Q&A with Lesléa Newman


      Many LGBTQ authors have an ambivalence towards religion which is why readers see it often in their books. Your books often focus on your own Jewishness especially as it relates to your family. What are your reasons for making this a major theme throughout your books?

My Jewish identity is as important to me as my lesbian identity. In fact, when I came out (at age 27) I returned to my Jewish roots and culture (which I had turned away from). When I came out as a lesbian, I realized I would never “fit in” so I might as well embrace all of who I was, which included being Jewish. And I write about Jewish lesbians because I want to read about Jewish lesbians! The Jewish community and the LGBT community have a lot in common. Both groups believe passionately in social justice, not just for themselves but for everyone. Both groups know the importance of community. And both groups are full of powerful, outspoken women!

    Heather has Two Mommies is a widely successful children’s book, one of many you have written. Please tell us how you can effectively write in two different genres? What does this entail for you?

I actually write in many different genres: novels, short stories, poetry, books for teens, books for children. I also combine forms, and write novels in verse, for example. To me, it’s all writing. I get bored easily, so I like to try different things. And there are different things I like about different forms. A novel is a great pleasure to work on, because I know for at least a year, what I am going to face every morning. On the other hand, a children’s book is a great pleasure, because I know that I’ll have finished piece in a shorter period of time. I think because I am a poet, my fiction is filled with images and I pay particular attention to how I use language. As a fiction writer, I often tell stories in verse. Each form informs the other.

      What are you working on now?

I’m working on a bunch of different things: a poetry manuscript called OCTOBER MOURNING: A SONG FOR MATTHEW SHEPARD, which tells the story of the murder of Matthew Shepard and the aftermath of this horrible hate crime in 68 poems. I’m also working on a bunch of children’s books. I’m very proud that my picture book, DONOVAN’S BIG DAY, which takes place on the day Donovan’s two moms get married, will be published next spring.

4 Responses to “Q&A with Lesléa Newman”

  1. 1 bookgeek September 15, 2010 at 1:54 PM

    The Reluctant Daughter was a great book! I am not so much into verse, but I look forward to a future novel.


  2. 2 Anita Bradshaw September 15, 2010 at 9:35 PM

    I have followed your work since we lived in New Haven and had a chance to hear you read every once and awhile. That doesn’t happen these days being in Minnesota. But, I have enjoyed your books for a long time and “The Reluctant Daughter” is among your best, if not your best so far. I found myself quite moved at various points in the story and really loved the interplay of family, Jewish identity, and sexuality. It was a wonderful, wonderful book. Thank you!


  3. 3 Kim September 16, 2010 at 9:01 AM

    I love the fact that you write children’s books and can’t wait to share them with my three godchildren.


  4. 4 Carsen Taite September 16, 2010 at 5:10 PM

    I’ll add to the chorus of voices praising The Reluctant Daughter – a beautifully told, touching tale. I can’t remember when I’ve laughed and cried so much in a single sitting.

    On another note, my 5 year old niece, Bailey, loved Miss Tutu’s Star. I am in awe of your writing diversity.


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