Friday, August 29, 2008

What's Fresh with C. Leigh Purtill's All About Vee + a Giveaway!

Veronica May ("Big Vee") is a bubbly, gorgeous, confident, eighteen-year-old theater actress from Chester, Arizona. She is also two hundred pounds. She puts off college, her life, and her questions about her mother's death twelve years earlier to care for her widowed father.

Then Daddy announces that he's going to remarry and Veronica feels replaced. She decides, then and there, it's time for Big Vee to shine! She escapes Arizona and follows in the footsteps of her mother, who was an aspiring actress, to Hollywood.

Between shifts with a cute co-worker at the local coffee bar, Vee auditions, falls in love, dumps a toxic friend, learns to deal with love and loss, and finally, finds her place in the spotlight.


Hello, Leigh, it is great to have you here! Could you please tell us a little about your writing background and how you made your first sale?

Leigh: I've loved books all my life but only came to writing them after I'd spent years writing screenplays. I studied screenwriting at Boston University in its graduate film program and fell in love with the structure of screenplays: the dialogue and three acts, the constraints of the form. I then wrote about a dozen scripts, each time thinking it was the next best thing since "Star Wars." I never sold one but I did get a manager out of them: a fantastic producer named Adam Peck read all my scripts and we stayed in touch while we lived on separate coasts. When I moved to LA, I got an idea for the book that would eventually become ALL ABOUT VEE (but was not my first sale). I realized it was too small to be a screenplay idea – it needed to be a book. I was naïve – I just started writing, turning my little idea into a big fat book: 800 pages. Adam read it, loved it, and believed in it. With his help, I got an agent, the amazing Faye Bender. She tried to sell VEE first but found no takers so I gave her a manuscript titled, JENNIFER ANISTON IS MY BEST FRIEND. Kristen Pettit, my wonderful editor for both of my books, bought it for Razorbill, the YA imprint at Penguin. After a year and a half of revisions (and title changes), LOVE, MEG came out in hardcover in July '07 and was released in trade paper in April '08, the same day ALL ABOUT VEE was released as well.

Readers and writers often like to get a behind the scenes peek of an author's writing routine. It would be great if you could please share your typical writing day schedule.

Leigh: The number one thing people should know about me is that I hate to sleep. Honestly. When I go to bed each night, I cannot wait to wake up in the morning and write. I'm up by seven every day, even weekends, and I make coffee right away, a half-regular/half-decaf blend, usually from Trader Joe's. While that's brewing, I check my email and post my blog and hope my sleepy state will give me some good ideas. I try to dispense with the internet distractions as quickly as I can because my most creative energy flow is early in the morning. Since I also teach ballet, I usually take a dance class mid-day which is a perfect time for me to get away from the computer for a couple of hours and recharge my batteries. In the afternoons, I handle the business end of things: emails to people, phone calls, website stuff. Late in the day I often get another burst of creative energy so I might use that time to take notes for the next day's writing and work on outlines. I write at least 2K words every day but I never write until I'm exhausted because then I won't have anything to come back to the following morning. At the end of the day, I teach my ballet classes. I love my schedule. Love it! Having the ability to write and dance every day has been a dream come true for me.

Please tell us about your latest novel, ALL ABOUT VEE, and what we can expect from your characters.

Leigh: My most recent novel is called ALL ABOUT VEE and was published in April '08 by Penguin/Razorbill. It's the story of 18 year old Veronica May, a gorgeous and talented actress from Arizona who just happens to be plus-sized. After discovering her late mother was also an actress, she heads to Los Angeles to follow in her footsteps and become a movie star. She leaves behind her two very good friends, Virginia and Val, and her widower father who is about to marry his longtime girlfriend. She thinks making it in Hollywood will be a piece of delicious chocolate cake for someone as talented as she is but instead, she learns that it's not so easy to be the star of the show, that people discriminate against her because of her weight, and that one of her former best friends has changed so much she's barely recognizable. Will she find success and happiness and love in this strange new city? Or will she run home to seek comfort in the arms of her father and true friends? That, in a nutshell, is the story of ALL ABOUT VEE.

Sounds great! What's up next? Do you have another project in the works? If so, please tell us about it.

Leigh: The best thing about my current writing schedule is that I have been amazingly productive in the past year since my first novel, LOVE, MEG, was released. I finished a sequel to ALL ABOUT VEE and two coming-of-age novels that I hope to get out into the world soon. I am also working on (shhh!) a story with a supernatural twist to it that I'm fantastically excited about!

It's been a pleasure to chat with you, Leigh! Best of luck with your books. Would you like to close with a writing tip?

Leigh: My biggest piece of advice for aspiring writers is to finish what you start. Please understand that, even if you're an amazingly talented writer with creativity flowing through every part of your body, nothing is ever perfect the first go-round so you will have to rewrite. Whether it's a short story, a novel or a non-fiction magazine article, it will have to be rewritten for an editor or agent and the only way to do that is to finish it first.

Young adult author C. Leigh Purtill attended Mount Holyoke College where she received a Bachelor's degree in Anthropology and Dance and graduated magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa. From Boston University, she received her Master's degree in Film Production. She worked as a script supervisor on dozens of films and hundreds of commercials in New York City. In Los Angeles, she was a Broadcast Standards and Practices editor at The WB and The CW Television Networks; she covered such popular shows as "Gilmore Girls" and "7th Heaven."

Leigh's debut novel, LOVE, MEG, was published in hardcover by Penguin/Razorbill in 2007. Her second novel, ALL ABOUT VEE, was also published by Penguin/Razorbill in April 2008, the same day LOVE, MEG was released in trade paper.

She lives in West Hollywood with her husband, Maurice. She can be reached through her website, www.leighpurtill.com, or her blog, cleighpurtill.blogspot.com.


Leave a comment for Leigh from now until Monday night, and be entered to win a copy of ALL ABOUT VEE! The winner will be announced Tuesday Morning, September 2nd. Happy commenting!!

31 fresh comments:

TinaFerraro said...

I loved reading about you and your books, Leigh, and fabulous about how productive you are! I actually love waking in the morning to write, too, but have to admit that I love the going-to-sleep part at night, too.

Liviania said...

Sounds like you have some fun books coming up!

Chelsie said...

Wow, I'm so excited! Leigh is too awesome, and I feel so guilty that I haven't gotten around to Love, Meg yet.

I just moved it up in my reading pile. I'll be reading it asap. =D

If I could dance and write all day... wow, I'd be the happiest person. And I hate sleeping as well, but it's unfortunate that I don't get enough of it, because I get really tired after so many nights of only 4 or 5 hours of sleep!

Chelsea said...

Glad to know you're working on more stuff, Leigh! Good luck on them!

I also have a contest going on for ALL ABOUT VEE at thepageflipper.com, but I don't have my own copy, so I'd like to enter this one! :)

Bunny B said...

This book sounds interesting! I'd love to read it, Leigh! Thanks! :)

S said...

Leigh, It is inspiring to learn how you started and didn't give up. I am a new writer with ICL, and am working on my first YA mystery. I have heard that writers rarely have their first book published, but to consider it as practice for the one to follow. Do you believe that is true? I will be looking forward to reading your books.

Meredith said...

Wow. Your schedule is absolutely crazy. I thought that I was busy, now I seem super lazy. Haha. I cannot wait to read your books and have had them on my to be read list as soon as I saw them. My library seems to be taking a long time to get around to getting them, but as soon as they do, I am going to love reading them!

~Meredith

freewriter said...

As a not so small girl myself the storyline sounds very interesting. I will have to read this book.

Anonymous said...

Your books sound great. Did you get the publisher on your own or did you have to find an agent first?

Jacqueline

kellymarie said...

It sounds like an awesome read. I'd love to win a copy so I can read it too!

C. Leigh Purtill said...

Hi everyone! I love reading your comments and I'm totally psyched -and honored- to be on YA Fresh!

Tina - I hope I didn't jinx myself in the productivity dept!

Liviania - the fun part is definitely the writing part - and the rewriting - I love to rewrite!

Chelsie - aw, you're too sweet! 5 hours are certainly NOT enough altho I too wish I could sleep from maybe 12 to 6...that would be perfect!

Chelsea - thanks for hosting the contest at the Page Flipper! I'm so glad you're entering here!

Bunny b - thank you so much for the positive energy!

S - you're right about most authors' first novels not selling. My situation is unusual (altho it did sell second) but I think all the screenplays that came before counted as my first horrible book. :) Don't worry about selling it at this point - just finish it so you can rewrite.

Meredith - funny but it doesn't seem crazy to me. I feel like I'm pretty lazy too sometimes!

Freewriter - I'm so glad to hear this makes you want to read Vee!

Jacqueline - no, I got my agent, the fab Faye Bender, first and then she pursued the editors at the publishing houses. Thank you, Faye!

Kellymarie - thank you - I hope you get to read it too!

Lauren said...

This book sounds really good. I hope I win!

Sara Hantz said...

Fabulous interview. I LOVE the sound of your book.

Breanna said...

I need to read both of your books Leigh! They're on my very long to read list. They both sound really good and I love the covers too.

-Breanna

suburbanbeatnik said...

Your book sounds like a lot of fun. I'd love to read it!

Carol said...

I really want to read her book. Please enter me! :)

Marjolein said...

great interview! And your book sounds really really great!

Sara said...

I really want to read this book! It sounds amazing and realistic.
I am really impressed of your work! i can't finish one book, and you have lots of them, just waiting to be published! Impressing.

whatvanessareads said...

I've never met anyone with your name. I'm going to buy your book Love, Meg and give it to my mom because I've heard it has so many Friends comments.

Vanessa
whatvanessareads@hotmail.com
whatvanessareads.wordpress.com

robin_titan said...

i really really really want to read this book i read about it on like three blogs that reviewed it and it sound great!!


lc_intocable at yahoo dot com

Hope. said...

This book looks really good, and I've heard wonderful things about Love, Meg. I hope to read it soon.

hope.

VT Girl said...

This book looks really good! Also, great interview!!!!

Sarah Blake Johnson said...

Came here from goodreads.
It is awesome to hear about your journey.

tetewa said...

These both sound good, count me in! tWarner419@aol.com

Lenore said...

Finishing what you start is great advice - it seems like a no-brainer, but so often we just don't do it.

Paradox said...

I'd like to win this book!

Khyrinthia said...

I've been meaning to find a copy of this book somewhere. It sounds great!

Just.Me said...

Wow, a plus-size girl as the main character. Finally. I would love the chance to read it.

angelina said...

i've read this book around 3 times since i got it from the library and i don't want to give it back :). i can't wait for the sequel

Paradox said...

Am I too late? It's 1:17 AM now. I'd like to enter.

Paradox said...

Oh, oops! Never mind my last comment or this one. I already entered.