Leah DeCesare spreads the joy (with a butter knife)…plus a special giveaway

Interview by Tracey Meyers

We’re pleased to feature Leah DeCesare at CLC today! She’s here to talk about her debut fiction novel, Forks, Knives, And Spoons (2017, SparkPress) and to get us into a holiday mood. She even has some special gifts for one of our readers: a copy of her book, a choice of a charm bracelet or fork, knife, and spoon necklace, and a 1980’s journal. (See pics at the bottom of the post.)

Leah DeCesare is also the award-winning author of  the nonfiction parenting series Naked Parenting, based on her work as a doula, early parenting educator, and mom of three. Leah’s articles have been featured in The Huffington Post, Eligible magazine, Simply Woman, the International Doula andThe Key, among others. In 2008, Leah co-founded the nonprofit Doulas of Rhode Island, and in 2013 she spearheaded the Campaign for Hope to build the Kampala Children’s Centre for Hope and Wellness in Uganda. In a past life, Leah worked in public relations and event planning. She now writes, teaches and volunteers in Rhode Island where she lives with her family and their talking cockatiel.

For readers who love Adriana Trigiani, Jennifer Weiner and Liane Moriarty, Forks, Knives, and Spoons is a light-hearted, thought-provoking coming of age story that takes readers on a nostalgic journey back to the 1980s and 1990s. Romantic, witty and warm.

There are three kinds of guys: forks, knives, and spoons. That is the final lesson that Amy York’s father sends her off to college with, never suspecting just how far his daughter will take it. Clinging to the Utensil Classification System as her guide, Amy tries to convince her skeptical roommate, Veronica Warren, of its usefulness as they navigate the heartbreaks and soul mates of college and beyond.

Beginning in 1988, their freshman year at Syracuse University, Amy and Veronica meet an assortment of guys―from slotted spoons and shrimp forks to butter knives and sporks―all while trying to learn if the UCS holds true. On the quest to find their perfect steak knives, they learn to believe in themselves―and not to settle in love or life.

What are the three most important lessons about writing you’ve learned over the course of your writing career?
1. I don’t have to follow the same process as others. I used to think there was a
“right” way to being an author but I’ve learned that I’m not doing it wrong if I’m doing it differently. Basically, you don’t have to follow other’s advice if something else is working for you!
2. You can always improve. Reading about writing, practicing writing, testing out new things, learning about the craft is all important.
3. It turns out that as hard as it is, writing the book is sometimes the easy part! 🙂 There is so much else to learn, understand and manage in publishing – from querying through marketing and promoting.

When writing a book, do you outline the book first or do you jump right into writing it?
So, for FORKS, KNIVES, AND SPOONS, I really had only the vaguest plan. I knew my character arcs in general and a few other points, but I came at that a bunch of different ways and learned a ton in writing that book. My work in progress, I approached in an entirely different way – this one, I planned out for months. I loved doing the puzzle-sorting, figuring piece of things all at once, then I laid out the scenes with notes. When I then started to write, I was able to stay in that side of my brain without interruption to figure out where I was going. It was way more efficient and I turned out a solid first draft much more efficiently.

Where do you find inspiration for your writing?
All over! I’m always taking notes and jotting down little thoughts. It can be an overheard word, an observation that makes me ask a question, a character quirk, a what-if scenario… I also draw on life experience as I wonder about my characters’ motivations and deepest emotions. We learn about life from fiction, we get the chance to see into other people’s viewpoints, to walk in another’s shoes or to relate to someone and see ourselves in them. It’s critical to pull in truths of human nature for fiction to really resonate.

Favorite winter activity:
I’ve lived in New England or the northeast my whole life, and as much as I love and appreciate all four seasons, as much as I love the beauty and slowing down of life that comes with snow, I can’t stand being cold. I love reading snuggled inside on a snowy day. I love the excuse to not go anywhere, to be trapped home with my family. That said, I do also like to sled and ski – and I like being warm inside again after! 😉

What are three of your “bucket list” items?
Writing a novel has been a life-long bucket list dream – it’s so fulfilling to have done that and to be able to keep writing fiction.
Three others on my list are to:
*Travel to every state in the US
*Travel, travel, travel! I love traveling and would love to traipse all over the six travel-able continents. I’ve been to Asia, Europe, North America and Africa and there’s still so much more to see! Thankfully, my husband is on board with using our retirement savings to see the world!
*Go to a Super Bowl and a Presidential Inauguration

Favorite thing about the holidays:
I’m already loving the anticipation of Christmas! I love the preparations that lead to the celebration of Christmas with family. It’s such a joy and blessing to have those closest to me in one place with no expectations of responding to emails or being interactive on social media. I love the joy of picking out and giving the perfect gift for someone, the sparkle when my kids open their gifts – and the excitement when they give others the gifts they’ve selected. I’m seriously a Christmas elf! I love wrapping and decorating and baking cookies and singing Christmas songs (badly – but I do it anyway).

Thanks to Leah for chatting with us and for sharing her book and cool prizes with our readers. Read more…