Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Gail Carson Levine

Sometimes, I actually make it out of the house to have a “book” experience. Such was the case on Friday when I attended a lecture by Gail Carson Levine.

Levine is best known as the author of Ella Enchanted, a Newbery Honor Book. She is an expressive, generous, and delightful speaker and started the lecture by reading a chapter from her latest book Ever due out in May. In a departure from many of her other novels (fairy tales), she describes Ever as a “Mesopotamian fantasy.”

The rest of the time was spent in Q&A. Q&As always make me a bit nervous because I never trust my fellow audience members to ask intelligent questions. However, this Q&A went without a hitch. Here are a few highlights:

  • Levine started writing as a child. However, after a high school creative writing teacher called her writing “pedestrian,” she didn’t write again for 25 years.
  • Once she started writing again, it took 9 years for her to receive her first acceptance.
  • She grew to like the film version of Ella Enchanted “gradually.” Her greatest disappointment was Ella’s acts of “disobedience” throughout the film (a fairy blessed/cursed Ella with the gift of obedience) and suggests watching the kissing scene as evidence. However, she also mentioned the film rights to all her other books are still available.
  • The authors that influenced her as a youth include L.M. Montgomery, Louisa May Alcott, and J.M. Barrie.

Levine also addressed her own writing process and made several recommendations for would-be writers. This advice includes:

  • Reading Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird. This book teaches there are no shortcuts to writing.
  • Reading Henriette A. Klauser’s Writing from Both Sides of the Brain which recommends a writer “visualize” finishing a book.
  • Joining a “critique” group.
  • Acknowledging that “you can’t torture a story into a direction that’s wrong for it.”

I was disappointed with Levine’s last book, Fairest, but I was completely enchanted with her as a speaker, and I might actually get out of the house more often to experience a book.


Wanna-Be Lit said...

Who's next on the lecture circuit?

Blogger said...

The only other one I plan to attend is Billy Collins--the former Poet Laureate.