Author’s novel inspired by at-risk youth
Writing, editing, and publishing a novel is no easy task, as Fallon author Leanna Lehman knows all too well. But on May 12, all of her hard work finally paid off with the release of her debut novel “Vote For Remi” through indie publishing company, She Writes Press.
Lehman’s inspiration for “Vote For Remi” came while working in the education sector during the height of a controversial political campaign that changed the role of women in politics.
“It seemed everyone I came into contact with had something to say about Washington and politics at the time,” Lehman said. “People were feeling pressured to vote for the ‘lesser of two evils’ and were drowning in propaganda. But I was inspired by the fact that two women — Hilary Clinton, and Sarah Palin — had emerged on the political scene, and were changing the way we viewed women in politics.”
Lehman said she knew she wanted to write a book about a new kind of presidential candidate. Thus, “Vote For Remi” was born. It’s a story about a U.S. government teacher who is thrust into this male-dominated political world when her students play a social media prank on her, and she becomes a candidate in the upcoming presidential election. Lehman said she wanted to have fun with the idea of an unlikely candidate stepping up to the plate.
Lehman was also inspired by her work with at-risk youth when she began working for Churchill County School district in 2004 in the Curriculum and Educational Services department.
“I was able to implement the districts first online education program,” Lehman said. “I was working with the most academically challenged students. All of them had been suspended, were on probation, or had severe behavioral issues.”
A year later, Lehman said she helped implement the district’s first alternative high school, Lahontan Valley High School. Lehman said because her son was considered “at-risk” at the time, she was able to advocate strongly for the students and understand their educational needs.
The online program, now Churchill County School District’s only remaining high school, is still in place and has extended to juvenile probation.
Lehman’s love for reading and writing was instilled at an early age, and has been passed on from generation to generation.
“My father, Stan Lehman, taught me vocabulary words from Reader’s Digest from the time I was eight, well into high-school,” Lehman said. “And my son, Justin, is working on his first book, which he started writing while on deployment in Korea. It definitely runs in the family.”
Alongside her family, Lehman credits others for the role they played in sparking her curiosity in the craft, helping her to refine her skills, and inspiring some of the themes found in her novel.
“Teachers like Joyce Barnes and Joanne Tanner were very influential, and encouraged my writing early on,” Lehman said.
The publishing process has been rewarding, but Lehman admits there have been challenges.
“As a new author, it’s difficult to get noticed,” she says, adding a word of advice for all aspiring writers out there.
“Get published at all costs,” Lehman said. “Anywhere and everywhere. Guest blog, write for your local newspaper, submit articles to magazines — that way you can say you’ve been published before when you’re sending out your query letter. Also, just get the story out there. That’s what my editor tells me, so that’s what I do.”
Lehman kicked off her national book tour this spring, stopping in Portland and Seattle in early May. She will also visit San Francisco on July 1 at Book Passage.
“Vote For Remi” was just released; Lehman has already begun work on two upcoming projects — “Wake Me Up When It’s Over,” a satirical piece on chemotherapy and Cosmic Sisterhood. “Vote For Remi” is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Indie Bound, and wherever books are sold.