Hi there, I’m Leah McLaren journalist, novelist and most recently, author of the memoir Where You End and I Begin, just out in America (HarperCollins), Canada (Penguin Random House) and Britain (John Murray Press). It recently got a rave in The Guardian and a starred review in Publisher’s Weekly and you can buy it at any major or minor English Language book retailer or Amazon.
Juvenescence is a cabinet of curiosities and kind of laboratory where I test, collect and curate the wide-ranging stories, books, art and ideas that interest me. I have a very restless, omnivorous brain — something that’s both helped and hindered me as a writer, a world in which “niche” equals “audience.” I’m trying to do something a bit different here. I want it to be a place for you to hang out, explore and relax, and indulge your interests.
I was born and raised in central Canada and now live in middle England —North West London to be precise. When cab drivers ask where I’m from I say Kensal Rise.
I started my career as a columnist and feature writer for The Globe and Mail, Canada’s national broadsheet and in 2002 I was posted to the London bureau. After that I spent over a decade as the Europe correspondent for Maclean’s magazine. In addition to my most recent book, I’ve written two internationally-published novels and dabbled in screenwriting.
I cook and read and run in Kensal Green Cemetery near my house. William Thackery is buried there and whenever I jog pass his grave I think of how I once sat for the celebrated Canadian artist Joanne Tod who painted me as the social climbing arriviste Becky Sharp. (I agreed to the sitting before bothering to read the book. In my defence, I was 25.)
Do you like my Paris Hilton hair?
During the pandemic I got into mud larking, which is a fancy term for poking around for treasure on the banks of River Thames at low tide. Lately I’m going through a phase of making pies. Not fruity desert ones but kind favoured by the Tudor court, with weird stuff in them like pheasant and currents. I’ll make about sixteen, freeze them, then move on to my next pet obsession. I’m thinking maybe… Bonsai trees?
I once played a cannon doll in a performance of The Nutcracker by the National Ballet of Canada and shared a backstage fag with the Sugar Plum Fairy. Unrelatedly, I’ve been to Ouagadougou, the capital city of Burkina Faso, not once but twice. (It’s very nice — you should go.)
My narrative non-fiction, reportage, essays and commentary have been published in The Observer Magazine, The Guardian, The Spectator, The Sunday Times Style Magazine, Toronto Life and elsewhere. I’ve been nominated for a number of prestigious awards all of which I failed to win with the notable exception of a gold medal in the long features category of the National Magazine Awards in 2010. My work has been adapted to film, television and radio.
I live with a passel Englishmen who have pledged their undying love for me in exchange for a life time supply of bacon butties, as well as a ruthless tabby ratter named Thomas Cromwell who carefully disembowels his victims and leaves them as love tokens outside the door of my writing shed. I make sure to praise him warmly.
CARE TO SUBCRIBE?
It’s better than a kick in the head… I promise. Every new edition of the newsletter goes directly to your inbox.
HOW SUBSCRIBING WORKS:
You can subscribe by clicking the button below. At that point you will be offered a choice of either a free or paid option. Free subscribers will receive short weekly newsletter posts and occasional essays, which I throw open to everyone according to my personal whim.
Should you choose to buy a paid subscription (currently available for the special low price of $6/£5 (literally one fancy coffee per month — or better yet less for £60 a year) you will get full exclusive access to my best essays, reviews, feature articles and musings and crucially become an automatic member of my Memoir Club — which I should explain is not just a club for people writing memoirs but anyone who happens to be interested in writing, ideas, creativity and how to live a well-examined life.
You’ll also get regular in-depth author Q&A’s with some of the biggest contemporary names in the world of publishing. These are in-depth interviews in which many of the leading writers of our era share their thoughts about process, craft, fame, publishing and literature. Recent subjects include the lauded British novelist and essayist Geoff Dyer, acclaimed memoirists Lauren Hough and Elissa Altman and the best-selling novelist Bonnie Garmus and many more.
Memoir Club has also become a forum in which members workshop their own writing and musings on modern life. There are occasional exercises, lots of feedback and plenty of tips and ideas for how to advance your own creative process and generally live your best life.
You’ll be invited to participate in weekly members-only Open Threads (in which I am both moderator as well as an active and engaged participant). These Open Threads have been an absolute revelation to me. Before Juvenescence I was terrified of talking to people on the internet — but now I realise it’s all about which people, where you meet, what you talk about and how. After all, people on the internet are just people like you and me. Good people, your people, exist on the internet just as they exist in real life! I know it sounds obvious but the angry confusing noise of social media can sometimes make you forget that — and there is no noise or confusion here. Only like-minded people talking what interests them. I have made friends and so have my readers, which was not something I ever expected to do by starting this newsletter. Over the past several months, we have formed a truly switched-on little community here, in which people from around the globe share and respond to each other’s anecdotes and ideas. My members are highly intelligent, engaged and — crucially — impeccably well-mannered. There is no squabbling, no drama, just fascinating people and lively engaging discussions. So do think about joining.
So that’s my pitch! If you’re curious to find out more, feel free to have a snoop around.