I’m kicking off my 5 Minutes With… feature with an interview with a talented young writer called Leah Symonne. Leah actually got in touch with me in January about featuring her short story, Jesse Ellsworth, on my blog and I thought she’d be the perfect person to do the first interview with.
Leah is 17 years-old, lives in Canada, has been writing since she was ten, and has already been proactive in making her work available to the world by self-publishing her two short stories, You Can Hold My Hand and the very moving, Jesse Ellsworth.
What’s the inspiration behind your short stories Jesse Ellsworth and You Can Hold My Hand?
You Can Hold My Hand was just inspired by the world we live in. Everyone can relate to a story of simply not feeling accepted, for whatever reasons. Reasons that make them physically different from the people around them, or things a bit below the surface. It’s somewhat of a modern twist of an age-old story of begging for acceptance. Jesse Ellsworth is quite a different story than You Can Hold My Hand. It’s more a tale of a girl named Jesse, who got a bit lost in her own story. Jesse was inspired, again, by an everyday occurrence. I think we all know of a girl who (on the outside) seemed to have it all together. When you looked at that person they, for all intents and purposes, embodied humanly perfection. That was Jesse, but her train derailed. This society is more than accustomed to seeing those who we hold to esteem fall from grace; whether they are people we work with, or celebrities. They were both intended to be relatable. I wanted people to feel as if they knew the characters personally.
Do you write with a particular readership in mind?
When I write I try to write for everyone and anyone. I think if my work were to be categorised it’d be young adult, which is my age group, but I try to write stories that any age group could understand and relate to. I think many stories, especially those with central themes of love, loss or acceptance surpass age boundaries. A twelve year-old could read it, and so could a ninety year-old. When I write, I don’t tend to keep a specific demographic in mind. I try to write for anyone and everyone.
Both of your stories are available online to download – what prompted you to publish them and how have they been received so far?
I’d heard about the world of online publishing, and really wanted to give it a go. I feel it’s an incredible thing to be able to put a story or book online and share it with people and get instant feedback. Especially in today’s society when everyone spends a majority of their time on computers or some form of device that connects to the Internet. I think it’s important to keep up with the times, and not try to stay stuck in old ways. Getting involved in sharing things online, I felt, couldn’t be a bad idea.
What are you currently writing or working on?
Currently I’m editing, which as any writer knows is the most tedious part of this job! I’m also writing and coming up with new ideas all the time. While editing, keeping the creative juices flowing is really important for me! It helps remind me what the fun parts of doing this are, because editing can be such a turn off.
What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned since you first started writing at the age of ten?
My writing’s greatly changed since I started back then. It’s still changing to this day and I don’t think it will ever stop changing. The first notable change is that I’m writing original pieces now, whereas back then I enjoyed rewriting stories I’d read. I added my own characters to my favourite books, and rewrote endings to existing books and television shows. Two of the most important things I’ve learned is remember to back up your work (save, save, save!) and just write what you want. Not everyone is going to be particularly pleased with what you’ve done, but that’s okay as long as you’re happy with what you’ve done. One of my favourite quotes is, “Don’t think, don’t hesitate curving back within yourself just create.” It sums up what every writer should keep in mind all the time!
What’s your favourite book of all time and why?
It’s really hard for me to pick favourites of anything as I’m one of the most indecisive people in the world. However, I really like Just as Long as We’re Together by Judy Blume, which I read when I was about twelve. The story and message just always stuck with me, and it may have been a bit of an inspiration for a lot of my writing.
Describe your perfect day.
Since I’m a teenager, a perfect day never usually starts until the afternoon! A perfect day for me usually involves waking up late, getting to see some friends, and finishing something. It’s always a good close to the day when you manage to complete something you’ve been doing for a while. Though, I’m still quite fond of keeping myself busy, so I also feel really good when I manage to get a lot done in a day.
Would you like to write as a career, or what do you hope to do in the future?
I would like to write as a career. I’m hoping the future will be bright, and I just look forward to hopefully getting to share work with a wider audience soon.
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If you fancy finding out more about Leah then check out her website or follow her on Twitter: @leahsymonne. Both of Leah’s stories are available on Smashwords and Jesse Ellsworth is free and well worth a read.