Friday, July 6, 2012

Interview with Leah Scheier, author of SECRET LETTERS!

Although not officially an Apocalypsie, debut author Leah Scheier has been riding high this past month with the debut of SECRET LETTERS. We caught up with her for a quick download!


Inquisitive and observant, Dora dreams of escaping her aristocratic country life to solve mysteries alongside Sherlock Holmes. So when she learns that the legendary detective might be her biological father, Dora jumps on the opportunity to travel to London and enlist his help in solving the mystery of her cousin’s ransomed love letters. 

But Dora arrives in London to devastating news: Sherlock Holmes is dead. Her dreams dashed, Dora is left to rely on her wits—and the assistance of an attractive yet enigmatic young detective—to save her cousin’s reputation and help rescue a kidnapped heiress along the way.

Steeped in Victorian atmosphere and intrigue, this gripping novel heralds the arrival of a fresh new voice in young adult literature.

Welcome to the Lucky 13s! With your first book out, what did you do to celebrate?
I took an emergency resuscitation review course on my release date (June 26, 2012). That had nothing to do with my novel, although if I wanted to be melodramatic I'm sure I could find an unlikely link between the two things. :-)

My day job is pediatrics and every couple of years I have to get PALS recertified. I suppose I could have postponed it but I figured the alternative would be me sitting at home obsessively checking my computer.... for something.  I've done enough of that over the last few months. So I thought-- why not keep myself busy on the big day?

In the evening my husband took me me out for a fancy dinner. And then I went to see BRAVE in the theaters. I can't get enough of strong heroines!

What did you enjoy most about writing SECRET LETTERS?
Writing Dora and Peter's conversations. I loved it every time he teased her and I so enjoyed hearing her snappy comebacks.  Nothing makes me smile like a little sexy bickering!

Was there anything about it that surprised you?
The revision process was full of surprises. It usually went like this: "Wait--my editor wants me to change what??"  *hand wringing*  *several frantic calls to my sister* "Ohhhh, there's no way that's going to work! What am I going to do? *strangled sob*"  "Okay, okay-- I'll give it a try...." *scribbles frantically for a couple of weeks*......"Oh, my God. I can't believe it. That is so much better!!!" And------Repeat. And---Repeat. I learned so much during each round of revisions. And my editors (Lisa and Catherine) were the best teachers.

What has your journey to publication been like?
I was lucky; I found my agent (Irene Kraas) pretty quickly, less than two months after I sent out my first query letter. From there it took about six months until we found an editor who was interested. From that point to signing the contract was actually a pretty long process– more than a year. This was mainly because I had originally intended the book for adults, and revising it for a young adult audience took a while. After I signed the contract it was another year and a half of further revisions. So– altogether almost four years from the time I put the final period on my first draft to publication date. But I count myself very fortunate. SECRET LETTERS is actually the first novel I ever wrote and when I started it I never dreamed that anyone would ever read it!

Do you have a typical writing day, and can you describe it?
Not really. I write around my day job (pediatrician) and my three daughters. Usually when the kids are in bed or in between patients. I also allow myself ridiculously long breaks after I finish a project, to re-fuel by catching up on great movies and reading everything I can get my hands on.

What’s next for you?
I am currently sketching out a sequel for SECRET LETTERS; more on that as it comes together! A few months ago I finished a second novel and sent it to my agent.  It's completely different from the first. GOLDEN BOY is a contemporary YA story about a teenage girl whose first love is diagnosed with schizophrenia.  There are a lot of books about depression, anorexia and bipolar disorder in the current market, but I've seen very few that address this heartbreaking illness. I know it is a heavy topic but the focus of Golden Boy is  on the person behind the disease, and the girl who falls in love with him. I am hoping that Irene will find a great house for it! (I'm still waiting on that...)

And last of all, because we’re a superstitious lot here at the Lucky 13s, we love to find out what other writers’ superstitions and lucky charms are. Do you have any, and if so, what are they?
I have a Sherlock teddy bear that sits next to me when I write.  He is my lucky charm. 

About Leah Scheier

Leah decided she wanted to be a writer around the same time that she learned to read. From an early age she filled notebooks with her thoughts and observations, convinced that one day these scribblings would be unearthed and hailed by literature critics as the beginnings of a great career. She has since carefully hidden away those notebooks... but she's never stopped writing. SECRET LETTERS, her first novel, debuted June 26 from Hyperion.  Now Leah continues to lead a shady double life: smiling pediatrician by day, feverish writer by night. She lives with her husband and three daughters in Modi’in, and in her free time enjoys horse-back riding, watching movies, playing the violin, and visiting with family and friends in Atlanta and Baltimore.


  1. Leah, welcome!! I loved reading about your path to publication, and have to ask: where did you get the idea for the story? It's such a cool premise. :) Congratulations on your debut!!


    1. Thank you!
      I have been a Sherlock Holmes fan since I was a teen. I just loved Doyle's stories and anything set in Victorian England. Lots of other authors have written novels about the famous detective and possible love interests (Beekeeper's Apprentice is one of my faves) but I didn't want to go that route. I just kept imagining what Sherlock's daughter would have been like, if he had had one-- a child with his talents but with the frustration and limitations of being a girl in a society where independence in young women was not encouraged. My daydreams became Dora.

  2. Leah, this book sounds amazing! I love Victorian era London - my current WIP is set during this period. I've just added SECRET LETTERS to my TBR list on Goodreads. Congratulations on your release!

    1. Thank you!
      What is your current WIP about? (or is it too early to share?)
      Good luck with it and your other projects!

  3. Hi Leah *waves* SECRET LETTERS sounds wonderful. I'm downloading it now. (DONE!) And I love the premise of GOLDEN BOY and the special insight you can bring to the issue of schizophrenia with your background. I sincerely hope it finds a home.

    I can empathize with the YEARS of revision. It seems as if Lorie (above) and I have been working on our YA forever. But it's all worth those two special moments when it finds a home and finds its readers.

    1. Hi *waves back*
      Thanks for downloading SECRET LETTERS! I hope you enjoy!
      And you're right. The years of work do pay off finally when that shiny finished copy arrives in the mail. So exciting!

  4. Leah I absolutely loved your book Secret Letters. The story was so engaging and I could not set it down. I also really love the style of your writing, I could picture every detail vividly as if I was there watching it all happen. I am looking forward to the sequel!! Keep it up!

  5. Hi, Leah! I started reading your book and could not stop reading it! I was up till about 4 am rading it and I ended up cry for about half an hour after that. It's such a great book and I was so sad when Dora and Peter didn't become a couple, but happy that atleast he wrote back to her. Best of luck with the sequel! I am really eager to read it and I just cannot wait for it to come out!