Thursday, November 9, 2023

Patricia Leavy Interviews - The Location Shoot


Photo Content from Patricia Leavy

Patricia Leavy, PhD, is an award-winning, best-selling author. She was formerly Associate Professor of Sociology, Chairperson of Sociology & Criminology, and Founding Director of Gender Studies at Stonehill College. She has published more than forty books; her work has been translated into many languages, and she has received more than forty book honors. She has also received career awards from the New England Sociological Association, the American Creativity Association, the American Educational Research Association, the International Congress of Qualitative Inquiry, and the National Art Education Association. In 2018, she was honored by the National Women’s Hall of Fame and SUNY-New Paltz established the “Patricia Leavy Award for Art and Social Justice.” Leavy currently resides in Kennebunk, Maine.
        
  

When/how did you realize you had a creative dream or calling to fulfill?
I’ve known this since I was a little girl. My mother recently found some of my earliest “books.” Not only did I write and illustrate my stories, I also bound them with old wallpaper to make them look like proper books. The oldest one my mother found is from when I was six years old. Creativity, and writing specifically, have always been my passion and I believe my calling. But I wasn’t brave when I was young. Being a creative requires exposing yourself to endless rejection and critique. Moreso, the criticism is over the thing you love most, that you’ve poured your soul into. I didn’t think I could handle it, so despite it being my passion, I chose a different career path. Over time, I found myself knocking at the back door of the fiction publishing world. Eventually I realized that life is short, and I needed to follow my dream.

Why is storytelling so important for all of us?
Stories connect us. We feel less alone. We see ourselves reflected in the pages. We also see the possibilities of who we might become. Storytelling is a way of documenting the real world and our experiences of it. Storytelling is also a way of reimaging how things might be.

Can you tell us when you started THE LOCATION SHOOT, how that came about?
I wrote it during the lockdown. Like many of us, I was feeling isolated, lonely, anxious, depressed. Life felt scary. We couldn’t even hug a loved one without existential fear. I wanted to escape to someplace joyful, romantic, and creative. I was watching a movie and Elton John’s song “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” came on and all of a sudden, I was watching a scene play out in my mind—a group of actors and a filmmaker in an inn, having a drink, and a beautiful woman walks in, and dances with the filmmaker to that song. I could see it clear as day. I didn’t see anything in the movie on the screen after that, only the story playing out in my mind. The next morning, I began writing the novel. I started with that scene. I realized that the novel was about a group of actors making a film over a summer and living together in seclusion. Romance is my favorite genre to write, so I knew it would be a love story between one of the actors and the filmmaker’s friend, who he invited to join them for the shoot. Due to the pandemic, I was thinking about the big questions of life, and so my heroine, Ella Sinclair, became a philosopher and the film became about the meaning of life.

What chapter was the most memorable to write and why?
There are two. There’s a scene where Ella and Finn have a romantic night in her room at the inn. He has a special meal sent to her room and they end up taking a candlelit bubble bath and talking about their dreams for the future. I love this scene so much—the sweetness of it—and it turned out, unbeknownst to me at the time, it paved the way for more books about these characters. Another favorite was when the actors, filmmaker, and Ella all talk about her book manuscript, a provocative philosophical treatise on sex. The conversation between Ella and Jean, the filmmaker, is hysterical. It was so much fun to write.

What advice would you give to someone who wanted to have a life in writing?
Develop a relationship with your writing that isn’t dependent on anything external, positive or negative. And allow readers to develop their own relationship with your work, which really isn’t any of your business.

Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
Getting to write every single day. There have been countless other amazing experiences, from profoundly moving emails, letters, and in-person messages from readers that have touched me deeply, to the opportunity to travel the world speaking about my books, writing, and the arts. I’m grateful for all of it, but at the end of the day being published transforms you from a writer to an author. As an author, I have the privilege of doing the thing I love the most in this world every day: writing.

Your Favorite Quotes/Scenes from THE LOCATION SHOOT
The following is an excerpt from a scene when Finn and Ella are taking a stroll around the inn, after dinner. They are smitten with each other but have yet to act on their feelings. They’re discussing the filmmaker, Jean Mercier, known for his avant-garde, cinematic films, and his many affairs. I like this scene because it reveals a lot about who Ella is—she’s smart and marches to her own beat. I also love discussions about art and how it relates to life.

They walked quietly for a few minutes, their hands so close they were millimeters from touching. Finn finally broke the silence and said, “That was funny how you called Jean out for sleeping with his cleaning woman.”

“I doubt it’s much of a secret. Everyone knows what he’s like.”

“He has a bit of a reputation for how he treats women. You’re such a strong person and you two are friends. I was wondering what you thought as a woman.”

“People want simple answers, but life is complex. He’s created some of the greatest, most interesting, sensitive, and provocative roles for women in the history of cinema. There’s a reason so many actresses are dying to work with him. And yet, he can be quite a piece of shit to women in his own life. Tell me, which is better: the male director who never casts women or does so only in clich├ęd, trivial ways but may be a hell of a good guy in private, or the man who creates professional opportunities for women that wouldn’t otherwise exist and gives the collective imaginary new, powerful representations of women, but uses up women in his personal life as if they were pieces of gum he was chewing until the flavor runs out?”

“Wow,” Finn muttered. “I don’t know how to respond.”

“That’s my point. When these are the choices, what’s the answer? How do we define morality? Who’s a good guy? Who’s a bad guy? What matters, life or art? How are they related? What’s public and what’s private? Despite what many claim, it’s rarely as simple as we might wish. Life is textured.” She paused and said, “As for me, I adore Jean as a friend and as an artist, but you’d never catch me in bed with him.”

Here's another excerpt. The group has dinner at the inn each night. I loved writing the conversations thar ensued. You get a glimpse into each character, and you see how their friendships develop. They also talk about ideas—big topics—and it was through these scenes that many “big” ideas were woven into the novel. The following short excerpt is from right after Albie, British veteran of stage and screen in his 70s, tells the group about meeting his wife of forty years, the love of his life. These are his words about love. I’ve chosen this excerpt because the novel is very much about love, and I think this captures it.

“True love is the greatest gift in the world; one mustn’t squander it or be foolish enough to think it will simply wait until it obliges our schedules.”

“So, it really was love at first sight,” Charlotte said wistfully.

“Indeed. Anyone who tells you that love at first sight isn’t real, well, those unlucky bastards have just never experienced it. Take it from an old fucker like me: when you get hit by lightning, you surrender to it. All the details, the little things you don’t know about each other, you’ll learn those over time, and if you really love each other, most of it won’t matter. There’s no replacing that inexplicable, inconvenient, all-encompassing feeling of love. Standing there in that moment, holding that slice of pie, I knew I couldn’t live without her. These days, people court each other like they’re applying for a job or running through a checklist. But this is where the artists—the poets, the novelists, the filmmakers—have always known better: true love has no reason.”

What is the first job you have had?
Babysitting.

What was your favorite subject when you were in school and why?
English because I loved creative writing. When I was in the 5th grade, my teacher exempt me from some assignments to allow me to write fiction. I tried to write a novel, but since I was only 10 years old, it didn’t pan out.

What is the first thing you think of when you wake up in the morning?
I am an artist. It’s a part of my daily gratitude practice.

Which would you choose, true love with a guarantee of a heart break or have never loved before?
True love. Always choose love. Disappointment is better than regret.

If you had to go back in time and change one thing, if you HAD to, even if you had “no regrets” what would it be?
I would have been braver when I was younger and pursued being a novelist earlier in my career.

What is one unique thing are you afraid of?
Boredom. Luckily, I’m a novelist. When the real world isn’t doing it for me, I create my own story worlds to crawl into.

What is the weirdest thing you have seen in someone else’s home?
Framed poster size photographs of themselves. In leu of art, this woman lined her living room with massive photos of herself. For real.

When was the last time you told someone you loved them?
Today.

What were you doing the last time you really had a good laugh?
Writing a scene in one of my novels. Honestly, most days you can find me at my computer either laughing hysterically or bawling my eyes out, muttering to myself, “That’s so good.”


Controversial filmmaker Jean Mercier is shooting a film on location in Sweden. While spending the summer creating his latest work of cinematic art, he lives in a nearby inn with his lead Albie Hughes, British veteran of stage and screen; Charlotte Reed, British indie film queen; Michael Hennesey, American TV heartthrob; Willow Barnes, fallen former teen star looking to make a comeback; and Finn Forrester, legendary Hollywood movie star. Mercier invites his friend Ella Sinclair—a beautiful, bohemian-spirited American philosopher known for her provocative writing—to stay with them for the summer. When Ella arrives, Finn is instantly enchanted by her, and soon they fall madly in love. Finn wants to plan a life together, but Ella harbors fears and convinces him to wait until the film wraps to decide their future. In a case of life imitating art, the film they are creating explores “the big questions” and prompts the stars to reflect on the crossroads they face in their own lives. How will their experiences on location affect them when they return home? The answers won’t come until months later, when the cast and crew reconvene on the red carpet at the Cannes Film Festival—but their revelation will make for one unforgettable night.

You can purchase The Location Shoot at the following Retailers:
        

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you PATRICIA LEAVY for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a Copy of The Location Shoot by Patricia Leavy.

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