Monday, March 16, 2009

A Fab, Fragile Bird: Interview with Author Lindsey Leavitt

Is it just me or is everyone able to spot a writer they'll like within a few words? Even in email, it will often only take a sentence or two before I can recognize whether or not I’d dig a person’s writing. For me, Lindsey Leavitt was a writer I dug right away. I think it was reading her post about New Years resolutions (ripped from her adolescent journals!) when I was struck; I just knew I’d buy whatever she wrote. I wanted to interview her because I was sure you all would love her as well.

To set the scene, here's Lindsey’s deal report:

Lindsey Leavitt's PRINCESS FOR HIRE, about a tween girl's amusing adventures when she becomes a magical substitute for princesses, to Emily Schultz at Hyperion, at auction, in a three-book deal, for publication in Winter 2010, by Sarah Davies at Greenhouse Literary Agency (NA).

Welcome Lindsey! Can we start with you how you met your agent?
I’d been querying for a few months when I saw a post about the new Greenhouse Literary agency on the Verla Kay boards. I’d actually quit querying that particular book to work on PRINCESS FOR HIRE, but figured… why not? What’s one more query going to hurt? A month later, I had two agents offering and an editor taking that book to acquisitions (which they didn’t buy, but we will probably start shopping it soon!). The moral, I suppose, is you never know when IT (the deal, the agent, whatever) will happen, but the only way it will is if you keep trudging along,

Can you tell us how your book deal happened?
I can do one better. I’ll show you! Here is my very amateur venture into Vlogging, announcing my sale. Yes, I’m pretty spazzerific in it, but can you blame me, really? I’m still bruised from the pinch-fest.

What was the inspiration for PRINCESS FOR HIRE and how long did it take you to write?
I was at a writer’s conference, listening to one of those editor panels where people ask what they want, and they answer “good books” and everyone gets mad because they’re really hoping the editor would say a mutant bunny love story, because everyone has one of those in the drawer. At the end, an editor made an off-hand comment, “Of course, never hurts to hit a sweet spot, like dinosaurs or princesses or something.”

The comment triggered a daydream I used to have in fifth grade where I was whisked off to a castle in the dead of the night, and a whole bunch of girls would line up, and a prince would pick a dance partner/girlfriend/best friend. The catch, he had to pick based on the girl’s cool personality! Yeah, I pretty much invented the concept of reality TV dating, but I like to stay humble about it. Anyway, every night, I would switch the particulars… my spandex/tie-dyed outfit, my inhumanly-high bangs, but it never mattered. The prince always approached me, the only brunette (yeah, Barbie gave me issues), and said, “You’re the one. You are different. You seem cool.”

OK, that was a bit personal and I guess he wouldn’t really know my personality from a look. But hey, I was ten, and a rather awkward ten at that. Still, that memory hit a chord with me and I started to ask questions… Why the prince? I mean, what we want in our prince, really, is the recognition we are special for who we are, right? And if I was lined up with a bunch of princesses, how would I stick out, and how would I fit in? From that, I came up with a teen girl figuring out who she is while constantly pretending to be someone else. And there it was… a substitute princess.

Do you ever wake up in the morning, look in the mirror in awe, and think, “Dang, how did I get so fab?”
No. What a weird question, Christy. So weird you’d think I wrote it myself. Besides, I’m totally humble, remember? I DO, however, have a file of all my rejections, and when I’m feeling super philosophical, I’ll thumb through it and think how subjective this all is. I love her voice! I hate her voice! Reminds me I can not control others reactions—it’s part of the game. I really hope that perspective will help me maintain my sanity when reviews and the like start rolling in.

I also have a “You are fab” file, although I don’t call it that due to my supreme humility. That has really nice notes from writing friends, emails from editors, kudos from my agent. When I’m especially frustrated, I’m one click away from a little pat on the back to get me going. Also, I tend to eat chocolate regardless. See? I’m actually a rather fragile bird. A fab, fragile bird.

What's your publication date and where in the process are you now?
March 2010, which is less than 400 days away so save the date now! I guess you don’t need to SAVE it, you can do other things that day. Like buy the book, go get some lunch (not soup, though. Sloppy). I don’t want to take up all your time, just the trip there and the journey between the pages. Freak, that was so cheesy. Short answer = MARCH 2010 (er, and Jan. in UK)

I just turned in my last round of revisions a few weeks ago and there was much rejoicing in the Leavitt household. Much rejoicing. I’ve been revising since September, draft after draft because we went from a stand alone to a series and that took some slashing and hashing. Right now, I’m very very patiently waiting for my copy edits AND looking forward to receiving my cover!

What are you working on now?
This interview.
Oh, you mean WORK work. I’ve just barely started the second book, now titled Book 2. It’s scary and fun because the possibilities of where it can go are endless. Endless, I say!

Do you have any words of wisdom for writers trying to get published?
Write your heart out. Write your face off. Write like whatever you wrote will win you a spot on the “I want to be a Princess!” reality show. (oh my gosh, I just Googled that. That was ACTUALLY a show. See? It’s a calling).


I know the idea of being published is a sweet seductress and I know that ache of wanting your words out THERE is fierce but…

If you can’t write, it ain’t gonna happen. Close Agent Query and finish the best book you possibly can, revise that book a million times (and I don’t mean spell check, people), THEN focus on the publishing side. Don’t let all the business stuff overtake the writing, especially that first book, which is such a raw and exhilarating experience.
Just write.

Great advice! Thanks so much for the interview, Lindsey. And best of luck with your Princess empire!

To read more from Lindsey, check out her LiveJournal blog and/or friend her on Facebook!
THIS JUST IN: Lindsey is having a big fat St. Patrick's Day contest giveaway on her blog - win great books or a critique! Click here! Go, go, go!)


Suzanne Young said...

Lindsey makes me smile. Partly because she's hilarious, partly because she's inspiring, but mostly because she so dang cooL!!!!!! I love you, Lindsey! And I will buy three copies of every book you write!!!

Great interview, Christy! Maybe this should be your side gig?

Casey said...

Lindsey is awesome! And I know what you mean, I'll probably buy whatever she writes, too. I figure... I adore her blog-writing, so I'll probably adore her books as well.

Great interview!

Kimberly Derting said...

OMG, loved the VLOG! Clever and funny!!! :)

Anonymous said...

Your interviews are so comforting in that almost all of these authors had been writing for a long time before getting deals. When you read the deal reports you get the sense that they're all overnight success stories. This is keeping it real for me... (she says, as she trudges onward)


Mrs.Pilkington said...

My goodness, I know I could use one of Lindsey's books right now! Lindsey's blog has made me laugh out loud for ages -- the personality and talent that are so evident there are sure to make her books winners. Great interview from both of you!

lkmadigan said...

Oh Lindsey.

So much awesomeness ... how did it all fit in one interview?



Angie Frazier said...

How have I missed all these awesome Tenners interviews?? They're great! I loved Lindsey's Vlog :-) Keep the interviews coming, Christy!

Anonymous said...

I remember that vlog!! Lindsey rocks! I can't wait to read PFH!

Anonymous said...

It IS a calling. O.o I'm so in love with thisbook, and I haven't even read it yet.

Little Ms J said...

Fabulous interview!

Heidi R. Kling said...


I loved that vlog you did--so funny!

Robin said...

Love this interview. Lindsey, you ARE fab!!! Can't wait for March 2010!

Shelli said...

I loathe Lindsey!!!! JK! I just wanted to be different than the I heatr you. She's fab and just as funny in person and offers great advice. :)

Anonymous said...

Hey thanks everyone. I felt very official doing this, like I should wear a "I am really an author" badge, followed by a sternly-official "No, really" second badge.
That's how nice y'all are.

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