AURA was named one of “17 Recent And Upcoming Books From Indie Publishers You Need To Read” from BUZZFEED 2023!!!
“In this bracingly honest memoir, Leftwich chronicles her experiences with bullying, religious shaming, and domestic abuse. She documents her upbringing in deeply conservative Colorado Springs, which leads to a troubling marriage, to other relationships with men across Colorado, and a short-lived coupling in Hollywood, Florida. Throughout the book, Leftwich is unflinching. She has an uncanny ability as a writer to get readers to hope right alongside her, even when it seems fairly clear things will not turn out well, and her deep commitment to protecting her son shines through. This book will likely ring true for those who have lived even closer to the economic margins than paycheck to paycheck, who have been scared to leave a relationship because of fear of retaliation, or have had nothing but a drive to survive keeping them going. Despite the narrative of trauma, this is not a story of a victim. An incredible reckoning of how our past shapes our future.”
order your copy of Aura, a Memoir from Future Tense Books
“Aura is more than a memoir— it’s a spell book for survival, a powerful promise from mother to son, and an intimate examination of power, spirituality, and the abuse of both. Leftwich weaves together the stories of her life to create startlingly raw memories that are both personal and profoundly universal. She explores the devastating impact of patriarchy in her own life while searching for answers in witchcraft, womanhood, and motherhood. Urgently portrayed and deeply felt, Aura is a complex tapestry of letters, spells, and memories. Her story is a vivid confrontation against an unforgiving world that traps women and children in the systems meant to save them. This is a story for seekers, searchers, and anyone in the process of saving themselves and their loved ones.
“There were seven of us in our writing group reading pieces of Aura, and at times we’d all be stuck in tears and had to get ourselves together to try to give feedback. I’m doing the same while trying to write this blurb, and now I realize that was/is the feedback: stuck in tears and awe of Hillary’s vulnerability and shadows, and she’s gracious enough to offer us protection and strength while doing so. Even my crying while reading feels protected. Hillary Leftwich admits to having resistance to writing about her childhood because it feels dirty and secretive. But Aura engages with resistance by pushing into the dirt and secrecy and writing from those places because it feels necessary for survival and healing.” –Steven Dunn, Whiting Award Winner, author of water & power
“A Psalm for Aura: I include this book in the care package I’m curating for my dead (Mother, this book is for you, too); I believe in the sort of grace that erupts while standing in line at the E-Zee Check 24hr Payday Loan; I affirm the power of whatever you have on hand to save your ass; I uphold writing as a potential site of transformative magic. Fuck the Patriarchy. Let the visionaries to the front of the line. Let Hillary Leftwich to the front and may her remarkable memoir be read and celebrated far and wide.”
–Selah Saterstrom, author of Ideal Suggestions and Slab
“Unfortunately both trauma and spousal abuse are common experiences, but there is nothing common about Leftwich’s approach to writing down her bones. When she writes about the “careless words” doctors use, we see it as the motivation behind her own meticulously careful compositions. As she finds control upon the page, she finds control in life. As epilepsy seizes the body of her son, again and again, Leftwich’s story seizes us, and through the fractured narrative, we learn it’s not reliability the author’s aiming for when she makes this montage of clinical paperwork and Hail Mary’s, but alchemy. The form recollects the hermit crab shell narratives Susanna Kaysen employed when she wrote her own memoir, Girl, Interrupted while the storyline summons to mind Stephanie Land’s Maid, but Aura is indeed a love letter. Written to her child, but also to and for herself, and to and for all of us. Hillary Leftwich writes a way forward in which she rescues herself and teaches us how to do the same.”
–Sarah Elizabeth Schantz, author of Fig.
Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-892061-92-8
8.5 x 5.5 inches
Cover price: $26.00
Cover design by Michael Seidlinger, collage by Sarah Best
Hardcover edition limited to 99 copies and not available in stores
Publication date: July 21st, 2022
(pre-orders will ship early July)
Paperback edition here
e-book coming: Fall 2022
GHOSTS ARE JUST STRANGERS WHO KNOW HOW TO KNOCK: A NEW EDITION PUBLISHED BY AGAPE EDITIONS & HAUNTED DOLLHOUSE IMPRINT
RELEASE DATE JANUARY 3RD, 2023: AGAPE EDITIONS
Ghosts Are Just Strangers Who Know How to Knock is a multi-genre collection that examines grief, violence, heartbreak, and the universal challenge of living in a body that is always vulnerable. In this greyscale kaleidoscope of the familiar and the uncanny, muted voices shout, people commit to devastating choices, and mundane moments are filled with silent hauntings. A sleep paralysis and a séance of voices long dead, this collection’s characters illuminate both our own darkness and our strength, revealing how love can emerge from the most impossible of conditions.
“SOMEWHERE BETWEEN POETRY AND STORY, LEFTWICH’S CROSS-GENRE COLLECTION EXAMINES GRIEF, VIOLENCE, HEARTBREAK, BODY, AND IDENTITY.” THE COIL, MOST ANTICIPATED BOOKS, 2019
“LEFTWICH IS A GIFTED STYLIST, HER PROSE CHARACTERIZED BY NOVEL WORD CHOICES AND PHRASINGS THAT NEVER GO ASTRAY. THE CONCERNS HERE ARE HUMAN BROADLY SPEAKING, ISSUES OF LIFE AND DEATH, RELATIONSHIPS, AND EMOTIONS; BUT LEFTWICH’S WORK SHOULDN’T BE MISTAKEN FOR STANDARD SUBURBAN MINIMALISM. HER PERSPECTIVE IS DARK AND OFF-CENTER MAKING THESE STORIES BOTH SURPRISING AND A PLEASURE TO READ.” THE NERVOUS BREAKDOWN
These vignettes travel through a life—young, urban, domestic, mother-making, myth-making– and at turns contain cursed images, hilarity, and tender moments of sincere vulnerability. Leftwich’s characters curve out of what is expected: they surprise you, they confess, they hide, they snark, they love, and long. Each character feels unique and new, but together this collection becomes a protean whole of the many faces of hurt, complete and glittering. Leftwich shows us them, flaws and all, unable to escape their rawest moments. –Elle Nash, author of Animals Eat Each Other
Hillary Leftwich’s Ghosts are Just Strangers Who Know How to Knock is comprised of seventy-two brief narratives that jab & gesture at intimacy, not the comforting fantasy of it, but the bewildering state at the core of intimacy, where all is lawless, collapsing boundaries between right & wrong, self & other, truth & fantasy. The pieces feel like pages ripped from the diaries of lost souls, sometimes deadpan & direct, sometimes fluttering through fever dreams & teetering realities in which intimates reveal themselves to be a hole, or to be pieced together of broken seashells, or cleaning up strangers’ used sex toys at a Motel 6. Through the book’s often-bleak experiences, the repeated form of the vignette shows a way of, if not transcending, at least progressing out of life’s traumas & confusions. No matter how bad it can get, Leftwich tells me, we can get through it.–Mathias Svalina, author of The Wine-Dark Sea
For years I’ve heard aloud, and read in multiple journals, pieces from Ghosts Are Strangers Who Knock. After each reading or listening, I wrote down these haunting and caring images on receipts, bookmarks, and coffee sleeves. What made me write these things was their honesty—the things that are hard to say but need to be said. Hillary Leftwich has written something special where vulnerability is a form of resistance. Where vulnerability drags shame and guilt from their shadows and sets them on tables as centerpieces so we can view them from all angles.–Steven Dunn, author of Potted Meat
This wonderful book is made of lightning bolts and thunderclaps. Each page is a different kind of human storm. Some carry you up into the sky, and others send the moon careening down to you. Hillary Leftwich is an extraordinary talent.-–Bud Smith, author of Calm Face and Work
In this hybrid collection of works, Hillary Leftwich speaks to us in her own deeply authentic, inimitable voice. Innovative in approach and breathtaking in execution, Ghosts Are Just Strangers Who Know How to Knock is a haunted and haunting work of art. By turns gut-wrenching, dark, funny, and ultimately transcendent, this is a must-read book by a writer of considerable depth and originality.–Kathy Fish, author of Wild Life: Collected Works from 2003-2018