Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and how you got into writing?
I'm a pediatrician by day, writer by night, and mom to my three daughters all around the clock. I've always wanted to be an author for children but sometime during high school, wise adults convinced me that writing was not the smartest career choice, unless I wished to spend my life waiting sadly by my mailbox for the publisher's letter which would never come. So I chose pediatrics. Medical school and residency and three small children filled up every waking moment for many years, but when I was finally done I discovered that I had free time on my hands. So in the evenings after office hours were over and my kids were in bed, I took up writing again. I worked on Secret Letters for a year and a half, and when it was done I wrapped it up and lovingly stowed it under my bed-- which is where it would have stayed, if my husband hadn't fished it out and encouraged me to at least "give it a try."
Can you tell us a little about your debut novel, Secret Letters?
Secret Letters is the story of 16- year -old Dora Joyce, a girl born into a wealthy family who, after her mother's death, discovers that her real father may be Sherlock Holmes. The news, though shocking at first, inspires Dora to study criminal detection in the hope that she may one day meet her new idol and reveal her secret to him. When she finally arrives in London, however, she discovers that Sherlock Holmes has just been killed. Though her dreams are shattered, she is more determined than ever to pursue her goal, and when she meets apprentice investigator Peter Cartwright she jumps at the chance to help him solve the mystery of a kidnapped heiress. Together the two amateur detectives uncover a murder, scandals and a blackmail plot, and discover a whole host of secrets-- about their noble clients and about themselves.
Where did you get the idea for Secret Letters?
As a teen I loved the Sherlock Holmes stories. I couldn't help wondering what the detective's daughter might have been like, if he had had one. Those daydreams became Dora.
Secret Letters is YA historical fiction. Is this a genre you like to read yourself, if so what are some of your fave YA historical reads?
I love all historical fiction, both YA and adult. My favorite YA historical would have to be Marcus Zusak's The Book Thief. Adult historicals which could appeal to a YA audience: anything by Tracy Chevalier, especially Falling Angels and Girl with a Pearl Earring, and Ken Follett's Pillars of the Earth.
I like the cover of Secret Letters it looks very "old fashioned" if that is the right word, it looks a perfect fit for an historical book set in London. Who designed it and did you have much say in the designing process?
The photo and design was by David De Rossy and L. Lockett. I don't think authors typically get a whole lot of say in their covers. Design isn't my specialty, but obviously judging by the stunning cover, Hyperion has amazing artists working for them! I absolutely loved the cover when I first saw it. My editor sent me the rough copy and said "what do you think?" My reply had a lot of exclamation points!
How are you feeling about releasing your first novel? :)
Terrified and obsessed: not a healthy combination. Also immensely grateful.
Why should we read Secret Letters in one sentence?
Dora is the independent, witty and slightly over-confident heroine you will want to be and Peter is the hot, mysterious tease you will want to flirt with.
Final note from the author....
For my UK readers, a little disclaimer: because the novel is being published by a US publisher the spelling is American English. No offence/offense was intended to our neighbors/neighbours across the pond; I appreciate your sense of humor/ humour about this detail.
Please visit my website www.leahscheier.com and write to me through my contact page if you have a question or a comment about Secret Letters. Teachers, if you would like to set up a skype chat with your classroom send me a message!
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