An Interview with Leslie I. Landis
Leslie Landis has been a teacher, a financial planner, a bank trust officer, worked for a U.S. Senator, an associate director in television and a licensed therapist. Her first book, is a humorous take on our food and diet obsessed culture titled The Art of Overeating: A Bellyful of Laughs About Our Food-phobic Culture. CHENDELL: A Natural Warrior is her first novel. Leslie lives with her husband in Los Angeles.
Why did you write a YA novel?
My book, Chendell: A Natural Warrior, has an environmental theme. People of all ages care about the environment but young people are especially tuned into the environmental degradation caused by global warming. They know it is their future that is most at risk.
How did you come up with the idea of CHENDELL?
Through media exposure, I certainly noticed how popular the superhero genre is.
When I thought about why I was not interested in this category, I realized that the typical superhero characters were not “real” to me and they usually battled against “unreal” struggles such as someone trying to blow up the world. So I thought why not a superhero who was fighting a real world problem – ecocide and biocide – the willful destruction of the environment and the annihilation of living organisms.
Why is one of your protagonists Chinese?
There are three reason I made one of my protagonists Chinese:
- I’ve been to China and I found the Chinese people to be gracious, warm and kind.
- I know what it feels like to experience anger and hostility just because I was American. I’ve traveled to other countries during a time when we had an unpopular U.S. president. I feel the people of a country should be treated as individuals, not as representatives of a government.
- I’m personally very interested in other cultures and ethnicities. Having a Chinese character was just more interesting to me.
Why don’t you kill bugs?
I do kill bugs – if I have to. For example, if a mosquito is going to bite me or a bee is going to sting me. But fortunately for me, those have been rare occurrences. Other than those situations, I don’t kill bugs because they are alive. Because they are just living their little bug lives. Because they serve a function in the scheme of life. I just don’t go out of my way to kill anything.
Have you written any other books?
The Art of Overeating: A Bellyful of Laughs About Our Food-phobic Culture – A humorous view on our food obsessed culture.
Why do environmental problems worry you the most?
The future of every living creature depends on the health of our planet.
Why do you think your book is unique?
In my book, the superhero is fighting a real world problem. And my protagonists are a woman and a man who are truly equal. They can’t be more equal than when they are Chendell.
What can people do to help our environment?
Buy less, use less, waste less and recycle. Also, people can vote for representatives who take the environment and global warming seriously.
Where/when do you best like to write?
I write best at my office desk in a loft in my home. There is nothing to distract me there. I accomplish the most when I write in the evening.
Do you have any interesting writing habits or superstitions?
I am a terrible typist. I just hope my fingers will go where I want them to go and not where they want to go.
When you are struggling to write/have writer’s block, what are some ways that help you find your creative muse again?
I just leave my computer and think about my story a lot. A whole lot. And sooner or later, ideas come to me and I am ready to resume writing.
What do you think makes a good story?
Character development and a sense of humor.
What inspired your story?
The popularity of what I consider boring and redundant (almost all men) superheroes and their fights. I felt there should be a superhero who fights for the environment – for our planet.
How does a new story idea come to you?
I read a lot of current publications – newspapers and magazines – so trends eventually coalesce in my brain and ideas pop out from there.
Is there a message/theme you want readers to grasp?
If we get in touch with the natural world, we will all hear its message, “Save me before it is too late and I am gone!”
What is the best writing advice you have ever received?
Don’t give up.