Dr. Leanna Lindsey Hollis was born and has spent most of her life in Mississippi. She is a 1986 graduate of University of Mississippi School of Medicine and completed her Internal Medicine residency in 1989.
In addition to practicing medicine, she has worked as a potter and freelance writer. She raised cattle for a quarter-century. She maintains a small farm where she enjoys horses, chickens, and organic gardening. She is a third-term alderman in Blue Springs, MS and a Certified Municipal Official.
She has written three non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles. Dr. Hollis began writing fiction in November 2014. Her first novel and current work-in-progress was a finalist in the 2015 Cascade competition.
Welcome, Leanna! I’m so thrilled to have you as a guest here on Whispers in Purple. We’ve become acquainted through our connection with ACFW’s Novel Track Writing forum. Aside from your daily word-count reports to the e-loop, you’ve included some intriguing information about your life away from writing.
This is what I’d like to focus on for this interview. Ready?
As a physician, of course, caregiving comes with the job. But you took a break away from your medical practice for a season. Could you summarize here the reason for that? Also, in what field of medicine was your practice?
I’m an internist by training, and board-certified. I’ve practiced general internal medicine for most of my career, but for the last few years, my practice was limited to management of wounds.
I’ve left medicine twice. The first time, I was exhausted after being on call 24/7/365 for four years. They were hard years with many after-hours calls. When my young son cried every time the phone rang, I saw I needed to make a change. I was home with him during those all-important junior high and high school years. They were vital. I’m still surprised, but I supported us during that time as a potter, writer, and speaker.
My most recent break for medicine came when I took what I thought would be a sabbatical to write a non-fiction book or two. A month in, I found my place in fiction and I’ve written non-stop ever since. Every experience of my life comes together in my writing. It feels like home to me.
In a sense, you are a caregiver as a politician—a word some folks find distasteful (☺)—serving your community as an alderman. Tell us how that happened.
No one was more surprised than me when I became an alderman. Our town was a potential site for an automobile manufacturing plant. Things were about to change in big ways. Two women who were aldermen at the time came to me. A place on the board was about to open up because another alderman was retiring and they suggested I run. In fact, they gathered the names for my qualifying papers and left me no choice. I ran unopposed and was elected by acclamation. This is my third term.
What are some of your ‘duties’ as alderman?
We attend monthly meetings to handle the business of the town. During my three terms, we’ve completed a 25-year comprehensive plan, established zoning, building codes, ordinances, a court system, and a police department. We’ve hired a code enforcement officer, police officers, and a judge.
We have a lovely park, donated by the generosity of Toyota, and we host events there during pretty weather. We host the annual Blue Springs Day, Friday Night Jam in the park, and the annual Pi Day Pie in the Park event.
As elected officials, we have to know the law so we can uphold it. That means lots of training. I’m a Certified Municipal Official, which represents many hours of training.
Let’s talk about your beloved neighbor Sam, for whom you are also caregiver.
When I first bought my farm in 1989, the owner wanted to be sure Sam, who was in his 50’s, could remain on the land. As a condition of the sale, I gave my word to take care of Sam and allow him to live on my land until he died. I was much younger and had no idea what that would mean to the Leanna of today, but I have kept my word.
At the first, Sam took care of the farm and of me. In 2003, two months after I first took a break from medicine, he had a subdural hematoma. His recovery was long and hard. In an instant, the running of the farm and management of my cattle and horses fell to me. I was a prissy, entitled woman who was accustomed to affluence and comfort. Life changed dramatically and, though it was hard, it was for the better. I was transformed during the years that followed, and my relationship with Christ became deep and intimate.
At what point did you pick up your medical practice again?
I went back into medicine part-time in 2008 and gradually increased to a 40-hour a week practice. My son graduated from high school in 2010 and I could see that an empty nest might be a challenge for me. To head it off, I went back into medicine and bought a high-maintenance dog.
Now, the biggie . . . how do you balance all the above with your writing?
I get up at 4:00 am most days. Some days I sleep until 4:30. I’ve always been an early riser. I don’t watch TV, I don’t follow sporting events, I rarely eat out, and I enjoy everything I do. With all that said, my mind writes non-stop, which makes me a very fast writer.
My day starts with Bible study and quiet time. I ask God what He wants me to write for my blog and I write it, every day, in the moment. I post what is essentially a first draft. Sometimes I wish I wrote differently, but that’s how I do it. The blog is filled with what I’ve studied in Scripture, experiences I’ve had, hard times and good. It’s a little bit like “Life with Leanna”. (http://leannahollis.blogspot.com)
After the blog is posted, I go straight to writing fiction. When my goal for the day is done, I switch to writing for the new online Bible study on Hosea that begins May 1. It’s free and everyone is welcome. There’s a Facebook group for discussion (Lessons in Discipleship) and a website to access the lessons. The lessons for one chapter each week is posted on Sunday. It’s a 14-week study and I’m so excited about it. http://lessonsindiscipleship.blogspot.com
Sam visits throughout the day so we address his issues in between. I take breaks to deal with livestock and I exercise by going to the barn and working in my ridiculously large garden. In between all that, I think about what our town needs and how to accomplish it.
Leanna’s Featured Book:
- Title: The Clay Papers
- Publisher: Pinion Press
- Release Date: Kindle 2015/Paperback 2005
- Genre: Devotional
- Stand-alone or Series: Stand alone
Synopsis/Back cover blurb:
In the midst of the dust and mud of pottery class, Dr. Hollis learned much more than how to shape the clay. Those seeking to be molded by the Master's hands will find encouragement and direction in The Clay Papers. The unique devotional stories in this volume will challenge and equip you for a deeper walk in your Christian faith through lessons in dealing with stress, obedience, prevenient grace, pride, waiting for God's perfect plan, holiness, perseverance, priorities, purity, and recognizing miracles.
Where can folks find you on the Internet?
- Facebook: leanna.l.hollis
- www.twitter.com/leannahollis.com @leannahollis
- Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Leanna-Lindsey-Hollis-M.D./e/B01AJTE3VIwww.leannahollis.com
ABOUT THE GIVEAWAY:
Leanna is giving away one copy of The Clay Papers in paperback (US Only). Giveaway runs from today, April 28, through Friday, May 6, at Midnight, Central Time. To enter, please leave a comment in the section below, including your email contact information- disguised such as: you (at) ABCxyz (dot) com, to keep those pesky bots from picking it up. A minimum of 5 entries are required to validate the giveaway. Winner will be drawn through random.org and notified via email on Saturday, May 7.
Thank you, Leanna, for being my guest on Whispers in Purple. I’ve really enjoyed getting to know you up-close-and-personal through this interview.
God bless you!