Wednesday, January 14, 2015

A visit with YA author Amy Talkington

Award-winning screenwriter, director, YA author, and parent Amy Talkington met with the Junior High class in the library on Friday, January 9, to discuss her debut book, Liv, Forever (click here to see my review of the book).

Amy began by briefly her background and career as a screenwriter. She told the students that in high school she was "obsessed" with painting, writing, and music, elements we see in her main character, Liv. Amazingly, Amy actually worked up the idea of Liv, Forever as a movie first but  decided to write this story as a  novel first in order to:

Amy reads from Liv, Forever
“... explore Liv’s voice in a way that I couldn’t in a screenplay. Also, I wanted to create a deep mythology and history for the setting.”

Soho Press, the publisher, liked the idea and gave her 4 months to write the novel. The  new medium was "scary" for her but also "exhilarating.”Amy then shared the book trailer she wrote and directed. After summarizing the book, Amy read from the book to give the students insight into two of the major characters. 

Amy's discussion inspired many good questions from the students. Here’s how her responses to a few of the questions:

Where did the idea for the story came from?
Amy related that she had a long standing interest in writing a ghost story. She conceived of Liv as a young woman, “closed off and  afraid of opening up” and asked herself “ ...what if that person had to die to experience love?” While writing the novel, Amy noted that the Occupy Movement was active, which gave her the idea of the very wealthy and powerful willing to sacrifice anything to get what they want, which informs the mythology of the very elite school Liv attends.

Who inspired the characters?
Amy told the students that she was a lot like Liv as a teenager: closed off emotionally and focused on painting. Like Liv, she attended an East Coast boarding school. Liv’s friend Gabe (who can hear the ghosts at the school) is drawn from a beloved family member, who seems kind of crazy to those who don’t know him.

What is she working on now?
In addition to writing screenplays and other projects, Amy has a sequel to Liv, Forever in the works and there’s discussions of a movie based on the novel.

Amy concluded her visit with a series of slide referencing art works referred to in the book to demonstrate how Liv uses art to reference her feelings.  A reference list of art and a play list  of songs referred to in the book, as well as the book trailer can be found at her web site.

And finally, she offered a bit of advice to aspiring writers: “ Write every day. Give yourself deadlines. And read, of course, read everything.”

Excellent advise, and , of course, as a librarian, I love that last sentence!


  1. Heard Amy speak at Once Upon a Time bookstore in Montrose this past year and she had tons of interesting stories to share. Hope the kids appreciated her visit to your school! Certainly made me want to read LIV, FOREVER.

  2. Amy is absolutely fascinating and so many wonderful interests (art, music, poetry) that are reflected in the story. The students were great--super attentive and engaged. They asked some really great questions. I was proud of them!