Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Author Chat: An Interview with Lindsey Leavitt (With a Giveaway!)

Today, I'm pleased to introduce Lindsey Leavitt, author of Princess for Hire. Welcome to Bloggin' 'bout Books, Lindsey!



Me: You've said that you were a bit of a tomboy growing up, so what prompted you to write a princess book? It's an anti-princess book, but still ...


LL: Ha! I don’t really know why I’m the chick writing the princess books. Ideas just kind of come and you go with them. I fought it a bit, actually, because I didn’t think I could do it justice! Someone else with the same idea would have written a totally different story, but I do think my tomboy ways add a unique perspective.


Me: Since you were THAT girl in high school (the one who was popular and involved), how do you tap into the kind of insecurity/angst felt by kids like Desi, who are picked on and not part of the in crowd?


LL: Oh wow, maybe I should revise my website bio. Involved at my high school did not equal popularity. It just meant I really wanted to get into college and so spent more time padding my resume than my bra. So I still had plenty of insecurities, ESPECIALLY in junior high. I felt like everyone was watching me and that I never measured up in comparison. That was really easy to go back to because emotions at that age felt so BIG. And the more I talk to people about their adolescence, the more I find these feelings of alienation and invisibility are sadly universal.


Me: Why did you include the Old Hollywood themes in PRINCESS FOR HIRE? I'm in my 30s and I barely recognize the names Grace Kelly, Paul Newman, Ingrid Bergman, etc. Do you think modern kids will be able to connect with this old-time glamour?


LL: I didn’t want to date the story—if I would have included celebrities hot right now, they might not be hot next year. Old Hollywood has a timeless quality that more closely resembles the elegance we associate with royalty. AND I wanted Desi to be a little quirky, to have interests that don’t match her peers. Modern kids don’t have to know who Ingrid Berman is to appreciate that. (and to learn more, I’ll be featuring a different Old Hollywood screen siren every month on http://www.princessforhire.com/)


Me: How did you come by your love of Old Hollywood? What are your favorite classic movies?


LL: I used to watch them with my dad. I remember one time REAR WINDOW was on and he pointed to Grace Kelly and said, “You know, she left acting and became a real princess.” How cool is that? I was hooked.My favorite movie when I was younger was SABRINA with Audrey Hepburn, William Holden and Humphrey Bogart. Does the love triangle thing like no one’s business.


Me: Since we're talking favorites, who are the authors you like to read? Which writers have inspired/influenced you most?


LL: I seriously read all over the map. I’ve been reading lots of tenners books lately (debut authors in 2010) because I’ve made friendships with lots of these authors and am interested in their work. Some I’ve read recently from that group that I really enjoyed are PROPHECY OF DAYS by Christy Raedeke and TORTILLA SUN by Jennifer Cervantes. Oh, and another that won’t be out until fall is THE REPLACEMENT by Brenna Yovanoff. Chilling and delicious.


I grew up a reader, and my favorite writers inspired me to give writing a go—Roald Dahl, Judy Blume, Kurt Vonnegut, P. G. Wodehouse, Jane Austen... we could be here awhile.


Me: You've got several projects in the works. Tell me about them (I know you like to be cryptic, but we want DETAILS).


LL: Well, I have to be cryptic about the second book in the PRINCESS FOR HIRE series because I don’t want to spoil anything for people who haven’t read the first! Plus, I’m still tweaking it and thus don’t want to say there will be a zombie mermaid because zombie mermaid might not make final cut.


Another book I have coming out next March is called SEAN GRISWOLD’S HEAD and I’m so excited about it! It’s a little older than P4H and straight contemporary. Here’s a bit about it…After discovering her father’s big Multiple Sclerosis secret, Payton Gritas’s structured life crumbles. So begin her excruciating ‘chats’ with Ms Callahan, a school counselor aiming to save Payton from drowning in denial by encouraging her to write Focus Exercises on any random object. Payton chooses Sean Griswold, her alphabetical connection since kindergarten. More specifically, she chooses his somewhat over-sized head.As Payton’s research grows into something a little less scientific and a little more crush-like, it spawns more and more questions about Sean and his dome. Like what’s with the scar? And why is a fifteen year old training to be the next Lance Armstrong? Payton finds answers to these questions by getting inside Sean’s blond head, while Sean somehow finds a way into her guarded heart. But when Payton realizes her Sean obsession won’t ultimately mend her battered relationship with her dad, she must shift her focus to the one person who can find the way forward – herself.


Me: Okay, The Tiara Tour - how much fun did you have on your first book tour?


LL: You know, I was warned that tours aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. And it’s true, it’s pretty nerve-wracking walking into a store and not knowing if anyone is going to come. Still, it was a blast—blogged about it here http://lindsey-leavitt.livejournal.com/124255.html. It’s been so wonderful to meet readers and potential readers and booksellers and teachers and librarians. Writers spend so much time behind the computer, it was lovely to step out and talk with real life PEOPLE for awhile (but just awhile. Gotta get back to those fictional characters, after all).


Me: How has your life changed - or not - since you've become a real, live, published author?


LL: The main thing that's changed is I have a career now (It still feels funny using that word. Like when I first signed with my agent, I dropped her name All The Time). A career gives me legitimacy to family, friends, and anyone else I have to tell to leave me alone so I can hole up and write. I’ve also had to take on some more authorly roles (interviews, fan mail, book signings, ect) but the writing is the same. I still need to hammer out the next story.As far as day to day living goes, everything is really the same except now there’s a book on a shelf (and okay, maybe I go visit said book about three times a day).


Me: Lastly, I ask this of all the authors I interview, because I'm always amazed by the variety of answers I get. How do you write? Is there a certain time of the day when you prefer to work? Do you write every day or just wait for the mood to strike? Do you outline or just let the ideas come as you're writing? Is there anything - chocolate, perhaps? - that you have to have by your side in order to write?


LL: My best writing usually happens late at night, but lately, with three little kids, I’m finding I’m just too tired to go with the muse most evenings. Now, I write WHENEVER I CAN. As I type this, my baby is sleeping and my other two (6 and 3) are playing Play-Dough at the table with me. I find I can do businessy stuff when they’re around, but save real writing for when I’m alone. When I have a deadline, I hire sitters or hubby helps out. There isn’t a set schedule, I just kind of get by and do what I can when I can. I prefer to let my ideas take me where they may, but with a series, that can really turn into chaos. So I’m starting to outline more than I have in the past and I keep charts so I can keep track of details for continuity purposes. Chocolate is always readily available in this home. Always. That and a laptop and I’m good to go.


Me: Thanks so much, Lindsey!

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Thanks to the generous folks at Disney, I have a beautiful, hardcover copy of Princess for Hire to give away. To enter, all you have to do is comment on this post, answering the following question: If you could be a princess (or prince) for one day, how would you spend those 24 hours? Post about the contest on your blog, Tweet (I'm @bbbforme) about it, Facebook, whatever - I'll give you one extra entry for each method of spreading the word. I will draw the name of one winner on May 27 (my last day of freedom before my kids are out of school for the summer!). Giveaway is open internationally.

21 comments:

  1. 24 hours to myself? First, I would sleep in. Then I'd sit around, reading and surfing the internet. Then I'd go shopping BY MYSELF! Then I'd do some more sitting around.

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  2. Does the deal come with lots of money? I would go shopping, with a personal shopping assistant who could tell me how to not look frumpy. Then I would feel guilty for spending extravagantly and send a bunch of money, and maybe an aid helicopter just because I could, to Haiti.

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  3. only 24 hours? well, i would probably get engaged with a prince and get ready to get married so that after 24 hour ends, i still have the prince and i would probably can be a princess again.how's that sound? *LOL*

    post on my facebook http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/profile.php?id=1604394184&v=wall&story_fbid=125368784145032&ref=mf

    tweet here http://twitter.com/darlyn5/status/13793954541

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  4. I would sleep in and then take my family to Disneyland, since it's the happiest, princessiest place on earth! If I had lots of money, I would go shopping and by a whole new wardrobe for my family, and a new house!;)

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  5. Um, I think I'd probably feel like I had to do something responsible. Maybe I'd go out and find out about my "commoners." But, heck, I'd probably also do some book shopping (if it came with money and all that).

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  6. Great interview! I just love LL. No need to enter me in the contest - my daughter and I both already own copies of P4H.

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  7. I would send the kids from my local grade school all to Disney Land. And why they were off being crazy I'd stock the school's library with books!

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  8. I would love to be a princess for a day. I would spend that time trying to help the less fortunate. Hopefully, I could meet a prince.

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  9. Hmmm... I would do the things that I haven't had time to do since becoming a mom. I'd have a full on spa day and then occupy the rest of my time by sipping wine and reading books.

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  10. I'm pretty sure princesses are expected to, like, do stuff. Organize charity balls, cut ribbons, appear at hoity-toity galas looking picture-perfect. Doesn't sound like much fun. I'd rather just lie around and read. If I really get bored with that, I'd write. :)

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  11. Well, the whole Disney thing has me caught up. I would like to be a VIP at Disneyworld and be taken around to all the special things and do all the Princess events!

    I know. I'm a big kid who loves Disneyworld!

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  12. If I was a Princess I have a leisurely breakfast and then visit the ordinary people of my kingdom to help with charitable works and just to get to know them.
    After a short nap and a nice cup of tea I would dress up in a fabulous ball gown and take part in a fabulous banquet with music and entertainment and lots of dancing, finishing the night with a smoochy slow dance in the arms of my Prince Charming.

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  13. As a princess for a day I would sit back and enjoy the luxury and then I would probably be bored and then find something that keeps a princess busy. Probably out helping children have a great time in life.

    robinribbit at yahoo dot com

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  14. It's probably dangerous for me to think of such things! I would want someone to cook and clean for me while I read and hike. Not very princess-like I guess. The book sounds great!

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  15. First I would want to sleep in and probably read a little bit. Have someone bring me breakfast in bed. And then I would probably get bored and want to go do something. If I were a princess for a day I would go somewhere I could volunteer with children and encourage them to read. I think reading is so important and a good life skill that all children should have. Listen to me...I sound like I'm trying out for Miss America:)
    Anyway I tweeted http://twitter.com/bangersis/status/14059518169
    Thanks for the giveaway!
    bangersis(at)msn(dot)com

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  16. I would probably try to help the less fortunate, buy a ton of books and maybe a house and also I would pay my family's bank loans.

    Tweet: http://twitter.com/Sparima/status/14142065233
    Sidebar: http://fictionkingdom.blogspot.com

    spav05(at)gmail(dot)com

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  17. I think I would be completely irresponsible and spend the day in my big fancy bed with a pile of books - and servants to bring me anything I need!

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  18. 1. Watch all the programs I have on DVR

    2. Read all the books I want.

    3. Clean out a closet (do princesses do that?)

    4. Contemplate the fuzz in my belly button.

    ntaylor228 at yahoo dot com

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  19. Like most others, I would definitely sleep in and pamper myself. A shopping spree could be added to the agenda.

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  20. I'd sleep late and then visit the Royal Bookstore where I would find all the new releases of books I'd been waiting on and then someone else would pay for them and take them home for me while I piled up in the royal hammock and read for the rest of the day,

    alterlisa AT yahoo DOT com
    http://lisaslovesbooksofcourse.blogspot.com/

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  21. If I were a princess for a whole day I would, definitely go shopping and find cute princess clothes and jewelry and then I would go find a prince. Well, that's what I'd say I'd do, but I after I went shopping I'd probably be bored of princess life and hang out with the servants or go find commoners and end up find my prince among the commoners. :)

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