th I have an interview with debut author Shawn Peters and a giveaway of his MG adventure The Unforgettable Logan Foster

Tuesday, February 1st I’m participating in the Heart to Heart Giveaway Hop

Wednesday, February 2nd I have an agent/author guest post with Nicole Resciniti and Lillie Lainoff and a giveaway of Lisa’s YA fairytale retelling All for One and a query critique giveaway

Hope to see you on Monday!