Psychologist, author Leman to speak on new novel, sign books

The youngest child, Kevin Leman was not interested in taking school seriously.

“I saw myself as the screw-off of the family,” he said.

Leman graduated fourth from the bottom of his class at Williamsville High School, outside Buffalo, New York. He was kicked out of college, and he met his wife while working as a janitor in a hospital.

Now, he has 52 published books with topics ranging from parenting to business, and several have been on the New York Times best-seller list. He has also just published his first novel, a political thriller titled A Perfect Ambition, with novelist Jeff Nesbit. Leman will be signing copies at noon Sunday in the Author’s Alcove. He will also give a brief speech about the book, which is the first in a trilogy.

Leman spent much of his professional career as a research psychologist, particularly looking at the effect of birth order; that is, whether one is the first-, second- or last-born child. First-born children tend to be ambitious and natural leaders, middle children tend to be quieter and good listeners, and last children tend to be charming but sometimes irresponsible, Leman found.

This research is a major element of A Perfect Ambition and its two sequels. Leman and Nesbit wrote each of three books about a different sibling in a wealthy family — the first-, second- and last-born, respectively.

“Nowhere in the book is the word ‘birth order’ used,” Leman said, but the ideas permeate the novels.

Leman is confident Chautuaquans will enjoy the novels.

“Book one is a pretty good book; it got a lot of good reviews, I noticed,” he said. “Book two [coming in March] is really good, it’s absolutely exploding with action for the reader.”

Another thing that readers on the grounds will enjoy: The main characters come to Chautauqua when they need rest and relaxation.

“As an author, you get to put in what you want,” Leman said.

For him, this included western New York restaurants and landmarks, such as the Peace Bridge in Buffalo, New York, and the Amphitheater in Chautauqua.

Leman is happy to be returning to this area of the country again, where he has spoken many times since his childhood.

“Rarely do I turn down an opportunity to speak in western New York,” he said.