Saturday, August 22, 2015

1 Tom Leveen, author of SHACKLED, on the similarity of novels and planets

We're thrilled to have Tom Leveen stop by to tell us more about his latest novel SHACKLED.

Tom, what was your inspiration for writing SHACKLED?

For me, writing a novel is very much like how a planet forms. A little piece of this and a little piece of that start becoming attracted to each other, and when they collide, their gravity attracts other little bits and pieces, and suddenly there's just one big mass. SHACKLED came from many pieces, including frighteningly true stories about people kept locked away in basement dungeons. Those stories collided with my experiences with panic, which then collided with scraps of a story about a haunted dollhouse...yeah. My stories rarely come from one place!
What scene was really hard for you to write and why, and is that the one of which you are most proud? Or is there another scene you particularly love?

The climax of the novel was hard to write because it is so emotionally graphic. Knowing what words to use and how to use them presented a real challenge. I think and hope I struck the right balance.

What did this book teach you about writing or about yourself?

It reminded me, for one thing, not to let a boy solve the problem. Pelly takes action on her own throughout the book and David helps her, but he isn't the Big Hero. If anything, he's a sidekick, which is what he should be.

And on that note, it also taught me more about pushing the protagonist to make choices instead of letting things just "happen" to her. Imagine Katniss standing at the lottery in Hunger Games, and after her sister gets picked, Katniss says, "Oh wow. Man. Bummer. That sucks. Yep. Glad it wasn't me." That's not a book anyone would want to read! We want and need our protagonists to make choices -- big ones, bold ones -- to propel the story. Pelly choosing to go in search of her friend is an enormous, dangerous choice for her.

What do you hope readers will take away from SHACKLED?

The first thing I always want is for people to be entertained; to maybe laugh or cry or have their pulse quicken, or all three.

But more importantly, I hope some people will take away that healing of any kind -- emotional and mental healing in this case -- takes time, but it can be done. It can and does happen. There are so many people hurting on the inside, including me, but we can't ever give up.

How long or hard was your road to publication? How many books did you write before this one, and how many never got published?

The road is always long and hard. Period. But so are the best trips!

SHACKLED is my sixth published novel; I'm in an anthology called VIOLENT ENDS and my seventh novel will be out in Fall 2016. But there were at least two novels and innumerable unpublished (and unpublishable) short stories before my first book, PARTY. Even now I've got about thirty potential books rolling around in my head and in my notes, some of which I think will be published someday (hopefully), and some of which are doomed to the ether. I try to remind writers that if they want to do this as a career, they need more than one book inside them. They should be endlessly curious and need to write stories to answer their curiosity.

Was there an AHA! moment along your road to publication where something suddenly sank in and you felt you had the key to writing a novel? What was it?

Nope, no moment like that. I wrote and continue to write because I can't NOT do it. I'm fortunate that I've studied and practiced long and hard enough to do it for a living now, but I'd still write novels if I had another job.

What's your writing ritual like? Do you listen to music? Work at home or at a coffee shop or the library, etc?

No music anymore; I used to, but not these days. Usually I write new material at a coffee shop, then do revisions at home.

What advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?

Right now the biggest thing I want to tell writers is to study small business ownership. I mean it! Learn about marketing, finance, social media...everything. The instant you decide you want someone to pay you for writing fiction, you've started a small business. Whether it's for self-pub or traditional, getting paid to write fiction is a job. I wish I'd known more about that before I started querying agents.

What are you working on now?

Currently I'm working on my second adult urban fantasy in a new series called DEVIANT AEON, with the first novella out in a bundle on Kindle right now. I recently sold my second horror novel, and we are pitching another YA and YA horror this summer. Meanwhile I'm starting work on a new contemporary YA during my writing time. Keepin' busy!


Shackled by Tom Leveen
Simon Pulse
Released 8/18/2015

From author Tom Leveen comes a taut, suspenseful novel about a girl’s abduction that leaves her best friend emotionally paralyzed, until a chance encounter points her toward the truth…and a terrifying new danger.

Sixteen-year-old Pelly has a master plan. After years of therapy, medication, and even a stint in a mental hospital, she’s finally ready to re-enter the world of the living. Pelly has been suffering from severe panic attacks ever since her best friend, Tara, disappeared from a mall six years ago.

And her plan seems to be working, until an unkempt girl accompanied by an older man walks into the coffee shop where she works. Pelly thinks she’s seen a ghost, until the girl mouths “help me” on the way out, and Pelly knows she’s just seen Tara.

Too shocked to do anything, Pelly helplessly watches Tara slip away again as she steels herself against a renewed spiral of crippling anxiety. But rather than being overcome by anxiety, Pelly feels more energized than she has in years. Determined to track down enough evidence to force the police to reopen Tara’s file, Pelly’s master plan takes a turn for the dangerous.

Pelly decides she cannot be shackled by her past—and the anxiety, fear, and grief that comes with it—any longer if she wants to save Tara. But in seeking answers through whatever means necessary, she’ll come face-to-face with true evil. And not all the shackles are in her head...

Purchase Shackled at Amazon
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View Shackled on Goodreads


2843647Tom's novels include PARTY, MANICPIXIEDREAMGIRL, SICK, RANDOM, and SHACKLED. He is also in the collection VIOLENT ENDS. His novel ZERO was a YALSA Best Book of 2013. His eighth book will be available Fall 2017.

Previously, Tom has been the artistic director of two theatre companies, and enjoys teaching and speaking to students and adults whenever and wherever possible.

Have you had a chance to read SHACKLED yet? Do you push your protagonist to make decisions rather than letting things happen? Have you studied small business ownership to help with your writing career?

Happy reading,

Jocelyn, Shelly, Martina, Erin, Lisa, Susan, Jen, Sam, Lindsey, Sandra, Kristin, and Anisaa

1 comment:

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