Thursday, July 07, 2011

An e-mail Lauren Kate sent out to a bunch of us who wrote to her recently.
Some questions you might want to know about Lauren Kate and her books.

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. Isn’t that a great 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. There is probably a little bit of me and a little bit of everyone I know and love in all the characters.
As for the settings of the schools in the books, everything is fictional, but like the characters, they’re based on a compilation of things I’ve experienced.
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. By now, I’ve really come to love Daniel and I can understand why he’s been the way he’s been with Luce. 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??
 You’ll see....
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 to three 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 the Fallen books?
Thirteen by Bigstar
You Look So Young by the Jayhawks
I Envy the Wind by Lucinda Williams
The Book of Love by The Magnetic Fields
Marvelous Things by Eisley
One by Harry Nilsson
Strangers by the Kinks
A Thousand Kisses Deep by Leonard Cohen
Beaches by Bridezilla
I Know Goodbye by Jason Morphew
I love playlist suggestions, so feel free to pass them along.
What about your other book, The Betrayal of Natalie Hargrove?
Betrayal, my first novel, is a dark, funny, gothic story about one girl’s twisted path towards Queen Bee-dom. It’s a Cruel Intentions meets Friday Night Lights meetsMacBeth (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 andBetrayal 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.
There’s a beautiful repackage available in stores on June 14th.
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.
When did you start writing?
I wanted to be a ballerina until I was about 15 and was told I didn’t have the right feet, ever since then, I’ve wanted to be a writer. 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.
What are your favorite books?
I’ve always been a 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, Suzanne Collins, and John Green. A few of my favorite adult books are To the Lighthouseby 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 Torment or an advance copy Passion?
I am sorry that I don’t have nearly enough books to send one to all of you who ask for them! 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 you’ll get a copy of one of my books before it comes out!
Can I send you a letter?
Lauren Kate
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.)
When is your birthday?
March 21st, first day of spring.
How many Fallen books are you writing? What's the publishing plan for the series? When is the next book coming out?
Four books: Fallen, Torment, Passion, Rapture.
 Passion comes out June 14, 2011, and Rapture is scheduled for May of 2012.
*The books are available in most bookstores, online, and also on Kindle and on audio! They audio version is really cool. I’m sorry I don’t have all the international publication dates, but please check online for your country’s pub schedule.
What do you have planned after Rapture?
Something exciting. Stay tuned…
Will there be a movie?
The film rights for all four books were optioned by Disney/Mayhem Productions. Mayhem is Disney’s 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 to get the tone and mood of the books. 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.
Do you have any readings/signings coming up?
My US tour in June will take me to Miami, San Francisco, Dallas and Atlanta (details/dates/stores available on my website at I’ll be in Singapore and Manila in July, Australia (Melbourne, Sydney, Perth, and also Auckland NZ) in August, Brazil and the UK in September! Check back on my site for updates.
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
I am also on facebook as Lauren Kate.
Tell me more about the cover art! Where can I buy those dresses!
The artist’s name is Fernanda Brusi Goncalves, and the cover was designed by a very talented team of designers at Random House. 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). I want them, too.
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.
Best wishes,

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