Lauren Kate and Fallen

Thanks for checking back! Here’s my interview with the charming Lauren Kate:

KML: How are you doing today?

LK: I’m great! I am packing up to hit the road for my book tour. I’m feeling really excited.

KML: You have a very extensive tour ahead of you, five weeks I hear.

LK: Yeah. I love touring, I have in the past. Hopefully I’ll have as great of an experience this time. It’s great for me, having spent so much time alone in front of a computer. It’s great for me to get out and be able to talk to so many people. I feel like I catch up on everything that’s going on in the book world when I’m touring so I’m very excited.

KML: Fallen made its debut last year. I can personally say that as a bookseller, it served as lively competition for many of the standard YA titles that teens were being exposed to. Do you think that your novels offered a contrast or do you think it was playing into the same themes?

LK: The only time I think about that is during interviews. As with many writers, while working on a book, I’m not trying to work against or with others that are trying to tell a story. The books that Fallen stands on the shoulders of are all apart of the themes that I like. My main focus is to tell the best story I can tell.

KML: In Fallen and Torment you play with very familiar themes (Nephilim, reincarnation, etc.) which we have been seeing in film and media a lot lately. How have these themes been reflected throughout your life?

LK: Reincarnation is something I’ve always been fascinated by. I think I have had one past life experience in this life. It has to do with a castle in Scotland, and I’ve never been there. I’ve only seen photos of it. I’m hopefully going to check it out this fall while I’m in the UK. It’s only something I’ve been thinking about, what you would retain if you died and come back as something else. In the Fallen series, when working on Luce’s character (right now I’m working on Passion, which is the prequel), Luce’s soul is always the same but her character in each of the lives when she comes back is very, very different. This is because of the way she was raised, where she was brought up, who she met, who she interacted with, and how this all shaped her. When she meets past versions of herself she is alarmed at how different she can be. So that’s something that always fascinated. As for the Nephilim, that’s something I stumbled onto later. As I was doing research for Fallen, I don’t think I’d ever heard of them or knew much about them. Because my series is about an angel choosing love over heaven, obviously there would be some heaven. They play a big part in Torment and the rest of the series.

KML: Why did you choose to write for the YA genre?

LK: That wasn’t really a conscious choice. I’ve been writing short stories since I was seventeen years old. 80 percent of any story or book I try to write has about a seventeen year old girl. I’m not really sure why, it’s a voice that comes naturally to me. When I started writing Fallen, I didn’t know it would be YA. That may have to do with how the publishing market is right now, that it got slotted into a place that I really didn’t know where it would end up as I was writing it.

KML: Do you feel that Luce is living up to your idea of what kind of heroine she should be?

LK: That’s a great question. She’s beginning to. When I first started writing Fallen, I had an idea in my mind about a very different narrator. I wanted to write somebody more like Lyra Belacqua, a great fictional hero of mine. I realized as I was writing it that she couldn’t be quite as self assured as I wanted. She’s going through so much; she had to begin at a very different place than she ends up. She’s going to end up very empowered, enabled, and active. For me, she starts from a very low place. It was a bit of a struggle to write that kind of character but it’s been really rewarding that the further along I get, the more punch I can give her in the upcoming books. Surprisingly, it’s been a lot of fun.

KML: Angels have lived in our mythology throughout human history. What do you find most interesting about angels that make them worth writing?

LK: The reason I like writing about angels is because I also like writing about demons. I really like the dualistic nature of good and evil. Good and evil rely on each other so much and there’s a feeling of interplay between the two of them. One might not be able to exist without the other, what does that say about the relationship between them? We paint them as such opposites, but in the books I’m writing, they really come together and fuse into one another often. The exciting thing is determining ‘what is the nature of good and evil?’ and is it as clear cut as we think it is?

KML: There are several kinds of love that pulse through your novels, there are many levels of love that Luce experiences, as a daughter, friend, and lover. What were you hoping that the reader would understand about love after reading your novels?

LK: That’s another great question. The question I get asked a lot is how do I know if it’s true love and that’s a separate answer from the answer to this question. In this case, what is important about love that I’m trying to show about Luce and Daniel is how enduring it is. It’s really hard for a lot of readers and for me to write, coming into the middle of things. There’s so much back story between these two that the reader isn’t privy to, that Luce isn’t privy to, Daniel doesn’t display in anyway, at least in Fallen and a little bit more so in Torment. I think it’s a stick-to-itiveness that I want to show these characters have for each other because they feel something very deeply though neither of them can understand the complexities of it or the challenges of it, and they persevere. I think that’s a very important element of love, not giving up on someone. As I’ve been writing Passion, in a way it’s the most rewarding to write so far. I get to show why all of this angst and secrecy is worth it. I get to show the true nature of their love. That perseverance is applying to the reader, maybe, trying to get to the point where everything is illuminated.

KML: The marketing campaign for Fallen and Torment is in full swing. I can boast that I own a very slimming Torment T-Shirt (which I love). What can we look forward to as we wait for the third installment of your Fallen series?

LK: Definitely a lot of me on the road. I’ll be traveling to 8 cities in the US in the next 3 weeks. Then I’ll be in the UK for 2 weeks. When I get back, I’ll be doing a lot of local appearances around LA and several throughout the southwest and southeast in the winter. What’s really fun for me is all of the foreign editions of Fallen and now two of Torment that are starting to come out. With each of those there are new teasers and trailers available on my website and Youtube. As you said, the t-shirts are great. I think there’s going to be a lot more of that kind of thing to come in the future.

KML: Can you tell us more about The Betrayal of Natalie Hargrove?

LK: That’s my first book. In some ways it’s similar to Fallen. It’s a southern gothic story, set in Charleston, South Carolina. It’s basically a retelling of Macbeth told from Lady Macbeth’s point of view set in a contemporary southern high school. It’s a very saucy tale. Natalie is the opposite of Luce. She’s conniving, knows what she wants, and will stop at nothing to get it. She’s really sharp and funny. It’s a great book. I’m hoping it will get more readers in the wait between Torment and Passion.

KML: Who are your main influences as an author?

LK: My oldest influences are probably F. Scott Fitzgerald (the Great Gatsby is absolute perfection to me, and I love all of his other books too), I love Dickens, Virginia Woolf, Don Delillo, and more recently I’ve been inspired by The Hunger Games. I think Suzanne Collins is incredible. I love Philip Pullman, Frances Hardinge, Maureen Johnson and John Green. I just read a really great book called The Replacements by Brenna Yovanoff. I’m so impressed by her.

KML: Is there anything you’d like to share with your readers that they may not already know?

LK: My complete excitement about Passion. Readers right now haven’t even gotten their hands on Torment but I’m a little bit further down the road and already thinking about how killer this third book is going to be. For anyone who feels that at the end of Torment they have so many more unanswered questions, I promise to deliver in Passion.

KML: Good! I can’t wait.

For all of you psycho-author fans, here’s a copy of the tour schedule. I hope to see some of you out there!

Love Never Dies

Lauren Kate is coming to your area on a 9-city tour!

San Francisco

September 28 @ 6:30 PM

Barnes & Noble

6050 El Cerrito Plaza

El Cerrito, CA 94530

San Francisco

September 29 @ 7:00 PM

Kepler’s Books

1010 El Camino Real
Menlo Park, CA 94025

Seattle

September 30 @ 6:30 PM

University Bookstore

15311 Main Street
Mill Creek, WA 98012

Seattle

October 1 @ 7:00 PM

Borders

16549 Northeast 74th Street
Redmond, WA

Portland

October 2 @ 2:00 PM

Powell’s Books

Cedar Hills Crossing

3415 SW Cedar Hills Blvd.

Beaverton, OR 97005

Portland

October 2 @ 7:00 PM

Barnes & Noble

12000 SE 82nd Avenue

Portland, OR 97266

Los Angeles

October 3 @ 11:00 AM

OC Children’s Book Festival

Atlanta

October 4 @ 7:00 PM

Barnes & Noble

Mansell Crossings

Shopping Center

Alpharetta, GA 30022

Atlanta

October 5 @ 7:00 PM

Books- A- Million

5900 Sugarloaf Parkway
Lawrenceville, GA 30043

Memphis

October 6 @ 6:00 PM

Davis-Kidd Booksellers

387 Perkins Road Ext

Memphis, TN 38117

Memphis

October 7 @ &:00 PM

Barnes & Noble

2774 N Germantown Parkway

Memphis, TN 38133

Nashville

October 8 @ 4:00 PM

Davis-Kidd Booksellers

212 Green Hills Village Drive

Nashville, TN 37215

Nashville

October 9 @ TBA

Southern Festival of Books

New York

October 11 @ 7:00 PM

Barnes & Noble

91 Old Country Road

Carle Place, NY 11514

New York

October 12 @ 7:00 PM

Borders

1260 Old Country Road
Westbury, NY 11590

Chicago

October 13 @ 7:00 PM

Anderson’s Bookshop

123 West Jefferson Avenue

Naperville, IL 60540

Chicago

October 14 @ 7:00 PM

Borders

1540 E Golf Rd
Schaumburg, IL 60173

Lauren will also be visiting local schools throughout her tour.

For media, contact: Noreen Herits / 212-782-9677 / nherits@randomhouse.com

Or Roshan Nozari / 212-782-9677 / rnozari@randomhouse.com

A great big thanks to Lauren Kate for taking the time to talk to me and to her wonderful publicist, Noreen for setting everything up for me. Don’t forget to check out Lauren Kate’s website! Her books are available at Borders.com.

Happy Reading!

Tom Sniegoski Stops to Chat

Earlier this month I reviewed the first half of the Fallen series by Tom Sniegoski. I e-mailed him the day that review was posted asking if he had time for an interview. Now, after our schedules settled down and we had a chance to breathe in our respective lives, we had the opportunity to sit down and talk on the phone.

Sniegoski has been all over the industry. He got his start doing comic books, his first love. “I was able to learn how to do comic book writing, which is basically scripting,” he said. He described the process as broken down, panel by panel. It was like writing the directions in a movie script, describing to the artist what the scene will look like. It’s mechanical and has a serious methodology to it. “A novel is much more organic. It flows outside of you and you see it inside your head.” With novel writing, the description of the scene is less conversational than with comic book writing. “I could tell the artist I don’t know how the scene looks like but maybe the monster looks like the smoke monster from Lost, and they get it.” There’s more give and take when writing for comics while with a novel it’s just you conveying 100% what the reader is supposed to be experiencing on the page. Novels are done with words and comic books are a visual medium.

Tom (there I called you Tom, happy?) said that he didn’t differentiate too much between writing for adults and writing for kids. Writing Fallen and Remy Chandler contains very little difference other than the mindset. “Maybe I don’t swear as much in my YA novels.” He didn’t think it was necessary to make conscious efforts to alter the story telling when switching the audience. A good story is a good story no matter what the age group is. The age of the character is part of the story, where a character is in life. “I only really thought about it for Billy Hooten Owl Boy.” It was a middle grade book, so he had to be more careful with the subject matter. It was the first time he had to be conscious of the age of he reader. He had to keep his descriptions to a minimum.

“Who do you think about as your target audience when you write?” I asked. Tom admitted he has a tendency to write for boys. He’s all about monsters, fighting, violence, and doesn’t really go towards sensitive or emotional moments. “I’m always trying to satisfy my inner 10 year old boy,” he said with a laugh. “Then I try to mature it and make it more palatable for a female or someone older.” It’s obvious that he leans more towards a masculine vibe of writing, which I find to be refreshing after countless romances and fantasies for young girls. Boys don’t get enough representation in the YA section, but Tom seems to be doing something about it, or trying to at least.

Tom told me that while writing for comic books is a blast, the stuff he’s written for YA is just intensely satisfying. Writing comic books doesn’t feel like work compared to writing a novel. It’s more serious, draining, and time consuming. He’s written more than just the Fallen series for YA. He’s also written The Sleeper Code and The Sleeper Agenda, which are throwbacks to a Bourne Identity style of story telling. There is also Legacy, about superheroes. What he likes the best about YA is that there aren’t any limitations to what can be written. His friends often feel sorry for him when he produces YA work, but he talks them out of their disdain and convinces them that it’s not all romance and vampire stories. “There’s really great stuff being published in YA.”

“Why make The Fallen series YA?” I inquired, curious about the birth of this series. Tom told me that he started writing Kiss Before the Apocalypse and he had four or five chapters as samples. At the time, he was working with an editor at Simon & Schuster. This was when he was working on The Monster Book (a compendium of monsters from the television show Buffy). Lisa Clancy asked if Tom had been working on any new fiction. When Tom showed her the early chapters of Kiss, she loved it. She couldn’t buy it, though. She only dealt with YA, so it was brutal for her to pass up on something with such interesting subject matter. Tom got to thinking, why not write for YA? Even though Kiss Before the Apocalypse came first, The Fallen was completed first. He enjoyed the challenge of taking concepts and ideas and applying them to a new story.

When talking about where the inspiration comes from, Tom described it as a germ that spreads and gets bigger. It grows, collecting other aspects of story and characters. Once it reaches a certain point, it might require research or the research will give you the spark or missing piece. A lot of the time it’s just a pretty good idea. It’s not formed yet. Tom thoroughly enjoys the research, it’s where he finds the details that can make or break the story. “I found biblical writings about a sect that believes Lucifer would one day be forgiven.” That detail helped to create The Fallen.

The success of The Fallen series has always been high, we saw this when ABC decided to adapt a film version of the series. I always wonder how the writer feels after a film has been released based on their work. Tom claimed to have liked it. “The written work is always going to be there. Did I agree 100% with what they did? No. But with what they managed to pull off, I found it really entertaining.” He was not as entertained with the films that followed. He felt that they went too far away with what was originally supposed to happen in the books. Lucifer wasn’t supposed to be a bad guy. Because of the research that revealed the idea of Lucifer’s possible redemption, The Fallen and Aaron were born. “Maybe they were afraid of receiving scorn from religious communities that disagreed with that belief.”

“I noticed that you thank in your acknowledgements people that share names with your characters, or at least you did in The Fallen and Leviathan. Did you do that on purpose? Did they inspire you to create those characters?” Tom’s reaction to this question was not what I was expecting. “It was actually a running joke that I’ve had for a long time with my friend Tom Stanley. I have killed him in half my books. He’s a high school buddy of mine and I have killed him in horrible and embarrassing ways.” Any one that Tom is particularly close with, he kills off in one of his books. They are immortalized in fiction. Who doesn’t want to die horribly in a book that’s going to be around for at least a couple of years?

When Tom was young, he was torn between drawing and writing. “I love comics so much that I dabbled in drawing. But in high school, I had a creative writing class. I started to really focus on writing stuff. It captivated me. I felt that I could write better than I could draw.” He started laughing and bemoaned his drawing talent. He could sketch out a quick scene, but he could never draw an entire issue of a comic. “It would be hysterical and horrible.”

I then pointed out Mulder’s approval of Tom’s website. Mulder being the yellow lab featured in pictures of Tom taken for his novels. I had intended this question to be a funny segue into the incorporation of dogs into his work and Mulder’s influence on his life. I then found out that Mulder passed away shortly before this interview. And thus I felt like a butt. “Life goes on. He was my muse for 13 years. I’m missing the routine, though. He was a gigantic presence in my life and in work.” Now, I love dogs. I will literally stop whatever I’m doing to bend down and scratch a puppy’s ears just because. I sympathized with Tom, knowing how attached he must have been and imagining how I would have handled the situation. I would have been wrecked.

Tom’s newest novel will be his fourth Remy Chandler, 100 Words for Hate. It’s not going to be turned in until late summer. He just finished his second original Bone. Bone Tall Tales will come out in July or August. Sometime in the fall will be the release of the Bone novels. The first one will be called Quest for the Spark. It picks up where Jeff Smith left off. It’s the next phase in the story, introducing new and old characters. “There will be 20-25 nice drawings by Jeff.” Tom said, happily. The third book will be written by late summer/early fall. Tom met Jeff at conventions and he was so nice, Tom felt guilty that he hadn’t jumped on the Bone books when they first came out. He finally picked them up and practically inhaled the words and images off the page.

Tom is currently reading Horns by Joe Hill, which is about a guy who wakes up one morning with horns on his head. He decides to use his new demonic powers to take revenge for a heinous wrong (because what else will you do with demonic powers?) and Skulduggery Pleasant which is about a skeleton that helps a 12 year old Irish girl to solve murder mysteries. I went to the website when he told me about it, and was entertained by the Dick Tracy-esque skeleton. He also reads a lot of urban fantasy and authors that write similar stories to his own. “I want to see what other people are doing. I don’t want to seem like I’m copying anyone. I also read an hour before bed– it helps me to wind down.”

Tom would like his readers to be on the lookout for the new Bone books. Also, if the Fallen books continue the way they’re going, there is a possibility for there to be more! There’s no green light yet, but there has been talk on the subject. If they continue to like what they see, then his editors will want more of the Fallen series. Tom has considered continuing the story years ago. If you pay careful attention, then you can see the clues and hints towards a continuation. The next bind-up will be released in July. The fourth book has been out of print for years. People who have read the first through third books can’t finish because Simon & Schuster let the fourth go out of print. You could only get it through rare book dealers that wanted a hundred dollars for it. “After many years of putting up with the angry e-mails, I was relieved when they announced the bind-ups.

Check out Tom Sniegoski’s web site! You can find his books at Borders, Barnes & Noble, or Amazon.com.

Stand Up to Bullies

I recently came across a page on Facebook called “Young Adult Authors Against Bullying.” The group is intended for YA readers and writers to band together and speak out against bullying and to help kids to feel safe. Founders Megan Kelley Hall and Carrie Jones stand up for the youth and do their best to provide resources for parents and kids about bullying and what to do in that situation. The ladies are also putting together a proposal for an anthology comprised of anti-bullying essays, poetry, and the like. They have a large number of responses from the YA author community.

I think that what these ladies are doing is incredible. There are all different types of bullies out there and some kids just don’t know how to deal. We’ve all been there and it sucks. Bullies just don’t know when to stop and you don’t know what to do to make them. This project is very innovative and I hope to be able to report more about it in the future. Help out, give kids the chance to speak out against bullying.