I grew up in a family of readers. My first memories are of my sister Kathy reading Grimms’ Fairy Tales to me – and if that’s not character building, I don’t know what is – and of warm summer nights begging her to read just one more chapter of whatever Hardy Boys mystery we were reading. Maybe it was While the Clock Ticked or The Shortwave Mystery with crickets chirping outside the bedroom window. By third grade, I was reading The Hobbit. In fourth, I was taking my sister Mary’s oversized (read: giant) hand-painted map of Middle Earth to class for show and tell. (I can still remember the confused looks on my classmates’ faces.)
When I was pregnant and had to go off work at five months, I read thirty books during the remainder of my pregnancy – everything from Jane Austen’s Emma to Dean Koontz’s Watchers. (As a dog owner, I loved this book. I’d really love it if my dog had the ability to speak. Of course, Chance the Dog’s conversation would consist mostly of, “Are you gonna eat that?”)
As my son was growing up, I was able to relive children’s literature through him. Oh, the books we read together! When he was about seven, I had the idea of creating a website devoted to children’s stories and activities — a free resource for parents. So my graphic designer husband created StoryRhyme.com, and that is what ultimately led to my becoming a writer. Besides including classic pieces of children’s lit on our site, we needed new content, so I began to write sweet little stories as well as the site blog. That led to my writing short fiction, then my first book, a young adult novel.
In the past two years, I’ve completed four books and have had different motivations for each. My young adult coming-of-age novel is, I guess, my attempt at capturing some of the angst and struggle to find a place in the world that seems to be such an integral part of the complicated teen experience. My hope was that teens would find Stacy York — a smart, funny girl going through some trying times — a relatable character, as well as any adult readers looking back on that tough period of life.
My middle grade books I wrote next. They’re funny, corny adventures that I describe as The Hardy Boys meet The X Files meet Scooby-Doo, and I felt compelled to write them after reading so much about the dearth of middle grade books aimed at boys. (And I think Dav Pilkey and Jeff Kinney are flipping geniuses! The first time I picked up Diary of a Wimpy Kid in the bookstore, I was hooked.)
The most recent book I finished is a light-spirited contemporary romantic comedy that involves a somewhat-clueless matchmaker. It’s Emma meets I Love Lucy, and it stems from my romantic ideal that everyone in the world deserves love.
As a result of all of this writing, I have four books coming out in four months, which will probably cause me to question my sanity at several points along the way, but sometimes one has to throw caution to the wind and just go for it; right? (And I’m certainly not getting any younger.)
I write now, but my biggest hope is that what I write will be entertaining to the reader because: I remain a reader first.
Margaret Lesh’s debut young adult novel Normalish will be available 10/5/12 through Musa Publishing Visit her website: http://www.StoryRhyme.com