Writerly Questions with Margaret Lesh

Summer has gone and the fall has arrived, making it time to start thinking about what to read for school, for book clubs, or just to while away the evening while relaxing with a nice cuppa tea. To help you prepare your autumn TBR list,  I will be talking with some really fabulous authors about their latest or upcoming books. So be sure to check out Monday posts, both past and present! 

To kick off the new school year, I’ve chosen the author of a contemporary young adult novel. Margaret Lesh is here to chat about her upcoming book Normalish. It is being published by Euterpe on October the 5th, 2012. You can check out her website, tweet her, or find her on facebook.


Margaret Lesh lives in Southern California with her creative genius husband, their son, and a very shaggy dog. She writes middle grade, young adult, and women’s fiction as well as the site blog and children’s stories for StoryRhyme.com. When not writing, she’s thinking improbable thoughts and trying to remember awful jokes. She spends too much time on the internet and makes her living as a freelance court reporter listening to other people tell their stories. 

How would you summarize your book in one sentence?
A witty, insightful teen copes with high school, her sister’s breakdown, and heartbreak while searching for normal in this bittersweet coming-of-age story.

Regular high school life then! *L0L* How long did it take you to write this book?
About two months, but then I spent one year working on revisions with a literary agent. I sent her four pretty extensive revisions. That took a year’s time. So all told, I’d say seven months of writing over the period of a year and a half.

How many drafts did you go through?
Six with Normalish. (Not so many with my other books, but that was my first.)

When do you write best: in the morning, afternoon, or at night?
If I had to choose, it would be afternoon, but I have no set writing schedule.

Where is your favorite place to write?
In the corner of the living room, I have a small red desk I bought for $20 at IKEA. I often write with the television on in the background. (I’m pretty good at tuning stuff out.)

Oooh, a red desk would be cute! What is on it, a typewriter, computer/laptop, or pen & paper?

What do you drink or eat while you write?
Crunchy things like pretzels, potato chips, or a bowl of cheese crackers.

Do you listen to music while you write? If so, what kind?
Not usually. But during breaks I’ll listen to something on Youtube, current or classic rock.

What do you wear when you write?
Comfy clothes. Usually a T-shirt and worn jeans.

 Do you have any other writing rituals?
No rituals. Just write, and screw around on the Internet too much.

The Internet is definitely addictive… How do you plot? Chapter by chapter or an overall synopsis? Do you use detailed outlines?
I’m a pantser and write chapter by chapter. Usually I have an idea how the story begins and ends. It’s the middle I’m not so sure of.

How do you decide which narrative point of view to write from?
It’s just what feels right for the story. Personally, I love first person, but I also write third. Almost all of the short stories I’ve written have been in third; my novels have all been in first.

How do you choose your characters’ names?
Put on my thinking cap. Sometimes I’ll change them down the road if I notice I have two names that are too similar. My biggest concern is a name that sounds weird that will stop readers in their tracks. (As a reader, names are very important to me.)

I do rather dislike when characters names are too much alike *shakes head* Who is the first person to read your manuscript?
Usually my poor long-suffering husband (who is very patient and is not afraid to give me criticism.).

What did you do immediately after hearing that you were being published for the very first time?
After I read the email to my husband and son, I called a friend. She’s also a writer, and we were discussing my book over dinner that night. Then I called my mom.

If your book were to become a movie, who would you like to see star in it?
Emma Stone as Stacy York or Mae Whitman.

What is the first book you remember reading?
Grimms’ Fairy Tales with the gorgeous illustrations.

I can imagine that book would have been rather awe-inspiring. What book is on your nightstand right now?
The mini version of The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. Really good advice on being a better person.

Do you have a guilty pleasure read?
Not so much a guilty pleasure as I have my comfort books that I’ve re-read, like Pride & Prejudice, The Hobbit, or Bridget Jones’s Diary. I also read Martha Stewart Living when I’m looking for fantasy.

I adore Pride and Prejudice! How do you organize your library/book collection?
Organize? Hahaha. As many books that can fit on the shelves do. The others are scattered here and there throughout the house. (Not counting the ebooks.)

Did you always want to be a writer?
It’s something I’d thought about and had in the back of my mind for many years but didn’t take seriously until about four years ago.

Well, we’re glad you finally did. If there was one book you wish you had written what would it be?
Diary of a Wimpy Kid.

If you could talk to any writer living or dead who would it be, and what would you ask/talk about?
I’d love to have been a fly on the wall when J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis were sitting with their friends at Oxford having one of their deep philosophical discussions.

 That would be interesting to take part, or even just eavesdrop on. If you could be any character from any book, who would you be?
Hmm, something I’ve never really thought about, but I really like Elizabeth Bennet from Pride & Prejudice. She’s smart, sophisticated, funny, independent, and she ends up with Mr. Darcy. (Swoons.)

I’m with you there! What is the best gift someone could give a writer?
Chocolate. And gin.

Mmm, chocolate… What is the best advice someone could give a writer?
Try not to be self-conscious with your writing; be true to your characters and story. And keep writing.

What is one random thing most people don’t know about you?
I have monkey toes.

 Previous Interviews:  Lauren Hunter InterviewSharon Ledwith InterviewEmma Lane Interview


Author: JaimeKristal

JaimeKristal is a freelance editor and writer. She started her book review blog "Tales of a Booklover" for the enjoyment of sharing her love of reading.

7 thoughts on “Writerly Questions with Margaret Lesh”

  1. Interesting interview, Margaret–good luck with your books. I was struck by your random fact, though. Do you mean you have prehensile toes? Or did you lose your toes in an unfortunate accident, and then the doctors decided to graft monkey ones on you as replacements? Or perhaps they’re not physically on you, and you just have an odd collection?


  2. Thank you, Cordelia! And Sharon!

    Paul, I have monkey toes in that I can use them to pick things up when I’m too lazy to bend over. I think this came as a result of watching too many nature documentaries when I was young.


  3. Love your tagline/one-word summary, Margaret! It really makes me want to check out the book (you know, because I haven’t already been waiting for it for-ever). I have to agree with Sharon, though, yes chocolate, insert scotch instead of gin.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s