“Delirium” came out early in 2011 as part of a big wave of dystopian young adult fiction, ready to feed the readers who’d read “The Hunger Games” and wanted more. But author Lauren Oliver wasn’t exactly thinking in terms of the hot trend.
“I didn’t actually think about it as writing a dystopian fiction,” she said. “I always kind of joke about that: If you believe love is a disease, then it’s utopian fiction… I tend not to think about genre at all. I get ideas and characters kind of speak to me in my head, and I just kind of pursue that idea to its natural conclusion. ’Before I Fall,’ my first book, really took place in a world that is very similar to the world I grew up in. It took place in a high school that was very similar to mine. And with ’Delirium,’ I obviously had to do a lot more re-conceiving of the world itself, which was exciting as a challenge.”
After conceiving her whole new world, Oliver had new challenges to face when writing books two (“Pandemonium,” due out in March) and three (“Requiem”) of the trilogy.
“At the end of ’Delirium,’ I left Lena in such a difficult spot, I kind of felt guilty about that. And it was difficult for me to pull her out of there,” she said of “Pandemonium.”
“We get introduced to a whole new set of characters, which is exciting,” Lauren added. “It basically picks up both immediately from where ’Delirium’ ends, and then it also takes place about six months after ’Delirium’ ends, and you alternate between the two time frames until they ultimately converge.”
The fact that her book came out (and her movie deal was announced) at the same time that the “Hunger Games” movie was picking up steam, and other dystopian books, including “Divergent” and “Matched,” were also getting deals and big buzz, doesn’t seem to have fazed Lauren.
“A lot of being a writer is trying to block out the commercial and critical noises that people make in your ears,” she said. “The noises will start crowding out the voices of your characters and the voices of the world itself, and that can be really problematic. I try as much as I can not to think about that.”
Though she’s read “The Hunger Games,” Oliver said she hasn’t sampled many of her contemporaries’ books. “If I’m writing anything, I avoid reading books that are close to it because I think they can unconsciously start to influence you, especially in terms of voice and syntax and stuff like that,” she explained. Instead, she filled her head with science writing, like the works of neuroscientist Oliver Sachs. “Trust me, there’s more crazy stuff happening in the universe than you can possibly fictionalize in your own head.”
As long as she doesn’t give up fictionalizing herself, we’re down with that!
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