LESLIE VEDDER (she/her) is a YA queer ace author who loves girl heroes and adventurers. 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. Learn more at https://www.leslievedder.com.
Voyage: What was the inspiration behind your novel, The Bone Spindle? What made you want to tell this story?
Leslie Vedder: I’ve always loved fairytales full of witches and curses and monsters in the woods. I also grew up on action movies like Indiana Jones and The Mummy packed with adventure and danger and heart-pounding romance.
The Bone Spindle is a twist on the Sleeping Beauty story, where the curse has been placed on Prince Briar Rose, who has been waiting a hundred years for the girl who will wake him with a kiss. And that girl of destiny? She’s a treasure hunter.
I think the moment this book really came to life for me was when I imagined these two rough-and-tumble girl treasure hunters, Fi and Shane, with dusty travel gear and big personalities teaming up to take on a ruin full of traps, false walls, and creepy spider webs. After that, the rest of the story just unfolded around them. Treasure hunters need a world full of ancient lore and pockets of history to explore. And two girl partners gave me the chance to write two romances—one m/f, with Fi destined for the sleeping prince, and one f/f, with Shane getting all tangled up with a mysterious witch.
V: When you write your stories, what is the one thing you hope readers will take away?
LV: There are all kinds of relationships in The Bone Spindle, but one of the most important is the partnership between the girl treasure hunters.
I hope readers come away with the sense that a friendship can be just as powerful as a romantic connection. One thing I love about Fi and Shane is the idea that two people who are so different—who don’t even really like each other at first!—can become so close they’d do anything for each other. Friendships have been some of the most important relationships in my life, and I loved getting to build a story around that kind of connection.
V: What was the hardest scene of The Bone Spindle to write?
LV: There is a scene in the book where Shane meets a mysterious and alluring witch in the dead of night. I love how it turned out, but you would not believe how many drafts it took me to figure out the right place for that meeting to happen! A sunny glade, a busy marketplace, a glance across a crowded tavern—there were so many not-quite-right locales I went through before hitting on that heart-pounding midnight encounter!
V: If you could tell your younger writer self anything, what would it be?
LV: The best writing advice is the advice that actually works for you! There are so many different kinds of writers out there and so much great advice, but it can be easy to get stuck on one particular story structure or writing regimen and lose sight of how personal this process is.
Definitely try everything—it’s a great way to learn!—but remember there’s no one right way to tell a story.
V: What are your writing must-haves?
LV: My wife and a nice long walk! Whenever I’m brainstorming or stuck or just looking to imagine up new ideas, I like to get away from my computer and go out walking with my partner. She’s an amazing writer and book editor, so being able to bounce ideas off of her and talk them out is magic!
There’s also my lazy housecat, who is my lap-warmer in the cold months. ❤
Head to our Instagram page (@voyageya) to hear Leslie read the first page of The Bone Spindle! Find Leslie’s video under the videos tab. Leslie is also the first place winner of our 2020 Short Story Award! Read Leslie’s winning entry, Phoenix from the Acid!