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Meet the WritersImage of David Levithan
David Levithan
Good to Know
In our interview with Levithan, he shared some fun factoids with us:

"This book started out as a Valentine story I sent to friends; I've done that for the past 15 years, and this one happened to turn into a novel."

"Since January 1, 2001, I've taken a photograph every day, part of a New Year's resolution that shows no signs of stopping."

"My friend Kristin and I decorate each other's offices for our birthdays, and as a result I am surrounded by a year's worth of small celebrations, from mobiles to woodcuts of the Eiffel Tower to (this year's decoration) photos from my childhood.

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In the fall of 2003, David Levithan took some time out to answer some of our questions about his favorite books, authors and interests.

What was the book that most influenced your life or your career as a writer -- and why?
Probably everything I write has some root in Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst. It was my absolutely favorite as a kid, and it taught me that writing can be both funny and touching at the same time, and that character, perspective, and word choice are just as important as plot.

What are your ten favorite books, and what makes them special to you?
Impossible question. I'll just recommend a few books here that I want all of my friends to read, whether or not they're my absolute favorites:

  • Alice Hoffman's Seventh Heaven, Anne Tyler's Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant, Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale -- in high school, I would carve these three writers' names on my desks.

  • Virginia Euwer Wollf's True Believer moves me in a profound way every time I read it -- it doesn't get much better than that.

  • David Leavitt's The Lost Language of Cranes

  • Francesca Lia Block's Baby Be-Bop

  • Peter Hedges's What's Eating Gilbert Grape?

  • Marie Howe's What the Living Do

    I could go on and on. And, in the completely biased category, I am the editor of an imprint called PUSH, which has some amazing books that I am very very proud to be acquainted with (for a full list, check out

    What are some of your favorite films, and what makes them unforgettable to you?
    Rear Window is my all-time favorite. It's just a perfectly plotted, perfectly executed movie. And I saw Moulin Rouge five times in the theater because it was so full of wonder. Other favorites include Rushmore, Monsoon Wedding, Raising Victor Vargas, Lost in Translation (an instant favorite), and pretty much any teen movie by John Hughes, especially Some Kind of Wonderful.

    What types of music do you like? Is there any particular kind you like to listen to when you're writing?
    The book is dedicated to a character in a Patty Griffin song, so that's definitely an influence. It's a lot of the reason the book was written. Picking favorite singers/songwriters/albums/songs is harder than picking a favorite book. So I'll just say that if you don't listen to Patty Griffin, Dar Williams, Beth Orton, Aimee Mann, the Postal Service, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Emmylou Harris, Nanci Griffith, the Indigo Girls, Jeff Buckley, Fountains of Wayne, Ben Folds, Tori Amos, Ani DiFranco, Elbow, Liz Phair, Rufus Wainwright, Oasis.... I could go on and on. At this moment, I'm obsessed with the new Dashboard Confessional.

    If you had a book club, what would it be reading -- and why?
    I do have a book club, and we read teen books. Some of the favorites have been Virginia Euwer Wolff's True Believer, An Na's A Step from Heaven, E. R. Frank's Life Is Funny, Alice Childress's A Hero Ain't Nothin' but a Sandwich, and Stephen Chbosky's The Perks of Being a Wallflower.

    What are your favorite kinds of books to give -- and get -- as gifts?
    Good ones.

    Do you have any special writing rituals? For example, what do you have on your desk when you're writing?
    I have my computer on my desk, and that just about does it for me. And usually there's music playing (see above).

    What are you working on now?
    My next book, The Realm of Possibility, comes out next August from the nice folks at Knopf.

    Many writers in the Discover program are hardly "overnight success" stories. How long did it take for you to get where you are today? Any rejection-slip horror stories or inspirational anecdotes?
    I'm a very lucky boy. This book just got carried into the right hands. So no horror stories. And hopefully there won't be any in the future.

    If you could choose one new writer to be "discovered," who would it be -- and why?
    Billy Merrell! Billy Merrell! Billy Merrell! His book, Talking in the Dark, is pretty much everything I look for as an editor. It's beautiful. It's meaningful. It's absorbing. He's only 21, but he's written a poetry memoir that really conveys the way life is lived -- both the bigger issues and the smaller moments, and how the former unfold in the form of the latter. I can't recommend it enough.

    What tips or advice do you have for writers still looking to be discovered? Don't write to be published. Write because it's something you want (or have) to write.

    *Back to Top

  • About the Writer
    *David Levithan Home
    * Good to Know
    * Interview
    *Boy Meets Boy, 2003
    *Are We There Yet?, 2005
    *Marly's Ghost, 2005
    *Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, 2006
    *Wide Awake, 2006
    *Naomi and Ely's No Kiss List, 2007
    Photo by Billy Merrill