Wingate releases new book: “The Leave-Takers”


Breanna Wegleitner, Reporter (She/her)

Steven Wingate, associate professor of English, moved to South Dakota 11 years ago, but is just now settling into his life here.

Writing his latest novel, “The Leave-Takers,” helped with that.

Through writing “The Leave-Takers,” Wingate says he has come to embrace a South Dakota lifestyle despite the fact that the state is still unfamiliar to him. He felt like he needed to spend time writing a book that is set in South Dakota to settle in a bit more.

Wingate’s novel is about two artists, Jacob from Boston and Laynie from Los Angeles, who end up together by chance in South Dakota.

Living outside of Clark, the couple are isolated from all the things that distract them and are forced to confront their own personal demons, including suffering with grief, using prescription pharmaceuticals and coping with miscarriage.

“It’s a love story, but it’s a tough love story because they have to fight their way through their own obstacles, many of which they have put in their own way, in order to forge a relationship,” Wingate said.

Marriage, and the struggles of trying to make marriage work, are the main inspirations for his novel. Wingate took inspiration from his own personal life experiences, including struggles of addiction in his family, deaths of family members and loved ones experiences with miscarriages.

One “The Leave-Takers” reviewer described the novel as a “harrowing romance, never letting go of the reader’s emotions,” but also “a novel about woundedness and the rituals that allow us to free ourselves from the past.”

When asked if readers could expect to feel a lot of emotions while reading the novel, Wingate assured readers they will.

“I don’t think any novel that doesn’t involve a roller coaster of emotions is worth reading,” Wingate said. “It was a roller coaster book to write, and it should be a roller coaster book to read.”

While Wingate doesn’t incorporate his published writings into his course work at SDSU because it would be a conflict of interest, some of his students think that being a published author adds to his credibility as a professor.

“It was very reassuring to know that he understands the publishing world, that he has been there, that he has the knowledge and he knows the writing world very well,” Jessica Berg, an English graduate student, said.

Jordan Heisler, another English graduate student, agrees with Berg.

“If the end goal of creative writing is to perhaps be published, that would make him an expert within this field,” Heisler said. “Having him be a published author, for me, helps reassure me that he is the right person to be speaking to me about my own future writing career.”

Jason McEntee, department head of English in the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, said Wingate is a published author, novelist, poet and essayist, and those experiences help him be more effective in the classroom.

“It allows him to teach his craft to his students,” McEntee said.

“The Leave-Takers” will be available at, as well as other locations. Wingate will also be hosting a virtual launch, “The Leave-Takers,” at 7 p.m., March 15 via Zoom and Facebook Live.