Saturday, May 18, 2013

Blog Tour Interview with Leslie Lehr

As part of the blog tour for What A Mother Knows, I have an interview with Leslie Lehr for you readers today.

Welcome Leslie, and thank you for being here.

What was the hardest part of writing this book for you?

Starting over! I originally wrote this as my MFA thesis at a really rough time in my life. It was dark and literary, with two different timelines that came together at the end. Just as I was starting to send it out, I had this overnight inspiration to write my second book, Wife Goes On, and I sold a matching screenplay to Lifetime.  I had to put this aside and write those really fast.
It was fun to hear from book clubs that enjoyed it and from readers who were touched by that book. So I decided to go back and revise this into a more friendly form. I taught my MFA seminar on crossing the bridge between literary and commercial books – so this was my chance to try it. I ripped it apart scene by scene and put it back together into this page-turning story. It was like having a puzzle and rearranging the pieces. Since I already knew the story, I could focus on digging even deeper. Plus I made the mom more kickass, so I could live vicariously through her.

Who was your favourite secondary character to write?

Elyse, the main character’s mother, was a blast. She‘s an former ballerina with a lot going on. And Michelle’s two neighbour friends - Julie, whom Cathy thinks is a sexpot, and Cathy, whom Julie thinks is a bore - they turn out to be surprising too. And Asia, Michelle’s old assistant, and Becka, her old film school friend who has her own motives –oops, that’s more than one! These characters are so real to me that I made Pinterest boards for them on my web site. The men are hot and complicated, but the moms make me laugh because they are all so different, yet they all want the same thing.

Emotions really run high in this book, and I felt like as I got further into the book there were more emotional scenes packed closer together, did you plan out everything that was going to happen before writing or did you let the story take over?

I planned it very carefully. That’s the only way to build the momentum up, to have all those emotional revelations back to back: bam-bam-bam. There is so much going on, I had to make sure everything worked perfectly, so the reader believed every moment and could enjoy every payoff. That kind of planning allows for more freedom within each scene. Since I knew what had to happen, I could play with how to do it, how the characters behaved. I did cut some scenes that are fun but didn’t really push the story forward. I thought of posting outtake chapters on my website! 

What books and authors helped influence your writing?

Everything I read influences my writing. Whether I read articles in the Atlantic about powerful career women or articles in Vogue on fashion or in People about celebrities, it all goes into my head and mixes up like stew to come out stronger. Or if I read a book I hate, I figure out why and avoid doing that. I wrote my first novel because I was angry at a book that was popular and I thought I could do it better. I grew up reading science fiction by Madeline L’Engle and Ray Bradbury, but I also read historical romances like Gone with the Wind and books by Jane Austen. I read mostly current novelists now and I review them on Goodreads.

I’m not sure we can be influenced by any one writer‘s style unless it’s on purpose. I write to have a voice, so I hope my voice is distinctive.

Are you working on another book now? And if so can you share anything about it?

I’m torn between two stories now. Both are about contemporary women and continue my obsession with mothers and daughters. But one is dark and dramatic and the other might serve better as a romantic comedy. Both are love stories, based on the what-ifs of real life. I’m hoping to figure out a third story somewhere in the middle.

What advice do you have for other writers out there?

Here are my five top tips:
1.  Love the process, that’s all you can control.
2. Lock your refrigerator.
3.  Read.
4.  Remember that taste is subjective. Sometimes a person will say something mean about your writing just because their stomach hurts.
5. Write something good enough to make your family proud, but don’t let the thought of your family stop you from writing something good. ;)

If you want to follow along on the blog tour here is the schedule.

April 29 – Robin Reads & Writes
May 1 - Chick Lit is Not Dead
May 2 - Bookfoolery
May 3 - The Bookworm
May 4 - Lori's Reading Corner
May 5 - The Self Taught Cook
May 6 - Mrs Condit Reads Books
May 7 - From the TBR Pile
May 8 - Cocktails and Books
May 9 - Burton Book Review
May 10 - Chick Lit Plus
May 12 - The Book Diva’s Reads
May 13 - Peeking Between the Pages
May 14 - Long and Short Reviews
May 15 - Rainy Day Ramblings
May 16 - Help4NewMoms
May 17 - Winey Mommy
May 18 - Cozy Up with a Good Read
May 20 - A Bookish Way of Life
May 21 – Confessions of a Book Junkie
May 22 - 5 Minutes for Mom
May 23 - Angela Klocke
May 24 - WeeShare
May 26 - Brianna Lee
May 28 - Reviewing Shelf
May 29 - Socrates Book Reviews
May 31 - Passionate about Books

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