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Schwartz, Leslie (A.) 1962-

SCHWARTZ, Leslie (A.) 1962-

PERSONAL:

Born 1962; daughter of Harvey and Mary Schwartz; married; children: a daughter. Education: University of California, Berkeley, B.A. (with honors), 1984. Religion: Jewish.

ADDRESSES:

Home—2000 Riverside Dr., Los Angeles, CA 90026. Office—UCLA Extension Westwood, 1010 Westwood Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90039. Agent—Henry Duncan, 27 West 20th St., New York, NY 10010. E-mail—[email protected].

CAREER:

Novelist, journalist, and teacher. Council of Literary Magazines and Presses, reporter, 1990—; story analyst/script coverage consultant, 1992—; freelance editor, 1995—; University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), extension program, fiction writing instructor; PEN Center West's Emerging Voices, master class instructor; PEN in the Classroom, poetry instructor.

MEMBER:

PEN Center West.

AWARDS, HONORS:

Hedgebrook Writer's fellowship, 1994 and 1996; James Jones Literary Society Award for best first novel, 1999 for Jumping the Green; Kalliope Woman Writer of the Year, 2004.

WRITINGS:

Jumping the Green (novel), Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1999.

Angels Crest (novel), Doubleday (New York, NY), 2004.

Jumping the Green has been translated into several languages, including Hebrew and German. Contributor of numerous short stories and articles to magazines, including Good Housekeeping, Los Angeles Times, and Self.

SIDELIGHTS:

Leslie Schwartz is an award-winning author and writing teacher whose first novel, Jumping the Green, examines love and loss within the family. The story revolves around up-and-coming sculptress Louise Goldblum, who comes from a dysfunctional family with alcoholic and abusive parents. When her beloved sister Esther is murdered, Louise seeks solace with a fellow artist, Zeke, who abuses Goldblum sexually and emotionally. Schwartz tells Louise's tale through alternating looks at the present and the past, including incidents when the younger Louise had to deal with her parents' emotional detachment and was exposed to violence and sex at a very young age. The adult Louise, who is also involved in drugs and drinks heavily, struggles as she realizes she is on a road to self-destruction that threatens not only her promising career but also her life.

Writing in Library Journal, Robin Nesbitt noted that the novel's depiction of sexual and physical abuse is "not for the weak of heart." Nesbitt went on to comment, "Erotic, sad, and thought-provoking, this intense story of love and families gone bad is a compelling yet disturbing read." A contributor to Publishers Weekly commented that Schwartz handled the flash-back chapters well and said that they "infuse the plot with a page-turning momentum, without sacrificing the elegance of Louise's gradually more penetrating introspection." Writing in the Washington Post, Laurie Foos generally praised the book and concluded, "It is a testament to Schwartz's gifts as a writer that the novel transcends clichés of violence and ultimately becomes a tale of survival, even in the most harrowing of circumstances."

Schwartz told CA: "I was alwasy interested in writing. I always wrote, even as a little girl. Writing seemed natural to me, easier than trying to talk to people for sure. Nothing in particular made me decide one day that I wanted to be a writer. It was just something I always did.

"My students are my biggest influence on my work. They are so good and open and unscathed yet by the business of publishing. They write from such a raw and open-wound kind of place that it can't help but keep me honest. They remind me why I do it in the first place.

"My writing process has evolved over the years. At first I would write secretly in my room and never, ever, ever show anyone anything. But eventually I started to see the uselessness of that and after I 'came out' as a writer, I began to get more serious about how often I wrote. Now I try to write at least an hour every day, in the morning when it's the most still and quiet. And I walk every day in the hills behind my house with the dog, so I do a lot of writing there, working plot points out and discovering my characters. I don't believe in writers block. Sometimes, I just stop writing for a while. It's not a big, dramatic thing. I just need time away. I do require utter and complete silence when I write, though, which makes it hard sometimes in Los Angeles. If I even hear the slightest, tiniest sounds of music or conversation coming from a neighbor's house, I can't concentrate at all and I start eavesdripping or getting distracted and angry and wishing I lived deep in the unexplored forest. So I guess you could say my process requires silence. Also, I show my work to people. I have a group of trusted writers who read my pages in progress and critique my work. And usually before I sit down to write, I thank my creator for my talents and especially for my lack of talent. And I pray for help. Otherwise it feels too lonely.

"The most surprising thing I have learned as a writer …hmmm, there are so many. I think when I realized that gender is bunk, I could finally write from a man's point of view. I stopped thinking in generalitites and asked myself what do we all want? To be loved, to be unafraid, etc., etc. If you write from the point of view of an individual, gender doesn't matter. A man can cry just as much as a woman can throw a punch, that sort of thing. I've learned that sterotypes mean certain death for writers. I also realized that my imagination is fertile and alive and trustworthy, so I don't do much research anymore, which has been particularly freeing. I learned that working with young writers is enormously instructive for me. It keeps me humble. There is so much raw, undiscovered talent out there. It's amazing, really. I've learned not to be jealous or covetous of other people's talents. There's room for all of us."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Booklist, October 1, 1999, Nancy Pearl, review of Jumping the Green, p. 344.

Entertainment Weekly, November 19, 1999, Charles Winecoff, review of Jumping the Green, p. 139.

Library Journal, October 15, 1999, Robin Nesbitt, review of Jumping the Green, p. 108.

Los Angeles Times, November 14, 1999, Mark Rozzo, review of Jumping the Green, p. 10.

Publishers Weekly, August 9, 1999, review of Jumping the Green, p. 344.

Washington Post, December 12, 1999, Laurie Foos, review of Jumping the Green, p. 4:1.

ONLINE

Leslie Schwartz Home Page,http://www.leslieschwartz.com (November 18, 2003).

Writer's Register,http://www.writersregister.com/home.phtml (November 18, 2003), "Leslie Schwartz."*

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