I’ve been eager to introduce a new column to the site for some time now. The goal, as I’ve always envisioned it, would be to welcome a talented, established author to our ranks so that he or she might share writing tips and advice to all the authors who frequent HNR. There are a wealth of talented writers out there, and it is a true honor to know they frequent our ambitious little site. We’d like to give something back, especially to those who aim to continue improving as storytellers. And let’s be honest, those of who do write, always want to craft the best material possible.
Enter Tom Leveen, a teacher, an established and successful author, and a truly generous soul. Tom knows how to write. Perhaps, in this case Tim knows how to teach. And he’s going to be gifting all of us with a new monthly column, Bloody Good Writing, in which he provides all the info any author could hope for. Looking to tighten up your tales? Tom’s going to help see that that happens.
But enough babbling. It’s time to hand this over to Tom himself, who’s going to introduce himself, and give you a better idea of what this is all about. So read on, and prepare to ingest some 411, as we’ll be delivering the very first installment of Bloody Good Writing before the week comes to an end!
Howdy horror fans! Thanks for having me.
My name is Tom Leveen, and I’m an author of six young adult novels published with imprints of Random House, Harry Abrams, and Simon & Schuster. (We’ll come back them in a minute.)
I’ve been teaching writing classes for such conferences, schools, and gatherings as Phoenix ComiCon; Arizona State, Western New Mexico, and Kennesaw State Universities; book festivals in Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and Tucson; professional writers’ groups, and all manner of high schools in my home state. I’m on the faculty of a unique writing certificate through the Piper Writers House at ASU called “Your Novel Year,” which helps students write and polish a full-length manuscript for submission to agents and editors.
While perusing Matt’s site here, it became clear a lot of his readers were also writers—which, um, makes sense given the nature of the site. So I queried Matt: Why not add writing-specific articles to the Horror Novel Reviews mix?
I’ve been writing fiction since second grade. A lot of writers have, it turns out. By fifth grade, I was ripping off plots from Stephen King’s Nightshift and Skeleton Crew collections. When my first horror novel came out, it was the fourth book I’d published, so reviewers kept saying things like “Leveen breaks new ground” and blah blah blah. (See the review below.)
Only, I wasn’t. I was writing the type of stuff I grew up writing. I’d just gotten better at it is all. (One hopes.) I bet it’s the kind of stuff a lot of you are writing, too.
So, two things before we get the horror writing party started:
The book of mine I’d love for you to take a look at (and review!) is SICK (Abrams/Amulet, 2013). It’s available at bookstores everywhere, including online retailers in e-book, hardcover, softcover, and an Audible edition narrated by yours truly. (I brought 22 years of theatre experience to my fiction, so I like to think the audio turned out pretty well.) In August 2015, my first real thriller, SHACKLED, comes out—so if you like what you see here, do me a favor and pre-order it on Amazon or from your favorite bookstore…
…because one of the things we’ll be talking about it the realities of Big Five legacy/traditional publishers and marketing, in addition to any other writing topic you want to talk about. I’ve got a stash of topics to write about that I know will be helpful to you, but what I’d really like is to hear from you personally—ask questions and get involved so you can get all the best info I’ve got as it pertains to your writing career.
(Heads up: At this point, neither Matt nor I want to make this a personal critique thing; visit sites like http://www.absolutewrite.com to get personal feedback on your individual work. My posts will address questions both general and specific, but not about your individual piece. Cool? Cool.)
So that’s me. Matt and I are both excited about this idea, and we hope it will be of great value for you. We’ll jump right in next with an article called “What’s Wrong With Page One,” which addresses the single most important page of you manuscript.
Take care, stay scary,
“In an exciting take on the zombie novel, Leveen shifts to horror while maintaining his trademark complex relationships and character-driven storytelling. High school senior Brian is a smart kid, but generally a delinquent, mostly hanging around with his obnoxious punk buddy Chad and goofing around at school. While in their theater tech class, a mutated friend attacks and kills a number of students, and the survivors barricade themselves in the theater, where they witness former friends and others rampaging and attacking the rest of campus. The core of the story is a standard zombie survival tale with vicious attacks, internal conflicts, and escape attempts, all with the requisite attrition. But Leveen spends enough time developing his cast—including take-charge student Jaime; Brian’s cancer-survivor sister, Kenzie; and his anxiety-prone ex, Laura—and the mutation itself (a virulent form of arthritis) to keep things entertaining even when readers are anticipating certain plot points. There’s enough gore to bother more timid readers (bones are often torn in two), but nothing beyond what’s expected from the genre.”
~ Publisher’s Weekly
“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…” ~ from the publisher