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Sunday, April 05, 2020

Interview with Leslie J. Cox, Runner Up in the Q1 2020 Creative Nonfiction Contest

Leslie’s life changed in April 2019 when she left a long career in healthcare administration to pursue a life-long dream to write and look after grandbabies! She raised her two children in Glendale, Arizona, where she resides today with her companions, Millie, a small white shih tzu and Zulu, a 150-pound African Spurred Tortoise.

In 2018, Leslie published a technical book Centralized Credentialing, The Authoritative Guide to Efficient CVO Enactment and Operation and several journal articles for HCPro, a healthcare professional publishing company. Most recently, Leslie turned her attention to her love of writing creative non-fiction. When she’s not enjoying the outdoors or playing with grandbabies, Leslie learns all she can about the craft of writing by participating in local workshops, online courses (several with WOW instructors), subscribing to publications, and entering writing contests, which is not only a great way to improve her skills, but it’s so much fun! Leslie recently attended an annual writers conference in Kauai where she was inspired to begin her first memoir, and this is where her focus will be throughout 2020.

----------Interview by Renee Roberson

WOW: Thanks for being here today, Leslie, and congratulations! What is your favorite line from “The Chair” and why?

Leslie: I have a number of favorite lines from “My Favorite Chair” because this essay represents my life and everything I value. But there is one line that stands out for me: “Screen doors creaking remind me of days gone by when, as a child, I swung back and forth on a white wood and mesh screen door, my little toes holding tight to a ridge just wide enough, tiny hands clinging to a hook latch meant to keep me secure.” I suppose it’s my favorite line because the memory takes me back to a childhood filled with many wonderful memories and a whole lot of love, for which I’m truly blessed. I hope to one day write about my experiences growing up in a small mining community, its challenges and opportunities.

WOW:  You have some technical and healthcare writing under your belt. Do you find it tough to switch gears when writing and editing prose?

Leslie: The book I authored in 2018 is about healthcare credentialing, leadership, and customer engagement. The writing experience brought me to this point of following my dream. I’ve loved writing for as long as I can remember, but I never imagined publishing a book. My technical book provided the motivation and confidence I needed to write about what interests me most – creative non-fiction, in particular, personal essays and memoir. I’ve spent the past couple of years immersed in learning the craft and writing the “fun” stuff!

WOW: I have to admit the 150-pound African Spurred Tortoise part of your bio caught my attention! Is there a story behind Zulu and can you share it with us?

Leslie: Zulu has been part of our family for twenty-five years! She was given to my children, by their grandmother, as a hatchling when she fit perfectly in the palm of my hand. Over the years, because of her increasing size and strength, Zulu has had to adapt to different living environments, and she has loved and lost people who cared for her. She’s resilient. She is majestic! And, she can be a little mischievous! I’m currently working on a children’s picture book about Zulu so she can inspire others as she inspires me.

WOW: That sounds like so much fun! I'm sure Zulu would make a fantastic subject for a picture book. What are some of the writing courses you’ve taken with WOW?

Leslie: I’ve almost lost count! I’ve attended at least three courses with the amazing Chelsey Clammer: “Face Your Fears,” “Writing is Revising,” and “Wow! Humor II.” I’ve also enjoyed excellent courses offered by Naomi Kimbell, Sheila Bender, Kelly Stone, and most recently I started a class with Mindy Hardwick: “Writing the Picture Book.” I know she will help me make progress on my book about Zulu!

WOW: This is a great testimonial to the value of WOW's classes. I'm also a sucker for a good online writing course. You have writing a memoir on your list of dream projects. Do you have any memoirs you’d recommend to our readers?

Leslie: There are so many great memoirs out there. One of my favorites is The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls. I devoured Educated by Tara Westover and loved Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity and Love by Dani Shapiro. I read these to learn how to do this well. I’m in the process of writing my first memoir and learning how the experience brings meaning and truth to a slice of one’s life. It’s not an easy feat, but it is one that heals and lifts us up.

WOW: I've read the first two but am not intrigued by the Dani Shapiro memoir. I will have to put that on my list. Good luck with all these writing projects you are focusing on in 2020!

1 comment:

  1. Renee--Thanks for doing this interview. Her shelled pet piqued my interest, too.

    Leslie--Congratulations on your recent nonfiction piece winning as a runner-up and good luck with your memoir. Memoir is my favorite genre to read.

    Also, a picture book about Zulu would be great. Maybe even a book with photos because when it comes to a pet like that, actual photographs would be wonderful to see.

    I hope you get lots of writing done this year and again--congrats.


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