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Sunday December 5th

UNC graduate moves back to NC to write novel

<p>Leon Capetanos. Courtesy of&nbsp;Hannah Turner</p>
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Leon Capetanos. Courtesy of Hannah Turner

The former English major just published his first novel, “The Time Box,” which focuses on 12-year-old Tommy, a young boy who starts to question reality and his existence.

The novel, at its core, is about an adolescent on the cusp of growing up, grappling with an existential crisis and experiencing first love.

Raised in Raleigh, Capetanos said he never really grew out of this stage.

“I don’t think I ever really recovered from being 12.”

Capetanos is credited for writing screenplays for films such as “Moscow on the Hudson,” “Down and Out in Beverly Hills,” “Fletch Lives” and “Moon Over Parador,” and has worked with Robin Williams, Bette Midler, Chevy Chase and Richard Dreyfuss.

“All the people I worked with were very interesting,” Capetanos said. “Robin Williams was a real pro, and Bette Midler is very funny.”

Despite the success he found in Hollywood, Capetanos said film work was an exhausting business.

“Screenwriting is a collaborative business and can be mentally frustrating because you have to keep compromising to please many different people,” he said.

So after 40 years, Capetanos decided to do what he had originally planned to do all along— move back to North Carolina. He settled back down in Cary and set out to rediscover his previous joy of writing.

Still, Capetanos said he was reluctant to begin a novel.

“This novel has shown me that I still love doing this work,” he said.

Although classified as a young adult novel, the book appeals to a wider audience.

“If you’ve been 12, you can read it and understand it because it’s a book about the moment when you start thinking about yourself and your existence,” he said.

Hannah Turner, Capetanos’ publicist, said the book was an opportunity to reminisce.

“It brings back a sense of nostalgia from when you were 12, and it makes you remember things,” she said.

Tonight, Capetanos will read from his novel at Raleigh’s Quail Ridge Books, where he will bring in 12-year-old students to read the book with him.

Bookseller Trish Coffey, said the bookstore tries to support local authors.

“We have events nearly every day, and he was a local author,” she said.

As for what’s next for Capetanos — a possible sequel.

“Kids have asked for a sequel, and I say maybe, but there are a couple other stories I’d like to start first.”

His advice for current struggling UNC students: “Enjoy yourself, enjoy your work and enjoy your time at UNC. Hard work trumps talent.”


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