Today's guest is NY Times bestselling author and all-around amazing person, Lauren Oliver! Her first book, Before I Fall, was published in 2010 and is currently being adapted into a film starring Zoey Deutch. Since her debut, Lauren's written novels for everyone from middle grade readers to adults. Her most recent novel, Replica, was released on October 12th and deals with an experimental research institute. Creepy! Plus, it's a "flip book" that contains two narratives in one. Turn the book one way and read Lyra’s story; turn the book over and upside down and read Gemma’s story. How cool is that?
Here at PickMyYA, we can't get enough of Lauren Oliver and we're so excited to have her join us to talk about her Delirium trilogy. Let's get to it!
James: Even in the surplus of dystopian books, Delirium stands out as truly original and compelling. What sets Delirium apart from other dystopian YA?
Lauren: Oh, thank you! Well, I think many dystopian books explore some totalitarian regime or splintered future as their primary concern. But the primary concern of Delirium is the role of love-- and also, choice-- to the fabric of society.
James: Dystopian novels often are intended to serve as a type of warning. What warning were you giving to your readers in Delirium?
Lauren: I think it is not so much intended as a warning as an exploration of a society-- with real-world parallels-- that values obedience, community, and conformity is valued more highly than individual choice and emotional exploration. If there is any warning, it is one against indifference.
James: Delirium is set in an alternative United States, but are there any ways in which our real world mirrors your fictional one?
Lauren: Absolutely. There are many societies now in which the spheres of men and women are rigorously divided, romantic relationships are monitored, free speech is censored, and non-heteronormative behavior is criminalized. But even in America, we seek ever more powerful ways to anaesthetize ourselves against our feelings, often to our detriment.
James: Lena and Alex's relationship is one of the most high-stakes epic romances in YA. What are some of your other favorite YA couples?
Lauren: Eleanor & Park, hands down!
James: Which of your characters is the most similar to you?
Lauren: I’ve always said that novels are like dreams-- all of the characters are you, even if they wear different faces. Biographically, very few of my characters are like me. But they all are joined by fears and anxieties that are central to my emotional life:
James: In 2014, Delirium was adapted into an amazing television pilot that never got picked up. Still bitter about that, BTW. How involved were you in the adaptation process?
Lauren: Ha, ha! Don’t be bitter! We are one year out from getting the rights back, and then I am going after that puppy again! I was not involved at all, but you can bet that by the time Delirium lands back in my lap I will be all over it like a puppy on a brand new couch leg!
James: You are very unique in that your books span across multiple genres. What would you recommend to a reader who enjoyed the Delirium trilogy and isn't sure which book of yours to read next?
Lauren: Well, now I can say Before I Fall, because the movie comes out in April and you need to read it before then!
James: What's the most meaningful compliment you've ever received from a reader?
Any time a reader connects to another human being through one of my books-- whether because they reached out to his/her/their sister after reading BIF or falls in love with the girl reading Delirium on the checkout line next to them-- it is the ultimate compliment.
James: Can you tell us anything about your next project?
Lauren: Well, my newest book, REPLICA, came out JUST LAST MONTH! It is actually two novels-in- one, and takes place in part in an experimental research institute in which human models have been bred to be scientific test subjects. One protagonist is a replica; the other protagonist discovers her father has early ties to the research institute and sets out to uncover its secrets.
That's it for today's interview with Lauren. But if you have any questions for Lauren or want to let her know how her books have impacted you, be sure to check out her website and reach out to her on Twitter. And be sure to come back again next week, when we'll be talking to the NY Times best-selling author Leigh Bardugo!