Title: Lower Education
Author Name: A.M. Leibowitz
Publication Date & Length: November 1, 2014
Publisher: Supposed Crimes, LLC
Phin Patterson is an educational consultant dissatisfied with his job and his life. On a mission to complete one last assignment before escaping his unfulfilling career and figure out what he wants, he accepts a commission from Donald Murdock at the New York State Education Department. Suddenly, he finds himself on his way to evaluate a tiny school in New York’s Southern Tier, not far from the town where he grew up. Now his only goal is to get in, do his job, and get out before anyone from his past remembers him.
That turns out to be easier said than done. Dani Sloane, the sharp-witted administrative assistant to the principal, learns the truth about why Phin is really there. With the help of her friends, she sets out to unmask him and force the local board of education to stop the plans that could ruin their school. Discovering that her sometime-lover is an old business associate of Phin’s only complicates both the situation and their relationship.
Meanwhile, Phin, who has committed himself to keeping his emotional distance, can’t resist the charm of the town and its residents—especially the school psychologist, who turns out to be an old friend he hasn’t seen in over twenty years. While Dani works to take him down and save her school, Phin wrestles with learning how to do the right thing, including telling the truth to the man with whom he’s already falling in love.
First off, I’d like to say Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions so me and my readers can get to know a little bit more about you!
Now for the hard part:
- Can you describe in detail what your writing environment is like?
I homeschool my younger child, so my work space looks like my kid doing her work while I do mine, both of us curled up on living room furniture—she with books, me with my laptop. I like quiet (no music or television), lots of light, and comfort. I’m always cold, so I keep on hand blankets, hot drinks, and fingerless gloves.
- Is there one of your characters that you relate to (from any of your works)? Why?
I relate most to Dani (from Lower Education). She’s smart and curious, and she’s utterly devoted to the people she loves. She’ll do what it takes to protect them, even if that means digging into things she might be better off leaving alone. I also relate to her as a parent, always praying she’s doing and saying the right things with her kids.
- If you couldn’t be an author, what would you do instead?
My college degrees are in nursing and health science. I would love to be a community health/sexuality educator. Maybe that’ll be my next career. Ha!
- Is there anything that you learned during the writing process that you wish you had known before hand?
That it’s okay to screw up. No one is going to be angry that the manuscript isn’t perfect the first time out, even if I’ve missed a bad stereotype or cliché. Everyone who read my novel during the editing process was incredibly gracious and kind. It requires an incredible amount of trust on both sides.
- Is there anything that you wish you could change about your book now that it is out?
A lot of things! I noticed how often I do annoying things such as using people’s names too frequently in dialogue. I also think I gloss over the big reveal at the end, and it makes less sense than I would hope. Since the story skewers the state of public education, I think I may disappoint some educators with my resolution to the problem. I might handle that differently or explain it better.
- How do you come up with new ideas for your story?
My kids and spouse are great for that. I’m also often inspired by blogs and news articles I read. I got my “real” start in writing as a social justice blogger, and that’s where my heart will always be.
- What’s next for you as a writer?
I have another novel currently with beta readers. It’s an incredibly personal work about coming to terms with our (often multiple) identities and how to integrate competing aspects of ourselves. It didn’t start out that way, but that’s where it ended up. I’ve also written a series of short stories for self-publication, and I’m planning another novel.
- Where do you live? Do you think this influences how or what you write?
I’m in western/Finger Lakes region of New York. It absolutely influences me. I understand my beautiful state, and I almost always set my stories here. Locals who read my work can find references to familiar places.
- What is your favorite genre outside of the one you write in? Why?
I like fantasy kid lit. There’s something wonderful about slipping through the wardrobe door that appeals to me at a very deep level. Whether it’s Aslan and Narnia or Harry Potter’s wizarding England or the Great Ga’Hoole Tree, good kid fantasy offers a peek at the deeper truths of life uncluttered by adult worries.
- Do you have any vices? Shoes, coffee, shopping…etc?
Coffee, for sure. I drink a lot of it. Also, slash fan fiction, especially Harry Potter. It’s my version of reading trashy romance novels. (I can’t believe I just admitted that!)
Thank you so much for taking your time to answer my questions. I wish you much success as a writer!!
He pulled out his phone and glanced at it. “Listen, I need to go. Dani, what time do you want me to come over to help Jake draw his display board?”
“Is nine okay? We need to be at the school by eleven to set up, and the fair starts at noon.”
“Sure thing.” He grinned at the group. “Good night, ladies. Alex.” Once again, his face colored just a little when his eyes flicked to Alex. With that, he was off.
Dani watched him go, shaking her head. “Pied piper,” she muttered.
“What?” Eunice asked.
“You know—the pied piper. He got everyone to follow after him, thinking he was solving the town’s rat problem, only then he stole the children.” She laughed. “I’m just being paranoid. Where are the kids? We should get going—long day tomorrow.”
A. M. Leibowitz is a spouse, parent, feminist, and book-lover falling somewhere on the Geek-Nerd Spectrum. She keeps warm through the long, cold western New York winters by writing romantic plot twists and happy-for-now endings. In between noveling and editing, she blogs coffee-fueled, quirky commentary on faith, culture, writing, and her family.
Facebook Personal Page: https://www.facebook.com/amymitchell29
Author’s Website: http://amleibowitz.com/
Author’s GoodRead Page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8544236.A_M_Leibowitz?from_search=true