Learn More about Author Donna Leahey

A film that brings tears to your eyes . . .

I don’t like tear jerkers, I avoid them – I don’t need help feeling sad, I need help feeling happy! When I watch Moulin Rouge (which, I admit, I love), I always skip past the opening scenes until he first arrives in Paris and I shut it off when the curtain falls, so it’s a happy love-conquers-all story. And yes, I know, that runs counter to the intention of the story to explore every aspect of love, but that’s ok with me. 
Describe your first kiss. 
My first kiss was nothing special, so I’ll tell you about one of my favorite kisses. I was giving a friend a ride home one evening and we were in the driveway talking.

He put his hand on my neck and leaned forward and then he kissed me. His lips were so soft, and his hands were so warm. It wasn’t the sexiest or the most passionate kiss, but a few decades later, it remains the sweetest kiss I’ve ever had.

He pulled away suddenly and laughed a little, looking over my shoulder. I turned and there was one of his young cousins – a little boy maybe six years old, hands clutching the open window frame, peering in like a Kilroy-was-here drawing.

I laughed, too, because it was adorable, this little kid’s wide eyes.

If I could go back in time, that would have been my first kiss. It’s a much better memory. 

Your favorite children’s book, and why . . .

I still love the Shel Silverstein books of poetry that I got for my son. Wonderful word play, wonderful messages.

A cause that’s closest to your heart, and why . . .

The messages we send to young girls – and for that matter young boys about girls – bother me. I grew up before there was a pink aisle in the toy story and I don’t understand how we allowed this to happen to our daughters.

Pink sparkly toys and clothes, princesses, and sexualized images that start so very young.

Gender neutral toys – like LEGO, for instance, don’t need to be pink.

As in all aspects of a woman’s life, whether a girl wants to be a girly little princess or be her own hero should be a choice she’s able to make, but right now, being anything but a princess is tough for a little girl. If you want to be a tomboy, like I was, you’re going to have shop in boy’s clothes just for something to wear.

Add to that the lack of representation of good, strong role-models in books and movies, and it’s tough to be a girl. I am excited to see books like The Hunger Games and Divergent being published and becoming popular. These books feature strong, independent young women who deal with their own problems through determination and without a big, strong man coming along to save them.

We need more positive non-princessy images for our daughters, sisters, nieces. If a little girl actually wants to be a pretty-little-princess-in-pink, then more power to her. I hope she finds her prince. But if she wants to be her own hero, we should be making sure that’s possible for her as well.

If you could be a character in any novel, who would you be and why?

That’s a tough one because my favorite books are all pretty hard on their characters. I enjoy Stephen King, for instance, and who would want to be in a Stephen King novel!

But, I’m going to go ahead and expand the definition of “novel” to include graphic novels and therefore comic books and say that I want to be a super hero! Someone who flies and fights for justice and saves the world. Maybe Storm or Rogue. Yeah, I think I’d like to be Rogue.

Explain the worst job that you’ve held.
I worked in a print screening shop. There was no air conditioning and in the summer the oven that cooks the ink onto the shirts would push the temp inside close to over 110 degrees. Among other things, my job included cleaning the screens with harsh chemicals that turned the skin on my hands so rough I could have sanded wood with my palms! Not to mention the ink constantly under my fingernails that just wouldn’t go away.

None of that was the worst though. I’m a geek, a nerd, I love science fiction and fantasy, and can quote Monty Python. Every single other employee there was what a friend of mine would call “bro-dudes.” We did not get along at all and felt a lot like being back in high school where I just didn’t fit in.

A quote that motivates you . . .

<!–td {border: 1px solid #ccc;}br {mso-data-placement:same-cell;}–“The man in black fled across the desert and the gunslinger followed.”

That’s the opening line to Stephen King’s Gunslinger. I hope that someday I can write an opening line even halfway as brilliant.

The title of the one song you would take with you on that deserted island . . .

I think it would have to be Bohemian Rhapsody. Though anything in The Beatles catalogue would do as well.

Three Wishes
1. I wish to be able to fly – preferably with big feathery wings, but that part’s negotiable.
2. I wish my son to be happy, to have the skills and the means to achieve his dreams and to live a long, healthy, and fulfilled life (I had to have one sappy one, right?)
3. I wish people everywhere learned to listen to each other, to understand each other. I think so many of our world problems come from a lack of ability – or a refusal – to understand.
Favorite game you played as a child . . .
I grew up in the country. I can’t think of a particular game, but I ran wild, digging in the dirt, climbing trees, watching bugs. I learned so much about the natural world just from exploring it.

What would you like readers to take away from your writing?

I was rather surprised to learn that most of my stories have some sort of moral to them. Good triumphs and bad things happen to bad people. I didn’t expect it and I didn’t particularly mean to do it, but I’ve learned to accept that I am that writer.

So I hope that my readers see that the right thing is always worth fighting for.

I hope that I write female characters that girls can look up to, that they can know they don’t have to wait for a man to save them.

And, finally, I hope that reading my stories leaves them wanting to read more!

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