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Lesley Kagen Read a recent Q & A!

i all!

I was born and raised in Milwaukee in a couple of blue-collar neighborhoods much like the ones where Whistling in the Dark, Good Graces, and The Mutual Admiration Society are set.

After attending four different high schools—a story unto itself—I enrolled in Marquette University, majored in my boyfriend, and the summer after my freshman year, I followed him to New York City. Of course, I'd pictured a grand adventure, but I was so intimidated by it all that I spent most of my time running from the apartment to the grocery store and back to the apartment which was situated above a 24 hour soul record store. (To this day, I can sing the chorus to every James Brown tune ever recorded.) After the boyfriend and I called it quits, I returned home to attend the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee to major in radio and television, which, for some reason I can no longer recall, I'd decided was my true calling.

Soon after, and quite by luck, I fell into a job as a morning drive DJ at one of the country's first "underground" radio stations—WZMF. Along with my gig at the station, I MC'd concerts, meet countless talented musicians, and had the chance to interview the likes of Frank Zappa, Jimi Hendrix, and John Lennon.

Whistling in the Dark

In 1976, I moved to Los Angeles and began a twelve-year stint writing, producing, and voicing thousands of commercials for one of the largest, and absolutely the coolest, record chains in Southern California. Considering that you could not turn on your radio in those days without hearing me say, "Hi, it's Lesley from Licorice Pizza," I pretty easily secured a commercial acting agent. A ton of other radio and television spots ensued, including a couple of small parts in movies-of-the-week, sit-coms, and a guest spot on Laverne and Shirley.

Funnily, I met my husband Peter a.k.a. Sushi Man, also a Milwaukee native, in Malibu, and although we both loved living in California, after we had our kids, the exceptional and brilliant Casey and Riley, we wanted to move back to our Midwestern roost. We opened up one of the first Japanese restaurants in the city, and along with mothering the two best children ever created, I continued to do commercials out of Chicago.

Although I've been writing from a very early age—copious usage of the Almighty's name insured an easy win in St. Sebastian's all-school poetry contest—it wasn't until my children flew the coop that I found the time to take a run at my first novel—Whistling in the Dark—again, a story unto itself. Hard to believe that here I am almost fifteen years later with my ninth novel Every Now and Then.

When I'm not writing, there's nothing I love more than spending time with the loves of my life, my daughter, Casey, and my magical g-babies, Charlie and Hadley. Also enjoy hiking in the woods and on Lake Michigan beaches with my pup, The Amazin' Gracie, riding my bike around my adorable town, reading, of course, committing random acts of kindness—fun!—advocating for better and more available mental health care, meditating, going to the movies, birding—red-tail hawks make me weep—and eating out with pals—I am an absolutely horrendous cook, but a darn good baker.

Like you, I've been handed breathtaking highs, and been dealt devastating lows that I thought I'd never be able to survive, but with the love of my family, stellar therapists, and abundant help from on high, I give thanks most mornings for the chance to stand in front of my kitchen window, sip tea, and watch the sun come up over the barn.

Warmest wishes,