Gail Carson Levine: le-veen (rhymes with seen) - Levine says that Carson is her maiden name, which she started using when she was published in the hope that old friends would find her - and they did!
Gail Carson Levine grew up in Washington Heights, Manhattan. From third grade through high school she wrote stories and poems, and a few of her poems were published in an anthology of student writing, but she never thought of becoming a writer. In college, first Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio, then City College of New York, she majored in Philosophy and met and married her husband David.
After college she worked for New York State government, mostly in jobs that had to do with welfare. Meanwhile she starting writing for children and wrote the script for a musical called Spacenapped (her husband wrote the music and lyrics) which was performed by The Heights Players, a community theater in Brooklyn - but she still didn't think of herself as a writer.
She read novels constantly, then, one day while meditating, asked herself why, since she adored stories, she never made up any. That was the beginning of The King's Cure, an art appreciation book for kids, which she wrote and drew pencil illustrations of birds and used reproductions of famous art for the illustrations. Although no one would publish it, she became hooked on writing, and took writing classes, joined critique groups and The Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (www.scbwi.org). She collected rejection letters for nine years until an editor accepted the manuscript for Ella Enchanted, which was a 1998 Newbery Honor Book.
This biography was last updated on 11/25/2010.
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An Interview with Gail Carson Levine
When you started writing Ella Enchanted did you imagine that it would one
day become a movie?
No. I didn't think it would get published. Everything I'd written till then had been rejected. If it was published, I thought it might sell a few thousand copies and go out of print. I thought if I was lucky I could write more books and get them published, too. I still pinch myself over the way things have worked out.
As the author of the book, how involved were you in the production of the movie?
Not very. I had what are called consulting rights, which meant that the producer had to send me the script. I had the opportunity to comment, but the producer and director had no obligation to act on my comments.
The script is very different from the book, and so is the movie. My comments about plot werent acted on. But my comments about obedience were. I said there had to be consistency in the way Ella responds to orders. She could follow commands figuratively or literally, but it needed to be the same throughout. In my book, Ella follows the meaning of commands. If she were told to hold her tongue shed be silent. In the movie Anne Hathaway actually grabs her tongue ...
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