An Interview with Caroline Leavitt (part 2)

                                    An Interview with author, Caroline Leavitt  (Part 2)

(Me and Minnie, the turtle)Caroline Leavitt, best selling authors, interviews

Q. When did you begin to write seriously?

A. I always wrote seriously. I was sending things out from the time I was sixteen, and of course, they always came right back, rejected. While I was at Brandeis University, I took a writing course with a famous writer who told me flat out that I would never make it. He used to attack me in class, and though tears would stream down my face, I never left the class. I was in my late twenties, sending stories out every week (and getting them back every week with rejection letters) when I finally won the Redbook Magazine Young Writers Contest!

Q. How long after that were you published?

A. That contest opened up doors for me. I got an agent. I got a book deal based on the short story. I became sort of famous, and I thought it would last. But my next four publishers all went out of business. I was with two major publishers who wouldn’t take my calls or emails, and though my novels got stellar reviews, they had enough sales for me to buy groceries. When I submitted PICTURES OF YOU to my last publisher, they rejected it, saying, “I’m sorry, this just isn’t special.” They didn’t want to publish anything else of mine. I knew my career was over because who wants to publish someone who has published 8 novels and has no sales? But a friend of mine was with Algonquin and she offered to show her editor my novel. Algonquin bought it in three weeks and they did something no other publisher ever did for me: they treated me with respect. They invited me to come talk to them! They said, “We’re going to change your life.” And they did. Six months before the book even came out it was in three printings (it eventually went into 5). They got it on the New York Times bestseller list and the USA Today e-book bestseller list. It was one of the top books of 2011 from the San Francisco Chronicle, the Providence Journal, Bookmarks Magazine and Kirkus Reviews! I always tell people that I am living proof that you should never, ever, ever give up! You never know what can happen.

Q. and the all important: What does the process of going from “no book” to “finished book” look like? 

A. It looks like craziness. Caroline Leavitt, interviews, best selling authorsI’m always in between stages because I live in terror of that stage when nothing is going on. So while I am in the midst of writing one book, I’m thinking of the next book, making vague inroads. It’s much better to have a new work to focus on so you don’t drive yourself too crazy when your book comes out. So the first stage is the idea. I spend about 6 months writing up a detailed synopsis. I’m like John Irving. I have to know where I am headed for, what the character change is going to be. I liken it to creating the skeleton. Once you have that, you can add on the flesh, the hair, the clothing. Once I have the synopsis done, which is usually 30 pages, I show it to three different writer friends and they tear it apart—and I want them to. It doesn’t help me not to hear the critiques. Then I go back and keep redoing it until it feels like a story. I’m big on story structure. I know some writers “follow their pen” and find structure confining, but I feel it actually awakens creativity. And since using story structure, I’ve had my first NYT bestseller and I made the finals at Sundance Screenwriting Lab, so I think it works.

Don’t miss Part 3 on June 11th as we continue to visit with this fascinating author!Caroline_queen_book_fest
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Start your month off right!! DON’T MISS UPCOMING BLOGS. INTERVIEWS with other best-selling AUTHORS!      A SERIES, “The Writer’s Corner”

I have had a wonderful response from other authors and will feature an interview once a month . I have invited such luminaries as: Ann Purser, Susan Elia MacNealMark Childress, Rhys Bowen, Dean Koontz, Sheryl Woods, Jo-Ann Mapson, Jeffrey Deaver, Elizabeth Gilbert, Amber Winckler, Robert McCammon, Sue Grafton, Walter Mosley, Nora Roberts, and many others.

So come along with me; we shall sneak into these writers’ special places, be a fly on the wall and watch them create!  Mark Childress is our April author.  Robert McCammon is scheduled for May. Caroline Leavitt is June‘s author.  July features Rhys Bowen.  Sue Grafton is August’s author and September will feature Tasha Alexander.  Slick mystery writer, Andrew Grant will join us this winter. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

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