Screenwriting Alumna Debuts Novel

Amy Talkington ‘88 released her first novel “Liv, Forever” in March

During her high school years, Amy Talkington ‘88 was just another Hockaday student. Now, she is living the life of her dreams in Hollywood as an award-winning screenwriter, director and now author of her first novel, “Liv, Forever,” which was released on March 11.

Published by Soho Teen, teenage fiction novel “Liv, Forever” centers around love and the supernatural. Motivated by the Occupy Movement, a series of international protests against social and economic inequality, Talkington wanted to convey the divide between the people of the U.S. through a novel. “[It] comes to play in the school’s mythology and conspiracy,” she said.

“Liv, Forever” is set at a boarding school, inspired by the two high schools Talkington attended—Hockaday and Choate Rosemary Hall, a co-ed boarding school in Wallingford, Conn.

Before Talkington began writing novels, however, she wrote screenplays.

Many of her Hockaday teachers, including Fine Arts Department Chair Ed Long, inspired her career in the film industry.

“She was an interesting blend of someone who had incredible concentration and someone who could have certain joy in things,” Long said. “In some ways, that’s very predictive of film directing because you have to concentrate on a dime, yet what you may be concentrating on has to appear effortless.”

These qualities helped Talkington advance in her career as a screenwriter.

“To be a happy screenwriter in Hollywood, you have to derive pleasure from what you do on a day-to-day basis and not get too invested in the final outcome,” Talkington said.

One of the many struggles of screenwriting, Talkington said, is accepting defeat when movies are either developed, but never completed, or completely rewritten by someone else.

As a result, Talkington transitioned from screenwriting to novel writing.

“Publishing a novel has helped mitigate all that because I’m putting something

into the world, and it wasn’t even rewritten by anyone except me,” Talkington said.

Talkington had to delve deep into her past and explore herself in order to obtain a clear idea for the main character of her novel before writing. She wanted to portray Liv as similar to her true teenage self: “an artist…[who] projected a tough attitude but when it came down to it was emotionally vulnerable,” Talkington said.

“I’d have to say that the character of Liv was my inspiration….she’s a heightened version of my teenage self, and I wanted to explore that,” she said.

Talkington also wanted to publish a novel because of her interest in the supernatural.

“I’ve been interested in ghosts and the supernatural world for a long time, so I started to think about how I might craft a ghost story involving a character like Liv,” she said.

While writing “Liv, Forever,” Talkington read specific books to research how ghosts had been portrayed in recent teenage fiction novels. These books included “The Name of the Star” by Maureen Johnson, “The Diviners” by Libba Ray, “If I Stay” by Gayle Forman, “Ghostgirl” by Tonya Hurley and “The Lovely Bones” by Alice Sebold.

After pondering the “ghost rules,” Talkington said, she wrote her own story, focusing on how ghosts interact with the world and themselves. “To me, the story is all about learning to love,” she said. “That is really Liv’s journey—learning to love herself, her art and others.”

Talkington recently received the Junior Library Guild Selection Award of 2014 for “Liv, Forever.” Her novel was also awarded the “Best Young Adult Book of the Month” by

She is currently writing a sequel to “Liv, Forever,” as well as a feature film script.

Talkington’s achievements include writing and directing several feature films, short films and TV shows in her career. Some of these include “Night of the White Pants,” “Second Skin” and Disney’s “Avalon High.” She has received many awards for her achievements, such as the Writer’s Guild Award for “Outstanding Children’s Script” in 2011 for “Avalon High” and the New Line Cinema Award in 1998 for “Best Director” for “Second Skin.”

But no number of awards will hinder Talkington from striving to attain higher goals. Her publisher at Soho Teen, Meredith Barnes, has high hopes for the future as well.

“I would hope that we’re getting ‘Liv, Forever’ on the big or small screen,” Barnes said. “Amy has been hard at work putting together a great group of people that want to see [it] filmed, it’s coming along swimmingly so far.”

In support of “Liv, Forever,” Talkington will be reading and signing books at Barnes & Noble Lincoln Park in Dallas on Friday at 7 p.m.

– Erin Thomas