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February 11, 2014

Lang Leav - Love and Misadventure

Love and Misadventure: Q&A with Lang Leav


I was ecstatic when I heard that Lang Leav, the author of the Amazon bestseller Love and Misadventure, was visiting the country for three days. Fully Booked brought in the celebrated artist and author from February 7 to 9, 2014, to meet fans and promote the book.

Poetry readings and book signings were held at Fully Booked Bonifacio High Street and Fully Booked Alabang Town Center over the weekend. The chances of meeting any of my favorite Tumblr poets was second to none, so it was a rare (and wondrous and life-changing) opportunity to be able to sit down and chat with Lang.

Lang has numerous creative pursuits, which includes being a fashion designer and an artist.

Lang Leav
“When I left university, I created a little fashion label that I call Akina,” says the young-looking 33-year old. ‘Little” is an understatement as Akina has won her the Qantas Spirit of Youth Award, the leading grants program for artists in Australia, and the Churchill Fellowship. She is also an international exhibiting artist (that’s her illustrations on the book cover and on the inside pages). “But the thing that has threaded everything together is my love of story-telling and writing,” she says.
We talked about fantasy, authenticity, and the beauty of words:
Question: What got you started on writing?
Lang Leav: I’ve always been writing. As long as I can remember, it’s something that I’ve always done. My parents still has lots of notebooks of my writings as a kid. And when I was in high school, I had some notebooks passed around school filled with my poems and my friends copied them into their notebooks.
What’s your earliest memory related to writing or books?
I think I was 5 years old when I learned how to spell my name and I still have a memory of that. So I was reading quite prolifically as a child, I was reading whatever I can get my hands on. I love reading and I think when you love something, you just want to create your own so I wrote lots as well. But I think my earliest memory is that, learning how to write my name.
Have you always wanted to be a writer?
Yes, that’s how I’ve always envisioned myself when I was a little girl. I’ve always wanted to be an author; that was my big dream. But I didn’t think I’d ever achieve it because it seemed like an impossible dream and it always has throughout my life. If anything in the last year or so, it looked like a possibility.
How did your book came about?
Initially, I self-published. I’ve been sharing my poetry on social media and it went viral so a lot of people were asking me for a book. So I started to self-publish and I ended up selling a lot more than [I expected] and it got the attention of some agents in New York. One of them called me up and I was signed to Writers House and they’re a really great agency, [the one behind] Twilight [by Stephenie Meyer], John Green, Neil Gaiman. They’ve got some really great authors. So they signed me up and within literally days I had a publishing deal with Andrews McMeel. Basically, they loved the manuscript so the book went out into the market via mainstream publishing so lots more people could get it. Because when I was self-publishing it was a little bit difficult to get the book, because it was on special order.
I read on your Tumblr page that you love Emily Dickinson.
I think my work is really influenced by Emily Dickinson. There’s so much passion and emotion in her poetry. It was written in a sort of simplistic style and I think that’s why her work is still very relevant today.
What’s your ultimate favorite Emily Dickinson poem?
There’s so many! There’s a poem called “A Word” and I think it goes something like: “A word is dead / when it is said / some say. / I say it just / begins to live / that day.” It’s so succinct. And it’s really quite beautiful and it’s a sort of philosophical way of looking at a word and how life is as beautiful, I think.
Do you read a lot of novels? Do you also have favorite novelists?
Yes, I haven’t in the last few years but I read a lot when I was younger. I think my favorite novelist would be Haruki Murakami because I think his work is fantastical but at the same time it’s got elements that are so real. Some of his prose is quite poetic and I think if I was to write a novel, I’d love to write something [like that] because I’m very interested in magic and fantasy as well. It’s really great how he creates the characters and how they’re all hyper-real and really believable even though it’s fantastical.
My copy of 'Love and Misadventure' signed by Lang Leav
When I heard the word magic, I couldn’t help but ask her (because I’m such a big fan of the man, too):
So do you also like Neil Gaiman?
Yes, I’ve recently read American Gods and it was great.
Do you plan on writing in a different genre?
I’ve started work on a novel but that’s something I’m giving myself the freedom to explore. I might not ever publish it but it’s something I’m really excited about and I think it pretty much consumes me. So I’m going to see how that goes, I might spend a couple of years working on that. I’ve got another poetry book coming out soon, I’m just putting the finishing touches to it and then it’s going to go to my publisher.
If you can give one piece of advice to aspiring writers and authors, what would it be?
I think write from your heart. Don’t worry too much about trying to conform to certain styles. Just write from your heart because I think that’s how you find your voice. I think there’s a kind of beauty and purity of writing from your heart. And if you want to get better from writing, you just got to keep writing and that’s the only way to do it. It’s good to read books because books are your best teachers. And also, experience is great too. So I think the more you’ve lived, the more your writing has that authenticity to it because when you’ve lived through something it’s much easier to write about it in a way that’s very convincing.
Meeting Lang Leav
Lang is such a darling and it felt more like a conversation in a café rather than a 15-minute interview. I told her how she inspires me to pursue my own poet dreams.
"I think before my book, I’ve had a lot of people say that it’s the first poetry book to have any sort of major recognition," she shares. "I think if that opens the door for more poetry – people to be more interested in the genre, for more contemporary poets like you to get into the spotlight, that makes me happy, the idea that it inspires other people to write as well."
"Because I think when people hear poetry, they have this archaic idea of how it should be," I tell her.
"Yes, yes! And esoteric," she responds. "I don’t believe in that necessarily. Robert Frost had a lot of critics saying he writes too simplistically but then you have other critics saying he had an amazing command of the English language. The way he wrote was simplistic but it was incredibly intelligent in a way that he was able to convey such complex emotions so simply and such profound ideas, he could contain them into the tiniest verses. I think that’s a skill that a lot of people tend to underestimate. I think it’s easy to make something really complex and to follow the rules and write like poetry that makes up a formula. I think there’s great skill in that too and that’s what I also admire but to me, I think I’m more interested in poetry that speaks to the soul."
'Love and Misadventure,' a compilation of Lang Leav's poetry, prose and illustrations, is available at Fully Booked. Follow Lang Leav on Twitter (@langleav), Like her Facebook page (mslangleav), and visit her official blog (

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