Interview with Lauren Oliver

October, 2016
Lauren Oliver
For her new book, Replica, Lauren Oliver embraced a bold and ambitious format. It's a "flip book" comprising two interdependent stories told from the perspectives of Gemma and Lyra—one an average (albeit sickly) teenager; the other a replica born and raised in a research facility. Readers can enjoy one story, then turn the book over to read the other, or read them at the same time in alternating chapters. Together the gripping narratives create a third, larger novel. The first in a new science fiction series, Replica raises questions about humanity and identity as Gemma and Lyra grapple with secrets and sinister revelations that question all they know. Oliver, the dexterous, prolific author of bestsellers, including Before I Fall, Vanishing Girls, Panic, and the Delirium series, answers your questions about the challenges of writing Replica, creating characters, and what it's been like seeing Before I Fall made into a film.




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Tricia: I would love to find out where you get your ideas for books. Your novels and series are so varied. If I could only see inside your mind!

Lauren Oliver: I get a lot of ideas from reading the newspaper! Our reality is so fascinating and weird; one of my favorite quotes about the difference between fiction and reality is that fiction has to stick to what is plausible. It is very inspiring for me. A lot of my novels begin by asking myself a question: How could I make this story into a novel? What might have happened to make the world look this way?

Marissa: One of the aspects of your writing I love is how fully your characters come alive. How do you go about creating such vivid characters?

LO: Thank you! I think writing is an interesting job because much of the work you do as a writer you do well before you sit down at the computer. You have to observe people. You have to ask questions. You have to do your best to truly understand what motivates them, to pay attention to their quirks and bad habits and particularities. One of the mistakes new writers make is to render their characters too consistent. Real people are paradoxical; they almost never make sense.

Erika: Where did the inspiration for Replica come from—specifically the setting?

LO: What inspired me to write Replica was more the structure of the book; the setting came later. I've long been interested in the idea of writing two books that relate but are not totally dependent on one another, and when I began to think about replicas and genetics and two girls whose histories were entwined and yet radically different, it seemed like the perfect time to attempt it.

Stef: When writing a book like Replica, with two parallel stories, what does your writing process look like?

LO: Miserable! No, but it required a lot of very, very detailed outlining to make sure that information comes at the right time in each narrative and that time flows correctly. Years ago Lev Grossman introduced me to the word program Scrivener (thanks, Lev!), and I actually do think it has allowed me to tackle some more sophisticated projects.

Torosa: How did you come up with the idea of Delirium and the concept of love being illegal?

LO: The idea for Delirium came from an essay I read by Gabriel García Márquez, in which he wrote that all great books were about love or death. Several days later I was thinking about that quote—particularly about how and in what form a modern love story could be told—while I was on the treadmill at the gym. I was simultaneously watching a news story about a flu outbreak that had everyone freaking out about the possibility of a pandemic, and I was kind of marveling that people so easily go into panics about reports of these diseases, and at some point the two trains of thought—love and disease—just combined in my head.


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Ayesha: Do you plan on expanding the Delirium series?

LO: I have no immediate plans to expand on the Delirium series, unfortunately! However, I don't like to rule anything out as a possibility. I am still hoping there may be life for the book as a movie or a TV series at some point, and I would definitely work on that.

Tobi: The Before I Fall movie is coming out super soon, and I'm so excited for it! I wanted to ask what it was like for you as a writer getting to watch your characters come to life.

LO: It was so, so surreal. I was actually really freaked out when I visited the set. The movie felt so very close to what I had been imagining…. It almost felt violating, in a strange way, as if some stranger was reading my journal! But the movie is beautiful, and I am thrilled and grateful to all the brilliant minds who collaborated on it.

Anabellmad: If you could live in one of your books, which one would you pick and why?

LO: Liesl and Po. Because I would definitely have a Bundle of my own. Part dog, part cat?? That is my heaven. I have two of each at home!

Sydney: What authors inspired you to start writing?

LO: My father [Harold Schechter] was one of them! He writes nonfiction books about serial killers, so very different subject matter, but it was from him I learned my drive and discipline. As a child, I was also very inspired by some of my early favorites—Roald Dahl, C.S. Lewis, and later, J.K. Rowling.

Andrea: If you hadn't excelled at writing, what other profession might you have chosen?

LO: Obviously I would have been a backup dancer for Beyoncé. Obviously.

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message 1: by Rahma (new)

Rahma Abdelrahman "Obviously I would have been a backup dancer for Beyoncé. Obviously. " That cracked me up so hard! XD


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