Monday, October 1, 2012

Apocalypse Now: An Interview with L.B. Schulman, Author of LEAGUE OF STRAYS

Today we're welcoming L.B. Schulman to the Lucky 13s blog. L.B.’s debut YA novel, LEAGUE OF STRAYS (Amulet), arrives in bookstores today!

About the book (from IndieBound): 

“This suspenseful debut follows a group of teenage misfits in their delicious quest for revenge on those who have wronged them at their high school. When a mysterious note appears in Charlotte’s mailbox inviting her to join the League of Strays, she’s hopeful it will lead to making friends. What she discovers is a motley crew of loners and an alluring, manipulative ringleader named Kade. Kade convinces the group that they need one another both for friendship and to get back at the classmates and teachers who have betrayed them. But Kade has a bigger agenda. In addition to vandalizing their school and causing fights between other students, Kade’s real intention is a dangerous plot that will threaten lives and force Charlotte to choose between her loyalty to the League and her own conscience.”

Hi, L.B., and congratulations! What inspired you to write LEAGUE OF STRAYS?

Thank you for interviewing me, Elisabeth. I have often thought of Columbine and wondered, What made those boys do what they did? What forces led them to feel that there was no outlet for their frustrations other than revenge on a horrific scale? I believe that one or both of them were sociopaths. When I learned that 1 in 25 people are sociopaths, I knew I had to write about one.

What was the road to publication like? How long did it take to find an agent and a publisher for LEAGUE OF STRAYS?

Can this interview be 50 pages? I went through two agents before I found Joan Paquette, who is a fabulous, wonderful, awesome agent. I had to let the other two go for a variety of reasons. On the third try, I queried 40 agents before I tried my hand at a pitching event at a local SCBWI conference. From there, the agent I pitched to introduced to me to Joan. Whew. This book went out 15 times before two editors expressed an interest in seeing a revision. One ultimately became my editor. But LEAGUE went out before that, in earlier incarnations through my previous agents, as well. It’s been a long road! I think of myself as the poster girl for perseverance.

How much revision did you do along the way? For instance, was LEAGUE OF STRAYS always the book’s title?

I can’t answer this because I revised it all the time. I started it ten years ago! There were years where it sat around on my desk, not being touched. When I first wrote it, my writing was very immature. It read like a middle-grade novel and had a middle-grade title, THE LOSERS’ CLUB. I drove everyone crazy and made them all vote on alternative, darker titles and LEAGUE OF STRAYS won. I’m thrilled that my publisher did not request a title change.

Classical music plays an important role in the book. Do you have a background in classical music, the way Charlotte does?

Yes, I played violin from third grade through 12th. I was nowhere near as good as Charlotte, but I could relate to everything she felt. When I was in 7th grade, I finally started with a private teacher and he changed my whole relationship with my violin and music (thanks, Mr. Angus). I became a much better musician, and only by improving did I learn to love playing.

What’s next in your writing life? Is there a work-in-progress you’d like to tell us about?

I am working on something that I’m extremely proud of. It’s much more complex than anything I’ve written before. I’ve had the idea in my head for 20, yes, 20 years, but not until this year did I feel “ready” to tackle it. That’s all I will say, because I have found it’s better to just write it than to talk about it.

How do you plan to celebrate the day/week/month of your book’s release?

People have warned me that the actual release day could be anti-climatic so I am planning all kinds of treats for myself, including a 90-minute massage. I am also planning a large launch party, and I plan to have some creative surprises. One day soon, I will look into blog tours because that looks like a lot of fun.

And lastly—this is a Lucky 13s thing—do you have any superstitions or other luck-related habits, particularly with regard to writing?

OK, this is totally embarrassing. I have a deck of Tarot cards, and when I feel very insecure, I pull them out and ask about my career. There’s this one deck that is always positive. It has a “letter” card, which means good news is on the way. That one’s my favorite! I also have a little red card somewhere in my home office (currently lost) that proclaims my intent: I WILL SELL LEAGUE OF STRAYS. I need to update it to my work-in-progress title! And I listen to the audio tape of THE SECRET in my car, because as hokey as it seems, a part of me believes in the power of positive thinking. So every day, I try to visualize success…we’ll see how that one works out. The last time I tried it, LEAGUE OF STRAYS sold, so who knows? Elisabeth, speaking of superstition, let me now formally wish you the best of luck on your debut in 2013!

L. B. Schulman writes fantasy and contemporary fiction for young adults. She lives outside the San Francisco Bay Area. This is her first novel.

You can find L.B. at

This interview was conducted by Lucky13s member Elisabeth Dahl, whose debut MG novel, GENIE WISHES, will be published by Amulet Books in the spring of 2013 ( The interview is part of an ongoing series of interviews with The Apocalypsies—YA, MG, and children's book authors debuting in 2012.


  1. Perseverance rules! Can't wait to read LEAGUE OF STRAYS!