Book Nerd Interview
But life has a way of throwing her plans into free-fall.
When Maise meets Evan at a carnival one night, their chemistry is immediate, intense, and short-lived. Which is exactly how she likes it: no strings. But afterward, she can’t get Evan out of her head. He’s taught her that a hookup can be something more. It can be an unexpected connection with someone who truly understands her. Someone who sees beyond her bravado to the scared but strong girl inside.
That someone turns out to be her new film class teacher, Mr. Evan Wilke.
Maise and Evan resolve to keep their hands off each other, but the attraction is too much to bear. Together, they’re real and genuine; apart, they’re just actors playing their parts for everyone else. And their masks are slipping. People start to notice. Rumors fly. When the truth comes to light in a shocking way, they may learn they were just playing parts for each other, too.
Smart, sexy, and provocative, Unteachable is about what happens when a love story goes off-script.
You can purchase Unteachable at the following Retailers:
Was there a defining moment during your youth when you realized you wanted to be a writer?
Yep! I’d been a voracious reader since I was little, but in sixth grade everything clicked. We had a major project due in World History class and I decided to write a News of the World skit. I built a news anchor desk out of an old refrigerator box, sat inside it, and read from my “hilarious” script as my hand-drawn slides scrolled on the wall. The class was in hysterics. I got an A+. When I finished, Mr. Hogan, my history teacher, said the words I’ll never forget: “You should consider becoming a writer.”
Thanks, Mr. Hogan. You were right. And I did.
Why is storytelling so important for all of us?
I could give you a very technical neuroscientific answer here…but basically, it’s because it’s how our brains work. Think about how we dream. Random neurons fire in our brain, triggering memories and images, hopes and fears. Then our brains weave all that randomness together into stories—dreams—that make perfect sense to us as we’re experiencing them. Think about folklore and myth, too: when early humans saw certain weather patterns or natural disasters, they made up stories about angry gods punishing us. They were trying to understand the mysteries of the universe the only way they could. Even now, when we have scientific answers to so many questions, we have to wrap them up in metaphor and narrative to process them.
We teach kids through stories. We teach adults through stories, too. Everything that happens is a story. Your life is a story you’re constantly telling yourself in your own head.
So, storytelling is important because it’s how we make sense of reality. It’s part of being human.
Beyond your own work (of course), what is your all-time favorite book and why? And what is your favorite book outside of your genre?
My favorite book is Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov. It’s not a love story, but it is, in my opinion, the most beautiful book in the English language. Also one of the darkest, rawest, and saddest. I’m drawn to that kind of stuff—the dark, pretty things.
Outside of my genre, I’m really into Modernist literary fiction, and recently I was blown away by Richard Yates’s Revolutionary Road and Patricia Highsmith’s The Price of Salt. Their understanding of human behavior, and their command of language, was incredible. I’m in awe.
In your book; Unteachable, can you tell my Book Nerd community a little about it?
Unteachable is about Maise O’Malley, an eighteen-year-old aspiring film director, and her final year in high school…which goes completely off the rails when she meets her future Film Studies teacher in the front seat of a roller coaster. And then meets the front seat of his car. ;)
Evan sweeps Maise off her feet, and she in turn sweeps him off his feet. She struggles with family and money problems. Makes a new best friend. Makes a new worst enemy. And she grows up. While the book is of course about a forbidden romance, it’s really more a coming-of-age story about Maise and how she overcomes all the shit life shovels in her face.
Because romance between a teacher and student is such a controversial topic, I left it to readers to decide whether or not to root for their relationship. But in the end, I wanted everyone to root for Maise. It’s her story.
For those who are unfamiliar with Maise, how would you introduce her?
I’d strongly suggest reading the very first line of the book. That’s her personality in a nutshell.
If you could introduce one of your characters to any character from another book, who would it be and why?
I actually brought a character from Unteachable back for my next book, Black Iris. I love the way some authors have recurring characters and interlinking stories, and I plan to do that in my novels. So…I’d have Hiyam, Unteachable’s resident bad girl, meet Laney, the main character of Black Iris. Which she does. And hijinx ensue.
What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating Evan?
That I love “beta males.” I mean, I always knew I was sort of an alpha girl, but writing Evan clarified it. I like sweet, caring, sensitive, intelligent, thoughtful guys. Grunting cavemen need not apply.
When asked, what’s the one question you always answer with a lie?
“Is that your first coffee of the day?”
What decade during the last century would you have chosen to be a teenager?
Can I cheat and say the 2010s? I’m a technology geek, and I would’ve killed to have a smartphone and broadband internet when I was in high school. In the 90s, we made due with landlines and dial-up internet. Do you know how many times my mom would pick up the phone and kill my internet connection? You kids these days don’t even know our pain. You just don’t.
What is your greatest adventure?
I’d love to visit Australia someday. I’ve always been fascinated with it, and I wrote an Aussie character in my latest book, plus some scenes take place there, so it’s pretty much obligatory writing research at this point.
Also, Aussie accents. Nuff said.
Where can readers stalk you?
Facebook: www.facebook.com/LeahRaederBooks (author page) & www.facebook.com/groups/RaederReaders (fan group with exclusive content)
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