THE LITTLE CITY FIVE: Caroline Leavitt

We are looking forward to hosting friend and neighbor Caroline Leavitt at the store on October 13th, as she launches her new novel Cruel, Beautiful World. 

1. What part of your own life informed Cruel, Beautiful World? (Do you have a sister?)

The book began when I was 17, when the girl who sat in front of me in study hall, told me she was engaged to a much older guy who was a "tad controlling." A year later they broke up and he stabbed her 42 times. I was haunted and horrified, and couldn't figure out why she would stay with someone who must have shown violence before. I didn't get it until ten years later, when my fiance died suddenly of a heart attack and cataclysmic with grief, I decided the only way out was to hurl myself into a new relationship. My new boyfriend monitored my food, my clothing, wouldn't let me see my friends and I began to lose sight of who I was. I finally left when I discovered he had erased a chapter of my novel and written his own version for me, which was "better." But it wasn't until 4 years ago that I had the story, when I happened to see an online posting from my HS friend's sister, who was still haunted.

I do have a sister. I adored her when she was young, but when she turned 20, something happened to her. She's emotionally unstable, and I've spent years trying to help her, and the more I did, the worse things became. So I've come to realize that some things you cannot fix. That sometimes you just have to let life wash over you.

2. Do you keep a journal? Have you ever?

Nope. Had a diary when I was little, but my journal is more my long emails to friends! 

3. Do you outline the whole plot before you write your novels?

I do the basics, but they change constantly. So I might have 18 outlines for a novel before it is finished!

4. Please name three favorite books: one from childhood, one from teenage years, and one from adulthood.

Childhood: Mary Poppins Comes Back. By P. L. Travers. Not the sugary sweet Walt Disney Mary, a tart, mysterious nanny!

Teenaged: A High Wind in Jamaica. By Richard Hughes. Kids rescued by pirates end up betraying them in the cruelest way possible. I loved this novel so much, I try to have all my characters reading it at one point or another.

Adult: A Little Life. By Hanya Yanagihara. Just incredible. So dark and so moving, I was weeping through it. 

5. What do you like best about Hoboken?

I love the sense of community we've found here, and that you can walk everywhere, and that it's a ten minute PATH ride into the heart of Manhattan. It was a great place to raise my son!