Young Adult Novelist, Dr. Leah Scheier

Dr. ScheierForget “Rabbi, Dr., Ph.D.”

“Pediatrician, Jewish Mom and Author” is way cooler.

Hailing from Baltimore, MD (and a 3 year stint in Atlanta, GA) Dr. Scheier made aliyah to Israel four years ago with her husband and three children. They currently live in Modiin, where Dr. Scheier is a novelist and works at two kupot cholim.

Here Dr. Scheier talks with Times about her journey as an Anglo-Israeli author of novels for teens:

My parents were Russian immigrants and I had a very “renaissance” child education.  We were encouraged to express ourselves creatively on a daily basis. My sisters and I took violin lessons, art lessons, piano, and anything else that interested us. Reading was very important. My father introduced me to some of my favorites: the Sherlock Holmes stories, Gone with the Wind, Dickens, and countless other works of literature.

I had been told (repeatedly) that being a writer doesn’t pay, so I chose medicine, because I love working with people and I enjoyed science. I put writing on the backburner until I was done my medical education. When I began working part-time as a pediatrician I found that I had time to pursue my hobby- so I picked up writing again.

I’ve written two novels so far. The first, Secret Letters, is due to be released June 26th and is a historical mystery.  It’s a “fun” novel, and I wrote it because I had always wanted to read about a strong female character in the Sherlock Holmes stories. I hope my readers connect with Dora, my main character, and enjoy her adventures.  My second novel, Golden Boy, is more serious.  It is a story about a teenage girl whose first love slowly descends into madness. I hope my readers will identify with my main character, who, despite everything, never gives up hope that her boyfriend will come back to her. I also hope that my readers will learn a little about schizophrenia and mental illness and the toll that it takes on its victims and their families.

Challenges balancing work life and family: A few years ago one of my daughters shyly requested that I write after she had gone to sleep.  When I asked her why she replied that when I write I get so “into it” that she has to call my name a few times before I even look up.  If she had been completely honest she would have added “and then you snap at me.”  So I stopped writing during family hours.  Now I mostly write at work between patients or in that quiet time after all my children are in bed. Everyone is happier that way.

Favorite authors: Marcus Zusak,  Jonathan Safran Foer, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Wally Lamb, Andre Dubus, Lloyd Alexander, C.S. Lewis, Tracy Chevalier– to name a few.

Greatest achievements: My three wonderful daughters. The publication of my first novel.  Practicing medicine in Hebrew.

Regrets? Not that I can think of. Whatever has happened to me so far has, thank G-d, brought me to where I am today. I love where I am today.

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About the Author
Yael Levy holds a J.M. in Law & Religion from Emory University School of Law. She is the author of Brooklyn Love.