Author Interview: Leanne Lieberman

Desire, YA novel, Novel, Sex, Vagina Monologues, Depression, Anxiety, Mental Illness
Sixteen-year-old Sydney hates to talk (or even think) about sex. She’s also fighting a secret battle against depression, and she’s sure she’ll never have a boyfriend. When her classmate Paul starts texting and sending her nature photos, she is caught off guard by his interest. Always uncomfortable with any talk about sex, Sydney is shocked when her extroverted sister, Abby, announces that she is going to put on The Vagina Monologues at school. Despite her discomfort, Sydney starts to reexamine her relationship with her body, and with Paul. But her depression worsens, and with the help of her friends, her family, a therapist and some medication, she grapples with what she calls the most dangerous thing about sex: female desire.

What was the hardest scene to write in your new book?

It was definitely the ending. I had a vision for how I wanted my characters’ issues to resolve, but it took me awhile to accurately convey those feelings.

Desire, YA novel, Novel, Sex, Vagina Monologues, Depression, Anxiety, Mental IllnessWhat comes first for you, the plot or the characters?

The characters always come first for me. I might imagine a plot, but it develops because of how a specific character responds to that situation.

What part of a book is your favorite to write?

I really like to write crises scenes where there is lots of action.

What are 5 words that best describe your writing process?

Dream, scribble, draft, revise, and revise again.

Which author, living or dead, would you want to have coffee with?

I would like to have coffee with David Mitchell and have him tell me how he came up with the structure for his novel, The Cloud Atlas.

What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever googled for book research?

For my latest book I spent some time googling all the different words people use for female genitalia instead of the word “vagina.”

What’s the most interesting job you’ve had?

I wish I could say that I’ve been a taxidermist or taught scuba diving, but most of my work experience has been as an elementary school teacher. The most interesting part of my teaching job is when I teach the grade seven and eight sex-ed curriculum and I get to demonstrate how to put a condom on a wooden penis.

How do you select character names?

I often look at popular baby names for the year a character was born. I’m frequently looking for a name that is popular, but not too common, and that says something about the character, or the character’s parents wishes in naming them. For example, was the character named for a beloved grandparent, or after a famous soap star?

What do you do to combat writers block?

If I’m stuck on a certain scene or part of the book, I usually leave that section and return to it the next day. Usually with time, I am able to get around any blocks I experience.


The Most Dangerous Thing is available at your local  bookstore!

Leanne Lieberman is the author of four acclaimed YA novels, Gravity (a Sydney Taylor Notable book) and Lauren Yanofsky Hates the Holocaust. Leanne lives with her family in Kingston, Ontario, where she teaches elementary school. For more information, visit www.leannelieberman.com.

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