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Book Spotlight: Every Kiss a War by Leesa Cross-Smith

Every Kiss a War by Leesa Cross-Smith

Every Kiss a War by Leesa Cross-Smith
Leesa Cross-Smith

The twenty-seven stories in Leesa Cross-Smith's debut short story collection Every Kiss a War are set to the sounds of “frogs and crickets out back, steam-pulsing like a machine” and “a sad country song that hasn't been written yet.” Men and women love and leave over cigarettes and shots of kitchen table whiskey. She takes us down Kentucky roads in the back of a pickup truck to both truculent and delicate women and rough, rambling men edged with gentleness. A finalist for the Flannery O'Connor Short Fiction Award and the Iowa Short Fiction Award, this collection is a ravishing war of characters laid bare as they look for the glow and fight to stay in the light. As affecting as they are sexy and romantic, these stories burn with sweetness like firecrackers and honey as you throw them back and holler for another round.

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What the publisher has to say about Every Kiss a War:

These stories crackle with their characters’ energy, and Leesa’s storytelling genius captivates both heart and mind; the combined effect is nothing short of addiction Admittedly, I’m biased– Leesa Cross-Smith is one of my favorite fiction writers and since I’m the publisher of this sublime collection, I’ve not only read it many times over, I can share … This collection of stories is that rare kind of American book meant for *everyone*, regardless of background, gender, religion, etc., etc. These are stories about what we share living in the world–and trying to make it through without losing who or what we love most. You’ll love this book. You’ll tell others they will, too.
-Michael Dwayne Smith, Editor-in-Chief of Mojave River Press & Review

What others have to say about Every Kiss a War:

“Leesa Cross-Smith is a consummate storyteller who uses her formidable talents to tell the oft-overlooked stories of people living in that great swath of place between the left and right coasts. She offers thrilling turns of phrase like, “His mouth tasted like thousand-page Russian novels I’d never read,” or “let your smeary mouth be his question mark.” Where she is most stunning is in the endings of each of the 27 stories in Every Kiss a War, creating crisp, evocative moments that will linger long after you’ve read this book’s very last word.”-Roxane Gay, author of An Untamed State and Bad Feminist and editor of PANK magazine

“Read the stories Leesa Cross-Smith has made for us here and remember the cheap beer & the old songs & fireworks & cowboys & ‘ice clinky frontier whiskey’ & kisses that feel like tiny wars. Remember these things as if they happened to you because they did. Her writing is exquisite and fearless, exposed and bleeding onto the page. Every story without exception is smart, gentle, heartbreaking, and most importantly, real.”-Kathy Fish, author of Wild Life and Together We Can Bury It

“The stories in Every Kiss a War read like roaring hymns sung from some whiskey-fueled revival in the Kentucky woods. Leesa Cross-Smith sermonizes from dusty pages, bottle in hand, calling out her words to the gathered revelers from a bar stool pulpit. Gather ’round. Turn on an old-timey jukebox and let the country fill you. Listen, put a shot of bourbon to your lips, and drink down your salvation as Leesa shows you the way.”-Justin Lawrence Daugherty, author of Whatever Don’t Drown Will Always Rise and editor of Sundog Lit

“In the stories that make up Every Kiss A War, Leesa Cross-Smith deftly finds love in the sadness and light in the sorrow. These stories will burrow their way into your heart and head, taking their rightful place beside the love songs you’ve had on repeat for years.”-Troy Palmer, editor of Little Fiction

“Leesa Cross-Smith is a sorceress. Out of pop songs and humid Kentucky nights, out of big belt buckles and back-road drives, Cross-Smith conjures stories filled with sentences that dazzle and characters who yearn with their whole broken hearts. Every Kiss a War is a remarkable debut collection by a writer whose words I’d follow down any starlit gravel road.”-Chad Simpson, author of Tell Everyone I Said Hi, winner of the 2012 John Simmons Short Fiction Award

“Leesa Cross-Smith’s Every Kiss A War is an emotional battlefield, a perfectly written anatomy of the human condition—the good, the bad, the quiet moments that define our relationships—that you can’t help but pick yourself out in the pages, can’t help but be pulled into her sumptuous writing, her words becoming your favorite quilt to cover you from the cold.”-Robert James Russell, co-founding editor of Midwestern Gothic and author of Sea of Trees

“Leesa Cross-Smith’s stories are some of the most intimate I’ve ever read. Her words delve not only into the minds of her characters, but into their deepest, most specific wounds. These are tales of strength despite fragility, of beauty despite darkness, of laughter despite immense hurt. I truly can’t wait for the world to fall in love with these characters, as I have. Mark my words: Leesa Cross-Smith is a writer to watch.”-Sarah Lynn Knowles, writer and editor/founder of

“This book is a sparkler in the dark–can’t tell you how much I love it.”-Ashley M. Farmer, editor at Juked and author of Beside Myself

About the Author:

Leesa Cross-Smith is a homemaker and writer from Kentucky. Her debut short story collection is called Every Kiss a War (Mojave River Press, 2014). Every Kiss a War was a finalist for both the Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction (2012) and the Iowa Short Fiction Award (2012). She and her husband Loran run a literary magazine called WhiskeyPaper. Find more @ and

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