Wednesday, October 11, 2023

Q&A with Patricia Leavy




Patricia Leavy is the author of the new novel The Location Shoot. Her many other books include Hollyland. She is also an arts advocate, and is the co-founder of the journal Art/Research International.


Q: What inspired you to write The Location Shoot, and how did you create your characters Jean, Ella, and Finn?


A: I wrote it during the lockdown. Like so many others, I was feeling lonely and anxious. Real life was depressing. It was a time when you couldn’t even hug your loved ones without existential fear. I wanted to escape to someplace joyful, romantic, and full of affection and creativity.


The idea for The Location Shoot came to me when I was watching a movie and Elton John’s song “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” came on. In my mind, a different movie started playing. I could see a group of actors, sitting in an inn, when a beautiful woman comes into the room, taps the filmmaker on the shoulder, and then they dance to that song. The next morning, I started writing the book.


Due to the pandemic, I was thinking about the big questions of life, so I decided the group was making a film about the meaning of life, and living together in seclusion during the three-month shoot.


I thought it would be fun if Jean, the filmmaker, was a controversial, eccentric, avant-garde artist; the very kind of filmmaker who would tackle a film about the meaning of life. He’s French with a dystopian worldview.


Making him a bit dark, but in a sarcastic, fun way, created balance between him and his dear friend Ella, who he invites to stay with them for the film shoot. 


Ella is a philosopher because they are exploring “the big questions” of life, so having her point of view was important. It was more than that though. I always knew at the center of the book was the love story between her and Hollywood movie star Finn.


The book definitely is a romance. I saw Finn as an all-around dreamy guy, the kind of celebrity people fantasize about, but with depth. He cares about art, relationships, and he’s not interested in fame.


A guy like that could have his pick of women, so Ella needed to be more than beautiful. She’s smart, funny, and marches to her own beat. For me, it made it easy to see why Finn would be bowled over with her from the start.


Q: Did you need to do any research to write the novel, and if so, did you learn anything that especially surprised you?


A: I didn’t do much research for this book, but I did watch a lot of films, both those by controversial filmmakers and those about “big” topics.


Q: Did you know how the story would end before you started writing it, or did you make many changes along the way?


A: I thought I knew exactly how the story would unfold. When I finished writing it, somehow the narrative felt incomplete.


I ended up adding two scenes that I now view as two of the most important in the entire book. In fact, they lay the groundwork for more books about the characters. Had I not added those scenes, The Location Shoot would likely have been the only novel about Finn and Ella.


Q: The writer Laurel Richardson said of the book, “More than a romance, this novel celebrates the romance of life itself.” What do you think of that description?


A: I’m enormously flattered by it. I can’t think of anything nicer one could say. My goal was to write a beautiful, affectionate love story that makes you believe in love, but I hoped to do more than that.


I wanted the book as a whole—all the characters—to make you believe in all kinds of love—romantic, friendship, passion for our work, creativity, and art, and love of life itself for all its beautiful possibilities, even though one conclusion awaits us all.


I hope this little love story makes readers believe not only in happy endings, but in happy beginnings.


Q: What are you working on now?


A: I loved writing Finn and Ella’s love story so much that I didn’t want to leave their world. My next novel, After the Red Carpet, picks up where The Location Shoot ends, and follows them for the next five years. I’m excited to share that it comes out Sept. 3, 2024.


Presently, I’m working on a series of at least six romance novels that explore different dimensions of love: love and healing, doubt, intimacy, trust, commitment, and faith.


Q: Anything else we should know?


A: If you enjoy The Location Shoot, please check out my last novel, Hollyland. It was another of my lockdown projects, written for my elderly father when he was ill with covid, before the vaccine. It’s a whimsical, feel-good celebrity romance that celebrates the arts and living with passion.


--Interview with Deborah Kalb

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