Matthew Currin had the pleasure of interviewing Tom Leveen, an award winning Author of 9 novels primarily in the horror and young-adult fiction genres. Tom describes himself as an ‘escape artist’ and his work transcends a myriad of platforms, genres and mediums. His passion for writing and art more broadly began at a very young age. He wrote his first novel in the 8th grade and proceeded to start his own theater production from scratch.
Tom speaks to the lasting impact that nearly 15 years spent as an actor, writer and producer of theater had on his writing. For example, many authors struggle with crafting compelling dialogue, but Tom’s skills were sharpened by his experiences in the world of theater – after all, that’s all there is on the stage. Those experiences have fueled his passion for writing novels in recent years, and serves as a fundamental testament to why he encourages others to experience different works of art. According to Tom, the ‘coolest gig’ he ever had was when he had the chance to write for the comic book series, SPAWN, where he developed a new villian for the series that can still be found in subsequent publications.
In addition to writing his own, Tom also has developed a passion for helping others learn to tell their stories. He’s spent the past several years teaching writing classes and seminars, and has served as a guest speaker at conferences for writers and teachers on countless occasions. He advises young aspiring writers to ensure they take time to experience different things in life. He preaches the importance of getting out there to explore the world through adventures as opposed to staying in your comfort zone. Tom is gearing up to offer online writing courses in the near future, where he’ll help aspiring novelists and other artists learn to tell their own stories.
Learning from the experiences of others
The more we are exposed to the experiences, lessons, and stories of others, the more empathetic and compassionate we become. His book, “Mercy Rule”, follows 8 characters through a series of events in high school that’s written from each character’s point of view. We won’t spoil this captivating story, but it certainly emphasizes the idea that we all are a product of our life experiences. Everyone has profound moments and situations that help mold the person they become, but those impressions aren’t necessarily visible on the surface. This book will make you think twice before making assumptions about someone, and there is an inspiring message of unity at the end.
We couldn’t help but note how this idea aligns with our philosophy behind Convene Communities and how we can learn from the experiences of others. Sharing similar experiences allows us to feel like we aren’t alone, but we can also grow in empathy, compassion, and understanding hearing about situations that we will never experience ourselves.
I really enjoyed listening to this podcast and there were a few things that resonated with me. I loved hearing how he talked about the “origin” story because I tend to look at everyone’s life as a story and everyone comes from somewhere. I also related to thinking that horror movies are always about something else. I think that the underlying meaning of all horror movies tends to be relative to the viewer, changing depending on who is watching it. I like his advice of constantly writing down ideas that can morph into something greater, while channeling what is going on in my own life. I definitely want to continue to challenge myself and become a better writer because it is an outlet that allows me to express my passions.” – Laney, 16 year old creative writer