It has been a while...but I am excited to announce Watercolor Moods' first blog tour stop for the year, for the much-buzzed about Liv, Forever by Amy Talkington. Disclaimer: I still haven't gotten the chance to properly delve into my review copy, but the promise of a spooky, atmospheric mystery is one that I probably won't be able to resist for much longer!
Thanks to the lovely Meredith Barnes at Soho Teen, I was able to have Amy answer a few questions for the blog. In addition, if you click on that little banner up there, you'll be able to see the USA Today reveal of Amy's trailer!
How were you inspired for the idea of Liv, Forever?
The idea came from a bunch of things piling up in my brain at once.
First, I just had this character I wanted to write: Liv.
Secondly, I’ve been interested in ghosts for a long time so... I started to think about what kind of a ghost story Liv might be a part of. I got really excited about the metaphors a ghost story affords—the idea that she had to die in order to fully learn to live (and love).
And, finally, when I was thinking about all this, the Occupy movement was happening and I was really struck by the great divide in our country—between the 99% and the 1%. I wanted to tap into that. I don’t want to give it away but I can say that divide—and the feeling so many people have that the 1% would do almost anything to stay on top—comes to play in the school’s mythology and conspiracy.
Which character, if any, do you feel closest to?
Liv. Like Liv, I had some attitude and bravado when I was in high school but when it came down to it I was pretty terrified to be emotionally vulnerable. So, I wrote from a really honest emotional place. And, I was also an artist and just pretty obsessed with art like she is.
Were there any bizarre areas of research or strange occurrences that you experienced while writing this story?
Well, there were some crazy coincidences that helped me piece the final mystery together but it’s hard to talk about them without giving things away. So, let’s see if I can handle this in a cryptic way. Basically, I’d never even heard of the Celtic Samhain tradition when I started writing the book. I stumbled upon it as I was trying to flesh out Elijah’s interests and it was just so insanely perfect in every way right down to the time of year it was practiced.On a completely different note, I found an interesting document AFTER I finished the book. When I was looking for old photos from Choate (for a visual presentation), I came across a chart I’d made early in college called “How I Think.” The chart detailed my interests and obsessions and attempted to show how they are all connected. I was shocked to discover how much I was into the stuff Liv is into… Keats, Duchamp, Pollock, Warhol, etc… They’re all there. Of course I knew I was into art but I’d completely forgotten how into Keats I was. But, of course. That’s why I gravitated back to him.
Is there another idea you will be pursuing after Liv, Forever releases?
Oh, boy. I’m pursuing so many ideas all the time. By day I’m a screenwriter so I have a bunch of projects in various phases of development. I’m currently developing Liv, Forever into a feature screenplay. I’m also working on one other feature script and two television projects. Book-wise, I’m trying to figure out what’s next. I have a very clear idea of a next book for Liv but I’m just waiting to see if there’s an appetite for it.
Were there any particular places or background that inspired Liv, Forever?
I did go to boarding school. I went to Choate Rosemary Hall in Connecticut. Choate is nothing like Wickham Hall. The only similarity is the Art Center. I definitely had Choate’s amazing Art Center in mind as I wrote those scenes.
That was a very important place to me—I created so much there, I had my first solo show there, I sold my first paintings there—and so I loved giving Liv a similar setting to make her art. But, otherwise, it’s all completely fabricated. There are no secret societies at Choate (as far as I know!).
What do you want to particularly linger with readers? What do you think about Liv's story will particularly resonate - in spite of the paranormal elements that teenagers (rarely, if ever) will experience?
To me, the story is about learning to love. That’s really Liv’s journey—learning to love herself, her art, and others.
Amy Talkington is an award-winning screenwriter and director living in Los Angeles. Before all that she wrote about music for magazines like Spin, Ray Gun, Interview, and Seventeen (mostly just as a way to get to hang out with rock stars). As a teenager in Dallas, Texas, Amy painted lots of angsty self-portraits, listened to The Velvet Underground and was difficult enough that her parents finally let her go to boarding school on the East Coast. Liv, Forever is her first novel.