Today, I'm thrilled to have back on my blog international bestselling author, Leslie P. Garcia. Here is Leslie with her two best friends.
Leslie is one of my wonderful Crimson Romance sisters. But today, she is here to talk to us about her collection of poetry, Always the Moon. Leslie has opened herself up for us, sharing some very difficult times in her life. I hope you enjoy getting to know her as much as I have.
I’m so thrilled to have you here today. Leslie. Thanks so much for stopping by. To start off this interview, tell us a little about yourself so my reader to get to know the person behind the writer.
You know, it’s one of those ironies of life that you ask me to tell about myself—because you’re highlighting my poetry collection, Always the Moon, which basically spans my life—and hopefully, talks to readers’ lives, too. A few examples:
Remember when the shadow fell
Along the southern edge of a pine-strewn creek,
And made soft monsters, black-caped men?
This excerpt from “Southern Child” talks about growing up in rural Georgia, a little apart from everyone else since my father and mother were “Yankees” and not trusted much. Many of the poems are about family—some specifically inspired by my sisters or brothers, but also echoing the stories I’ve heard from other families. One of my favorite lines from the book—Children/Are always/ The universal truth—sums up why I taught for twenty plus years and why with four adult children and nine grandchildren, family is central to my life.
Tell us a little bit about how you came to write Always the Moon? By the way, that is one beautiful cover.
ON SALE February 28th through March 6th for $0.99.
Besides family, other constants in my life have been a passion for horses, trees, and the moon. Even now when I walk out and see a full moon, it stops me in my tracks. So…maybe some of my poems have the moon in them. Maybe something like this:
And when the moon knifed suddenly through cloud/
The pain made me scream, (from “Finally Unafraid”)
Completing a book is an enormous challenge. What was your biggest obstacle and how did you overcome it? In other words, what do you think drove you to complete this enormous project?
In general, nothing has been harder than finishing books, especially since I taught until June of last year, and both my husband and I got hit by the health whammy. But most of the poems were written a long time ago—some when I was in high school. So really finding and then choosing the poems was the real challenge. I probably have a thousand, but some weren’t worthy—and some were lost. I did move numerous times, and when I was kicked out of my family for marrying someone not of my ethnicity, my father burned some. But I found most of them—the only two I hate not finding were my Lincoln poem and “Fragments are the All.”
I'm so sorry you had to go through that, Leslie. Racial prejudice, in my opinion, is one of our greatest sins. There will be no peace until we can accept each other as equals. Leslie tells us about her ordeal to be with the man she loves at the end of this interview. It made me cry.
So, next question. When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?
I literally always wanted to write. At six, I sold a poem to a child’s only publication and earned $1.50 (Sadly, I didn’t make any money for a looooong time after that!) Mrs. Wheeler, my principal, posted my story “Ricky and Tricky’s Christmas” on the school board. So I actually have been a “published” writer since first grade!
Hey, back then, $1.50 was big money in my book. I had to babysit for three hours to earn that kind of loot. :) Here's an interesting question I love asking authors. Do you believe writers are born or made?
Born, although I believe that people can learn the craft. But a lot of the folks who “want” to write, even though they could, will never write. Born writers will write, even if it seems pointless. I used to quit writing every November for a month or two—but I couldn’t really quit for good. I also threw out my first check for a poem published nationally, because I didn’t notice at first that it was a real envelope, not a SASE, and when my first Crimson Romance editor e-mailed that Unattainable “wowed her,” I beat my desk and cursed. (I’m not a curser.) The thing is, there were attachments—and I thought she’d returned my digitally submitted manuscript. I kept asking why, if it wowed her—and then I noticed the attachments were a contract and character art sheet!
I love it! There is nothing like getting that one email that turns your world upside down and makes your dream come true. How do you think your life experiences have prepared you for a writing career?
My family was really and truly dysfunctional. My favorite thing about being ‘weird’ is that we had an amusement park in the middle of nowhere that grew to include an African lion, jaguarondi, monkeys, snakes, and native Georgia wildlife, antique rides, and 26 horses and ponies.
Living in a collapsing antebellum with a nearby outhouse and a Civil War cemetery was…interesting, but not fun. Add being abused by the father who disowned me when my husband insisted on asking formally for my hand, losing a brother to a murderer, and hanging on to shreds of who I once was as I morphed into someone totally different, and yes—I’d say they have given me a mother lode of things to write about.
What moment in this journey are you most proud of?
There are so many moments I’m proud of, although they’re scattered through a long trajectory. (Thankfully!) Having one of my poems, “First Born,” published in McCall’s back when they took poems, then having a friend discover it on her flight to Chicago, remains very vivid.
I used to read McCall's magazine cover to cover. I bet I read First Born.
Now for a few giggles. There is someone you will never meet but whom you desperately need for them to know who you are. The only way to communicate with them is to send them a box with three items. What would those three ideas be?
A baseball bat, a tattered piece of poetry, and my heartfelt gratitude for giving me hope when I was a kid.
You’re going into battle. What are you writing, who are you fighting and what is your weapon?
A horse, time to reflect about the battle, and pens. Yes, pens. Ask old William about that. I love these questions, Nancy!
And you are doing a wonderful job with them! Write a love story in eight words:
Would you mind if I sneak in three extra words?
From Encounters my ‘Taylor Swift’ poem, written before she was born: “I’ve known you forever.”Yeah. Right. Tell it to the Marines.
Take all the words you need. Lovely poem. What is up next for you?
I must start writing. I have 2 novellas planned—our Cowboy Up ‘franchise’ is another of my proudest moments, since the first 2 made me an international bestselling author. I have a romance I’d like to finish that would become the third in my Texas Heart and Soul series, a mainstream I need to move on because it’s important—a lot I need to do. I have that problem writers get hit with sometimes, where there simply isn’t a way over the wall that sprang up from nowhere. I will go on, though. I always have.
I understand that wall. I too had to take a couple months away from writing. But that is okay. One thing we both know-to-the-bone about being writers, there will be a point we have to get back to the key board because the story demands to be told.
Where can readers find out more about your book and yourself?
Always the Moon is available digitally on Amazon, in print at most retailers, and goes on sale February 28th through March 6th for $0.99.
And I almost forgot, I promised you the story of how I spent my wedding day, which was March 1st, 1974 in the Texas Hill Country. I met my husband when he was an illegal alien working with me on a dude ranch. When Cruz proposed, my father and the woman who owned the ranch reported him to the Border Patrol, and my father took me to Corpus Christi where I was held for about a week on the family boat by one of my brothers and a man I found out later had been in jail for killing his own child. Anyway, after a scary escape, we married and returned to the dude ranch to find out that the border patrol had been summoned again. So the owner (who didn’t want to lose her $6.00 a week help) sent us to hide out in a large arroyo at the far end of the property. My husband chased armadillos and tried to reassure me that the BP wouldn’t really find us, but there was no romantic interlude—we were just too worried that we might literally have to head for the hills!
Wow, what an incredible story. I know it is something you could never write, but someone should. You are a very brave woman, Leslie.
Nancy, thank you so much for this entertaining chance to talk to you and your readers about Always the Moon, a book I put out there with love and hope others will find ‘life words’ that touch them in special ways. I’ve had fun!
It was wonderful getting to know you a little better. I can't thank you enough for giving us such a heartfelt interview. Your experiences throughout your life has made you into an amazing woman. I wish you all the very best in sales for Always the Moon. If anyone has a question for Leslie P. Garcia or me, please don't be shy. Ask away!!! We love interacting with our readers. You can leave a comment by clinking on the tiny pencil below. If that gives you trouble, just leave me a comment by clicking on the CONTACT ME icon at the top of my blog.
I hope everyone has a great week. Until we meet again, be kind to one another.
Hugs to all,
Nancy C. Weeks