Author Spotlight: Lindsay Leslie

March 8, 2019

Today we are pleased to feature picture book author Lindsay Leslie and her debut book, THIS BOOK IS SPINELESS, illustrated by Alice Brereton (Page Street Kids, Feb 2019). Enter to win a copy!

Tell us about yourself and how you came to write for children.

First, thanks for having me here. KidLit411 was one of the first resources I leaned on when I started my path toward becoming a published children’s author. As for me, I’ve always been a writer --whether in my diary as a young child, on the school newspaper in high school, as a public relations executive, and now author. Writing is my constant and my comfort.

I came to writing for children because of my two littles. I was in a place in my life where I needed to reboot myself and find a new path. I recall reading and re-reading so many wonderful picture books to my kids at bedtime. Each book read became a performance. Some books would get laughs. Some would get a million questions. Some, a thumbs down. But no matter what, my children were engaged in the process and making connections about what they had heard. It was our nightly read-alouds, my own memories of reading as a child, and my ability to write that connected me to the world of writing for children.

Congrats on your picture book THIS BOOK IS SPINELESS and your upcoming picture book NOVA THE STAR EATER, how did you come up with the ideas for these books?

Most of my ideas are sparked by something that is around me or something somebody said. With THIS BOOK IS SPINELESS, my inspiration was two-fold. The idea for the title jumped into my head one day when I walked into my youngest son’s messy room and stepped on one of his picture books. My subconscious mind took that moment to play, and I imagine it said, “You hurt the book. You stepped on the book. You broke its spine.” And then I yelled in the direction of my son, “This book is spineless!” 

The second inspiration is my lifelong struggle with anxiety. I was always an anxious kiddo, and I tried to hide it to the best of my abilities. All through my life, I’ve faced my fears over and over again. As an adult, my anxieties have intensified in some ways, eased in others. So, it’s a lifelong issue for me. I wanted to approach the idea of anxiety in a palatable way for kiddos, but also a realistic way. And by realistic, I mean that anxiety may never go away, but it can be faced and it can be managed. I was also interested in using the rise and fall of what we experience when we have an anxious moment as the arc of the story. 

For NOVA THE STAR EATER, the idea came from one of those conversations with my older son about Pokemon. You know those chats. I was trying not to let my mind zone out like it usually does when he talks in detail about all the characters. But he said something that really made my imagination light on fire. He said, “There’s this Pokemon that eats stars.” I thought, wow! That’s great! I wonder what a star-eating creature looks like and what if the star-eating creature ate the Sun. Then NOVA THE STAR EATER, illustrated by John Taesooo Kim (Page Street Kids May 2019), was born.

Was your road to publication long and windy, short and sweet, or something in between?

I think short and sweet. I started to write for children in 2015, and I received the contract for THIS BOOK IS SPINELESS in July 2017. I do have to say my path didn’t come without struggles and rejections galore. I just made sure to take every avenue available to me to learn the craft and connect with agents, editors, and other industry players. I’m a huge fan of SCBWI, Julie Hedlund’s 12x12 community, and participating with the world of kid lit via Twitter and its various pitch events, like #pitmad and #pbpitch.

What projects are you working on now?

Many! I love having multiple projects in the air. My third picture book with Page Street Kids (Spring 2020) is DUSK RAIDERS WANTED, and I’m working to tweak words here and there, while the illustrator, Ellen Rooney, is working on artwork. I love the collaboration and dance that goes on once the illustrator becomes involved. I’m also on submission with several picture books and just wrapped up an R&R with a publisher, so fingers crossed. In the meantime, I’m knee deep in revisions of a middle-grade novel and toying with many other picture book manuscripts.

What advice would you give your younger self? Is this the same advice you'd give to aspiring authors?

I think my main advice would be about self-care and self-love. I’m particularly good at cutting myself down. A real pro. I’m terrible at letting the good things in and really feel, “Wow, I deserved this. I worked hard.” So, I would say keep that log of the good things (big and small) or an email folder of happy emails. Take that moment to have a slice of pie or whatever treat to celebrate an accomplishment. Spend a moment chatting with your friends about the achievements in your writing — whether a new idea, a manuscript draft completed, interest from an agent. Whatever it is, take that time to breathe in all the positives that you made happen for you and get back to what fulfills you. For me, that is the writing.

What is something most people don't know about you?

I would say people may not know that I was once the co-owner of a pie company. Not only did I co-own the business, but I was also the accountant, the dishwasher, the delivery person, the inventory specialist, the webmaster, the salesperson, the marketer, the baker, etc. My business partner and I wore all the hats at one time or another. I call it my informal MBA. My nickname was the “Dough Whisperer.” That still makes me giggle.

Where can people find you online?

The best place to find me and have chat is Twitter at @lleslie. I’m also on Facebook ( and Instagram (@lindsaylesliewrites), and you can always check out my website at

A diary keeper, a journal writer, a journalism major, a public relations executive—Lindsay Leslie has always operated in a world of written words. When she became a mom and began to tell her kids bedtime stories, Lindsay connected the dots to children’s literature. She likes to bring her unique outlook on life, quirky humor, and play with words to the page in picture books. Lindsay is the author of THIS BOOK IS SPINELESS, NOVA THE STAR EATER (May 21, 2019), and DUSK RAIDERS WANTED (Spring 2020), all with Page Street Kids. Lindsay lives with her husband, two young boys, and two fur-beasts in Austin.

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  1. Inspirational! Can't wait to pick these up!

  2. I enjoy reading all your interviews. From your story inspirations, involving your children, advice for beginners, and managing it all with anxiety. Congratulations! And I look forward to reading your books.

  3. Congratulations! Sounds like more great books are forthcoming!

  4. What a fun-sounding book! I like the illustration of the library!

  5. Love this idea! Can't wait to read it!

  6. I love how you came up with your ideas! I'm so inspired that your mind took these seemingly simple conversations and sparked book ideas from them.

  7. Great interview! Nice to see your publishing journey successes! Thanks!

  8. What a wonderful book for kids! And a great title.


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