Regularly hired by many of the nation’s most widely read publications and websites, Will Leitch is an editor at New York Magazine and an editor for GQ, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and MLB.com, among others.
His prowess behind a keyboard was first evident when he burst onto the sports media scene in 2005 as the founding editor and star blogger of Deadspin. The writing in Leitch’s blogs then was simply too good to ignore. By the time he finished at Deadspin in 2008, Leitch had become the undisputed “blogfather” for his pioneering approach, as he mockingly puts it, “just by typing words into a little box and clicking publish.”
“I’m proud of it,” Leitch said when asked if he got tired of answering questions about Deadspin nearly 15 years after leaving the site. “I’m proud of everything we were able to do there, and I hope my songwriting has improved since then, but I’m still trying to do the same things now in other places.
“I always joke that the further in my obituary I can push Deadspin, the better. Because that’s kind of the point, isn’t it?
It’s been 11 years since the release of his last book, but his mystery novel “How Lucky” was worth the wait and more than enough (see rave reviews from Stephen King, among others) to hit the Deadspin space. in Leitch’s obituary. go down a bit further.
Released in May 2021, “How Lucky” is one of five finalists nominated for “Best Novel” at the 75th Annual Edgar Awards, hosted by Mystery Writers of America as the most prestigious award a mystery writer has. can hope to receive.
Leitch will be in Savannah on Saturday, February 19 to speak as the featured author of this year’s Savannah Book Festival. Fans wishing to attend Leitch’s session can do so at 9 a.m. at 120 Bull Street in downtown Savannah (Ascension Fellowship Hall Lutheran Church).
“How Lucky” is categorized by publishers into the thriller/mystery genres. Leitch advises against trying to place the book in just any category.
“I don’t consider it in this kind of box to be a thriller or a mystery,” Leitch said in a Feb. 7 phone interview with CONNECT Savannah.
There’s at least one way to categorize it as Leitch’s shameless – it’s his first fiction novel, and that alone makes it decidedly uncharted territory for the 46-year-old husband and father of two.
“(The book) doesn’t hit all those traditional ‘beats’ of a classic mystery or thriller,” he said. “I just wanted to follow Daniel and leave that kind of driving to history.”
Daniel is the novel’s protagonist and narrator. This last title is significant because this narrator is unique in that he cannot speak. A neuromuscular disorder, spinal muscular atrophy type 2 (SMA) confined the 26-year-old to a wheelchair and prevented him from being able to speak without the use of a Hawking-type device.
“My life is all about little moments, and so is yours,” Daniel says in his introduction to the reader on the first page of the book. Like Leitch, Daniel is originally from Illinois and lives in the college town of Athens, Georgia. And, just as Leitch seems to do in his writing on sometimes sensitive topics, Daniel “really sees the best in people.”
“One of the things I love about Daniel is that he knows there’s suffering in the world,” Leitch said. “He knows there are bad people in the world and stuff like that. And so, he doesn’t like dancing with balloons and the sun… but he does take the time to notice the little things that people do to help each other.
“His optimism is hard-earned, but I also think he’s very correct.”
But the question is often asked of him, and he understands why.
How could the self-proclaimed “white man in his forties living without SMA” give a voice with precision to a character who lives in particular with SMA and without a voice?
“It’s a tricky exercise,” wrote Hamilton Cain of The Washington Post as he pondered this question while reviewing the novel. “when a writer steps out of his own personal experience to inhabit a character very different from himself.”
It wasn’t a lost concept for Leitch when he started developing Daniel. He based his Daniel character on his son’s best friend, a boy who actually lived with SMA. “That’s where my journalism training came in,” Leitch said of the reporting needed to know as best he could about the thoughts and actions of someone with SMA.
“People will ask me how could I know what’s going on in someone else’s head, especially someone with SMA. The answer is of course, I don’t know. But I talk to people and I I study and research and again I learn by talking to the people who are closest to them.
Critic Carl Hiaasen gave a perfect description of the kind of rare talent that Leitch brings with him to the page and, on February 19, with him to Savannah. Like his book, it ticks all the boxes.
“Few writers can go from hilarious to heartbreaking to heartbreaking all on the same page,” Hiaasen wrote.
“Will Leitch does it over and over again.”
NAME: William F. Leitch
TITLE(S): Author, five books since 2003; Contributing Editor, NY Magazine; Contributor to Intelligencer and Vulture magazines, NBC News, MLB.com, GQ, The New York Times, The Washington Post and more
AGE: 46 years old
BORN: Mattoon, Illinois
RESIDES: Athens, Georgia
FOLLOW/LISTEN: Twitter… @WilliamFleitch; Podcasts… Grierson & Leitch (movie reviews), On hold since last Saturday (UGA football)
Read all of Leitch’s writings each week by subscribing to his free weekly newsletter at williamFleitch.substack.com.
If you are going to
WHAT: Will Leitch Author Session at Savannah Book Festival 2022
WHEN: 9:00 a.m.; Saturday February 19
WHERE: 120 Bull Street; Ascension Fellowship Hall Lutheran Church (bottom)
MORE INFO: Visit savannahbookfestival.org