Elizabeth Leiknes grew up in rural Iowa and can make thirty-seven different dishes featuring corn. She attended The University of Iowa as an undergrad, and The University of Nevada, Reno for her Masters. Her most recent accomplishments include publishing an article entitled “Writing Spaces: Expanding the One Story House” in The Quarterly, and completing two other novels, Black-Eyed Susan, and The Understory. Lucy Burns was “born” somewhere between a third and fourth helping of Captain Crunch in Elizabeth’s sixth month of pregnancy with her first child, but the majority of Lucy’s story was written during her maternity leave somewhere between debilitating bouts of new-mother panic attacks, and squirting milk in various inappropriate locations about town. Elizabeth has a love/hate relationship with great white sharks, and a slight penchant for speaking in hyperbole, which she says she never does. She now lives and teaches English near Lake Tahoe with her husband, two sons, and mentally ill cat.
Definitely bookmarks. (As long as they don’t have pictures of sunsets or sappy declarations about how we’re supposed to live. Those kinds of bookmarks make me hostile.)
2. Dust jacket on or off when reading a hard back?
On. That way, if you can’t find your bookmark (or in my case, if you’ve become agitated by it) you can use the little book jacket flaps to keep your spot.
3. Favorite author?
Probably Alice Hoffman.
4. Favorite genre’?
I’m a fan of short stories, actually. The more surreal the better.
5. What is the best book you have read in the last year?
My favorite from the last year would be The Giant’s House by Elizabeth McCracken. I was jealous of about every line in that book.
6. What book would you most like to see made into a movie?
Okay. Not to sound self-absorbed (too late), but mine! I’ve always thought Lucy Burns would be so great on the big screen, and I hope to see her there someday.
7. If you could only take one book with you to a desert island, which would you bring?
Do I get to bring a cell phone? If so, a phone book.
8. What book have you read that you think is overrated?
With all due respect to Shel Silverstein, I’ve always thought The Giving Tree was overrated. I mean, it’s teaching what NOT to do. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I get it. Don’t take more than you give, but kids are pretty straight-forward. When a toddler hears this story, he just wonders whose tree he can cut down.
9. What are you reading right now?
Right now I’m reading An Abundance of Katherines by John Green and Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson. (I love this book!)
10. What is the last book you bought?
Just last night I bought Prom by Laurie Halse Anderson, The Absolutely True Story of a Part-time Indian by Sherman Alexie, and Looking for Alaska by John Green. (I hardly ever read young adult novels, but lately I can’t stop.)
11. What is the last book you received in the mail?
It was one of those read along TAG books for my son Hardy.
12. What is the number of books you own?
Who knows, but I know I have seven on my bedside table right now.
13. What is the first book you remember reading by yourself as a child?
I thought I was so cool when I finished Little Women all by myself. I’ll refrain from the obvious metaphor.
14. Do you have a favorite place to read?
I often like to read on my couch so my children see me and will subconsciously recognize our household as a literate one. Is that bad?
15. What is next for you, publishing-wise?
I have written two other books (in addition to The Sinful Life of Lucy Burns) so I’d love to see them get published at some point. Also, I’m in the middle of writing a young adult novel and I’d love to publish something my students could actually read.
16. Is Lucy based on a real person or composite or?
Lucy’s character was the result of a graduate school writing prompt (What job would you hate to have—to which I answered 1) Dental assistant and 2) Someone in charge of deciding people’s fates) which later turned into a short story called “The Furnace.” I didn’t think Lucy sounded or acted like anyone in particular until my friends read the book and said, “Oh, my God, you’re Lucy!” which was both flattering and frightening.
17. Do you have any pets (real or imaginary)?
I have a very, very unusual black cat named Mocha. ‘Nuf said.
18. The last thing you Googled?
Lately, I’ve become obsessed with how to make those cool gourmet cookies you see in bakeries and fancy online cookie shops, so I’ve embarked upon a quest to make some Christmas cookie-gifts for my son’s Montessori teachers. I’ve made two batches so far (not so great) and so last night I consulted Google for how to make the perfect royal icing for sugar cookies.
19. What one thing would you save in a fire (other than people or animals)?
Pictures of my children.
20. What makes you cringe?
Judgmental people. And mushrooms.
Thank you so much for your time Elizabeth! I can’t wait for your next book.