Friday, August 21, 2020

Q&A with Leslie Connor

Leslie Connor is the author of A Home for Goddesses and Dogs, a new middle grade novel for kids. Her other books include The Truth as Told by Mason Buttle and Waiting for Normal. She lives in Connecticut.  

Q: How did you come up with the idea for A Home for Goddesses and Dogs?

A: From dog ownership! The big yellow dog in the story is modeled on one of our own rescues, Broomis. I started a diary on him as we tried to help him adjust to our home, all the while making guesses about his unknown past. (I realized that this process mirrored creating any character’s backstory, by the way.) 

I was intrigued by the thought of two young creatures— one canine, one human— arriving to the same new home within days of one another and how they would slowly reveal themselves and accept the new space. With that, the seed was planted. 

Q: In our last interview, you said, "Characters are always composites of people I have met, read about, or can imagine." Was that also the case with Lydia?

A: Yes. Lydia happens to share a lot of physical characteristics with a dear friend of mine. (I was surprised by this; it hasn’t really happened before.) However, Lydia is different emotionally, and her circumstances are not at all like that of my friend.

I am certain Lydia is built, in part, from the courage I observed in several daughters whose mothers died before the girls reached adulthood. For me, this story honors them, and their moms.

Q: What role do you see secrets playing in the novel?

A: Ah! I became aware during the writing of the story that there is a difference between keeping a secret and simply not telling. But I still don’t know exactly where that line is! (This point has made for some great discussions with book clubs.) I’ll add that when we begin to share our secrets, that’s a sign of trust. 

Q: How was the book's title chosen, and what does it signify for you? 

A: Oh, bit of a struggle there! (Sometimes a title comes early for me—even first. But not this time.) The search for a sense of home is a theme for me. I write my characters from their place of turmoil into one of greater stability. 

For Lydia, the goddesses represent her emotional past. Likewise, the adopted dog in the story brings evidence of his emotional past. 

But there’s that question: Will you accept the comfort of this new place? Will you let it be your home? This title signifies, or perhaps states, that goal of a peaceful, safe, and fulfilled existence for several creatures brought together by fate. 

Q: What are you working on now?

A: I’m closing in on a draft of a middle grade novel that takes place in the beautiful state of Maine. This one explores a friendship between a 12-year-old girl and her truest friend, a nonverbal, autistic boy.  

Q: Anything else we should know?

A: I am grateful for my readers, and to you, Deborah. May you all be well. May you do some small thing in favor of your own heart every day. Be creative, generous, purposeful and hopeful!

--Interview with Deborah Kalb. Here's a previous Q&A with Leslie Connor.

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