Monday, January 07, 2013

Author Interview: Lauren Oliver

By Karen Rock
for Cynthia Leitich Smith's Cynsations

Beloved, bestselling, YA author Lauren Oliver, stopped by to chat with us about her contemporary novel Before I Fall, dystopian series, Delirium, and her exciting, upcoming projects.

Here’s what she had to say about her eclectic writing journey:

As a successful writer of both realistic and dystopian fiction with Before I Fall and your Delirium series, what elements are important to you, regardless of genre, in appealing to readers?

I think people read novels to learn, essentially, about people. So it’s important for me to create realistic and well-rounded characters and to show them undergoing transformations.

The story structure of Before I Fall is one of the most unique, memorable, and effective formats I’ve read. Would you discuss your thought-process in telling the story this way? How did it help you fulfill the goals you had for the novel? 

I’m not sure it was totally conscious; I needed to find a way for Sam, the main character, to begin to perceive the consequences of her actions. I thought of it in terms of a physical analogy: a person orbiting around a single set of events and seeing them from different angles.

Some might question if a popular, self-absorbed, charmed protagonist like Samantha Kingston would be relatable to readers. Why was she the right narrator for Before I Fall? How did you transform her into the sympathetic character we root for by the end of the novel?

I always felt that although Sam was not particularly likable, she was deeply recognizable.

And from the beginning I tried to give hints that there were aspects of her character that could were redeemable. She’s not a bad person. But she’s a very, very careless and afraid person at the start of the novel. She moves toward a kind of bravery and integrity over the course of the book.

To what degree do you feel chance versus choice determines our destiny? How does this issue factor into Before I Fall?

Well, I think Before I Fall is ultimately a book about choice, although there are some ultimate “limits” to what we can influence (i.e., Sam cannot ultimately control her death). At the same time, I believe choice, personal choice, has tremendous impact in our lives.

What drew you to a dystopian series project after writing Before I Fall?

I didn’t originally conceive it as a “dystopian” project; that’s a label that was applied to the book afterward. I was drawn to the concept and the character of Lena, and I was very clear about the fact that I wanted to do something quite different from BIF.

What real world issues served as inspiration when imagining Delirium’s dystopian world?

I was definitely inspired by places in the world where issues of love and sex are rigorously controlled and where access to free information is limited.

The question of whether giving up personal control is needed for a stable society is one Lena learns to question in Delirium and challenges in its sequel, Pandemonium. 

What further realizations and/or character growth can we expect for Lena in the next novel in the series, Requiem… and any chance that release date is moved up from March, 2013?

In Requiem, Lena begins to question whether such a thing as free choice truly exists, or whether we are always influenced by the confluence of external circumstances. And sadly, the release date has not yet moved up!

I’ve heard that Requiem will be told in alternating points of view. What prompted your exciting decision to change the narration of the series? What can you share about it with your fans?

In order to keep pushing myself as a writer, I feel I need to keep challenging myself to try different perspectives, different kinds of projects, different voices. So I really wanted Requiem to push the boundary in terms of what I’d already tried.

Thanks for answering our questions, Lauren! Your diverse tastes keep your fans intrigued and guessing. What upcoming projects can we look forward to seeing from you? 

I’m working on a realistic YA called Panic, and after that, I have a book for grownups coming out. I’ll keep doing YA and middle grade and all of it, if I can!

Cynsational Notes

More on Karen Rock
In a quest to provide her eighth grade students with quality reading material, English teacher Karen Rock read everything out there and couldn’t wait to add her voice to the conversation of books.

Now a debut YA series author, Karen is thrilled to pen stories that teens can relate to. When she’s not busy reading and writing, Karen is downloading live versions of favorite songs, watching "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" marathons, obsessing over reality TV contestants (Adam Lambert you were robbed!), cooking her family’s delizioso Italian recipes, and occasionally rescuing local wildlife from neighborhood cats.

She lives in the Adirondack Mountain region with her husband, her very appreciated beta-reader daughter and two King Charles Cavalier Cocker Spaniels who have yet to understand the concept of “fetch,” though they’ve managed to teach her the trick!

Check out her website, her co-author website, her Facebook page, and follow her on twitter @karenrock5. Then check out Camp Boyfriend.

2 comments:

Varsha Bajaj said...

Thanks for interviewing Lauren Oliver. before I Fall is one of the most thoughtful, compelling YAs I have read. i hope you plan to write more contemporary realistic fiction.

Lovey Dovey Books said...

Great interview! I'm looking forward to Lauren's future novels. Even though I've only had the chance to read Delirium, I'm excited to see what else she comes out with!

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