You Asked, Author Lauren Oliver Answered!
Recently, YA author Lauren Oliver, whose novel Before I Fall and her Delirium series landed her on the New York Times bestseller’s list, participated in our new series where fans and readers ask the questions. In-between promoting her newest novel Panic and stepping into the adult fiction limelight with her upcoming novel Rooms (due out September 23, 2014), Oliver addressed your queries on where her inspiration for her characters comes from, what she likes to read, and whether or not she plans to write another Delirium book. Read on to find out what she had to say!
Lauren from Ohio: When did you first become interested in writing?
Lauren Oliver: I’ve really always been a writer. I first started writing as an extension of my great love of reading. My parents are both literature professors and reading was a fundamental part of the fabric of our daily lives. My first pieces were extensions of or riffs on published novels I’d read and loved — I was basically doing fan fiction without knowing it.
Erin from Pennsylvania: Which one of your characters do you think you are most like?
LO: I think I kind of write myself into all of my characters, so I’m not sure I can pick one in particular. Certainly, my main characters end up inheriting my personality traits. I’m probably a mash-up of all of them.
Ana from Mexico City: If you could go back in time and change something, what day would it be and why?
LO: That’s a very difficult question, particularly if you consider the ramifications of time travel — would changing something in the past mean that everything changed in the future? If so, I probably wouldn’t change anything; I’m very happy with where I ended up. If not…There is something I would like to have been able to say to a friend before he died. I would probably choose to go back and say it.
Maria from Spain: Would you ever consider adding a book to the Delirium trilogy?
LO: Although I’ve been thrilled and flattered by the fact that my fans so voraciously want a fourth book, the Delirium trilogy is finished for me. I’m very pleased with the way I brought it to a conclusion and have so many other stories I want to tell.
Renee from Australia: Generally, what are your favorite types of characters to write out in your books and what makes them your favorite?
LO: I’ve never thought about that! I’m not sure, actually. I’m a writer who is deeply driven by characters — exploring people’s motivations and behaviors is one of the major reasons I became a writer in the first place. It’s always fun to write love interests, of course, and I think in general I enjoy exploring secondary or ancillary characters. It’s always a challenge to make them feel dimensional, since they get less “screen” time.
Christina from Missouri: Now that you’ve written for many different age groups including adult, young adult and middle grade, do you have a favorite? And will you continue to bridge the age ranges in your writing? Why or why not?
LO: I don’t have a favorite; I think what’s fun about diversifying is that it allows me to tell different types of stories and explore different themes. I will absolutely continue to experiment with genre. Just as I’d never limit myself to reading one kind of book, I won’t limit myself to writing one kind of book, either.
Brianna from Missouri: How did you come up with the character of Heather in Panic?
LO: Characters come to me, actually, not the other way around. Heather appeared to me the way so many of my characters do — shyly at first, in broad strokes, and then with more specificity. I always compare exploring a character to meeting someone new — at first you’re acquaintances only and know very little, but as you begin to write about them they kind of show you their inner mechanisms, their fears, what they want.
Jessica from Oregon: All of your characters are capturing and alluring, as if they are a part of you. Are any of the situations that your characters face derived from any personal experiences you’ve had in life?
LO: Oh, yes, I definitely use my writing as both a diary and a confessional. My characters are often struggling with emotional difficulties I’ve encountered or had to face, and I even pull specific details from my real life. My books are actually encoded with a secret meeting that only I know: names of people I’ve dated and places I’ve lived; secrets I’ve kept; anxieties I have but have always been too afraid to confess.
Anna from the United Kingdom: What genre of books do you like to read (is it the same as what you write?), and do you have a particular favorite novel at the moment? Why?
LO: I read incredibly broadly. I read, first of all, between a book and three books a week, so it’s impossible to pick favorites — they’re always changing. I read everything from middle grade to YA, to adult, to mystery, to fantasy, to nonfiction science and math books, to polysci, to philosophy. I’m all over the map! I recently read an early copy of a novel called Queen of the Tearling, which was amazing.
Sarah from Oregon: How do you think you’ve evolved creatively since your first novel, and what would you like to change in your writing or challenge yourself with?
LO: I think (or at least I hope) that I embrace more challenging projects — I’ve gotten better about form and structure, which has allowed me to attempt a wide variety of projects. I’m less tolerant for flowery or redundant language. I hope my characterizations are improving. And I hope, too, that I’m always improving. There’s so many things I’d like to do better: world-building; tackling more expansive themes, such as whole political climates; crisping up my language. That’s the great thing about writing, though — you do get better, the more you do it!
Featured image: Young adult author Lauren Oliver. Photo Courtesy of: © Mike Holliday, 2013.