Interview with author of Unteachable, Leah Raeder!

Leah has kindly granted me an interview and I'm excited to share it with you today! Be sure to check out Leah’s website for all the details about UNTEACHABLE. I did a review of her debut book here a few days ago. We asked our twitter followers to submit questions for Leah. Read on for her thoughts about her book, superpowers, and random stuff !!

Sweet or savory? Sweet.
Black or white? White, because it's the combination of all colors visible to the human eye.
Coffee or tea? Coffee, black.
Dog-ear or bookmark? Kindle!   (Bless the overused Kindles in the world... *stare towards my kindle*)
Cats or dogs? I'm super neurotic, so obviously, cats.
Reading or writing? This question is evil. I can't choose.
Vampires, zombies, or werewolves? Zombies, definitely. My first book was about zombies.
Favorite season? Spring.
Wine, spirit, or cocktail? Bourbon. (Me: A fellow whiskey drinker. Yay!)

Book you most want to see turned into a movie?
I'd love to see an AMC miniseries of Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars trilogy, about the colonization of the Red Planet, since we'll be doing that soon for real.

What's your party trick?
Does beating everyone at Scrabble count?

Your perfect breakfast consists of...
Black coffee, yogurt with fruit and granola. (I'm not a hipster douchebag, I swear. I don't even own any Apple products!)
Me: You're so healthy! tehehe, don't worry... i'm sure the hipsters and the Apple fans won't judge you *angelface*

If you had a superpower, which one would it be?
Super-fast healing, like Claire on Heroes. Imagine what you could do if you no longer feared death or dismemberment.
Me: In my head, i'm picturing everybody try to chop each other off, to see how many time they could heal. Yeah, creepy~


1. Can you tell us three fun facts about you?
1) I'm half-Persian.
2) I don't own a single dress or skirt.
3) I skipped kindergarten and second grade.

Me: Wow, that must be cool to be half Persian. You're the first person i know to not have at least one skirt and/or dress!

2. Can you tell us what a typical day Leah Raeder day is like?
It's incredibly lame. Wake up, caffeinate, sit down at keyboard with the sincere intention of writing something, then mess around on the internet all day and go to bed feeling guilty for not writing.

When I actually write, my boyfriend, who has a sixth sense for knowing when I'm being productive, ensures it doesn't last long.

Me: I swear internet is like a supermassive black hole, sucks everyone's attention and got weird stuff coming out of it (Gosh, that's sounds so wrong after i typed that. I didn't meant it in the pervy way btw)

3. What made you take a leap and become a writer?
I knew since I was a little kid that I wanted to be an author when I grew up. I was always crazy about reading, and I started writing from a very young age. It's been my lifelong dream.

4. What got you to write in the New Adult genre?
I gravitated naturally toward New Adult—it just didn't have a name until recently. I love stories about people in their late teens/early 20s, but I tend to write stuff that's too dark, gritty, or graphic for YA. So when NA was recognized as a category, I thought: Finally. This is where I've always belonged.

5. How was the title created?
It was kind of a joke. There are so many New Adult books titled "Un"-something, so I thought, "Har har, how about Unteachable?" I'd planned to change it to something less silly before release, but then got lazy and decided to just embrace the ridiculousness of it.

Me: I like the tittle, i thought it's like a metaphor of the story.

6. How did you feel when you first started to write Unteachable?
I was pretty depressed, honestly. I've written about my struggle to get traditionally published here. When I wrote Unteachable this summer, it felt like my last ditch attempt to make a career out writing. I'd basically given up hope of ever making a living doing this, so I stopped caring about trying to do everything the "right" way, and let myself write without holding anything back.

Me: I'm glad you didn't gave up. Unteachable become a phenomenal book!

7. Where did your ideas for the stories come from? Did you include events inspired by your own life events or someone you know?
People keep asking this. :D It's not autobiographical, and I did not base it on real people or events. It's merely fiction.

I've just always been obsessed with teacher/student romances. I've read a ton of books and watched a ton of movies about this trope, but none of them quite satisfied me. They tend to either sugarcoat the taboo and downplay it, or they end in disaster and heartbreak. I wanted a teacher/student romance where the taboo was front and center, but didn't destroy the relationship. And I couldn't find that anywhere else, so I wrote it myself.

Me: You surely hit the spot for literature market. It's definitely a book like no other in the market.

8. What has been your biggest challenge with writing Unteachable?
See #6. Basically, turning off my inner editor. The little voice that constantly says, "This is stupid. This sucks. No one's going to like it or understand it or buy it. Just stop."

9. If you could go back and change any part of the novel, what would it have been?
It's far from perfect, but I honestly wouldn't change anything. It's taken me a long time to learn how to let go of my writing, to let it stand on its own. I'm one of those obsessive types who tweaks and edits CONSTANTLY, so it was terrifying to finally click the upload button on Amazon. But it was liberating, too. I'm free from the book now, and it's free from me. Everything I learned from it will go into the next book, which will also be imperfect, and that book will teach me how to write a better one...and so on.

10. Why did you decide to write in first person instead of third?
It's funny—all my other stuff is in third person limited. It's my favorite POV. But this story just had to be in first. Maise has such a strong and distinct voice that it wouldn't have worked otherwise.

Me: I'm glad (and i'm sure other readers as well) you chose to write it in the first person POV.

11. Your characters are so well built, so deep & real. What kind of process or research do you go through when fleshing them out?
Thank you! I think my process is pretty typical: I start with a handful of interesting traits, then drill down into the character's history to find the events and experiences that shaped them. As I unearth their history, other traits will surface to make a fuller picture. Maise began as this confident, seductive, cynical voice in my head, and when I thought about what made her that way, an entire history and psychology emerged that just seemed inevitable. It felt more like meeting someone who already existed in a parallel universe rather than making her up.

12. Who is your favorite character?
Maise, for sure. Siobhan is my second favorite.

Me: Maise O'Malley seems so popular with the readers, she is quite the enigma.

13. Which character is most/least like you and in what way?
Most like me: Wesley. We're both nerds, never the type to jump into the spotlight, like Maise, but always in love with people like her.

Least like me: Hiyam. She's perennially bored with life, despite having every opportunity to live however she wants.

14. What are Evan and Maise's greatest and worst personality traits?
Maise's best: Confidence, courage, passion, intensity, humor.
Worst: Arrogance, cynicism, naivete, condescension.

Evan's best: Sensitivity, compassion/caring, intelligence, selflessness, vulnerability.
Worst: Self-doubt, evasiveness, tendency to brood, fatalism.

15. What's the fate of the pony doll?
Hahaha, I ♥ you for asking this. It's in Evan's luggage. It goes on to begin a new life in Los Angeles. :D

Me:   <- (literally, i grinned like a psycho pony after this news)

16. Is there a message in your novel that you want the readers to grasp?
Nope. I am sure there are plenty of messages in the book, and the awesome thing is that everyone gets something different out of it. I don't preach to readers; everyone gets to make up their own minds..

Me: I totally agree with you! one person's experience doesn't mean the others have the same thing.

17. Do you have any funny experience whilst writing Unteachable?
I was drunk for most of it, so I can't really remember. That's kind of funny, right? The alcoholic writer cliché? Now I just need fifty cats and a shotgun and I'll be Hemingway.
Me: As Mr. Hemingway said himself, "write drunk, edit sober". I guess it's the secret recipe for making a phenomenal book, though i don't recommend to drink excessively.

Thank you Leah to spare some time for my interview! Good Luck and all the best for your future books! I'm looking forward to it~

Meanwhile readers, you could purchase Leah's ebook - Unteachable in: Amazon UK , Amazon US
and/ or follow us on Twitter: @EmikoRei and @LeahRaeder


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