Leah Nash, a tough-minded journalist with a soft-spot for underdogs, and a knack for solving murders, recently sat down with us for a Q&A session.
You seem happy back in your old hometown of Himmel. So, why did you leave in the first place?
Years ago, when I was a kid, I saw the movie The Paper, and I just knew I wanted to do that. Chase down stories, stand up for people, find the truth. I thought you could only do that if you worked in a big city, for a big paper. So, that’s the career path I chose, and I loved those years. If I hadn’t gotten in my own way, I probably wouldn’t be here, now.
You mean when you got fired and nobody else would hire you, so you had to come back to Himmel?
You don’t mince words, do you? OK, fair enough. Yes. I screwed up majorly, shot my mouth off when I shouldn’t have, and it cost me a lot—a good job, a steady climb up the ladder, money, independence. In case you haven’t noticed, things aren’t exactly booming on newspapers today. I had a reputation for getting the story, but also for not being a team player. Which, by the way, I think is unfair. I find myself very easy to get along with.
Let’s get a little more personal. Tell me, how do you think the tragic losses you suffered at a young age—your sister and your father—affected your view of life?
Oh, no, we’re not going there again, are we? Look, I’ll just say that in my experience it’s best not to trust too much, not to count on things. The best way to protect yourself is not to let people see that you’re vulnerable. Everybody has a right to their private feelings, right?
Let’s switch it up a little. Quick, off the top of your head, top five favorite books.
Catcher in the Rye, To Kill a Mockingbird, A Prayer for Owen Meany, All the President’s Men, Horton Hears a Who.
Top five favorite movies:
Notorious (the 1946 one, not the 2009 one), Gentlemen’s Agreement, Singin’ in the Rain, The Paper, Spotlight.
There’s a theme running through your choices. Most of the lead characters are advocates who stand up and fight for others. Is that what draws you so deeply into difficult investigations? Do you want to save people, Leah?
OK, who put you up to this line of questioning, Father Lindstrom? I just like to find answers. It makes me feel better to know I’m standing on firm ground. I like to know what’s real, that’s all. It’s not about saving people, or saving myself or whatever pseudo-psychological thing you’re driving at, OK?
All right, if you say so. Now, we know why you left Himmel, and why you came back, but why are you staying? Weren’t you just marking time until you got a book deal?
That was my plan when I came back, but after a while, I realized I like it here. I’ve lived other places and some I liked a lot, but Himmel is home. There’s something about the place that gets to me, I guess.
Is it the people, or the place?
Both, I think. I like the rootedness of living in the place where I was born, where I grew up. I like the sense of continuity. And I like the people, too. My mom is great—she’s the one constant in my life. Don’t tell her, because I don’t think she knows, but she’s getting older, and though it’s hard to believe, she might not be here forever. I like being nearby—to watch her grow up. And then there’s Miguel, and Coop and Father Lindstrom and a lot of other people I care about here.
Speaking of Coop, what’s up with you two?
What do you mean? Oh, wait, I get it. You’re one of those “shippers” aren’t you? Can’t you just accept that what Coop and I have goes way beyond a chick lit romance? We’ve been best friends since the sixth grade. We get each other—most of the time. Do I wish he had better taste in women? You bet. Do I hate it when he acts like my theories are crazy or tries to get me to slow down? Sure. But he’s solid. He has my back, and I have his. Now, I hate to run, but I’ve really got to wrap this up. I’m meeting some friends at McClain’s.
OK, thanks for your time today. We’ll be back with more questions soon.
I can’t wait.