Interview with Leslie Conzatti

Leslie Conzatti is a blogger, author, and avid enthusiast of all things book-related. Residing in the Pacific Northwest, she currently works as an elementary school paraeducator--leading small groups, supervising children outside the classroom, and providing in-class support for teachers. Since 2013, she has been running a writing/review blog called "The Upstream Writer", where she posts original serials, excerpts from current and past projects, updates on her writing, and featured reviews of independently-published titles. In 2016, she released her first fairy-tale re-telling, Princess of Undersea, a twist on the tale of "The Little Mermaid." Since then, she has had a handful of stories published in various anthologies. Books are Leslie's passion, and she endeavors to use her words to support and inspire children's imaginations, independent creatives, and quality literature wherever it happens.

You have a retelling of The Little Mermaid, was it one of your favorites growing up?

Indeed it was! At least, the Disney movie version, anyway. We had a book of Hans Christian Andersen fairy tales that I read--but I really didn't like that morbid version at all! I was more utterly fascinated with mermaids and mer-culture. It's kind of what drove me to re-tell it: there just wasn't a "truly amazing" version of the story out there, and the concept of mermaids was just too good of an opportunity for exploration to pass up! Another honest favorite original fairy tale was Peter Pan--the idea of Neverland, and fairies living in the real world, and the ability to fly... even Peter's obsession with hearing Wendy tell stories really stuck with me!

Have you ever considered writing a children's book?

I have, but the thing about children's books is they tend to be not so wordy and use simpler language, and more pictures, whereas I tend to use more colorful and inventive language, and I have a lot of words when I tell a story!

If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

"Don't be afraid to ask your questions!" So much of my writing career could have likely taken off sooner if I had just taken that step of self-advocacy and asked those few authors in my network for tips on how to self-publish, or where to find a good publisher and whatnot. I'm learning that now, as I self-publish for the first time, and I've got a bunch of people who are really great at keeping in touch and offering advice and giving me step-by-step guidance through the process--I might not have waited three years to publish for the first time and another four years before I decided that self-publishing was an avenue worth pursuing, rather than waiting for another publisher to "pick me up", so to speak!


How did you celebrate your first sales?

Umm, by running around the house squealing like a child. My book released around the holidays, so I already knew things were really busy--and the sales were a much bigger deal to me than they were to anyone else, so just being able to deliver the "pre-reserved" copies to those who paid for them was very exciting to me!

What books/magazines or other works have helped you in your writing?

I would say that the thing that I found most helpful was the mere fact of reading broadly and understanding and identifying what I liked and wanted to emulate, and what I didn't like, and how I would go about fixing it or just avoiding it in my own writing. So, nothing in particular in that respect.

The thing that