Interview with David Levithan

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David Leviathan is an American young-adult fiction author whose works include Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist and Boy Meets Boy. Levithan is also the founding editor of PUSH, a young-adult imprint of Scholastic Press focusing on new voices and new authors.

Howl: When did you know you wanted to become an author?


Levithan: I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember.  But I mostly wrote for myself or my friends — it wasn’t until I had been writing for a while that I actually thought about writing a novel for people outside of my friends to read.  In a way, that made it easier — I didn’t feel any pressure to publish, only to grow as a writer.

Howl: How do you get through your critics’ harsh words about a new book?

Levithan: I read the good reviews to balance them out.  Or if that doesn’t work, I find some really bad reviews of some of my favorite books, and suddenly I’m in very good company.

Howl: What are your biggest expectations for a new book?

Levithan: It depends on the book.  But mostly, I just want it to be as good as (if not better than!) the books of mine that have come before it.

Howl: If you hadn’t become an author, what would you have done?

Levithan: Well, I’m an editor too, and I really love being an editor.  So I would have just stuck with that.  But if I’d never gone into writing or publishing, I probably would have been a fifth-grade teacher.

Howl: What advice do you have for budding writers?

Levithan: Don’t worry about being published — just write to tell the story the best you can.  And don’t expect to be good out of the gate — you have to work at it a while to get really good.  Don’t be afraid to fail — sometimes the things that go the most wrong lead you to the things that are the most right.

Howl: What are some of the biggest rewards and challenges of being a writer?

Levithan: It’s remarkable when something you’ve written is meaningful to someone else.  And it’s VERY HARD to write a novel.  Just taking all that time and figuring out the best way to tell the story.

Howl: How would you describe your writing and editing process?

Levithan: I would describe it as impulsive.  I have never outlined, even when I thought it would be good to outline.  I always write the story in order to figure out what it is.  This doesn’t work for many writers, but it works for me.

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