Leah Konen is a writer living in San Francisco. She is a graduate of The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she studied journalism and creative writing. Her work has been published in Elle Decor, Good Housekeeping's Quick & Simple, Parenting, The Fiscal Times, and several regional newspapers and magazines. She has stopped by to chat with me about her debut novel, The After Girls...
Have you always wanted to be a writer?
In a way, I think so, though maybe I didn’t always know it! I never really thought of it as a profession, per se, but as a kid (I was a definite “inside kid”), I spent hours crafting stories on our old PC. There were fairies. A lot of fairies. And magical lands. And unassuming girls who got to explore said lands.
What inspired you to write your first book?
THE AFTER GIRLS came first as a title. I can’t say where it came from--it just did. From there, I began thinking about what would take a group of friends from before to “after” more than anything else. The answer was suicide, and all the guilt, confusion and heartbreak that come with it. More than anything, that is what I was exploring in THE AFTER GIRLS.
Now that you have published your first novel, did you have any expectations on the process? If you did, were they met? If not, what have you learned that could help other writers?
It still feels very surreal. When I see my book in a library or bookstore or anything like that, or when I hear from a fan whom I’ve never met and loves it, I almost feel like it’s not really happening. Like I’m somehow fooling everyone around me! I try to take a step back and remind myself that, indeed, it is happening, but it’s difficult.For aspiring authors, I’d suggest that they enjoy the writing process--in many ways, it’s a lot more fun (and less stressful) than the publishing process. You’ve got to be in it for the joy that comes from the writing itself.
What was the hardest part writing your book?
Finishing! Letting your baby out into the world for it to be judged and noticed and hopefully loved.
Your book has gotten some favorable reviews, was there something or someone that inspired the theme of your story?
At first, no. But about halfway through writing, a friend of mine passed away at a young age from cancer. Friendship and grief became incredibly real to me, and it definitely affected how I wrote THE AFTER GIRLS.
What message do you hope people who read your book take away from your book?
That friendship is everything and that life is beautiful and worth living, no matter what you’re going through.
What book would you say you were most inspired by?
Though it doesn’t have much to do with the themes of THE AFTER GIRLS, I learned pretty much everything I know about writing from obsessively reading Jane Austen.
Do you have any upcoming projects that you are working on?
Yes--and a really exciting one at that--I can’t reveal too much, but it’s also set in the South, and it focuses much more on romance than on friendship.
What are you currently reading?
“The Stranger Beside Me,” a true crime story about the Ted Bundy murders. Don’t ask.
Do you have any advice on aspiring writers?
A great quote by W. Somerset Maugham is this: “There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.” I’d say my only real advice is just to keep on writing.
For more information on Leah, you can visit her at the following links: