Perhaps this has already circulated around the blogging world, but it was new to me... I recently emailed Lauren Kate after reading (and loving) her novel Fallen. She sent back an email answering my questions and more. I hope you enjoy this and be sure to visit her website: http://laurenkatebooks.net/
ABOUT THE BOOKS:
Who is Luce based on? Which character are you most like?
The physical traits of Luce (pronounced Loose) are based on my oldest, closest friend the dark wavy hair, hazel eyes, tiny teeth, etc. When I first started writing her, I pulled some personality traits from this friend, but as I continued with her story, Luce veered away from my friend into an identity of her own. I share some traits with herlike her stubbornness and tendency to get swept away by romance. But if I had to which one Im most like (though this is hard to imagine), I might be a crazy combination of Arriane and Penn.
Did you struggle in coming up with any of the characters?
Daniel was the most challenging, mainly because the full truth of his character has to come to light very slowly over the course of the entire series in order for the books to work. The reveal at the end of the first book was probably one that most readers saw coming...it is book about fallen angels after all! But there's a much bigger, game-changing reveal about Daniel to come later in the series. It's challenging for me to know what's coming and only be able to show the reader so much at this point. Daniel's character is difficult enough as it is! But I like to think of him as a work in progress, a developing story, and someone who, above all, knows Luce better than anyone else (including herself), and has her best interest at heart.
What happened to Trevor? Who is the good and who is the bad guy? Why did these angels fall? Why did you kill Penn? Why did Daniel give Luce the middle finger? Why did you end the book with so many unanswered questions??
That is the blessing and the curse of writing a series! I wish I could give you all the answers now, but please believe me that I have a reason for withholding some of the details! I must torment you until Torment comes out in the fall! In the meantime, check out the Sword and Cross Case Files at www.fallenbooks.com to learn a little bit more about who's who in Fallen!
Why did you choose to write it in third person instead of in first?
I love talking about point of view and love playing with it in my books. In the case of Fallen, I didnt intentionally choose this point of view. Most of the time when I start a new story, Ill hear a line in my head before I start writing. In this case, it was the first sentence of Chapter One (more or less). The choice to say Luce instead of I was implicit, not something I was entirely aware of. I just started writing, but it felt true to the story to tell it from a close, close third, so I kept it. Were almost in Luces head, but theres that small point of view choice separating us. She remains just a little bit unknowable, which is how I wanted her character to be.
How long did Fallen take you to write?
I blazed through a first draft of Fallen in about two months. I write fast and furious and then take a break and usually go back for another month or two of heavy revision. I write in Microsoft Word on an old ibook with most of the keyboard letters worn off!
What about your other book, The Betrayal of Natalie Hargrove?
Betrayal is my first novel and was as much of a guilty pleasure to write as I hope it is for people to read. Its a dark, funny, gothic story about one girls twisted path towards Queen Bee-dom. Its a Cruel Intentions meets Friday Night Lights meets MacBeth (told from Lady MacBeths point of view), set in the contemporary south. People read Fallen and they ask me whether I went to a school like Sword and Cross. Not even close! Actually, its the school in Betrayal that is a thinly veiled version of my utterly enormous and insanely Texan high school. All the things Natalie cares about in Betrayal are very close to my high school heart.
Like Fallen, Betrayal is richly southern gothicFallen is set in Savannah and Betrayal is set in Charleston, South Carolinaso the same sort of wonderfully oppressive southern scenes are important to both books. But where Luce is struggling to find her place in a new, unfamiliar school, Natalie is a girl at the top of her gameand she wont let anything compromise that. Like every complex character, they both have some pretty remarkable skeletons in their closet. Natalie is a bit naughtier than Luce, but I imagine they would be friends. Actually, Nats kind of like a type-A version of Arriane.
No plans (yet) to write a sequel to Betrayal, but you never know!
Can you give us a hint about what will happen in Torment?
Im having so much fun writing Torment right now. I think Im more proud of it than any book Ive written so far. Really, its going to be GOOD. Its hard for me not to spill everything right now so I can say, Arent you excited? Wont this be great? But my publisher would probably have my head. So in lieu of that, Ill reveal just three things:
As Luce learns more about her past, she comes into a host of powers she never knew she hadand they might involve the shadows.
After the second book comes out, a prequel (which will span thousands of years!) will follow before the final book in the series.
Even though, of course, Daniel is Luces one-and-only, a new character is introduced in Torment that offers him some stiff competition.
Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
I've been writing stories since I was in middle school, so I love talking to people who are interesting in writing. One question I get often has to do with what to do when you get stuck, and the clearest advice I can give about that would be to look at the scene from a different angle and write through it. Say I'm trying to write a scene about two people having an argument at sunset and can't figure out how to make it interesting or fresh. Sometimes, when it takes me a while to get warmed up, I'll imagine how someone else--my husband, my best friend, someone I recently argued with--might see the same sunset. What would they notice about it that I wouldn't, or vice versa? Write a whole paragraph about the sunset instead of just a sentence. Then go back and look at what is strongest image you came up with. Which image reflects something new about your characters? Save that image, cut the rest. Eventually, those strong images will pop out first in your mind.
To those of you who are working on a novel or have finished one and are sending out your work: stick with it! I dont think you can ever be too young (or too old!) to start sending out your work. In addition to Fallen, I have another novel I have been working on for eight years now and I know that someday Im going to finish it! I couldnt even begin to count how many rejection letters Ive received over the years from agents, publishers, editors, and contest judges. What kept me writing was the support of other friends who are writers and a dogged determination to someday get my writing published. There were times when I never thought it would happen, but now Im so glad I kept writing. Find a writing-buddy, share your work, revise it over and over again, read it aloud, stay true to yourself and your voice, and dont give up. An English or a Writing program are great ways to read widely and meet other writers. You can get a lot of great practice writing and revising in an academic program but I wouldnt say the degrees you earn are necessary. If youre looking for an agent, Writers Marketplace (the book) is a great place to start. There are also tons of publishing blogs out there with suggestions for agents. Its mostly about finding someone whose tastes and sensibilities match yours.
To those of you who have asked, Im sorry that I cant agree to take a look at your own writing and offer feedback. I would love to have the time to do that, but I have to start working on my next book!!
ABOUT LAUREN KATE:
When did you start writing?
When I was younger, I wrote often and across a lot of genrespoetry, songs, stories, lots and lots of diary writing. I started focusing mainly on fiction by the time I was in high school, and longer stories came more naturally to me than short stories. I majored in creative writing in college, and went on to get a masters degree in fictionbut I dont think those things are necessary to being a good writer. Practice, curiosity, voracious reading, and diligence are more important than any degree. I finished writing my first novel right when I graduated collegebut nothing ever happened with it. It look another six years before I had a book accepted for publication.
Did you read a lot growing up? What are your favorite books?
Ive always been a voracious reader. I cant go on vacation for a weekend without at least five books. Growing up, my favorite author was Roald Dahl, and I think I read each of his books ten times. My favorite childrens/YA writers are Lois Lowry, Frances Hardinge, Meg Rosoff, Maureen Johnson, Phillip Pullman, and John Green. A few of my favorite adult books are To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf, The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, and One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
Can I get a signed copy of Fallen or an advance copy Torment?
I dont have any copies of Torment ARCS (sorry!) and Im OUT of my copies of Fallen (except for two I am holding onto!). I very much appreciate all of you who are interested in reviewing my books online and I encourage you to sign up for Random Buzzers on the Random House website to get on the mailing list for advance copies of their books. Maybe youll get a copy of Torment before it comes out! Email email@example.com.
Can I send you a letter?
PO Box 461514
Los Angeles, CA 90046
ABOUT PUBLICATION AND PROMOTION:
How many Fallen books are you writing? What's the publishing plan for the series? When is the next book coming out?
Fallen is the first book in the four-book seriesthough I will be writing a prequel to explain some of the things that have happened before the narrative of Fallen began. Torment picks up right where Fallen left off and will be published in hardcover in September, 28 2010. Sounds far away, doesn't it? But it'll be here before any of us can believe it. There will be two more books after that, Passion in the summer of 2011(this will be the prequel), and a final (currently untitled) book in December 2011.
Will there be a movie?
It looks like there is a real possibility!The film rights for all four books were optioned by Disney/Mayhem Productions last week. I got to have lunch with the Disney people and they seem really excited about getting the movie going. More to come! I will keep you posted on my blog. (Also, there is no connection to the other movie called Fallen, which came out in 2008.)
Tell me more about the cover art! Where can I buy that dress!
Many people have asked about my involvement in the cover art. I actually had nothing to do with it (which is a lucky thing for all of us)and no, I am not the girl on the cover! Shes a model from Brazil (though I dont know her name), the artists name is Fernanda Brusi Goncalves, and the cover was designed by a very talented team of designers at Random House. I did a little grateful grovel when I finally got to meet them a few months ago. Im sorry I dont know who designed the dress, though Ive been told Morgan LaFaye has a very similar one in her wedding collection (which also comes in black!).
When my editor first emailed me a jpeg of this art, it took me about thirty seconds to wrap my mind around someone elses image of the world and Luces character, but quickly after that, I fell in love with it. I had the same reaction to the just released Torment cover. And I want both of the dresses!
If you've made it through most or all of this email, I truly appreciate your interest. I hope I've answered most of your questions. Thank you all for reading and for sharing your thoughts with me.