Leigha Grushkin has been writing stories ever since she learned how to write letters.
Her active imagination was honed in the Westport schools. At Coleytown Elementary and Middle School, then Staples High, many language arts and English teachers inspired her.
“I loved them all,” Leigha says. “Each of them rounded out a different part of my education.” All were impactful, but she singles out Barbara Robbins and Dan Geraghty for particular praise.
She majored n English and minored in writing at Eastern Connecticut State University. After college she worked for Barnes & Noble’s College — the campus bookstore division — while waitressing and bartending on the side.
All along, she kept writing.
But it wasn’t until she found a long-lost flash drive — containing thousands of pages of unedited, single-spaced stories — that she thought of publishing her work.
“Where It Begins” follows a pair of teenagers. Both struggling with family troubles, personal faults and flaws and buried secrets, they find solace in each other. Are they the loves of their lives — or will they be one another’s demise?
Leigha found a publisher in Pittsburgh that focuses on new authors. Her debut novel is now on the shelves (and available online).
Though her target audience is 13- to 21-year-olds — and she hopes to reach people who are not regular readers — the author (who uses the pen name Leigha Jaclynn) says her book transcends young adult fiction. Readers of any age can relate to the challenges, relationships and internal struggles her characters face.
How much of Westport is in “Where It Begins”?
“I pull a bit from Staples, and people I grew up with,” Leigha says. “My subconscious definitely seeps through.”
The book is the first in a series. She hopes her follow-up novel is ready for the holidays.
Like any author, Leigha enjoys talking about her book. Robbins — her inspirational Staples teacher –has invited her to speak to her classes.
She may also do an event at her former employer: Barnes & Noble.
(For more information, and to order “Where It Begins,” click here.)