Author Interview: Lindsey Leavitt

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Lindsey Leavitt is the author of over a dozen books for kids, tweens, and teens, including the Princess for Hire trilogy, Sean Griswold’s Head, Going Vintage, The Chapel Wars, The Pages Between Us series and The Commander in Cheese series. She is a former elementary school teacher and present-day writer/mom/speaker/party animal (not to be confused with her spirit animal, which is a lion). A graduate of BYU, Lindsey uses her teaching background to present to hundreds of schools across the nation. Lindsey lives in Midway, Utah with her husband and their rambunctious blended family.

Tell us about your experience getting into publishing. How long did it take you?

I started writing with the intent to publish in 2004 and sold my first book in 2008. I wrote picture books, poetry, inspirational short stories, magazine articles, chick lit, and YA. I kept a lot of my rejections and laminated them into a roll–there’s probably 50 there, and if you add in the agent rejections, there’s got to be 30 more. I wrote during kids naps and late at night and at the park. When I became a new mom, I really struggled with identity and creativity, and writing and books were a safe haven to explore themes I wasn’t quite ready to implement in my own life. The first book I sold was a MG fantasy. I had to wrote all over the place before I found a fit. I still write all over the place.

What writing advice do you have for someone trying to breakout in the market?

Write first before you even say the word MARKET. Write hard and write long. This is your apprenticeship period. Focus on craft. Experiment. Play. Once you’re published, these words can feel like a luxury.
Once you’ve spent a great amount of time and energy on reading/writing/reading/writin g/reading/writing/writing/ reading/writing/reading/ reading/writing/LIVING/LIVING/ LIVING, then you can start taking classes like this one, networking, asking questions, and submitting. But write your face off before you worry about the MARKET. They’ll be plenty of time for that after, promise.

When you’re not writing, what do you enjoy doing?

I got married and built a house this last year, so as such I’ve spent more time on Pinterest than on Microsoft word. I love great conversation mixed with food (maybe reverse that order). I like social sports and quiet afternoons. Mostly, I love adventure with my family. I’m learning to like the great outdoors more. Learning.

 
If you had to live inside one story’s universe, which would it be and why?
Boxcar children. I mean, the poverty-stricken orphan part would get taxing after a time, but the concept of finding an abandoned boxcar in the dense woods really stretched my suburban, Las Vegas imagination as a child. I love the concept of siblings working together and solving mysteries without throwing shoes at each other. Plus, they go from camping to glamping once they’re wealthy grandfather finds the kids. Maybe that answer isn’t fantastic enough? Um, Harry Potter? Narnia? Spaceballs? Help me out here.

Who do you think your reader is?

Because I write books for kids, teen and in-betweens, my readers are all different age levels. Still, I imagine it’s one reader who just grows into each of my sub genres. She’s feisty and kind, wears mismatched socks and eats her peanut butter and jelly with the potato chips inside. My reader should love laughing, but also pick up on nuance. Um, today her name is Minerva, but you can call her Minnie.

What are you working on now?

I’m going back to my YA writing roots, working on something that is painful and hilarious. My whole life got shook up a few years ago, so I took a break from YA. I’m finally tapping into all that emotional vulnerability, which I hope translates onto the page. And that’s all I’ll say about it, because I’m mysterious like that.

Where can we find out more about you and your upcoming books?

Website! social media! shouting from the rooftops! www.lindseyleavitt.com

For more information on Lindsey’s Advanced Workshop, check out the WIFYR website: http://www.wifyr.com/2017-workshops/5-day-workshops/.

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