Tuesday, October 4, 2011

the tuesday interview: lindsey leavitt

Don't typecast, Lindsey Leavitt is not all tiaras. First of all, she's wry. Really wry. And it's hard to be wry in a tiara. And I loved her new book, Sean Griswold's Head, which is literally, about Sean Griswold's head.

RQD: What are you working on? What interests you about these characters?
Lindsey Leavitt: A contemporary YA that comes out in Winter 2013 called AUTHENTICALLY VINTAGE. I'm only about halfway through the first draft, so I'm still getting to know the characters, but I am loving writing from the main characters point of view. She's a mix of breezy and bitter, and I love exploring those conflicting emotions throughout. Her relationship with her sister is also important in the story, and since my little sister just moved nearby for the first time in our adult lives, it's been fun "researching" that relationship more.
RQD: Tell me about other influences.
LL: Oh man. The I-now-feel-inadequete-because-I-don't-have-a-muse question. I have nothing. Um, I have pictures my daughters colored for on my office walls. I stare at those. And lately I've switched off between Jimmy Eat World, Adele and Simon and Garfunkel when I write. A lot of time I'll just listen to one song on repeat over and over again to try to feel a certain mood. Since I write for teens, a lot of those songs are from my late nineties adolescence.
RQD: What book, story or poem do you return to over and over?
LL: This probably makes me cliche, but I've read Pride and Prejudice more times than I can count. Reading Jane Austen is like eating cookies, comfortable, familiar and delicious.
RQD: What are you reading now?
LL: I just barely finished Sweethearts by Sara Zarr and like every Sara Zarr novel, I adored it. She is one of the greatest voices in young adult fiction right now, hands now.
I'm also reading Unfamiliar Fishes by Sara Vowell (digging Saras lately). Her books are like having your most charming friend sum up the history class you ditched, with lots of asides and tangents.
RQD: What did you read as a kid? What is its impact on your work now?
LL: Lots of Judy Blume, Beverly Cleary, dozens of Newbery winners. When I think back on those books, it's the characters I remember, and try to keep that in mind as I write. Then in Junior High I discovered the high concept creepy goodness of Lois Duncan and Christopher Pike. Those stories are very different from my humorous and or heartfelt stories, but I think I learned a lot about infusing tension and pacing into a story.

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