Maryann Lesert lives and works in West Michigan, where she is an assistant professor of English at Grand Rapids Community College. During her undergraduate years, Lesert studied art, writing, and biomedical sciences, graduating in 1988 from Western Michigan University with a dual B.A. in art and English. In 2003 she earned her M.F.A. in Writing from Spalding University in Louisville, Kentucky.
Lesert is a prolific playwright whose works include Superwoman, The Music in the Mess, and Natural Causes, a finalist for the 2001 Princess Grace Foundation's National Playwright's Fellowship. Recently, she has published short plays in The Art of the One Act and The Best Ten Minute Plays 2007. "Assessment Number Two," an excerpt from her current novel-in-progress, appears in The Healing Project's Voices of Alzheimer's anthology.
In Base Ten, her first novel, Lesert combines her love of nature with her interest in science. Although a work of fiction, Base Ten deals with the all-too real problems women face when trying to love and nurture a family and a career in the sciences. Lesert believes that "the lack of real-life female role models sends a strong message that is difficult to counteract: that only certain, special women have what it takes to achieve in careers as demanding as science."
When asked why she wrote Base Ten, Maryann Lesert answered:
"I wrote Base Ten because, as a woman who had grown up on 'You can do anything you set your mind to,' I felt betrayed by my own body and by love when I found that my ability to maintain a career and my own passions was severely limited when I had children. It was as if I had made some silent pact with my family and society at large, that I would put myself on hold, indefinitely, because my children needed their own good beginnings. My husband, though one of the 'good guys,' did not feel the same pressure, and I was amazed as our family grew how much the social structure around him (work, family, school) encouraged his ongoing pursuits while expecting me to limit mine.
And fighting the good fight is exhausting: modeling an egalitarian family is nearly impossible without other exemplary families of reference. I haven’t yet solved the very real competition for time and space that happens even within the best of marriages, but this novel has been my way of facing the frustration and illustrating how unnatural it is to continually put yourself on hold. And, ultimately, how unfortunate it is to consider how much talent and energy is lost.
Making Jillian and Kera scientists was a reflection of my love for scientific learning, and I wanted to buck the system that tells us women as scientists is not realistic; that making these women talented scientists makes them all too rare. As a young student, I loved the sense of wonder and discovery in science, but as I reached adulthood, a career in science (medicine, mainly) seemed out of reach. I believe the lack of real-life female role models sends a strong message that is difficult to counteract: that only certain, special women have what it takes to achieve in careers as demanding as science.
So: First, we must imagine. Then, we model."
For more information visit: http://www.maryannlesert.com.
Books By This Author
- Base Ten
- Maryann Lesert