Author Chat: Lauren Oliver (author of Before I Fall)

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 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, 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.

Lauren Oliver and I - Author Carnival, New York May 2010

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.

20 thoughts on “Author Chat: Lauren Oliver (author of Before I Fall)

  1. What a nicely done interview. I love the author’s words also.

    “Even mean girls aren’t just mean; there are always layers and layers, and I think it’s important to recognize that.”

    I can’t wait to read “Before I Fall.” Good luck on your next book too, Lauren.

  2. Nice and informative interview. I’ll have to sneak my recommendations for this book to my former library. There is no one there with any knowledge of YA or middle grade fiction. I can think of quite a few of our teens who would like this book. I’ll be looking for it myself to read. I see the advantage of setting a story up this way. You are showing growth, but not over time. It sounds like it is more in terms of how to handle the same situation differently and learning from it. I look forward to reading BEFORE I FALL.
    Best of luck with the new trilogy. Hope you enjoy Cape Cod. We need to go back again. It has been a long time.

  3. I like the concept in the book “Delirium,” that love has been declared a deadly and contagious disease! I sort of suspected that…lol.

    Thanks for the charming and informative chat, Sheila and Lauren.

  4. Well done on the interview, you put it accross really wellas you you both sitting together having a chat!

    I have her book on my wishlist.

    Good job


  5. That was a great interview! I loved Before I Fall and when I read it I was visiting my family and my sister (17) had been picked on a lot in High School so I really thought about that a lot while reading this book and thought it was a perfect book for her to read and to understand that the girl who picked on her had some personal issues that led her to pick on my sister. I really loved that this book was so different and told from a type of person we normally hate on.
    I can’t wait to read more of Lauren Olivers stuff! Devoted fan here!

  6. I absolutely loved this book. I couldn’t put it down. Great interview btw 🙂 The ending left me breathless and dying for more.

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