From the Booking Desk:

The crime writing community is like a big family – sometimes dysfunctional, as all families are – but there are always those members that stand out (and stand up.) Leslie Budewitz is one of those community members that everybody knows and no one has a bad word to say about. She is dedicated to our chosen genre and helps promote it and its practitioners at every turn. It is truly a joy to have her here on BOLO Books as part of the ever-growing Composite Sketch profile series.

Name: Leslie Budewitz
Location: Bigfork, Montana

This person from my personal life is such an inspiration:

When I was 16, I got a job working at Waldenbooks in Billings, Montana, back when Walden was emerging from the shadows as a company that mainly ran book departments within department stores to become a retail force. The store was new, and the assistant manager was Sandra Schiavon, a woman ten years older; we’d never met, though we knew each other’s siblings.  More than forty years later, we are still good friends. She taught me a lot about customer service, and together, we learned about the book business, both huge assets to me now as an author.

Though I write about characters immersed in food-related retail, I did not come from a foodie family. It was Sandra who opened up the world of good food for me. (She’s the inspiration for the character Sandra Piniella in my Spice Shop mysteries, right down to the zebra-print reading glasses.)

But what she really did – does – is model the art of living creatively. It’s not about practicing a specific art – writing, painting, playing the piano; it’s about discovery, and joy, and sharing. Staying open every single day, even when it’s painful. Relishing it all without being too precious. Finding the truest ways to express yourself, every day.

Plus she still feeds me books and recipes. And feeds me, on my too-infrequent visits to our hometown.

One of the people I admire most in the crime fiction community is:

When we were writing the history of Sisters in Crime a few years ago, I talked to several early presidents and leaders, and one told me that when she got Sara Paretsky’s invitation to the meeting that led to the formation of SinC, she told another mystery writer, “I don’t know what this is about, but it’s Sara, so you know it will be interesting.” And that sums it up. I love her passion and fierceness, her conviction that even if it’s hard to see how your efforts can make a difference in the world, you need to do the work anyway.

And I have to mention Laura Lippman, who explores women’s lives through the lens of crime fiction. I’ve long admired her career and her creative courage, combining series fiction with stand-alones and now, increasingly, essays. She never blinks from the hard truths, in her characters or herself.  I so often find myself thinking “Damn. I wish I’d written that.” (Looking ahead to the next question, I hope Laura doesn’t think she needs a restraining order against me!)

STALKER ALERT! If this fictional character were real, they would likely need to get a restraining order against me:

I’d say Olive Kitteridge, but she’d probably roll her eyes and push me off the park bench. I just love her, and how Elizabeth Strout has made a female curmudgeon so captivating. We all have our inner OK; it’s just not always okay to let her out.

People are always surprised that I am a fan of this individual (singer, actor, or artist):

Going off script here to pick a movie. I adore the original Blade Runner. Since the rest of my Top Five are Casablanca, Dr. Zhivago, Love Actually, and The Sound of Music, it’s an outlier. But we all have our quirks and inconsistencies, right? It’s what (sorry!) makes us human.  

My personal catch phrase is (or should be):

This might be a paraphrase from one of Joseph Campbell’s interviews with Bill Moyers, not an exact quote, but I keep it, framed, on a table in my office. “Never underestimate the value to the Universe of the fully realized life.”