Thursday, June 3, 2010
Fabulous New Fiction: 2k10 Debut Author Tom Leveen
Today I'm delighted to bring you an interview with debut author Tom Leveen, discussing his novel PARTY.
Congratulations on the publication of your novel, PARTY. Can you tell us a bit about the story and what inspired it?
PARTY takes place over the course of one night in Santa Barbara, where 11 students take turns relating the events of a raging end-of-year party. It was partly inspired by a trip to Santa Barbara - a very cool town - and loosely modeled on several experiences I had or that were had by close friends in high school.
I love Santa Barbara! How long have you been writing for children/teens? Have you written other books or is this your first effort?
I've written other books, but PARTY was the first to be published. One I have been work on since 1993 (!) seems to have finally found a home, though I can't make a formal announcement quite yet unfortunately. (Welcome to the glacial pace of publishing!). Most of my work has been about teens because they experience life in such profound, exciting ways. There's little need to add drama to their stories; the drama is part of life!
Yes, publication can take a glacial pace. Can you describe your complete path to the publication of PARTY?
Tedious. :) And rewarding! I obtained my first agent in the usual manner - query, rejection, query, rejection, x40. But the book I signed with didn't get picked up at the time (but was later to become the second book I just spoke of above). We went through four or five revisions, then I got a new agent at the same agency, where we revised again. What happened after that, I don't know exactly, but PARTY did sell at auction, which was awesome. My advice: keep working on those query letters. They are so hard to do well, and honestly, I hope I never have to write another one!
That is awesome! Do you have any other advice for beginning writers?
Play by the rules. Agency and publishing house rules for submission can be strange to navigate sometimes, but they exist for a reason, and you're best served by following instructions to the letter. Remember that while being a writer is fun, being an author is a job. Treat it like one. That includes treating your agent, editor, and everyone else as a professional. One, ten, or even forty rejections doesn't mean you're done; keep writing. I personally also recommend not focusing on a "series." Write one solid book, pitch it, then get to work on another book. Worry about "series potential" after you have that first book out. But that's only an opinion. Lastly: tell a good story. Good stories are what gets editors' attention.
Can you tell us something about your personal life – inspirations, plans for the future, goals, etc.?
I'm inspired largely by my friends, friends I've had for 20+ years in most cases. My plans for the future include writing more YA novels, God willing, and hopefully being able to go to schools, bookstores, and libraries and talk with teens about their lives. If just one teen gets something positive out of something I've written or said, then I consider my job done. As for goals - mainly, just to keep writing and entertaining. I'm a storyteller, we all are, and that's what I live for.
Do you have any new writing ventures underway?
I do! I'll be entering revision on "Book Two" soon, hopefully. My agent has two other books on her desk right now that we'll start revising later this month, I believe. Meanwhile I'm playing with middle grade fiction for the first time, which is a whole new animal for me.
Do you have a website where readers can learn more about PARTY?
Sure. Most everything can be found at www.tomleveen.com. My facebook page (there's a link on my website) is also a good place for the most up-to--date info on signings and other news.
Author photo credit: John Groseclose