Welcome to KidLit Coffee Talk, and thanks for stopping by. I’m thrilled to have my friend Leah Henderson with me today. Leah and I first met last summer at the WOW Retreat in Georgia. It was an unforgettable week filled with lots of writing and laughter. Leah’s debut middle grade novel, One Shadow on the Wall, came out this past June with Atheneum Books for Young Readers. The book’s main character, Mor, grabbed my heart and didn’t let go. It is a story of family, courage, and determination against all odds. I can honestly say it’s one of the best books I’ve read all year. Leah and I sat down and chatted over coffee and tea about One Shadow on the Wall and what life has been like since its release.
Leah, thank you so much for joining me. This morning, I have my Dunkin Donuts Iced Coffee on hand. What kind of coffee (or tea) do you like to drink?
It’ll definitely be tea. The kind really depends on my mood (genmaicha, chamomile lavender, ginger, lemon or so many more).
Tell me a little bit about yourself and your writing journey.
Hmmm, not sure exactly what you’d like to know, I enjoy laughing and sunshine, and spending time with family and friends. If I’m not writing I’m definitely trying to plan my next trip. I love learning new things and exploring any and every place I can.
Writing has always been something I enjoy, so I’m always taking classes and workshops, or going to writing conferences and retreats to continue growing as a writer.
Tell me about One Shadow on the Wall.
One Shadow on the Wall took root in my mind after seeing a young boy in Senegal West Africa sitting on a beach wall. It’s the story of a newly orphaned boy trying to decide between what is right and what is easy in order to keep a promise he made to his father. Laced with magical realism, it is about friendship and family, love and loss and finding one’s way through.
This is a book that will stay with the reader long after the last page is turned. What was the most exciting part of the publication process? What was the hardest?
There are so many exciting things in this rollercoaster-like journey of publishing. One of the best moments is seeing a kid reading your words (and hopefully enjoying what you’ve written).
The hardest or the most discouraging part is when you’ve tried your absolute best and it’s not enough. Rejection is hard, and in this business you definitely have to build a thick skin . . . I’m still working on mine.
Let me know when you figure it out! What else are you working on?
I have a couple different stories floating around in my head at the moment. But right now I am really focused on a little road trip.
That sounds fun. How has life changed for you (if at all) since Mor’s release into the world?
Life hasn’t changed so much. 🙂 Still writing, traveling and trying to enjoy every minute life has to offer.
I love your attitude. What’s one picture book you loved when you were little and a more recent one you love now?
I loved Corduroy by Don Freeman because it was one of the first stories where I saw a true likeness of my mom and myself—a little brown girl with her own room being a key player in an adventure.
There are so many great picture books out there, but two of my favorites are Lisa Mantchev’s Strictly No Elephants and Ribbit! by Rodrigo Folgueira.
I love that. We’ve talked about how important it is for all children to be see themselves in the books they read. What are you currently reading? I just finished a terrifying YA novel, My Sister Rosa, by Justine Larbalestier.
An arc of The Unlikely Story of a Pig in the City by fellow debut author Jodi Kendall. It comes out October 3rd and has all the elements of a good story…especially heart.
Thank you so much for joining me today, Leah!
To learn more about Leah Henderson, visit her website at http://www.leahhendersonbooks.com.
Connect with Leah on social media:
Twitter – @LeahsMark