'The Friday Slot' - author Caroline Leavitt
I first met Caroline through Facebook - her husband, Jeff Tamarkin, is a music critic, and is Facebook friends with my brother, who's in a country and western band. When Between the Sheets came out in paperback, Caroline asked if she could interview me about it for her blog, http://carolineleavittville.blogspot.co.uk/. I was honoured - and my decision to hold this weekly series of interviews with authors, publishers, editors and so on, was inspired by what she does on her blog. It seemed to me a very generous thing to do, to give your space over to another writer for a while, and I wanted to emulate it.
So I can move over today and give this space to Caroline! She's based in New Jersey and is that much-coveted thing, a New York Times bestseller (for the excellent Pictures of You - more of that anon...). She's written nine novels in total - Girls in Trouble, Coming Back to Me, Living Other Lives, Into Thin Air, Family, Jealousies, Lifelines and Meeting Rozzy Halfway, as well as her latest, Pictures of You.
She's also written for Salon, The Chicago Tribune and The Washington Post, amongst others; she writes reviews, most recently for The San Francisco Chronicle; has been a judge for the Writers' Voice Fiction Awards; is a senior instructor at UCLA's Writers' Program, and somehow, in the midst of all this, finds time to mentor privately. She's been likened to Alice Munro, and can count Jodi Picoult as one of her fans.
I found Pictures of You one of the most intriguing novels I've read in ages, and loved the 'what if' premise. I don't think I could summarize it any better than this review from one of my favourite magazines, BUST, so here's a snippet of what they said: "Pictures of You tells the story of two women, Isabelle and April, both of whom are fleeing their normal lives. Their cars collide in a horrible crash one foggy evening on Cape Cod. One of the women dies; her young son and the other driver survive. The dead woman’s son, Sam—deeply in denial about his mother’s passing—will not answer questions about the crash. So his father, Charlie, is left asking why his wife’s car was parked the wrong way in the middle of the street with no headlights in a thick, dark, fog. Also, why was Same found in the woods—not inside the car—after the accident? And the nagging question that haunts him the most: why did she have a packed suitcase in her backseat? He’d thought they were reasonably happy. Leavitt is at her best when describing the slow spiral of mourning and the lasting effects of grief. Her carefully rendered descriptions of her characters’ post-crash feelings, actions, and motivations seem spot-on..."
It was also reviewed by Vanity Fair, O, the Oprah Magazine, The Washington Post, The Huffington Post, Publisher's Weekly, amongst many, many others, and praised as 'emotionally wise' 'deeply moving', a 'brooding, beautiful novel'. So after all that to whet your appetite, it's time for a frank, honest interview:
LM: You write bestselling novels, review, judge fiction, work as an instructor for the UCLA Writers Program, mentor - do you think multiple roles are valuable to you as a writer? Do you think that writers should embrace the opportunities for doing more than writing, or do you find that your other roles get in the way of your time for writing? How do you balance it all out?