Q&A: Leslie Gould (Minding Molly)
MINDING MOLLY IS ABOUT A YOUNG GIRL WHO DOESN'T WANT TO COMPLY WITH HER MOTHER'S WISHES TO MARRY THE MAN SHE’S SELECTED FOR HER. THERE'S SOME SCHEMING AND A BATTLE OF WILLS. WHAT INSPIRED THIS PLOT?
A Midsummer Night’s Dream, one of Shakespeare’s most popular plays, was my inspiration for Minding Molly. However, I switched things up a bit. In the play, it’s Hermia’s father who wants her to marry Demetrius, but in my story Molly’s mother chooses for her to marry one of the neighbor boys in hopes of saving the family farm. And in the play, one of the threads that makes it such a favorite is the fairies in the forest. Because that wouldn’t be plausible in a modern story, not to mention an Amish one, I use a toddler, a dog, and fireflies to work the “magic.”
THIS IS THE THIRD BOOK IN YOUR COURTSHIPS OF LANCASTER COUNTY SERIES—WHERE DOES THIS NOVEL PICK UP THE SERIES?
Molly, who is leader in the group of Youngie, [which] the series follows, plays a key role in Adoring Addie, the second book in the series. Minding Molly begins nearly a year after the end of Adoring Addie and a couple of months after Molly’s father dies. The family is struggling to find their financial footing and adjust to their new normal. Molly is determined to save the family farm, but when a stranger arrives from an Amish community in Montana she’s torn between what she wants and what’s expected of her.
WHAT'S AHEAD FOR THE 'COURTSHIPS' SERIES?
The fourth and last novel in the series is Becoming Bea, inspired by Much Ado About Nothing. Bea is Molly’s little sister and has been outside the group of Youngie—until a new job and an old beau pull her in. But then a false accusation forces her out of the group again. There’s lots of bantering between Bea and Ben in this one, plus it was fun to write a story from Bea’s point of view after seeing her from Molly’s all through the previous book. Not surprisingly, Bea gives us a different take!
WHY DO YOU ENJOY WRITING AMISH BOOKS?
I think for the same reasons readers enjoy Amish books—the simpler way of life, the issues of faith and family, and the juxtaposition of the Amish culture and our modern American way of life. I can’t help but think of the rural upbringings of my parents and grandparents as I write. I’m also fascinated by church history and the role Anabaptists played and continues to play.
WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR WRITERS ABOUT CRAFTING A COMPELLING ROMANCE?
I have to confess that I’m an “accidental romance writer.” I started out writing literary fiction but the older I get, the more I value romances and truly enjoy writing them. Life is hard—we all need stories with happy endings. That said, I’ve studied writing romances over the last several years, including Susan May Warren’s how-to books. I also used her editing services to help me learn how to successfully shape a story. I highly advise writers who are learning the craft to seek out resources, along with a writing group to help brainstorm stories and critique manuscripts.
Also, don’t hesitate to draw from the emotions of your own life. Dig deep. I kept a journal since I was 12 and still have every single volume. I sometimes go back and read through my feelings during my teenage and young adult years. That said, I married at 21 and we celebrated 30 years last fall, so I also rely on my own love story with my husband. He’s a good, loyal man and at least something of him is in every one of my heroes.
HOW HAS YOUR WRITING PROCESS CHANGED OVER THE YEARS?
Yes, it’s definitely changed. When I first started writing I would edit each chapter as I wrote it. Now I put more time into the initial planning of the novel and then I write the first draft straight through without stopping to edit. Once I have that first draft done, then I go back and rewrite and then rewrite some more. I’ve found I can keep the momentum of the plot and characters stronger writing this way. It’s also more efficient for me, allowing me to get a lot more writing done than when I first started.