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Musings & Meanderings: Leslie Kirk Campbell talks about her debut collection in our ‘4 Questions’ chat; hint: memory, time, bodies. Plus, how to pick your creative project, mental health awareness, where to submit, links to interviews with Maud Newton, Kim Adrian, and new CNF

By Leslie Lindsay

A curated newsletter on the literary life, featuring ‘4 questions,’ a mini-author interview, reading & listening recommendations, where to submit, more

Leslie Lindsay|Always with a Book


Hello, Friends!

Folks always wonder how to know if they’re making the right choice creatively when there are so many possibilities. I get it. There are a million ways a project could go, a million first lines, each offer a unique structure, too. We must move past indecision and lean into our work. Choose your project. Choose your ideas. Chose your sentences. Choose your ending. It’s not easy. Did anyone say it would be easy? They were wrong.

How’s it going? Respond here in a comment, or find me on InstagramTwitter, or Facebook.


~Leslie : )

There’s more to this newsletter…keep scrolling!

Photo by Tinthia Clemant on Pexels.com

What I’m Distracted By

  • This really resonated…

“[My wife] was a teaching assistant for kids with disabilities and they had put a butterfly sanctuary in their classroom. … She said that in order for the butterflies to learn how to fly they need to flap and flap for a while. It all looks like wasted time and energy but they actually need that struggle to learn and grow… Every time we put a word on the page, we’re flapping our wings. It may not look like much, but in that challenging and somewhat directionless process, we are figuring out how to fly with our words.”

—Nurse and health writer Gillian May, who we recently profiled in Creators Hub

  • This review of An Encyclopedia of Bending Time by Kristin Keane, this is a  a hermit crab memoir with alphabetized entries—much like that of an actual encyclopedia complete with “See alsos” at the end of each entry. 
  • [See also–like how I did that?!]–check out my interview with Kim Adrian, about her memoir, The Twenty-Seventh Letter of the Alphabet, written in a very similar style]
  • May is (Maternal) Mental Health Awareness Month and sadly, my mother died by suicide in May 2015. She struggled with severe mental illness for most of her life, but it really peaked when she was about 30. If you are a survivor of suicide loss, you know just how complex this grief is. Dr. Noam Schneck at Columbia University is conducting a study, Survive Together. You must be in the first 15 months of grieving the loss of a loved one to suicide to qualify, but please consider reaching out to him.
  • Looking for audiobooks about mental health? Penguin Random House has got you covered! Plus, join them in a special mini-podcast, This is the Author, in which you can learn some behind-the-scenes insights about the book and their process. Featuring actress Lilly Singh, Terry Crews, and Charles Booker. Learn about the hard personal work through self-doubt, insecurities, and adversity that served as inspiration for Be a TriangleTough, and From the Hood to the Holler

If you’re struggling and your life is in danger, please call The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline



There’s more to this newsletter…keep scrolling!

NEW! Four Questions: A mini-interview series

Leslie Kirk Campbell


Winner of the Mary McCarthy Prize in Short Fiction, this collection of short stories is a study in compassion and in passion, a must-read for our times.

Photo credit: Leslie Lindsay @leslielindsay1 | #booknerd
  1. Without responding in complete sentences, what would you say THE MAN WITH EIGHT PAIRS OF LEGS is about?

Leslie Kirk Campbell :

*BODIES PHYSICALLY MARKED BY MEMORIES : The way our bodies hold our pasts, visibly – bruises, scars, tattoos – and invisibly over a lifetime, or through generations. How this guides us. How this makes us feel as we sit in a chair or walk down the street.

*RISKING EVERYTHING TO ESCAPE THE CARDS WE’VE BEEN DEALT : Longing for something other than our current circumstances; courting danger in our efforts to escape

2. Where did you write THE MAN WITH EIGHT PAIRS OF LEGS? Do you have any special writing routines or rituals? Do they change with each project, or remain constant over time?

Leslie Kirk Campbell :

I work best when I can work intensely for hours on end. I teach on my own schedule so I can write for days and into the night – at home, now that my sons are grown; at an old convent across the Golden Gate Bridge, and at residencies and self-made retreats. I often start my writing day by reading a writer I esteem, and then I take off, inspired, on my own writing projects.

“History and memory crosscut through The Man with Eight Pairs of Legs in a gorgeous weave. These are marvelous, stirring stories, sometimes sexy, sometimes harrowing, somehow both timeless and timely. Campbell writes with great depth, patience, wisdom, and beauty.”

— Anthony Doerr, author of All the Light You Cannot See

3. If you weren’t writing, you would be…

Leslie Kirk Campbell :

Time disappears when I am in my backyard garden, muddying my hands planting, trimming and weeding, scarring my hands with rose thorns, then taking a few moments to sit in the sun and delight in my collaboration with nature. I read. I relish teaching the Art of Languaging. I have heart-felt dates with those I love.

4. What book did you recently read that you can’t stop thinking about?

Leslie Kirk Campbell :

I am particularly interested in books that take me into cultures and places I know little about. A recent favorite is:

Sharks in the Time of Saviors, a novel by Kawai Strong Washburn, with its original and beautiful conveying of poverty and family within the context of old Hawaiian culture, hard realities combined with myth and magic.

Currently reading, Hillbilly Elegy, by J.D. Vance, an honest documentation of Appalachian poverty and culture, giving social and historical context to feelings of defeat and neglect experienced by white blue-collar families in the US


I also highly recommend the following novels recently read, all powerfully written:

Hurricane Season by Fernanda Melchor

The Tiger’s Wife by Tea Obrecht

Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart

The Confession of Copeland Cane by Keenan Norris

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com


Published by Sarabande Books, available everywhere February 1, 2022

Visit Leslie Kirk Campbell‘s website for more information, and to access a link to a playlist inspired by the stories.

Recently-published Stuff You Might Have Missed:

  • “Breaking Ground,” by Leslie Lindsay, flash fiction in The Tiny Journal
  • “Making Space: Cicadas & My Mother,” by Leslie Lindsay, CNF in ANMLY

Calls for submission:

  • First Person Singular is new and offered as a side-gig to Memoir Monday. They are able to publish one essay/month and seeking 1500-2000 word essays from diverse writers who have experienced difficult things through the lens of absurdity. Finished work only, pitch2sari@gmail.com
  • Vestal Review is open to flash now through May 31.
  • Emerge Literary Journal is open to strictly flash and free form work, in all categories.
  • Narratively is looking for untold, first-person ‘human’ stories that are immersive and cinematic–memoir, love, secret lives, high school sports, photojournalism.
  • Longridge Review will open June 1 for the Barnhill Prize in CNF with Sonja Livingston judging.
  • Boston Review is reading for its poetry and short story contests, with a free entry period until May 31 for writers in certain locations and/or writers facing economic hardship.
Photo by Nur Yilmaz on Pexels.com

You are reading Musings & Meanderings, a consistently inconsistent weekly newsletter about the literary life from Leslie Lindsay, and home of an archive of bestselling and debut author interviews. I’m also on twitter and instagram. I try to answer comments as best I can. Feel free to find my book suggestions on bookshop.org, and also check out the authors I’ve hosted in in-depth interviews HERE.

L.Lindsay archives.

In the meantime, catch me on:

Reviewing books and talking about them with others on-line and in-person is one small way to engage with & support the literary community.

Thank you for letting me guide you on your bookish journey.

Photo by FOX on Pexels.com

Let’s walk this bookish path together.

Find me on Instagram, and Twitter. See what I’m reading on Bookshop.org. Find my reviews on GoodReads. I’m also a Zibby Books Ambassador.

Learn more HERE.

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