Author Leanne Treese

Photo by Maureen Lingle

Leanne Treese is the New Jersey-based author of Their Last Chance: A Complicated Love Story. Kirkus Reviews praised her debut novel, saying, “This nuanced and empathetic novel balances the difficult and the heartwarming.”

Treese also is a wife and mom and former family law attorney. When not at her computer or cheering on her kids, she can be found running, watching 76ers basketball games, and spoiling Chloe and Bella, her two beloved dogs.  

In Their Last Chance, Hannah and Will Abbott seem to have it all: two kids, a beautiful home, and a thriving marriage. But discontent lurks below the surface. When Will and Hannah suspect each other of infidelity and independently consult divorce attorneys, the conflict escalates. Defying a court order, Hannah flees with the children, a snap decision that starts a social media firestorm. Then Will and Hannah accept an invitation to appear on a reality television show for divorcing couples that takes place on the beautiful island of St. John, where they must finally decide whether their love can survive.

Here, Leanne graciously shares her insight on writing and publishing, family law, and favorite authors.

What prompted the idea for Their Last Chance?

I’ve always wanted to write a book, and the adage is ‘write what you know.’ I had an idea about a couple going to a beautiful island to work out their differences. It turned from that to a reality TV show, and then I brought in the lawyers.

In the story, I was struck by how miscommunications led to such a serious rift in Will and Hannah’s marriage. From your work, is this pretty common?

Many times, when people start speaking through their attorneys rather than with each other, their messages get misconstrued. Their actions take life of their own and the cases can spiral out of control.

If you could wave a magic wand and change the typical divorce process, what would you do?

I’m part of a movement called “collaborative law,” in which both partners and their lawyers sit at a table, together. They stay out of court until all have reached agreement. It helps eliminate misunderstandings and is much less adversarial than traditional divorce proceedings.  

In the movie or TV adaptation of Their Last Chance, version, who would play the main characters?

For Will, Justin Hartley, who plays Kevin Pearson on This is Us; actress Rachel McAdams for Hannah; and William Zabka from the Karate Kid, as David Dewey.

Can you talk about your publishing journey? You initially were with a small press that ran into difficulties, so you reclaimed your book and self-published it. Any lessons learned or advice?

I’m glad I was initially traditionally published, and that another party sort of approved my book.

However, smaller presses, along with most larger ones, don’t have much ability to help with marketing and promotion. I decided if I was doing all this work anyway, I could do it all, how I wanted. I use experts in editing and design but choose who they are. I’ve really enjoyed the process.

Can you give a hint about the subject of your next book?

It’s called Mother of The Accused and is about a mother whose teen son is accused of sexual assault. It shows her journey through this accusation. It’s tough to navigate, as I want to represent both sides well. I had my sister and a friend, both prosecutors, read the manuscript. They felt the story fairly represented all sides.

What’s currently on your TBR?

I just discovered two new authors I love. One is Katherine Center, whose most recent book is What You Wish For,” and Kate Clayborn; author of several books, including Love Lettering.

If you could form a writing group with three or four people—living or dead, famous or not, writers or not—who might you choose?

My three favorite writers, who are Liane Moriarty, JoJo Moyes and Jodie Picoult.