We are so excited to host an interview with our first #SRC2015 Surprise Guest Author, Leanna Lehman! Get to know a little more about her and Vote For Remi in this fun interview AND sign up to REVIEW one of our surprise SRC additions!
WHAT WAS THE INSPIRATION BEHIND YOUR BOOK?
My inspiration was threefold. First, the at-risk high school students I worked a few years back at an alternative high school amazed me with their raw talent and capabilities, despite their behavioral, academic, economic, and social situations. Second, the teachers I worked with at the time were phenomenal -unorthodox, progressive, and highly effective. Staff and students made connections that defied logic, but got results. Finally, the political scene was changing in America. Hillary was a hairs breadth away from winning the primaries (and actually lead the popular vote), and Sarah Palin was on VP ticket, which was unprecedented in American history (both women were major party candidates) all while most Americans were extremely frustrated with our political leaders in Washington. So, sipping a latte on and dreaming of a better America, these events collided in my mind. I thought “what if..” and Vote for Remi was born.
WHAT IS THE STRANGEST FAN ENCOUNTER THAT’S EVER HAPPENED?
Well, considering I am debut author, most fan encounters have been of the ceiling, box, and oscillating type. Corny –I know. However, I did have one strange online encounter recently. I shared my Happy Pub Day post on the FaceBook page for a writer’s conference that I have attended a few times. I received an immediate reply to my post from another author who is not only living in the same town, but is also an author, and shares my name. I have only met one other “Leanna” (with the same spelling), ever. To learn she lives nearby and also is a writer is freakishly coincidental.
KNOWING WHAT YOU KNOW NOW, WHAT PUBLISHING ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE YOURSELF WHEN YOU WERE FIRST STARTING OUT?
Prepare for a marathon, don’t take anything personally, and never, ever, give up (my favorite quote – Winston Churchill). The one thing that comes to mind is the time involved. Like many authors, I have a full-time day job, so the process of writing can take years. The first manuscript for Vote for Remi took about a year and a half to complete. I thought once I was done with my writing, I would hand my book off to the publishing fairies and it would magically appear on the shelves in every book store in the county. I had no idea about what I call the “post-writing” process: querying (which can take months or years), copy editing, multiple proof readings, cover design and layout, platform building, marketing and PR, etc). Getting your book on the shelf, or even online, requires a great deal of commitment and focus. I was told by the first agent that was interested in Vote for Remi that it was a 2-5 year process (including the writing). I couldn’t fathom it taking that long. Now, knowing what I do, I can’t believe it only took three.
Coincidentally, I recently wrote an article on just this subject, titled Five Things Aspiring Writer Should Know –but Probably Don’t for Weheartwritring.com posting on May 27th, where I touch on some other key things I wish I’d known.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE SUMMER BEACH READ EVER? WHAT ARE YOU READING THIS SUMMER?
Ever? Oh, that is hard. I read so much. I once started keeping track of what I read and quickly gave it up. If I had to pick one, I would have go with Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter, which is one of the most lovely and exquisitely written novels I have ever read. My reading list is extensive this summer, Play for Me by Celine Keating, Don’t Leave Yet by Constance Hanstedt, and Green Light Your Book by Brooke Warner, just to name a few.
WHAT ARE YOU MOST LOOKING FORWARD TO THIS SUMMER?
This is a Vote for Remi summer for me, so I am most looking forward to all the wonderful things that are in the works, like the San Francisco National She Writes Press tour event in July, connecting with readers, writers, and reviewers in the blogosphere (and in person) and Reno’s Art Town Celebration, particularly the Literary Crawl. Who doesn’t want to enjoy a glass of on the banks of the Truckee River, all while dressed up as their favorite literary character author? Of course, my favorite summer activities will be camping and hiking in the Sierras, relaxing on the sandy shores of Lake Tahoe with my nose buried in a book, and spending some much needed time on my new book.