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Leila Meacham

September 27, 2009

Leila Meacham

When I was at the SIBA Trade show, I had the opportunity to chat with the author of Roses, Leila (pronounced Lee – luh) Meacham.  (Roses will be published on January 6, 2010.) Leila is the epitome of Southern grace and charm, and chatting with her was like visiting with an old friend.  Leila was born in Louisiana, but has never really lived there.  Her parents were visiting family in Louisiana and her father tried to get her mother back to Texas before Leila’s birth, but it didn’t happen.  Leila’s been a life-long resident of Texas and currently lives in San Antonio.  She attended North Texas University and taught high school English.

Everyone seems to think that Leila is a new author, but she had three romances published by Walker in the mid 1980’s.  They’re no longer in print, but she’s gotten them released from the back list, so they might be again some day.

The story of the publication of Roses is a unique one and I think Leila is still in shock from the whole thing.  In 1985, Leila was confined to bed with a horrible case of pneumonia.  With little to do, she sketched a loose outline of the story and set it aside.   Quite a few years later, when Leila was 65, she was retired and at loose ends.  She didn’t know what to do with herself, and even though she’s not particularly religious, she feels like God told her that he wanted her to use the talent she’s been given and finish the story.  It took her five years, and at about the time the book was complete, a friend informed her that she had contacted her niece about speaking to a literary agent on Leila’s behalf.  Leila emailed the agent, and the rest, as they say, is history.

RosesRoses is a grand, sweeping multi-generational family saga set in a small town in East Texas that is run by three families.   One family is in the cotton business, one deals in timber and the third is in the retail business.  Leila had to research cotton and timber to get the details of those businesses right.  She was quick to point out that the location and all of the characters are fictional.  She said “there is no aristocracy like small town aristocracy.”  Roses is over 600 pages long – Leila said it was originally over a thousand pages and she edited it herself.  There is some interest in making the book into a movie.

Leila loves to read literary fiction and Pulitzer Prize and American Book Award winners, among others.  She said her favorite author is probably Willa Cather.  She recently read and thoroughly enjoyed Jonathan Tropper’s new novel, This is Where I Leave You.

There was a lot of buzz about Roses at SIBA, but it doesn’t seem to have affected Leila at all.  She is currently working on her next book, which is tentatively titled A Gathering in the Shadows.  It’s set in the world of Texas high school football.

39 Comments leave one →
  1. September 27, 2009 7:20 am

    What an amazing story! I’m so glad you had the opportunity to talk with her! I’m looking forward to ROSES but her new book sounds terrific too.

  2. September 27, 2009 8:12 am

    You are so lucky to have been able to spend time with her…she sounds like a fascinting lady. I’m going to have to look into the book, because I love those multi-generational sagas. You feel like you are part of the family.

  3. September 27, 2009 8:24 am

    I remember seeing this book at BEA.

    So glad you had the opportunity to speak with this amazing author!

  4. September 27, 2009 8:37 am

    She looks so gracful!

  5. September 27, 2009 9:30 am

    How exciting to have her fist novel published after 65 when most people are finished with their careers!

    I have an award for you here
    http://metroreader.blogspot.com/2009/09/awards.html

  6. September 27, 2009 9:40 am

    What a great story! I guess that shows that you should always be open to trying something new, huh?

  7. September 27, 2009 9:48 am

    What a wonderful story of a woman who has gone on to success in her retirement. I can’t wait to read Roses. Your post was excellent – more like a visit with a friend.

  8. September 27, 2009 11:00 am

    Sounds like a great experience! I really like the cover of ROSES. 🙂

  9. September 27, 2009 11:45 am

    How inspiring! I’m so glad to find out about both this author and her book(s). Her story reminds me a bit of Helen Hooven Santmeyer, whose book “And Ladies of the Club…” was published when she was in her 70s or 80s. I guess there’s still hope for some of us.

  10. September 27, 2009 1:49 pm

    I got a copy of this book while at BEA – even though I haven’t read it yet, I let my neighbor borrow it and she said it’s a winner!!

  11. Bellezza permalink
    September 27, 2009 2:28 pm

    I love grand, multi-generational novels. (I’m remembering The Shell Seekers by Pilcher, and Colony by Siddons, right now.) Even Leila’s face looks lovely; I can imagine what a good talk you had together. I’m very intrigued by Roses, thanks!

  12. September 27, 2009 2:32 pm

    That is an amazing story and Roses sounds like a worthwhile read. I will have to keep my eye out for it once it is released.

  13. September 27, 2009 3:49 pm

    And here I thought she was a new author. Thanks Kathy for sharing that with us. I have Roses in my TBR pile so now I am really looking forward to reading it.

    Sounds like you had alot of fun talking to her. Great pic of her too.

    Its nice to hear the story about the book and how its was created.

  14. September 27, 2009 4:47 pm

    That’s very cool that you got a chance to chat with her!

  15. September 27, 2009 4:55 pm

    I love the cover of her book, and her argyle sweater! 😀

    – Aimee
    http://www.myflutteringheart.blogspot.com

  16. September 27, 2009 5:37 pm

    What an interesting “interview” with the author of Roses! The book sounds excellent.

  17. September 27, 2009 6:54 pm

    Leila Meacham sounds like one interesting lady. You did a wonderful job writing about her and her new book!

  18. September 27, 2009 7:27 pm

    She sounds like an interesting down-to-earth lady.

  19. September 27, 2009 7:31 pm

    What an interesting story of how she came to write the book. I hope I can do the same when I’m 65!

  20. September 27, 2009 8:12 pm

    What a great story! I picked up a copy at BEA. Looking forward to reading it.

  21. September 27, 2009 9:29 pm

    That book sounds great. I am so thrilled for her to have this success!

  22. September 27, 2009 10:36 pm

    Love the cover art of “Roses” ! I’ll add it to my wishlist 🙂

  23. September 27, 2009 10:53 pm

    Great post and the book looks so good too.

  24. September 27, 2009 11:02 pm

    This sounds like a book I would really enjoy!

  25. September 27, 2009 11:44 pm

    How amazing! I have this book and I was waiting until December to read it…sounds like something I will really enjoy.

  26. stacybuckeye permalink
    September 27, 2009 11:52 pm

    What a wonderful ‘discovery’ story! Now I’m going to have to read the book.

  27. September 28, 2009 11:31 am

    She really does sound like she’d be easy to talk to. Not only did she take notes long before she wrote the book, she actually remembered those notes. I love family sagas, so I know I’ll be adding this to my wish list.

  28. September 28, 2009 4:22 pm

    Roses sounds like just the kind of big sprawling read that I like. I am going to go do a little research on it, as I had never heard of it before. Thanks for the information, both on the author and the book.

  29. September 28, 2009 8:45 pm

    She sounds lovely!! and I will be eagerly anticipating her release of Roses!!

  30. September 29, 2009 12:10 pm

    You had me at family saga! I will definitely check this one out.

  31. September 30, 2009 6:43 am

    Wow! That’s an inspirational story 🙂 I need to read about Roses now!

  32. Ann Z. permalink
    October 2, 2009 4:07 pm

    I am blessed to call Leila Meacham my friend and she was at one time a member of our book group (until ROSES & future novels took over). I have read ROSES, loved it, and will tell you that each one of your senses will be awakened. You are there in the story as the characters come alive beside you! Hummm, I wonder what awards this book will earn. ENJOY!

  33. Ann Z. permalink
    October 2, 2009 4:14 pm

    Get ready for a great read! All your senses will come alive as you meet the characters and visit Texas. I have heard Leila read pages of her book in her own Texas accent – what a treat & what a writer!

  34. October 5, 2009 10:53 am

    She sounds like a great gal. I’ll keep my eye out for Roses. I’m a sucker for multi-generational family sagas.

    –Anna

  35. LeAnna permalink
    January 28, 2010 11:29 am

    Mrs. Meacham was my freshman English teacher and her grace and knowledge were very inspirational then. I need to take inspiration from her now and pursue the idea of publishing the novel I have written, but have left languishing because the editor in me won’t declare it ready.

  36. Geraldine permalink
    February 8, 2010 11:43 pm

    Mrs. Meacham was my freshman Honors English teacher and she was a wonderful teacher. I saw Roses on the Barnes and Noble website and when I was saw her name I was so very happy. I have read other books by Mrs. Meacham, and I can’t wait to get my hands on this one.

  37. April 13, 2010 12:48 pm

    I have heard so much about Leila Meacham’s book, “Roses.” I will have to place it on my wish list.

  38. Carol permalink
    April 7, 2011 5:41 pm

    I loved the book Roses. Only one minor comment. On page 278, the author refers to Percy coming home from Ontario, the Canadian Rockies. The Canadian Rockies are between British Columbia and Alberta, and join up with the American “Olympics”. The mountains in Ontario are the Laurentians. It is a minor error. Yours truly, Carol, A CANADIAN CITIZEN IN BRITISH COLUMBIA

  39. Janice permalink
    July 12, 2012 7:04 am

    Just finished Roses and loved it! I too, am a West Texas girl…grew up in Kermit….Setting for one of the main characters….cannot wait to read Tumbleweeds.

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