Leslie Connor

How did you become a writer?

This was a bit of a surprise. I always loved to write, but it was my degree in art and illustration that brought me to the children’s book field. I began to work on picture book texts. Then I discovered a well of ideas for longer works of fiction and gravitated toward stories for middle graders and teens. (I've never gone back to illustrating!)

Name your writing influences (writers, books, teachers, etc.).

Robert Louis Stevenson, Else Minarik, Christopher Paul Curtis, John Irving, Maya Angelou, Maurice Sendak, Alice Hoffman, Kimberly Newton Fusco, Gary Schmidt….I could go on a long, long while here! 

When and where do you write?

The laptop makes for a great portable office. Thus, I began my career in coffee shops, libraries, and curled up on borrowed sofas. Recently, we build a sweet little office shed on our back hill in woods and I love having that space to dream and write in. I’m not one to rise at the crack of dawn to work. I take a morning walk with the dogs then pour the tea and start. 

What are you working on now? 

I’m polishing the final draft of a middle grade novel about a grieving girl and a difficult dog who arrive to the same new home in a tiny New England town. Both arrive harboring secrets and mysteries, and neither seems to want much to do with the other—not at first.  

Have you ever suffered from writer’s block? 

If I have, I cannot admit it because the concept terrifies me. There are definitely short periods when I simply not writing, but I am probably ruminating or letting the creative well fill. 

What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever received?

Shorten your sentences and cut your adverbs!

What’s your advice to new writers?

Shorten your sentences and cut your adverbs! (Sound familiar?) Practice "dedicated daydreaming." Seek to tell the truth about the world and the characters that have arrived into your heart for each story. 

As a kid, Leslie Connor was a daydreamer who loved to be upside down in odd places such as the middle of the stairway at her family home where she could look out the front door and watch the world from an unusual perspective. She studied visual art at the University of Connecticut where she earned a BFA. She is happily surprised to be writing today. Leslie is the genre-hopping author of several award-winning books for children including a picture book, Miss Bridie Chose a Shovel, the middle grade novels, Crunch, and Waiting for Normal, winner of the ALA Schneider Family Book Award, and All Rise for the Honorable Perry T. Cook, a finalist for the E.B. White Read Aloud Award.She has written two teen novels, Dead on Town Lineand The Things You Kiss Goodbye.Leslie’s newest title, The Truth as Told by Mason Buttle, also for middle grade readers, was a National Book Award Finalist in 2018. Leslie lives with her husband and rescue dogs in a little house in the Connecticut woods.