Hey guys! Today, I have Lauren Oliver, author of Before I Fall with me! You can see my review here!
What if you had only one day to live? What would you do? Who would you kiss? And how far would you go to save your own life?
Samantha Kingston has it all: the world's most crush-worthy boyfriend, three amazing best friends, and first pick of everything at Thomas Jefferson High—from the best table in the cafeteria to the choicest parking spot. Friday, February 12, should be just another day in her charmed life.
Instead, it turns out to be her last.
Then she gets a second chance. Seven chances, in fact. Reliving her last day during one miraculous week, she will untangle the mystery surrounding her death—and discover the true value of everything she is in danger of losing.
Did you ever base any of your characters on anybody?
I think many of my characters are an amalgam of people that I know: the personality traits of four or five of my friends might have unconsciously informed a single character, for example. No single character is a representation of any single person I know, although certainly there are types—the immature, self-absorbed boy, the alpha girl—whom I have known in real life and whose characteristics are reflected in the book. But I always say that fictional characters are like the characters in dreams: ultimately, every single one of them is a reflection of you. That makes writing a supremely narcissistic profession.
What do you see as your strengths and weaknesses as an author?
I think there’s strength in my dialogue; I have a realistic understanding of speech rhythms and patterns (probably because I spend all my time blathering on with my friends!). I also think I’m decent on a line-by-line basis, with images and description and things like that.
There is, paradoxically, a weakness there as well: I have a tendency to over-write, particularly when I’m not sure how to move the story forward. This is indicative of another weakness of mine: plotting does not come easily to me. It is painstaking and agonizing and definitely something I have to continuously work on.
Why did you choose to write about such a mysterious suspense novel?
Hmmm. I’m not sure I quite chose it. Actually, when I first conceived of the book I really conceived of it as character-driven: Samantha Kingston, the main character, is selfish and cruel and petty at the beginning of the book, but as she comes to a deeper understanding of herself, and her role in other people’s lives, she changes.
I needed her to begin to see her life as inextricable from other people’s, and in order to do that, I needed to interweave various story-lines and create some mystery surrounding Sam’s death. So the mystery was actually in service to the emotional arc of the story.
What's the most interesting thing a reader has ever said to you?
A reader told me that Before I Fall helped her grieve a young relative who had died. This was a totally unexpected consequence of having written a novel that deals with death. I was blown away (and, of course, honored) by that statement.
Are you excited to have released your debut novel?
Excited, agonizingly anxious, petrified, and thrilled.
What's the best part and the most difficult part of the publishing process for you?
The most difficult part is definitely the moment when you have to let go of your book and let it go out into the world—when you can no longer edit or tweak, but must accept that in some ways, the book is no longer solely (or even primarily) your own. People will (hopefully) read it, and judge it; criticize it; hate it or love it or feel indifferently toward it. I’m a huge control freak, and relinquishing this control does not come naturally to me at all.
The best part? Getting to work with brilliant and motivated people who are as passionate about books as I am. My agent, my editor, the marketing team at Harper, the sales force, the designers—they’re like a micro-constellation of support, and they’re all rooting for me, and it feels incredible.
How does it feel being an author?
Honestly, it feels amazing. I keep expecting to wake up one day and feel indifferent about it, but so far that hasn’t happened. I am truly blessed; there is no distinction between what I like to do for pleasure and what I get to do for my job. I get to live my life in a very passionate way, which is critical to me. (I am a Scorpio, after all.)
Book you've faked reading:
This is terrible and embarrassing, but I have tried to read Lolita, by Nabokov, several times, and I always get stuck around page 60. I’ve now just started lying about having completed the book. I guess the secret is out! I’VE NEVER READ LOLITA, GUYS. Sorry.
Book you've bought for the cover:
2666, by Robert Bolano: not for the cover so much as the exquisite box-set that FSG released a year or so ago.
Book you're an evangelist for:
The Tale of Despereaux, by Kate DiCamillo. When it came out, I made all of my friends read it. Ditto Proust was a Neuroscientist, by Jonah Lehrer. Very different books, both excellent.
Anything else you'd like to add?
That’s about it! Thanks so much for the chance to interview. It was so fun.