Featured Interview With Leanna Englert
Tell us a little about yourself. Where were you raised? Where do you live now?
I was born and raised in Omaha, Nebraska. I now live in Austin, Texas, with my husband, Tim. My son and his family have dogs, and my daughter has cats. I have visiting privileges.
At what age did you realize your fascination with books? When did you start writing?
A picture book with a forgotten title was the gateway, then on to The Poky Little Puppy, and the Bobbsey Twins. I even liked Dick and Jane.
I remember writing a story–must have been in second grade. My teacher red-penciled the words “cocktail table” and substituted “coffee table.” I still don’t like criticism.
Who are your favorite authors to read? What is your favorite genre to read. Who Inspires you in your writings?
I think I’ve read everything John Steinbeck and Tony Hillerman have written. And pretty soon it will be everything William Kent Krueger has written. I loved Sue Monk Kidd’s The Invention of Wings, and Sara Gruen’s Water for Elephants. All these authors inspire me in terms of story-telling. In terms of style, I’m inspired by Anne Tyler.
Tell us a little about your latest book?
I began researching the subject of my historical novel, Compromise With Sin, in 1993. At that time I planned to write a non-fiction book about the grassroots movement to get legislation passed that would end the blinding condition known as “babies’ sore eyes.” It was a compelling subject, fraught with controversy, and Helen Keller played a role.
Several things happened that caused me to change direction. One was that research was spotty. Or maybe I wasn’t such a crackerjack researcher. Another was that my imagination took over: what would happen to a family whose child was blinded by this condition? Even worse, what if the child had been conceived as the result of an affair? Hmmm.
So I fictionalized events. Helen Keller is a secondary character who becomes a good friend of my protagonist, Louise Morrissey.
For some readers, the story is one of betrayal and redemption. For others, it’s the fight for a cause that would become of the greatest public health triumphs of the twentieth century.
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