I have been reading Leah Griffith‘s blog, Eating Life Raw, for a while now. When she announced, last year, that her book, Cosette’s Tribe had been published, I knew I had to read it. What I wasn’t prepared for was a book that would touch my heart so deeply and keep me awake for two nights in a row, being captivated by Cosette and crying my heart out with and for her.
From the blurb of Cosette’s Tribe: Inspired by a photograph of a happy tribe of Indians, young Cosette decides to start a tribe of her own by playing matchmaker for her divorced mother in hopes of finding a replacement for her absent father. Unaware of the repercussions her meddling will bring, Cosette triggers a series of dark events, which isolate her from her family, forcing her to deal with the life-shattering consequences of her actions on her own. With an unshakable sense of hope and humor, Cosette navigates through the hippie culture of the mid-1960s, facing off with life and death, while stumbling upon things both terrifying and beautiful.
Today I’m so happy to able to interview Leah – someone who I look up to for the sheer beauty, honesty and ability that her words have of touching one’s heart deeply. I’m also so proud to be her online friend.
When did you discover that you were a writer? Was it something you pursued or just a gift that came to you in your childhood?
I don’t remember ever writing as a child except for the mandatory book reports from school, although my mother, a lover of great literature, would read the classics aloud to me and my two older sisters on a regular basis. This is where I believe I got my love for writing.
Are all the characters in Cosette’s Tribe based on people you encountered – or pure figments of your imagination?
Both. They are amalgamations of real people and figments of my imagination. Although a work of fiction, Cosette’s Tribe is based on my young life, creating a work of what I call “faction” because there are many truthful facts within this novel as well as fiction.
How did Cosette’s Tribe come about? Did you specifically plan to write from a child’s viewpoint?
Cosette’s Tribe was inspired by my own turbulent childhood. I carried this story around with me through my teens, my young adult life, the raising of my children, and thirty years of marriage. I chose the name Cosette because it is my middle name. My mother was reading, Victor Hugo’s, Les Miserables, when she was carrying me and fell in love with the name.
I wrote Cosette’s Tribe from a child’s perspective because that is the way it came through to me, providing me with an atmosphere of intimate privacy by getting inside my character’s head. I knew I had to tell it true or not tell it at all, so I walked with Cosette, and listened for her voice, feeling her emotions—so close to my own as a child. I became the kid. But no, it wasn’t planned.
I would call a lot of your writing spiritual. Have you always been that way?
My blogs tend to be quite spiritual. Cosette’s Tribe is woven with spirituality, although it is a child’s tender version of it. I love how even though Cosette’s life is a rumbled mess she somehow manages to maintain a positive outlook and get back up each time she is knocked down. Cosette’s Tribe is a story about having the courage to get back up.
Yes, Corinne, I have always been very spiritual. I was raised Catholic and have since ridden on just about every bandwagon available. The one thing that has never changed over all these years of seeking is my belief in a God who loves us just as we are and “gets” what it is like to be human. I don’t believe in hell or judgment.
Leah, what advice would you give to bloggers finding their voice and hoping to publish their book/s someday?
Corinne, I would tell them to be themselves. Never try to create something popular or trendy just for the sake of sales. Always be yourself, follow your deep down heart of heart voice and passions. Ignore the voices that try to shrink you up with fear by telling you that you are not good enough, or smart enough, or ready. Those voices will never go away, so if you don’t learn to ignore them now you’ll never get anything done. Start doing!
Have fun with what you do. Offer yourself—the one and only you—back to the world as an offering of love and passion, and watch what becomes of you. The sky is the limit!
Thank you, Leah and looking forward to the sequel of Cosette’s Tribe.
Cosette’s Tribe and Leah need a little help from us all. Cosette’s Tribe, has made the finals for Best Novel and the General Mainstream Fiction categories in the Best of The Independent Book Awards. The registration on this site is a little tricky. You need to complete the initial registration. After you submit, there’s a “What’s your zip code” message trying to get you to sign up for additional offers and spam advertising. The best way get around this, is to complete the initial registration then close the page and relaunch the link to vote. Be sure to vote in both catagories. Thanks so much for your support.
First category, http://www.efestivalofwords.com/vote-here-for-2013-best-novel-t393.html
Second category, http://