Interview with YA Author Leslea Wahl

Unlike many YA books written for adults, yours seem to be truly aimed at teens. While neither The Perfect Blindside nor An Unexpected Role take on big, controversial issues, they focus on natural concerns and problems that are, in fact, important to teens, both personally and spiritually. What inspires you to write for teens?

The Perfect BlindsideMy oldest child was always an avid reader, and when he was in middle school he began searching for YA books. It was difficult to find fun, adventurous books that he wanted to read that also reflected the values we were trying to instill in him. So many YA books contained things that weren’t appropriate. I kept wondering why someone didn’t write adventurous books for teens with good messages. At the time, I didn’t know God would call me for this task! But shortly after, the idea for The Perfect Blindside just popped into my head. Since then I’ve concentrated on creating intriguing mysteries that can also encourage teens to grow in their faith through their underlying messages. Although I do have to say that even though my books are about teens I have a lot of adults that have been enjoying them as well.

Sports play a role in both of your novels – snowboarding in The Perfect Blindside and baseball in An Unexpected Role. Why those sports and how does the their inclusion shape your stories?

As I stated, The Perfect Blindside story just came to me, so I honestly don’t know why Jake is a snowboarder except that I’ve always been fascinated by the sacrifice and dedication of Olympic athletes and of course watching the snowboarders on the halfpipe! I’m a Colorado native and grew up skiing but had never snowboarded so had to do some research on that topic. As for the baseball references, both my sons played baseball and I’ve always loved watching the sport, so that seemed like a natural fit for An Unexpected Role. I’ve been surprised how many readers have commented on how they loved the baseball scenes. I think including sports in books can not only interest boys but tells a lot about the characters and adds an element of excitement to the novels.

Both of your books are a blend of mystery, suspense, and romance. What genres – or blended genre – do you most enjoy reading?

An Unexpected RoleI’m glad you noticed this unique blend. I sometimes refer to it as my potpourri style – mixing elements of mystery, adventure, humor, faith, and a touch of romance to create books that can appeal to a wide range of readers. Mysteries have always been my favorite but I do love when authors combine multiple genres. For me it makes for a fun, engaging story.

When did you start writing fiction and how were you called to it?

Ever since I can remember, I always had stories swirling through my head. As a child, I loved creating made-up worlds and situations. I did enjoy writing, but I didn’t really pursue it. However, when I look back to the jobs I had after college, I always was drawn to projects that involved writing. After I began having children, I would tell them stories and created learning experiences with them as they got older. My first thoughts of being an author revolved around those projects, trying to publish picture books and workbooks. But when the YA story idea came to me, I felt God was calling me to write for teens, which created my passion for YA novels.

What are you working on next?

Leslea Wahl

Leslea Wahl

I have a few projects in the works. My newest adventurous mystery, Where You Lead, will be coming out next spring. The spark for this novel actually came to me nearly twenty-five years ago. I had a fleeting thought that I felt would make a great beginning to a book but since I wasn’t a writer back then, never pursued it. But after I published The Perfect Blindside, I kept pondering the idea and wondering how it could be made to fit a YA novel. Eventually inspiration hit, and the story about recognizing a call from God came together.

I’ve also recently finished the sequel to The Perfect Blindside. Revisiting those characters was so much fun, I hadn’t realized how much I had missed them! I’m hoping it will also be released sometime in 2018.

Twitter: LesleaWahl

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