Dec 10, 2009

Guest Author: Lauren Kate and Giveaway

I'm so pleased to welcome Lauren Kate, author of Fallen and The Betrayal of Natalie Hargrove here at Willing to See Less. About a week ago I happened to be online when Lauren was chatting on Fiercebook, the official Fallen Facebook page. We had a great time, so I invited her to be my guest. Not only did she answer all my questions-she also donated a copy of her book for a giveaway!

Lauren Kate grew up in Dallas, went to school in Atlanta, and started writing in New York. She is the author of Fallen and The Betrayal of Natalie Hargrove. She lives in Laurel Canyon with her husband and hopes to work in a restaurant kitchen, get a dog, and learn how to surf. She is currently at work on the sequel to Fallen.

Now, please, give her a warm welcome!

How much time did Fallen take to be finalized? Do you write fast first drafts?
Lauren: Fallen was written in a white hot blaze! I have taken five plus years to write books in the past, but when this one started pouring out of me, it moved very quickly. I wrote it in about two months of very focused writing. Writing every day, about six hours a day. After that, I spent probably another month doing a pretty intense revision based on feedback from my editor and agent. At the time, I couldn't believe how quickly things were moving, but now I've started to like writing at that rate. The urgency seems to show up on the page, and I wrote Torment in much the same way. I just finished the first draft yesterday!

I read you used to work as an editor. Did that experience help you in shaping your novels? 

Lauren: Very much! As I mentioned above, revision is a big part of my (and every writer's) writing. Before I worked as an editor, I'd write things and feel certain that they were complete. The best they could be. Now I know that revision is what makes my stories good. The first draft is a skeleton compared to the things I clarify in second and third drafts. I've gotten much better at handling that feedback, and I look forward to making the book better each time I return to a draft.

The Betrayal of Natalie Hargrove is thematically different from Fallen. Have there been some differences in the process of writing the novels?
Lauren: I think the biggest difference between the two books is the protagonists' voices. Luce shows up at Sword and Cross an open book, where Natalie seems more fixed on what she wants out of life. Because I wrote Fallen so soon after I wrote Betrayal, the two protagonists are constantly having conversations in my mind, shedding light on one another's predicaments. I think they'd be friends, and challenge each other--the way that write such different books challenged me.

Do you have any special rituals when you write? Like a special place, hot drink, music...
Lauren: I like to spread out at a big desk or table. I like to have my back against a wall and to look out at something pretty, like Laurel Canyon, which I can see out the windows in my new house. Coffee, tea, the usual suspects. I used to be a lot more particular about what it took to get me "in the zone." Now that I write on a deadline, that's a luxury I can't really afford. I'm like one of those old men who can fall asleep ANYWHERE. I write in the car (in the passenger seat!), in bed late at night, once I wrote a chapter in the waiting room at the dentist's office!  

What's the best thing to do when you get writer's block?
Lauren: The only thing that works for me is just to start writing anyway and write a bunch of junk. My tendency is to procrastinate majorly. I can't tell you how much unnecessary online shopping I've done to avoid writing a difficult scene. The only thing that works is to just start typing. I'll write two pages of awful stuff that I know I'm going to trash, but by the time I'm on page three, things will be flowing at least a little bit.  

Have you ever experienced something supernatural? How much did your own beliefs influence the story?
Lauren: I haven't admitted this to many people, but I really believe I have glimpsed a past life. It was nothing all. It happened in my 8th grade history class. We were watching a video about a medieval English castle that was invaded by Normans. The movie was shot from the point of view of a Norman soldier. Watching the camera pan the moat and the dark turrets, the narrow hallway where the English poured scalding water down on the intruders--my heart started pounding in the middle of class. I just knew I had been there before. I had to act like I wasn't having this out of body experience...and I've never really had one since...but I think that isolated, bizarre feeling inspired me in the scenes where Luce is grappling with something paranormal.

What was the most difficult thing you encountered on your road to publication?
Lauren: I wrote two novels before I wrote Betrayal and Fallen. I sent them out to more agents and editors that I can count, and everyone rejected them for one reason or another. I still think about those books, and hope to do something with them someday, but I had to put them on the e-backburner for the time being. Of course, each rejection would cripple me for a little while--but that amount of time lessened and lessened over the course of a few years, and now I know (as I guess I've always "known") that rejection is just part of the game. The only way to move forward is to keep trying to find that one person who wants to give you a chance.  

What is the best piece of advice you can give to beginners?
Lauren: For me, the biggest part of being a writer is living the rest of my live as a curious person. I shamelessly use my friends, my family--even strangers as fodder for my books. My husband and close friends are used to it--they'll look at me after someone says or does something interesting and say: that's going in your book, isn't it? Yup. If you make the whole world your muse, you have a lot more fun in life, and you end up with a lot to write about. After that, it's just about diligence, which is nothing compared to inspiration.  

What can fans of Fallen expect from Torment? How many books will there be in the series?
Lauren: I’m having so much fun writing Torment that it’s hard for me not to spill everything right now so I can say, “Aren’t you excited? Won’t this be great?” But my publisher would probably have my head. So in lieu of that, I’ll reveal just three things:
  1. As Luce learns more about her past, she comes into a host of powers she never knew she had—and they might involve the shadows.
  2. After the second book comes out, a prequel (which will span thousands of years!) will follow before the final book in the series.
  3. Even though, of course, Daniel is Luce’s one-and-only, a very interesting new male character is introduced in Torment that offers him some stiff competition.

Who are the writers you admire and who influenced you?
Lauren: Charles Dickens, Virginia Woolf, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Don DeLillo, Ann Patchett, Jonathan Safran Foer and his wife Nicole Kraus, John Green, Frances Hardinge, Maureen Johnson....I could go on! I am endlessly inspired and in awe of other writers.

Thank you, Lauren!

You can find Lauren online at LaurenKateBooks, on Twitter, Fiercebook, and make sure to check out the awesome official Fallen book website!
Fallen giveaways are all over the blogosphere, so here we'll be offering a SIGNED copy of The Betrayal of Natalie Hargrove.
Rules: my only condition is that you're a follower. As for extra entries-follow me on Twitter, tweet it, FB it, post in your contest sidebars, you know it already. Don't forget to leave a comment with your email. I will announce the winner on Friday, Dec 18.

Good luck, everyone!

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