Sunday, February 5, 2023

Leslie Vedder

Leslie Vedder (she/her) is a queer ace author who loves fairytale retellings with girl adventurers and heroes! She grew up on fantasy books, anime, fanfiction and the Lord of the Rings movies, and met her true love in high school choir. She graduated from San Francisco State University with a B.A. in creative writing and currently lives in Colorado with her wife and two spoiled house cats.

When she's not reading or writing, you can find her watching anime and sci-fi shows, walking in the woods and pretending they're enchanted forests, or playing old video games. She always collects all the Skulltulas in Zelda and all the Dalmation puppies in Kingdom Hearts.

Her debut YA novel The Bone Spindle was an indie bestseller. The sequel The Severed Thread comes out this week.

My Q&A with the author:

How much work does your title do to take readers into the story?

I think the title, The Severed Thread, slips into the mind like a dangling thread, and the more you pull it, the more it unspools. The tagline for this book is: which threads of fate will hold and which will break? The villainess of the book uses golden thread to spin her dark curses. And a single ever-so-breakable thread of destiny connects the now-awakened prince and the girl who saved him. The word severed just says it all. (Though I can’t take credit for that title—it’s all thanks to my wonderful team at Penguin!)

How surprised would your teenage reader self be by your new novel?

My teenage self would be over the moon for this book, and especially for Shane! When I was growing up, in addition to reading a ton of fantasy, I was a big fan of Xena, and I would have been all about a book that didn’t just have a girl warrior, but also an unapologetically queer one. (Something there wasn’t a lot of when I was a teen!) Writing her was a dream come true.

Do you find it harder to write beginnings or endings? Which do you change more?

I find beginnings way harder than endings. When I’m just starting out, I’m still finding the characters’ voices and seeding clues and worldbuilding for the whole story. By the end, I feel like I have all this momentum behind me. For The Severed Thread, I must have written at least five different versions of the opening chapters, but the end—which involves a high-stakes gambit, a battle, and an epic showdown—came together just as I imagined.

Do you see much of yourself in your characters? Do they have any connection to your personality, or are they a world apart?

I’d like to think there’s a little bit of me in both my heroines—but really just a little bit. Fi is a bookish, no-nonsense historian, and while I share her love of books, I definitely do not have her cleverness. Shane is a queer ax-wielding huntswoman with a hot temper, who can pick a fight with anyone and is fiercely loyal to those she loves. She’s everything my teenage self dreamed of in a heroine!

What non-literary inspirations have influenced your writing?

The Severed Thread has lots of treasure hunting in old ruins, solving riddles and books codes, and big knock-down drag-out fights! It’s very much my love letter to action movies like Indiana Jones and The Mummy that are one long chase scene from start to finish, with the characters getting into trouble everywhere they go!
Visit Leslie Vedder's website.

--Marshal Zeringue