Finalist Spotlight

Leah Garriott

Though she earned degrees in math and statistics, Leah Garriott lives for a good love story. She’s resided in Hawaii and Italy, walked the countryside of England, and owns every mainstream movie version of Pride and Prejudice. She’s currently living her own happily ever after in Utah with her husband and three kids. Leah is represented by Sharon Pelletier at Dystel, Goderich, and Bourret.

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Leah Garriott on her Whitney Awards Finalist novel,


What was the inspiration for your Whitney Awards finalist novel?

After finishing my first novel, I realized I had to learn the craft of writing. But I also didn’t want to write a story that had already been written. So I set that first book aside and started PROMISED, a story about a woman who doesn’t want to fall in love.

What was the tipping point that turned this novel from “just an idea” to a project you HAD to complete?

My critique group had just finished reading over the first lake scene, where Daniel falls in. One critique partner, Deb, told me it didn’t work and perhaps wasn’t doing what I wanted it to do. She was exactly right. At that moment I knew I needed to finish this novel and make the whole thing something that DID work.

 How did this book evolve into the final story? Did it end up the way you thought it would, or did the plot or characters change along the way?

The book underwent a huge rewrite and, although the characters and major plot points didn’t change, almost every page was changed in some way. The story became something different from the original–not better or worse, though. Just different.

Who is your favorite secondary character, and why?

I adore Lady Williams, although I may like her friend Mrs. Hargreaves even more.

If your book was made into a movie, which scene would you want to be a background extra in?

The first scene, so I could witness how the story began. Plus, that would mean I’d be at a fancy dinner and enjoy some wonderful entertainment after.