Today I am straightening up over here at Book Journey – fluffing pillows, watering the plants, and making sure the coffee is on! Why all the primping? Today – I am chatting with the author of Before I Fall, Lauren Oliver.
AND – here she is! Please give a warm welcome to Lauren Oliver.
Lauren – first off I need to know how you take your coffee?
Lauren: Large, please, with lots of milk! No sugar.
Let’s talk about the YA years for yourself. What was your favorite read and why?
Lauren: Oh, man. I’m not sure I know the answer to that question. I’ve always been such a voracious reader. I discovered Jane Austen when I was thirteen and must have read Pride and Prejudice about 87 times in one year; but, you know, I think To Kill A Mockingbird, which I read in high school, remains one of my all-time favorite books.
Before I Fall is such a unique YA read. How did the idea for this book come to be?
Lauren: It came from a bunch of different places, really. I really wanted to write a book about change; I wanted to explore themes of redemption and evolution in the context of a character who, at the start, is kind of mean and petty and self-involved. I tried to brainstorm a set of conditions that would enable a girl like that to begin to grow and expand and see herself in a broader context—ultimately, that became the mechanism of having Sam relive her last day. But that part of the book was almost incidental to the character, in a weird way.
Ooh…. I like that. The characters that Sam hangs out with, are not the nicest chicks on the block. Do these girls represent girls you knew?
Lauren: I didn’t base the characters on anybody in particular, but I did base them on my understanding of how people can behave. Although Sam’s friends aren’t necessarily sympathetic, I do think they’re recognizable; we’ve all met people like that. We might have even been people like that. And over the course of the book I did try and reveal more of the characteristics, fears, and anxieties that motivated their behaviors. Even mean girls aren’t just mean; there are always layers and layers, and I think it’s important to recognize that.
Lauren, I like how you said that – even the mean girls are layers and layers. There is usually something stemming the mean – and I think you bring that out in Before I Fall. What is the overall message you are going for in the book?
Lauren: I wasn’t going for any particular message, necessarily, but I think some of the themes that are important to the book are themes of connection—we are all fundamentally interrelated—and, again, the celebration of the fullness of other people. Empathy is probably the most important message of the book.
I see you have a book coming out in 2011 called Delirium. Can you tell us a bit about that?
Lauren: Sure! Delirium is very different from Before I Fall, but I’m very proud of it. It’s kind of a dystopian Romeo-and-Juliet story. It takes place in an alternate society: in this world, love has been declared a contagious and deadly disease—and scientists have figured out how to cure it. Delirium is the first book in a trilogy, which I’m very excited about.
That sounds good! Lauren I am dieing (no pun intended) to know, what’s happening now for you?
Lauren: Well, I’m currently working on the sequel to Delirium, which, as I mentioned, will be the first book of a trilogy. I’ve also started dabbling in some middle-grade, and my first middle-grade book, LIESL AND PO, will be released in Fall 2011, so I’m working on edits for that. I also recently started a development company with my friend and former colleague Lexa Hillyer (check us out at www.paperlanternlit.com), which enables me to really foster new writing talent and grow new book ideas. So I’ve got a lot of irons in the fire!
But what is next for me right at this very second is a burger and a dip in the ocean—it’s the 4th of July and I’m in Cape Cod!
Cape Cod? I am jealous! That has to be awesome! It is tradition for me to ask you to share one little known fact about yourself.
Lauren: Hidden talent? I can sing “Part of That World,” from the Little Mermaid, absolutely perfectly. And I also make the world’s best hamburgers; I learned the secret from my dad.
Thank you Lauren for hanging out and talking with me – I will let you get back to your wonderful time in Cape Cod! Readers, you can find more about Lauren and what’s happening at her website.
Oh – and for those of you who have read the book…. I asked Lauren a certain question I just wanted to know…. and the question AND the answer are both to be found on the Before I Fall Spoiler Page.