Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Lauren Kate - Author of Fallen
I recently contacted Lauren Kate and while she is very busy writing, she took the time to send along the following. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!
What drew you to the idea of fallen angels?
I’ve been writing love stories for as long as I’ve been writing. To me, the most complicated romances make the most interesting narratives, so I’m always looking for new obstacles to throw in my lovers’ paths. When I was getting my masters degree in fiction, I was studying biblical narratives and came across a line in Genesis (6:1-4), which describes a group of angels who fell in love with mortal women. Putting this reference together with a mention in Isaiah and another in Palsm 82, biblical scholars conclude that these angels were actually cast out of Heaven for their lust. Which means—you could say—that these angels chose love over Heaven. I found this to be an endlessly interesting set up for an incredibly complicated romance. I started thinking about what kind of mortal girl it would take to attract an angel’s attention. And what it would be like for her to find herself in this position. What kind of baggage would an angel have? What would her very over-protective parents think? From there, this whole world unfurled in my head with fallen angels, demons, reincarnation, and the war between good and evil all battling for a piece of the action.
Who is Luce based on? What does she look like to you? 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 her—like her stubbornness and tendency to get swept away by romance. But if I had to which one I’m 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.
Who is the good and who is the bad guy? Why did these angels fall? Why did you kill Penn? What’s up with the Outcasts? 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! For those of you going crazy with questions—I promise, Passion is your book! It’s got all the juicy details in it! 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.
How long do the books take you to write?
Because Luce’s story is so emotional and so intense, I like to “go there” with her and stay inside her head without coming up for too much air. I write fast and furious every day for about two months to get out a first draft. Then I take a break and usually go back for another month or two of heavy revision.
Do you have a playlist of songs for Fallen?
Not officially, but a few songs I listened to a lot as I was writing:
Drunken Angel by Lucinda Williams
You Look So Young by the Jayhawks
Not Dark Yet by Bob Dylan
The First Dance (the whole album) by Bridezilla.
I heart those of you who send me playlist suggestions, so feel free to pass them along.
How can I read those extra scenes from Fallen that I’ve heard other people talk about?
I wrote six supplemental chapters to Fallen, which have been included in various editions of the paperback or the Torment hardcover, depending on where you buy your book. In the US, Barnes and Noble, Target, Walmart, Borders, and Amazon each include a different supplement. In the UK, Waterstones includes one in Torment, and in Australia, Big W includes one. For now, each supplement is only available through the bookstore/retailer who selected to publish it, but at some point down the road these excerpt will also be available all together either in an e-book or in a compilation book. I’m sorry if this is frustrating for some of you who want to read them all right now. But someday, I promise, they’ll all be available to everyone. J
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. It’s a dark, funny, gothic story about one girl’s twisted path towards Queen Bee-dom. It’s a Cruel Intentions meets Friday Night Lights meets MacBeth (told from Lady MacBeth’s 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, it’s 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 gothic—Fallen is set in Savannah and Betrayal is set in Charleston, South Carolina—so 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 game—and she won’t 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, Nat’s kind of like a type-A version of Arriane.
No plans (yet) to write a sequel to Betrayal, but you never know!
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 don’t 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 I’m going to finish it! I couldn’t even begin to count how many rejection letters I’ve 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 I’m 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 don’t 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 wouldn’t say the degrees you earn are necessary. If you’re 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. It’s mostly about finding someone whose tastes and sensibilities match yours.
To those of you who have asked, I’m sorry that I can’t 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!!
And to anyone whose writing about angels, some of my favorite scholars are Harold Bloom, Jeffrey Burton Russell, Milton, and Dante. And of course the Bible and the extra biblical texts like the books of Enoch and the Dead Sea Scrolls.
ABOUT LAUREN KATE:
When did you start writing?
When I was younger, I wrote often and across a lot of genres—poetry, 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 fiction—but I don’t 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 college—but 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?
I’ve always been a voracious reader. I can’t 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 children’s/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 am sorry that I don’t have nearly enough books to send one to all of you who ask for them! I’m trying out a new service for autographed books so you are welcome to go to http://www.signedpage.com/authors/kate-torment.html and order one. I also 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 you’ll get a copy of Passion before it comes out! Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Can I send you a letter?
PO Box 461514
Los Angeles, CA 90046
(Also, if you would like a signed bookplate, please feel free to send me a self addressed stamped envelope to this PO Box and I’ll get one in the mail to you.)
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 series—though Passion (the third book) will explain many of the things that have happened before the narrative of Fallen began. For those of you worried about the cliffhanger at the end of Torment—don’t! Passion picks up right where Torment left off. It’s told from both Luce and Daniel’s points of view and is going to be SO COOL.
Here’s the publication schedule for the final two books: Passion in the June of 2011(I don’t have the exact release date yet), and a final book, Rapture, in December 2011.
*The books are available in stores, online, and also on Kindle and on audio! They audio version is really cool.
What countries will publish Fallen?
So far, Fallen has been sold in these markets (I’m sorry I don’t have all the release dates yet):
1. Brazil: Editora Record
2. Bulgaria: Intense/Locus Books
3. Catalan language: Grup Editorial 62
4. Czech Republic: Euromedia
5. Estonia: Pegasus
6. Film/Television Partners: Mayhem Pictures/Disney
7. France: Bayard
8. Germany: Bertelsmann
9. Greece: Psichogios Publications
10. Hungary: Könyvmoly
11. Indonesia: PT Gramedia Pustaka Utama
12. Israel: Hakibbutz Hameuhad/Sifriat Hapoalim
13. Italy: Rizzoli
14. Korea: Random House Korea
15. Lithuania: Media Incognito
16. Netherlands/Dutch language: Uitgeverij Van Goor
17. Poland: MAG Publishers
18. Portugal: Planeta Portugal
19. Romania: Editura Litera
20. Russia: Eksmo
21. Serbia: Evro-Giunti
22. Slovak Republic: IKAR
23. Spain: RH/Mondadori
24. Taiwan (Chinese Complex Character): Sun Color Culture
25. Thailand: Post
26. Turkey: Epsilon
27. US/UK/Australia: Random House
Will there be a movie?
The film rights for all four books were optioned by Disney/Mayhem Productions in December of last year. Mayhem is Disney edgier production company, for anyone who has concerns about Disney being purely for younger kids. I got to have lunch with the Disney people and they seem really excited about getting the movie going. I don’t have any new information yet, but hopefully there is more to come! I will keep you posted on my blog. For those who asked, I love Lucy Hale for Luce, Liam Hemsworth for Daniel, and Emma Stone for Arriane. (Also, there is no connection to the other movie called Fallen, which came out in 2008.)
Can I be in the movie?!?!?! Please.....??
I wish we could ALL be in the movie! All my friends and relatives are asking the same thing. I don't know anything about casting yet (and I have nothing to do with the final decisions), but I promise, if I hear of an open casting call from Disney, I will post it on my blog!! And thanks to those of you who sent along casting suggestions. I too think Ed Westick would make a great Cam. I’ll pass it along!
Do you have any readings/signings coming up?
I just got back from a five week tour across the US and UK. I’ll be in the Philippines in late November (27 and 28th), in Las Vegas on December 10th, Mississippi around New Years, in Europe in the spring, in Australia in July, and back in the UK in the fall!
I am keeping track of the places where readers are asking me to visit, so keep asking! Someday I would love to be able to make it to your neck of the woods.
Follow me on twitter for more updates: @laurenkatebooks
Is there going to be a Torment T-shirt?
Yes, Borders Books has it and it’s beautiful! I’m sorry that it’s only available in the US right now.
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! She’s a model from Brazil (though I don’t know her name), the artist’s 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. I’m sorry I don’t know who designed the dress, though I’ve 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 else’s image of the world and Luce’s 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!
The Passion cover is not yet available. What you’ve seen on the web so far is not the real cover! More soon!
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.