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Leah Weiss Books In Order

Publication Order of Standalone Novels

If The Creek Don't Rise (2017)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Publication Order of Collections

Risky Lyrics (2019)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Leah Weiss is a Ph.D. meditation expert, teacher, and researcher at Stanford University that is a specialist in applying compassion and mindfulness in secular contexts. Her southern roots are simple and deep as she was born to a Virginian born man and a North Carolinian mother and was influenced by their upbringing which enabled her to see things from a different perspective. Her father’s family were artists as her aunt designed clothes and her grandfather was a violinist, which perhaps explains her creative streak. While she came from an artistic family and loved to read and write, it was not until she was in her fifties that she thought of writing. Weiss thought of writing memoirs about Lucy her mother and her simple but extraordinary life which was something she had always wanted to do. It was from this that she segued into fiction as she started attending writing workshops and conferences, studying her favorite authors, and haunting bookstores. She cut her writing teeth on a novel that was a flop and several short stories that had some success. Leah eventually found her voice in “If The Creeks Don’t Rise” her debut novel that she published in 2017. She has said that it is a musical southern novel that is best read aloud and is about hardworking and self-sufficient people with humble dreams.

Weiss always loved sentiments and pretty word and asserts that she got a lot of pleasure from writing to friends that were celebrating landmarks, struggling through hard times, or getting married. Since her friend commended her for the letters with some even framing them, she knew that she had a proclivity for earnest prose. It was a friend that encouraged her to write a short story collection when she was in her fifties even though she thought the world did not need another book. However, the friend was persistent and it was not long before she was writing about her mother and her tobacco farm from the 1930s. When her mother died of cancer, she was left with amazing fodder, memories, and grief that encouraged her to put her story on paper. Apart from the stories from her childhood, she is also inspired by the stories told by the great authors from the south. As a picky reader, she often needs exceptionally written stories with highly polished prose and little fluff. Some of the Southern writers that have influenced her writing include Ron Rash, Harper Lee, Robert Morgan, Rick Bragg, and Barbara Kingsolver. She also loves “The Prince of Tides” by Pat Conroy and found the flawed but sincere characters put together by the author to be compelling.

In 2004, Leah Weiss began writing about Lucy her mother who was born in eastern North Carolina in 1926. She was one of fifteen children that grew up in a dilapidated tobacco farmhouse with no electricity or running water. Leah Weiss believed that it was important to tell the story of her family’s humble beginnings. It was during this time that she started entering short story contests with opening prompts and word limits. She loved the fact that she could write a short story within weeks and then get to study what made the winning story so good when it was finally published in Writers Digest the following month. Gradually, her own stories started getting published and she decided to try her hand at long-form fiction writing. In 2009, she wrote a manuscript for a novel but was unfortunate in that no agent was interested in her work. Many literary commentators have asserted that it was the work on which she cut her writing teeth. The novel had taken a lot of her time and hence she was very disappointed when it flopped. Leah decided to go back to short stories to get more experience before trying once more. Her debut novel If The Creeks Don’t Rise is a novel set in 1970s Appalachia. She has asserted that the reason for this is that she is a mountain girl at heart even though she was born in the plains of eastern North Carolina. The hollers and peaks of Appalachia speak to her core though she still had to do a lot of research and ran down several rabbit holes to find the authentic Appalachia from the 1970s. As such, the story is full of moonshine, exorcisms, ginseng, healing herbs, coal mining, and Mother Jones among several other topics that she included to make the novel more authentic.

Leah Weiss’s debut novel “If The Creek Don’t Rise” is the story of Sadie Blue. She seems to have gone through so much suffering over the years compared to pretty much anyone else in her life. She was abandoned by her mother while she was an infant, only to be left to her own devices by an irresponsible father. All she looks forward to is the hope of love when she gets older. The love comes in the form of Roy Tupkin whose love only burns briefly before he bails out leaving her with bruises of further abandonment and with a child too. He treats her badly and has to deal with the unequal treatment of women in Appalachia, where men own everything including their wives. She decides to be leaving the home more often to visit Gladys her grandmother though she is in just a bad situation as her little house is almost falling apart. However, she has rigid and strong emotional walls given that she has lived long and knows how to deal with pretty much anything the world throws at her. The go-between is Marris Jones a woman full of overflowing kindness who tends to neighbors including Gladys who suffer from hopelessness and hunger. Marris has a light within her that chases away the darkness whenever she goes and thus when she notices Sadie, she tries to make her life easier. She usually procures canned pickles for her even though she knows full well that there are boundaries that she should never cross. Another beacon of strength for Sadie is Kate Shaw, a woman with a past who has recently been hired as a teacher at the local school.

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