Thursday, June 27, 2013

manicpixiedreamgirl by Tom Leveen

First of all, congrats to Buttah who is the winner of The LastCamellia! Please email me your full name and address at and I'll get your copy of the book to you! Congrats!

I love a good Young Adult and I've had the pleasure of featuring Tom Leveen and his book PARTY on the blog in the past so I was excited to have him on again for his latest novel called — also a favorite title because check it out — there's the word MANIC in it:


Really cool title, and it's a really cool book, about a boy who's been in love with a girl since freshman year but dates another girl for a pretty long time because … well, because he's a guy who can't figure out the next step of getting his head out of his ass and making the right move, really, like all high school guys, hah hah hah!

I really liked this book - it's fun and kinda sad with very unique and bold and flawed characters and it's told from a guy's perspective which is a great change of pace from the usual women's fiction I lunge after, and it's mostly told from one night working its way back into the past leading up to the grand finale. I think you'll really enjoy this one!


1. I often give tertiary or walk-on characters the names of close friends or family. In the case of manicpixiedreamgirl, I named Ty and Syd’s English teacher after a dear friend known locally as The Book Babe (she’s one of several, actually). It’s sort of a hat-tip and Thank You to people who have made or continue to make a big difference in my life.

2. manicpixiedreamgirl was originally entitled Mustardseed, after Becky’s nickname. I briefly considered writing a sequel called, of course, Sparky, from Becky’s POV.

3. manicpixie originally began as a NaNoWriMo project, which I did not complete on time. In fact, I’ve never completed NaNoWriMo, a source of ongoing shame… [Note from Stephanie: for those of you who don't know NaNoWriMo is when writers attempt to write 50,000 words during the month of November, which I personally think is crazy -- WHY November -- the month of Thanksgiving and the month before the busiest holiday of the year? Why not March -- when there is practically NOTHING going on? Hmmmm....] 

And then because I wanted to dig a little deeper into the story, I asked Tom a few questions about the book: 

I'm curious as to if any of the book is based on your own personal high school experience and if so, can you tell me about it, and I'll maybe share part of that in the feature? 

The outline of manicpixiedreamgirl  is true enough – there was a girl, then there was a girl (or two) that I dated, and never the two shall meet. That’s about it, though. It is true in an emotional sense, in that the things Tyler experiences in his own head are certainly things I felt as well, but the facts of my case and the facts of his are wildly different. We were both stupid, but at least he wasn't as big an ass about it as I was. 

Did you know a manicpixiedreamgirl or dump a "Sydney" for one during high school? 

In all fairness, I think I must say No to both questions. My “dream girl” was not a manic pixie. As I got to know her, I did discover she was much more of a genuine goofball than I’d believed at first, but I don’t think she really qualified as a manic pixie. As for “Sydney,” that character is sort of a composite of many people I knew, some of whom were girls I dated and many of whom were not. I never dumped anyone because there was someone else waiting in the wings, though. None of that is to say I was a good guy; I don’t think I was. 

Do you get a lot of book ideas from your theater group?

When Is What It Is Theatre (1995-2006) and Chyro Arts Venue (2007 – 2010) were in full swing, I’d say I got a lot of technique from them. Not really book ideas, per se. I talk a lot about utilizing the craft of theatre in my dialogue classes, and always encourage fiction writers to get involved in live theatre for those same reasons; but ideas for books always came from other places, not theatre. I think it’s because directing or acting in a play requires intense concentration, so there’s not a lot of room for outside ideas. That’s probably why I didn’t try to publish sooner – my theatre calendar was just too full. 

You currently are a theater teacher, right? What do you love more? Theater or writing? Or, rather, if you could only do one, which would you choose, and why? 

I am not currently a theatre teacher, but I have taught before – I’ve taught basic acting classes, stage combat, that sort of thing. I do currently teach a variety of writing classes across all age groups whenever I can. (Hire me!!)

January of 2013 marked the first full year period during which I did not do any theatre of any kind since 1988. I’ve directed about 35 plays, been in about as many, and that doesn’t include a variety of classes and performances all over the place. I think it’s safe to say my theatre ship has sailed; I did pretty much every play I ever wanted. There’s a few stragglers out there, though, and I would not be surprised if I blew the dust off my promptbook and directed another show or two some day.

Forced to choose, I’d have to stick with writing. Part of the reason for that is that while I am a storyteller, I am not a playwright. I only directed a bare handful of original plays, and all of them more than once, and only a couple with any real success. So being able to write fiction – particularly YA – is more fulfilling for the storyteller in me; I get to be fairly autonomous and not have to work with what some other storyteller has already written (in the form of a play). I was always telling my interpretation of someone else’s story instead of my own. So I’m happy with where I’m at. But I do miss my actors and technicians a lot. 

What are you writing next? 

That’s at least a two-part question!

The next thing that’s coming out is SICK (Abrams/Amulet) on October 1, 2013. It’s about a group of kids who get trapped in their high school drama department during what amounts to a zombie apocalypse. The publisher is calling it The Breakfast Club meets The Walking Dead. Spoiler: They are not actually undead, so technically, not zombies.

What I’m writing, on the other hand, is a variety of contemporary YA novels. I’m starting to play again with multiple-POV, like in PARTY; maybe another horror YA; and hopefully soon, my first middle-grade adventure. We’ll see! 

Want to win a copy? Tell me an angsty story about how you loved someone from afar when you were in high school, because really, we all did. I had a crush on the cutest guy who was deaf when I was a sophomore, and it would have been a perfect relationship, because he wouldn't have to listen to me! Seriously! He was SOOOO cute!  

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If you're new to Booking with Manic, thank you for stopping by! We love new readers! Some notes - If you're entering to win a book, please leave a comment on this post and use an identifying name when commenting. It's usually a great idea to include an email, which I will never give out to anyone else. You can only enter once please. You'll need to check back here in a few days to see if you've won the book -- I will either list the winner in a new post OR highlight the winner's name at the top of this post, or tell you where you can find the winner's name at the top of this post. I do NOT personally contact the winners. It is YOUR responsibility to come back to see if you've won. Most books are supplied directly through publishers, publicists and the authors. Winners will receive books directly from the publisher or author within 3 weeks from the time you provide me with your address, unless I send you the book (sometimes I will). Sorry, but we can only ship to U.S. and Canada so if you're from another country, thank you for coming by to read and discover new authors, but we can't send you a book. Any questions on how I run the blog or suggestions on who you would like to see featured, please email me at stephanieelliot[at] Thank you for your support!


Shannyn said...

Okay, well. This is an angsty, with a semi-happy-ish ending. =)
I was never one of *the* popular girls, I had friends in various cliques, but never was in the 'in crowd' so to speak. There was a guy, who was popular, funny, friendly, athletic, and oh so hot! - Well, I adored him. Secretly, of course. I mean, he didn't even know WHO I was! -- or did he? Anyway, he "dated" (as much as you can date in junior high) one of my friends, and honestly, I didn't think he knew my name other than 'the girl who is friends with..X"

Okay - fast forward. 20 some years later, after going out to try to have some fun since I felt heartbroken by other things, I run into this guy. He came up to me, recognized me, and after I *finally* put 2+2 together, realized who he was. OH.EM.GEE. He was talking to *me*. He proceeded to tell all of his buddies, that we went way back - and had been great friends all through school. (I don't recall any of that??!) We hang out, still some year and half later, and while it's not a romance, it's something more than nothing!

Thanks for letting me ramble! ha-ha :)

Email: typelikeagirl[at]att[dot]net

TaraUB said...

I had a crush on Scott all through high school and part of college. We were good friends. My mom even helped him with all his college financial aid paperwork because his parents didn't think he needed college. But never once did he have any interest in me. I never asked why. But we have remained friends and that's a good thing.

Ally said...

I had a huge crush on this guy I worked with at a local diner. We were really good friends, but he just was looking for someone else.

absolutahnie said...

oh lordy...i was a freshman he was a senior and a VERY popular one at that. everyday he and his friends would stand in a particular hall at school "holding court" and at every class change, every day i would be sure to walk by...staring pathetically. during the last week of school the yearbook staff was selling pictures and i actually stole one of him so i could look at him everyday over the summer!

Juliet Farmer said...

i had a mad crush on a guy all through high school, and grad night, we made out! then, 20 years later at our reunion, we ran into each other, and looking at him with a new perspective, i'm SO glad we never did more than that. bullet dodged!

Unknown said...

It felt like I crushed on every guy in high school. LOL But of course I was too darn shy to do anything about it. The highlight of my angst being when my biggest crush kissed me on the lips during a school trip. I was elated...until I found out later it was all on a dare. :( HEART-OFFICIALLY-BROKEN!

Luvschocolate said...

Had a crush on this guy in drama club, he was the sullen artsy type. He was a senior , I was a junior. I figured I'd never see him after graduation. he called me out of the blue that summer and we made plans to go out

. The night we were supposed to,go,out, a fellow classmate and good friend of his suddenly died of a brain aneurism . He took it hard and he never called me again. I always
wondered what happened to him, until about 7!years later and I saw his obituary in the paper. Ive always wondered if fate would have been different , if we ad ever been able to go out.

BrendaL71 said...

Wow. Ok, so I admired this guy from a far from junior year thru senior year. He was quiet and never really talked to anyone and I was too shy to try and talk to him. I took the initiative senior year to ask him to the prom and he turned me down. A horrible blow. Never spoke to him again.

Mary Jo Burke said...

He was gorgeous and very shy. I had to call his house to remind him about an assignment. His mom yelled at me. Must have fielded way too many calls from drippy girls. Monday morning, he thanked me. I'm still blushing.

ncsuloges said...

I've got a great story! When I was in middle school, my best friend lived across the street from the most gorgeous guy EVER! WE were both wildly in lust with him and would come up with excuses to go over to his house. For instance, we would "run out of sugar" for the cookies we were baking or we would just want to take a dip in their pool. One day we were sitting on a skateboard, watching him get ready for a date. He abruptly turned out the lights in his room and my bestfriend jumped up, causing the skateboard to roll over my pinky and the nail fell off. Anyways, just a couple of months ago Erica and I were having margaritas and she brought him up. She said he is still gorgeous and finishing his MBA. To which I respond, how many kids does he have? She says, "Oh no he isn't married, no kids." Of course this results in me sending him a message on facebook and as they say, the rest is history :) Let's just say my 12 year old self would die if she knew haha

Bev V said...

I had the biggest crush on the guy who sat next to me in physics class. And while we were "friends", he never wanted to take it any further. Although, several of his girlfriends were jealous of me! We went to different colleges, and just last summer both attended a class reunion. I think I ended up with the better life!

Kim W. said...

I had many crushes :) One that stands out as particularly funny and ultra embarrassing is I had a crush on a guy who had to walk by my house everyday after school to get to his home (we went to different schools so this was the only time of day I got to see him). My girlfriend and I would watch him out the window as he walked on by; and then as we got braver, from the front yard; and then one day we got really brave and followed him to his home two blocks away from me and his mother caught us hiding in her driveway at the side of their house!!! So....she invited us in for tea and we spent a hour and a half talking and looking at family photos of Allan, all while he was downstairs probably dying minute by minute. Did I mention I was 14 and he was almost 18? Poor guy probably wanted to kill his mother as well as me.
My family ended up becoming friendly with theirs which was fun cuz I got to see Allan all the time, up close and not just from my window :)

Megan said...

Oh my. I had the biggest crush on a guy from junior high until maybe my sophomore year of college. He and I were friends and went on walks together almost every day after school. I wanted to be his girlfriend for so long. So many years. I finally told him how I felt when I was a junior in high school and he told me he was still in love with his ex girlfriend. I was heart broken and cried for a long time. But we remained friends until I realized I was staying friends with him for all the wrong reasons. We haven't spoken to each other in years.

Eloise Peaches

Me said...


I have like 20, which one do you want? :)

TinaB said...

I had a crush on a few guys in high school. Seeing them now on facebook....makes me wonder why I thought they were so cute. Ha!!

Emma S. said...

I had the biggest crush on one of my close friends all through middle school and the majority of high school. He moved away, so we saw less of each other when I was in high school. As it turns out, he is gay, so my crush was definitely one-sided!

Tiffany Drew said...

I had a serious crush on a boy for a good two years who also happened to be a little older and a football star. It was hopeless and I knew it but that wasn't enough to sway me. I don't know what finally turned me away from him, but when I look back at it now I can't help but wonder what the heck I was thinking lol.

your invisible pixie said...

i had a HUGE crush on this older guy who was in my theatre group when I was in high school. Used to write his name on my hand and everything. He never really saw me that way while I was in high school, although we did go on a few dates when I was a freshman in college. Turned out that we were better as friends. :)

Leslie GC said...

I had a huge crush on "the" popular senior when I was a sophomore. He knew who I was from hanging out at the golf course (our dads played golf together), but he apparently did see me that way until I was in college and engaged. My mom told me that he asked my status and said it was a shame. Turns out he is still gorgeous, but he is a hot mess in his personal life.

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