Leslie Gould’s new novel,
Minding Molly (Bethany House), is the third installment in her Courtships of
Lancaster County series. Leslie shares about her classic inspirations as well
as some of her best writing advice!
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
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.