Caroline Leavitt: NY Times Bestselling Author

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Caroline Leavitt is the New York Times Bestselling and critically acclaimed author of Pictures of You, Is This Tomorrow, Cruel Beautful world and more. A book critic for the San Francisco Chronicle and People Magazine, her essays, reviews and stories have appeared in Modern Love in the New York Times, Real Simple, Salon, The Manifest-Station, and more. An award-winning novel writing instructor at both Stanford and UCLA Writers Program Extension online, she also works with private clients and runs the blog on creativity, A New York Foundation of the Arts Fellow in Fiction, she is also a Goldenberg Prize Fiction winner, and a finalist int he Sundance Screenwriter's Lab and the Nickelodeon Screenwriters Fellowship.

What do I do best?

I think I’ve learned to be really kind and generous over the years, and I am really proud of that. I know first hand how hard it is to be a novelist, so I make it my job (and my honor) to help every novelist I can, either by interviewing them or helping them promote their books or just befriending them!

What makes me the best version of myself?

Writing. It truly does. I always am drawn to stories that haunt me personally, to questions that I myself need to answer. I try to be very brave and go as deeply as I can, and often the answers I find surprise me. How do you become part of a community that doesn’t want you? (Answer: you form your own community—Is This Tomorrow. How do you fix someone you love? Answer” Sometimes you cannot and you have to just let life wash over you> Cruel Beautiful World.)

What are my aspirations?

A long time ago, I wanted to be famous. Then I got famous, and it wasn’t anything like what I expected. I now know that the most important thing in the world is love. I love my husband. I love our son. I love my work. That is what matters.

My Biggest Success?

I was terrified to have children because my own childhood was so awful, but my husband and I decided we would raise our son the opposite of how we were raised. He’s now 21, kind, an actor, creativie, funny, smart. It makes me feel that I healed that wound!

Also, I never gave up on being a writer. My career, I thought, was over with mu 9th novel, Pictures of You, which was rejected on contract by my then publisher as “not being special enough.” I cried hysterically. But in a month, Algonquin Books picked it up and turned that “non-special” novel into a New York Times Bestseller its first few weeks out!

My Most Challenging Moment?

A zillion years ago, my fiancé died suddenly two weeks before our wedding. I grieved so hard, I couldn’t stand it. After four months, I decided the only way to stop the grief was to hurl myself into another relationship—any relationship. I ended up spending two years with a controlling man who would not let me eat, who monitored my friends and even went into my computer and changed my work! I had a terrible choice—if I left him, I’d be free of the control, but I would have to grieve. If I stayed, I wouldn’t grieve, but  I would lose myself. In the end, I left, and I grieved hard again for another two years, but then I met my husband!

My Motto?

Never. Ever. Give. Up. See #4.

My Favorite People/Role Models?

John Irving is my role model in writing. He has this wonderful quote that says: If you don't’ feel you are possibly on the edge of humiliating yourself, of losing control of the whole thing, than what you are doing is not very vital. I loved that quote so much that I tracked him down to thank him!

My Favorite Places/Destinations?

New York City, specifically Manhattan. I was in a first unhappy marriage and living in Pittsburgh with my then husband, and I just felt that the city did not love me, and I did not love the city back. When my first husband booted me out, I fled to Manhattan. The first day I was there, I ran into a guy who had a tree branch strapped on his head and he was grinning at me. He said, “East side! West Side! Uptown! Downtown! Where’d you want to go?” I KNEW I was home. Manhattan just makes me feel alive.

My Favorite Products/Objects?

A friend of mine, Jo Fisher, who I’ve known since college gave me this big Dali clock. It looks as if it is melting, and it reminds me that the universe and time re weirder than we can ever imagine—and that makes me think that anything can be possible.

My Current Passions?

Another novelist, Gina Sorell, and I wrote a TV pilot! We had no idea what we were doing, but we landed a Hollywood agent who is now shopping it about! Whatever happens with the pilot, I have the joy of having done something I never thought I could do!