Which do you like better Ė writing for children or for adults?
I love doing the research for historical novels, and hope the adventures I write for young people will help them understand Americaís exciting past, and perhaps encourage them to find out more. Writing for adults has its challenges, too. I like varying the pace of my work from one genre to another; it ensures that each project is fresh and exciting to me.
What should readers know about your historical novels?
So far theyíre all set at least partially in Wiscasset, a village 50 miles north of Portland, Maine. I wanted to show how one town changed through the 19th century. And although the major characters in my books are fictional, many of the minor characters are people who actually lived in Wiscasset, and events in the books really happened. (See the historical notes at the back of each novel.) Also, Iím a stickler for historical authenticity: I even use old dictionaries to check the words in my books to make sure Iím using them correctly for the period.
Lea with grandchildren Maddy, Henry and AJ
How long does it take you to write a book?
For the historical novels, it takes from 3-12 months to do the research and planning; from 3-6 months to write; and another 3 months to edit. Contemporary novels take less time, because they require less research.
Who are your favorite authors?
When I was a child my favorite author was Louise May Alcott. In fact, I became a writer, and adopted older children, as Jo did in Little Men! Children's authors that I admire include Richard Peck, Patricia MacLachlan, Cynthia Voigt, Katherine Paterson, Hilary McKay, Cynthia Lord, Mildred Taylor Ė and so many others! Favorite mystery authors include Sharyn McCrumb, Susan Wittig Albert, Katherine Hall Page, Carolyn Hart, Margaret Maron, P.J. Parrish, S.J. Rozan, Julia Spencer Fleming Ö it is so hard to choose!
Lea with grandchildren
Drew, Taylor and Tori
Do you write every day?
I wish I could! But Iím married, I have 8 grandchildren, and my husband and I have an antique print business. I visit schools and bookstores and libraries. Plus I have research and planning to do before I write, and editing afterward. So although every day I spend many hours related to writing, I donít work on a new manuscript every day. When I am writing a first draft I try to stop everything else in my life. I write from 9 in the morning until dinner time, and sometimes after. My patient husband does the cooking, and says Iím in a different world then. Heís probably right.
Granddaughters Samantha and Vanessa