In this month’s spotlight, debut author Sherri Leimkuhler shares what inspired her novel, her journey to publication, and what she’s working on next!
What inspired your novel?
A real-life event inspired What’s Left Untold. My parents were moving and I was helping them pack. I came across a trunk filled with childhood memorabilia—yearbooks, photo albums, a box of letters . . . even a pair of leg warmers! As I was reading through the letters, the postscript on one of them caught my attention. It read something like, “I need to see you. I have something important to tell you.” At the time I shrugged if off, thinking it couldn’t have been important, probably just high school drama. But later, as I was driving home, I wondered, what if it had been important? And I asked myself, what is something someone could learn twenty years after the fact that could still have a major impact on their life? With that question, the premise for my book was born.
What are your interests outside of writing?
I’ve been a group fitness instructor since 1992 and a yoga instructor since 2005, and I was a competitive triathlete for a decade, so fitness is a very important part of my life. I love being outside and being active, so when I’m not writing I really enjoy trail running, hiking, paddle boarding and kayaking. I also love to read, I’m addicted to coffee, and I’m passionate about traveling and pairing a nice glass of wine with delicious food.
What are you currently working on?
I have completed a very rough first draft of my second novel, currently titled The Executive Club. It’s a story about a woman who quits her job to start her own event planning business and finds herself in dire financial straits. When a former client dangles the prospect of discreet, lucrative work, she finds the temptation hard to resist, though venturing into this underground business threatens to destroy the relationships that are most important to her and forces her to question the strength and integrity of her moral compass.
Share your publishing story.
My journey to publication was nearly 11 years in the making! Inspiration for the novel struck in 2009, and I spent the next five years working on the manuscript sporadically between working, parenting three young children, and competing in triathlons. In 2014 I decided to get serious about finishing the book and within a year I had a complete manuscript. I entered the manuscript into the Women’s Fiction Writers Association’s Rising Star Contest in 2015 and it was selected as a finalist. All finalists were given the opportunity to have their manuscripts critiqued by editors and agents. One of the editors suggested that I rewrite the story in flashback format instead of chronological. I decided to take the suggestion and spent another year re-organizing the manuscript. In 2016 I began sending the manuscript out on submission, and in September 2018 I signed a contract with Red Adept Publishing. My book was finally released on May 19, 2020. It was a long road and I learned a lot along the way.
What would your dream casting be for your main character(s)?
This is a fun question! In the beginning I didn’t give this much thought because I never allowed myself to imagine my book would be made into a movie, and also because I think it’s important for readers to create their own mental image of what the characters look like. But after my book was published and I had the opportunity to connect with book clubs, this question came up a lot, so I had a great time creating the cast for my book!
Anna – Emmanuelle Chriqui
Lia – Emma Stone
Jack – Henry Cavill
Faith – Tina Fey
Rose – Margo Martindale or Susan Sarandon
Kathryn – Alexandra Daddario
Jay – Chris Pine
ABOUT WHAT’S LEFT UNTOLD
Every secret has its price.
Anna Clark and Lia Clay were unlikely best friends in high school, but their yin-and-yang personalities drew them together in a sister-like bond. Then during college, Lia inexplicably walked out on their friendship and disappeared, leaving Anna hurt, confused, and disillusioned.
Twenty years later, Anna discovers a letter Lia wrote the summer after high school—a letter that contains a cryptic postscript concealing a devastating truth. With her twenty-year high school reunion approaching, Anna moves closer to uncovering the secret in Lia’s letter and the heartbreaking consequences it set in motion.
As the layers of deceit and betrayal begin to unravel, Anna is forced to question everything she believes and come to terms with what it means to forgive the one person who hurt her in the worst way imaginable.
Sherri Leimkuhler has written professionally for more than 20 years but is a Jill of many trades, with experience in sales, marketing, public relations, event planning, and aviation. Her health-and-fitness column, “For the Fun of Fit,” appeared bi-weekly in the Carroll County Times for nearly a decade. A competitive triathlete and two-time Ironman finisher, Sherri also enjoys reading, hiking, paddleboarding, trail running and traveling. Sherri lives in Maryland with her husband, three daughters, and two Labrador retrievers.