This week, Hayden’s Ferry Review had the opportunity to talk with writer Tom Leveen, an Arizona native writing in the competitive and demanding Young Adult genre. Instead of writing fantasy fiction, which is currently popular with teenagers and fans of YA lit, he bases his work in reality and focuses on real-world problems a teenager might experience. His stories reveal the complexity of seemingly minor issues in teenagers’ lives.
His books speak of the challenges that occur during the transition between high school and college, and teenagers’ need for orientation, support, and guidance. “You as a YA writer are the last person that will be able to make some impact in them, that might change their future,” he says. This is one of the reasons he writes the kind of books like Party, Random and Zero.
During our interview, he mentioned that he draws on his experience with theater to develop characters and change points of view. He attended sessions for classical training with the Utah Shakespeare Festival Actor Training program, gaining experience as a theatre actor and director. He says, “I encourage other writers to attend at least one semester of theater to know how to separate the different personalities of each character they want to involve in their stories.”
Tom has written five books and is currently working on several projects, one of which will be out in the market by August 2015. When I asked about the best part of writing, he said that not only teenagers read his books, but everyone can learn from them. “You deserve the time and space to write. Or read, for that matter. Work it out with whoever you have to. But write.”
Tom has spoken, taught classes, or been on professional panels for the following organizations: The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, Romance Writers of America, Phoenix ComiCon, Tucson Festival of Books, Arizona State University Rl Txt, and others. Additionally, Tom has been the Artistic Director for an independent theater company, Is What It Is Theater in Phoenix; been recognized by the Phoenix New Times for their annual “Big Brain Award” in the Performing Arts Category, been awarded Best New Local Author 2012 by the Phoenix Magazine, and more. Check him out here: http://tomleveen.com/