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Interview with Leah Scheier!

Monday, September 7, 2015

1) What was your favorite scene to write about and why?

The scene where Jonah has his psychotic break was probably the most difficult and the most rewarding to write. The break is the point where Jonah is no longer able to distinguish reality from delusion. Though Jonah's downward spiral is pretty obvious and painful to watch, April and his family continue to ignore his symptoms, hoping against hope that he will "magically" get better. The moment when April has to finally face her worst fears, when she realizes that the boy she loves needs help is a powerful one. I especially struggled with Jonah's rant at the emergency room doctor. Producing a nonsensical diatribe that actually flows and makes sense to the reader was quite a challenge! 

2) Which character did you connect more to, Jonah or April?

I think I connected more with April.  Like her, I was quiet and socially awkward, and I missed my best friend terribly when she left for another school. I never had a Jonah in my life, but I imagine I might have lost my head just like April did, if I'd met someone like him in high school.

3) Would you rewrite a scene if given the chance?

Possibly a scene or two in the beginning.
I've been so pleased with the positive reception that the book has gotten so far! However, one criticism that I have seen from a couple of reviewers is that April is somewhat immature in the beginning of the novel. She makes snap judgments about classmates and doesn't really give her best friend and her mom a chance to help (even though they want to!) Keep in mind, though, that she is only fifteen, and her choices are not the choices an adult would make. Hopefully my readers will appreciate April's growth throughout the book and how she finally finds her own voice at the end. She also recognizes that she's misjudged many people: her best friend Kris, Tessa, even "queen bee" Cora! But if April's attitude at the start puts readers off, perhaps softening that part a bit would have been better. Still, I do believe that flaws are realistic, and April's reactions are quite realistic, if not always wise.  

4) Who was the easiest character to create?

Jonah. Jonah's personality is a blend of several young men that I have met. He's artistic, temperamental, sensitive and kind. As for his illness: my experience with patients suffering from schizophrenia made that part of the picture easy to sketch.

5) Who was your favorite supporting character?

Shawn. He was drawn from a former patient of mine. Although he doesn't get a lot of "air time" in the novel, in many ways he encompasses the tragedy of young people with mental illness. So many of them come from difficult home situations, and their illness only makes things that much harder for them. In the novel, Shawn's mom "forgets" to pick him up when he is discharged from the hospital. His reaction when he realizes that he's been abandoned (again) is heartbreaking.

6) Are you currently working on any other book?

Two, actually. ;-)  (Standalones--they're not sequels to either YOUR VOICE IS ALL I HEAR or SECRET LETTERS)

7) Quick answer :)! Chocolate or vanilla


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