A Novel In Verse

Love and Leftovers

My wish
is to fall
cranium over Converse
in dizzy, daydream-worthy

(If only it were that easy.)

When her parents split, Marcie is dragged from Idaho to a family summerhouse in New Hampshire. She leaves behind her friends, a group of freaks and geeks called the Leftovers, including her emo-rocker boyfriend, and her father. By the time Labor Day rolls around, Marcie suspects this "vacation" has become permanent. She starts at a new school where a cute boy brings her breakfast and a new romance heats up.

But understanding love, especially when you've watched your parents' affections end, is elusive. What does it feel like, really? can you even know it until you've lost it?


Allison: Was writing in verse difficult or do you prefer it?

Marcie’s character fit well with the verse format, as did her story, so writing Love and Leftovers in verse felt very natural. Verse has some challenges, but that’s what makes it interesting to write. For instance, when I went from 8.5×11 paper (for the manuscript) to the smaller page size (for the book) I had to edit some lines so they’d fit. On the other hand, verse can be easier than prose in the rewriting/revising stages because you change the order of the poems without much editing. I enjoy writing—and reading—novels in verse.

Delia: Why did you choose to write a long distance love story?

Before I wrote Love and Leftovers, I had written a handful of manuscripts that didn’t sell. My friends said these stories were “too quiet.” (They were nice enough not to call them boring.) So When I was thinking about Love and Leftovers, I made a list of very bad things that could happen to my main character because I wanted the stakes to be high and the story interesting. Being away from friends was on that list, and Marcie being away from her boyfriend, Linus, added to her loneliness and upped the stakes.

Morgan: Why are some of the kids called leftovers? Were you considered a leftover?

The Leftovers are a group of friends that don’t fit into the usual cliques in their high school, for example, one is an athlete who also gets good grades, another is a girl scout, and three are in a band. My friends at my lunch table in high school didn’t call ourselves “leftovers”, but we were a hodgepodge mix of AP students and students who were scraping by with Cs, field hockey players, photographers, and musicians.

Jordin: How do you manage to say and mean so much with so little written (referring to verse)?

I think with verse a writer can lean on the reader a little more than in prose. Each reader brings their own feelings and experiences with them when they read a book and an author can tap into these emotions without explaining every minute detail by using word choice, turns of phrase, and even white space. Verse definitely has the “read between the lines” aspect where a reader uses a combination of their own experiences and imagination to fill in the spaces. So in some ways, reading a novel in verse is a collaboration between the author and the reader.

Hannah: What books would your past self have recommended at ages 5, 11, 16 and 20?

At five, I would have recommended two books: James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl (1961) and The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood by Howard Pile (1883). These were my favorite bedtime stories. They had all the elements: action, adventure, and moments where I was scared out of my wits.

At eleven, I was a few years into my pioneer life, which I shared with my close friend, author, Laura Ingalls Wilder. I would have recommended any of the Little House series, but would have warned you away from the television series by the same name, which I did NOT watch because it strayed from the books.

I don’t recall exactly what books were on my nightstand at sixteen, but Cynthia Voigt kept me reading as a teen with her Tillerman books: Homecoming; Dicey’s Song; A Solitary Blue; The Runner; Come a Stranger; Sons from Afar; and Seventeen Against the Dealer.

At twenty, I took a class in college on Toni Morrison. At that time she had published The Bluest Eye, Sula, Song of Solomon, Tar Baby, Beloved, and Jazz.

Several years ago, I heard Sonya Sones read from What My Mother Doesn’t Know at a writing conference and fell in love with verse novels, and I’m certain I would have loved them at any age.

Thank you YA Love Blog and Paperback Treasures for the great questions.