I hope you’re ready for a very exciting interview today! Leslie Vedder is an author debuting in 2022 with a f/f fantasy that mixes Sleeping Beauty with Indiana Jones and, to be perfectly honest, it sounds like everything we’ve ever wanted. So, with that hook, and to hopefully sate your thirst for this book, here’s our interview with her!
And don’t forget to follow her on Twitter!
Let’s start at the beginning. How did you first get into writing?
It’s a little cliché, but I’ve always wanted to be an author. No, really, always! Here’s a picture of my wonderful first grade publications—including a very confused Hobbit retelling!—and my very first author bio, where I boldly state my intention to write for the rest of my life! 🙂
What are your favourite genres to read and write, and are there any genres or tropes you wouldn’t write?
I love fantasy! I grew up on Lord of the Rings (the books and the movies). My father read me The Hobbit when I was so young I imagined hobbits to be sort of strange rabbit creatures (see the pic above!). That early love for elves and adventures and magic (also fed by Miyazaki movies and yokai anime!!) really fueled my love of reading and writing fantasy. And while LGBT—and especially f/f fantasy—books were pretty rare when I was young, I am soooo excited by how many are coming out now!
As far as genres I don’t write… I can never seem to finish anything contemporary. I read contemporary and love contemporary, but inevitably, the second I put pen to paper, witches and magic spells and fairies and forest creatures start sneaking in. Fantasy really is my OTP!
How do you get inspiration for your books and what’s your writing process? At what point do you let other people read your drafts and who are they?
I write the books that I want to read! So I feel like my inspiration comes from everywhere—books, movies, TV shows, furious games of Catchphrase, and even long walks in the woods, imagining dragons and enchanted forests.
I’m a pretty solo writer for the most part—except for my girlfriend. She is the person I bounce ideas off of, my first reader, my editor, and my biggest fan all rolled into one! She’s also a professional book editor (she’s editor-in-chief of a small literary press), so she is really, really good at what she does!
The only problem is, sometimes I joke that she’s trying to edit the thoughts as they’re coming out of my head instead of waiting for me to get them down on paper first! She’s my rock, though. She keeps me going whenever the going gets rough, and I have no doubt there would be no books at all without her!
Which three authors would you say influenced your writing the most?
Definitely Tamora Pierce! The Alanna books were the first books I ever fell in love with. They set the bar for me for girl heroes. Alanna has a temper, she has ambition and drive, and she has so much spunk! 🙂 Tamora Pierce is the author who made me want to be an author.
Lynn Flewelling’s Luck in the Shadows series is the first time I really remember reading about amazing gay/bisexual main characters who were thieves and rogues immersed in an intricate fantasy world. But they still had these big epic love stories! That was wonderful and eye-opening for me.
Finally, I have to sneak an extra author in here and mention both Malinda Lo and Audrey Coulthurst. I honestly can’t remember which book I read first—Ash or Of Fire and Stars—but I remember devouring them. Ash is a Cinderella retelling with a huntswoman instead of a prince, and Of Fire and Stars is a princess x princess love story! I loved that the characters’ gayness was an integral part of the plot while also leaving room for rich fantasy storytelling that carried me away. It was like seeing it all come together, and thinking: Yes! This! This is what I want in a book.
And for something that is also very important to us & what we put a lot of emphasis on when blogging. What does ownvoices LGBT representation mean to you?
I really love ownvoices LGBT+ because it brings in so many perspectives you might never see otherwise. As a teen, I struggled a lot with trying to figure who I was, who I liked and didn’t like. Being able to inhabit characters in books—the ones like me and the ones unlike me!— helped me find the contours of myself.
I love that there’s a Q for questioning in the full LGBT acronym, because for many people, there isn’t one single answer when it comes to their gender or sexual orientation. There’s this saying: What you can see, you can be! I think that’s very true. Ownvoices helps create this wonderful world of rich, complex possibilities out of what is so often flattened to a simple binary. That can make all the difference for a young reader. (I know it did for me!)
What’s one piece of advice you would like to give your younger self?
Wow! This is a good one. I would tell my younger self to have more confidence and to believe in my friends more. I was such a loner as a kid, and I did a ton of writing, but I was really reluctant to show it to anyone. I was worried people would feel obligated to read it and then they wouldn’t like it, and it would ruin all my friendships. (I know ^__^; I really catastrophized the whole thing!)
That kind of set the tone for me. Even when I got older, I didn’t really put my work out there or find ways to connect with other people. In the end, I missed out on having a lot of close writer friends. (Though I eventually found the perfect bookworm girlfriend!) So I would say, definitely: find your people!
Summarise your most recent/next book in up to 5 words and a meme.
Treasure hunting! Uh-oh! Curse! Kiss!
If you could have dinner with one member of the LGBT community, dead or alive, who would it be?
Melissa Bashardoust! She is the author of one of my favorite f/f fantasies, Girls Made of Snow and Glass, a Snow White retelling, and Girl, Serpent, Thorn, which just came out this summer and is equally amazing! Her books are truly stunning. She writes such compelling characters with such deep interiority that I find myself thinking about them long after I’ve turned the last page!
She’s not on social media either, so for me, she has a fun mysterious author vibe going too. I’d love to meet her!
Which of your characters would you most want to fight a zombie apocalypse with?
This is maybe the only easy question! 🙂 My debut fantasy, The Bone Spindle, stars a pair of girl treasure hunters, Fi—the brain!—destined for the Sleeping Prince, and Shane—the brawn!—a gay ax-wielding huntswoman who has a fierce temper and absolutely no qualms about throwing the first punch. I think my only hope of surviving a zombie apocalypse would be cowering behind her.
Is there a famous franchise or simply a movie/TV show you’d like to be able to write for?
Somebody please tap me to write the super-lesbian, epic love tales of Xena and Gabrielle kicking butt across magical Greece!!
Do you have any secret non canon ships in your books you wish people would write fics for?
Having fanfiction written about my book would be a dream come true! I probably owe as much of who I am as a writer to fanfiction as I do to traditional books. I still have some of my favorite fanfiction from high school saved on my computer so I never lose it!
When it comes to my own books… If there are two characters and they interact, like at all, I probably thought about pairing them at some point. My girlfriend likes to joke that my characters are all just a little in love with each other, even the ones that aren’t paired in canon, and she may be on to something!
Rec us some great LGBT books you’ve read recently!
Yay! The only difficult part will be not making this section a mile long! (I’m also going to take this opportunity to share some of my bookstagram pictures!)
Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust: This was one of my favorite books of the summer! It’s based on Persian mythology. Soraya is a poisonous girl (literally!) who gets tangled up with a figure of dark myth. The book is stunning and complex and uncoils like a snake shedding its skin. It also has an entrancing f/f love story!
Cinderella is Dead by Kalynn Bayron: This one (as you may have guessed!) is a Cinderella retelling—it’s a deliciously dark one, though, with action, magic to raise the dead, and mortal peril aplenty! It also has an f/f love story front and center!
The Dark Tide by Alicia Jasinska: Lina, the bi main character, is a heroine with drive and a lot of heart. Her love interest is also a murderous witch as likely to kill her as fall in love with her…no spoilers! This one is dark and atmospheric and intimate!
Tarnished Are the Stars by Rosiee Thor: This SF YA has a cinnamon roll ace main character to fall in love with! And as a bonus, it also has an f/f pairing between a mechanic who fixes clockwork hearts and a dangerous spy! 🙂
My rec list could probably go on forever, so if you’re interested in more book recs (or pictures of my spoiled cats!), come find me on Instagram (@leslie.vedder)!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Leslie Vedder (she/her) is a queer ace author who writes fairytale retellings with girl adventurers and heroes. She loves writing, reading, coffee, anime, cats, geeking out over fictional characters, and her partner—not necessarily in that order! (•‿•)
Her favorite place in the world is the Broken Shovels Farm Sanctuary, where she volunteers with puppies and visits rad rescue goats with big personalities!
She lives in Colorado with her girlfriend and two spoiled house cats, and when she’s not writing, she’s trying out new vegan dessert recipes!
Her debut YA novel THE BONE SPINDLE is forthcoming in Spring 2022 from Penguin / Putnam Young Readers.