Susanne Dunlap

Guest blogger: Leanne Lieberman

In The writing life, YA, MG, Kids on December 19, 2010 at 3:27 pm

The Book of TreesLeanne Lieberman has just had her second young adult novel published by Orca, in Canada.

I’ve invited Leanne here to share a little about her publishing experience.

My YA novel, The Book of Trees, is just out, so it’s an exciting and busy time for me. The Book of Trees is about a Jewish girl, Mia, who goes to Jerusalem for the summer to study at a yeshiva or seminary.  While there Mia leans about the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands and starts to question her Zionist aspirations. It’s a topic that’s close to my heart since I love Israel, yet also worry about Israel’s human rights records. I’m looking forward to seeing how the book will be received.

I’m often asked how I got started writing Young Adult books. I’ve been writing and publishing short stories for more than ten years, but my first novel was published two years go, in 2008. I’d never really thought about writing YA books, and I became a YA author in an accidental way.

I went to the University of Windsor to do a Masters degree in English and Creative Writing. I wrote a novel as my MA thesis, thinking it was for an adult audience. When I finished my novel, Gravity, about an orthodox Jewish girl who falls in love with another girl, friends who read it said they liked it, but thought it was a YA book. I’d never even heard of YA at the time. When I was a teenager I read the Flowers in the Attic Series and didn’t read much else until I was old enough for adult books.

I tucked my thesis in a drawer until my professor, Darryl Whetter, suggested I enter it in a contest Orca Books was running called, So You Think You Can Write. I had actually forgotten about the contest when Orca called to say I had won. I was nine months pregnant with my second child when I got the news, and I actually edited
while breast feeding my son.

I’m frequently asked where I find my time to write. Well, it’s a struggle. I have two young children and I teach French part-time. Luckily, I have received some government grants that allow me to send my kids to nursery school a few mornings a week. I still find my days a whirlwind of mothering, teaching and writing, but every day I sit down uninterrupted at my desk I am grateful for the time to let my stories unfold.

I have a few copies of The Book of Trees to give away. Just send me an email telling me of your favourite place in Jerusalem and why. Or, if you’ve never been, tell me where you’d like to go, and why.

Happy reading,

Leanne Lieberman


  1. I have been leaning towards some research into YA next year – simply because I have a voracious 13 year-old daughter, who is quite mature and eclectic in her reading. Your schedule sounds exhausting, especially to a retired part-time Italian teacher! Mind you, it eases somewhat when the children hit teenage. They still need you, but it’s more philosopical, social and moral, with a bit of gruff reminding about chores left undone.
    I am visiting your site later on – well done.

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