Monday, April 28, 2014

Book talk: Chatting to Lauren Kate

I’m ridiculously excited to welcome best-selling author, Lauren Kate to my blog today.  As the author of the Fallen series (Fallen, Torment, Passion and Rapture), she certainly needs no introduction.

On my blog today, she chats about her latest novel, Teardrop (you can read my review here) and tells us about the challenges she faced while writing this novel, discusses the mythological elements of Teardrop, shares what she thinks of love triangles in YA fiction and gives us a tiny peek into what we can expect in the next instalment of the trilogy.

Please note that if you haven’t read the book yet, this interview does contain spoilers. 

Proceed with caution. 

Welcome to my blog Lauren and thank you so much for taking the time out to answer my questions.

1. You’ve gone from writing about fallen angels to writing a book that’s more mythological than just merely a paranormal read.

What was the transition like for you?


In some ways, preparing to write about angels and preparing to write about Atlantis were similar experiences.

Both began with me diving into a stack of every book I could find on the topic and a trip someplace where people think about that topic differently than I do.

For the Fallen series, I travelled to Jerusalem. For Teardrop, I visited Turkey.

Plato’s writings were the backbone of my Teardrop research in the same way that the Bible was the backbone of Fallen.

The original texts on both topics are ancient and replete with fascinating discrepancies, so I got to piece together my favorite elements from many old sources on both mythologies and created my own angelology, my own Atlanteology.

Eureka’s story first came to me while I was writing Torment, so I’ve been waiting to explore her tale for several years. I knew when I finished Rapture that I had finished Luce and Daniel’s story as well as I ever would.

I released them and their love into the universe. I was ready to move on to Teardrop.  
2. Between the Fallen series and Teardrop, how different were the challenges that you had to face during the writing process?

First drafts are always torturous for me. With every book, I think of giving up.

My family has to remind me that I always get like that when I’m mired in the middle of a draft. Revisions are the opposite.

 I float through them joyously.

They’re difficult and intensive, but I enjoy the editing process far more than the drafting. I’m nearing the end of my last revision to Teardrop’s sequel, and laughing at myself that I ever disliked this book. It is by far my favorite now.

3. I’m always fascinated by the how and why behind a book character’s name. Can you tell us a little about how the birth of Eureka and Ander’s names come about and why you specifically chose those names?

In Greek, Eureka translates to “I found it,” which Archimedes cried when he discovered the mechanics of water displacement. Eureka is a girl who cries one world into the ocean and raises another from it’s depths, so water displacement is at the core of her being. 

It’s also interesting to call a character who feels so lost “I found it.”

Ander is named for Leander of the romantic myth, Hero and Leander. Their homes were separated by the Dardanelles, but each night, Leander would swim across the straight to be with her.

4. I'm incredibly intrigued by the fact that you chose Louisiana as the settings for your book.

Was the idea for the settings already there when you first came up with the idea of the story? And what made you choose Louisiana specifically, as opposed to say, somewhere in Greece?


Setting is a character—it needs a dynamism in order to earn its place in the book. Originally, I thought Eureka was going to be a Southern California girl. I actually wrote a few chapters with her set in LA.

She didn’t become herself though until I found her in Louisiana. An accidental trip brought me to New Iberia, and even though I was frustrated at the time about being torn away from working on my manuscript back home, taking that trip was the best thing that ever happened to Teardrop.

5. I absolutely loved how you interwove the mythology from The Book of Love, between Eureka’s present day life. Was the juxtaposition between past and present something that was deliberate on your part?

The Atlantean world parallels Eureka’s contemporary world, and each of the characters in the series will have his or her own mirroring counterpart in the other world.

At first glance, they have little in common—even the language I use to tell the Atlantean sections of the story is different from the language of Eureka’s world.

In Teardrop, the two worlds are discrete, with no means of accessing one another (except for the Book of Love’s passages). But later in the sequel, the worlds collide, and it’s thrilling.

6. Selene and Leander’s story is one that certainly captured my interest, not least of all because of the way their relationship unfolded, but also because of the outsider elements  - the gossipwitches and Delphine.

Where did the idea for their story come from? When you came up with Eureka’s story – did that just slide automatically in place, or did that follow afterwards?


The gossipwitches were an impromptu inclusion in the Book of Love. I didn’t know how important they were when I invented them casually. The same goes for Delphine, who becomes a very prominent figure in the second book.

My subconscious is always doing unimaginable big work in first drafts. I have to write and rewrite and rewrite before I can understand some elements’ significance.

7. Will we learn a little more about the dynamic between Delphine and Selene in the forthcoming books?

I think you will be shocked. I know I was.

8. Rhoda’s death was a particularly traumatic one – not only did she die trying to save the lives of her children, but she also died in front of almost everyone.

Why did you choose to let her die in this manner and how hard was it for you to write this particular scene?


What’s interesting about the women in Teardrop is that they perish taking what I think are big, admirable risks: Rhoda dies defending her children. Blavatsky dies standing by her promise to Eureka. Diana lived her life as a risk-taker.

The difference, I suppose, is that the adults in the story are not invincible in the same way the teen characters are allowed to be. Eureka, Cat, Brooks, and Ander take as many risks as the adults, and somehow they manage to scrape by.

This invincibility is born out of fearlessness, something I think adults lose more and more of every day. I imagine there’s something subconscious going on regarding the ill-fated ladies in Teardrop. I might be grappling with my own mortality.

9.  What's your take on love triangles in YA fiction? People either love it or hate it, and yet, they often make for such a compelling element in stories.

When do you think there is there a need for them and when should a story skip out on it entirely?


Love triangle are my very favorite things to write. I find love and all its complications endlessly empowering.

To be confronted with two opposite choice, to have to determine what you’re life might look like if you took one path versus the other…this is where character is built. It’s hard for me to imagine writing a story that doesn’t center around a love triangle.

10. Finally, can you give us a little info about the direction in which the next book will be headed?

The wildest thing about the sequel to Teardrop is that my hero has become my villain. For the first time in my writing life, I’ve stopped asking myself, “is this character sympathetic,” and started asking myself, “has she earned this murder or that betrayal.”

About Teardrop:
Never, ever cry...

eventeen-year-old Eureka won't let anyone close enough to feel her pain. After her mother was killed in a freak accident, the things she used to love hold no meaning.

She wants to escape, but one thing holds her back: Ander, the boy who is everywhere she goes, whose turquoise eyes are like the ocean. And then Eureka uncovers an ancient tale of romance and heartbreak, about a girl who cried an entire continent into the sea.

Suddenly her mother's death and Ander's appearance seem connected, and her life takes on dark undercurrents that don't make sense. Can everything you love be washed away?

Add it to your TBR pile and check out my review here.

Lauren Kate (Image credit: Emma Davis)
About Lauren
Lauren Kate grew up in Dallas, went to school in Atlanta, and started writing in New York.

She is the author of the FALLEN novels: Fallen, Torment, Passion, Rapture, and Fallen in Love, as well as The Betrayal of Natalie Hargrove. Her books have been translated into more than thirty languages.

She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, her daughter, and her dog. She is currently at work on a new series, Teardrop.

Where you can find her online:

Her website
Facebook
Twitter
Goodreads

Monday, April 14, 2014

Book review: Teardrop by Lauren Kate

What would you do if you were told to never, ever, under any circumstance whatsoever, cry?

Disclaimer:

This review also appears on Women24.com, a South African women's lifestyle website where I manage, amongst other things, an online books section.

Oh, and look out for a lovely Q&A with Lauren, which will be up on the blog tomorrow evening!


Teardrop by Lauren Kate (Doubleday)
I've been reading a lot of YA novels for a good couple of years now. In all this time, I've often encountered books that draw on ideas from others; some obvious rip-offs and others beautifully imagined retellings.

When I first heard about Teardrop, the book certainly gave me pause.

Not only have I not heard about a book that deals with a girl who is under strict instruction not to cry, but I was curious to see what kind of mythology this book would incorporate, as well as seeing how it would tie in with the story and title of the book.

Also, having long been a fan of Lauren Kate and her Fallen series, I was keen on finding out just how different a direction Teardrop, which is the first novel in a new series, would be in comparison to the prior series.

It turns out that Teardrop, while somewhat similar in terms of the fact that the atmosphere and settings in this novel also has that southern feel to it, couldn't be more different in terms of plot.

The other aspect it has in common with Fallen is that it's as slow to start as Fallen is.

I know that for many this is often not a good thing, but if you're the kind of reader who prefers a slow build up to events, then you'd probably appreciate this more than those who would rather focus on a plot that is fast-paced and action driven.

Admittedly, I nearly gave up on the novel, but am glad that I persevered, because I did end up enjoying it more than I thought I would.

Lauren Kate has a knack for creating a world that's languid and sultry, while simultaneously imbuing it with the sense that underneath that lazy stillness, an epic storm is brewing.

Add to the fact that this novel is set in the Louisiana bayou, and you get the sense that you're being lulled into a false sense of security.

17-year old Eureka has been struggling to move on with her life after losing her mother in a freak accident that should have left both of them dead, but only Eureka alive. With nothing left to live for, she spends most of her days functioning as an automaton, trying to fight her suicidal urges almost every single day.

When her path crosses with that of Ander, a boy who seems to be everywhere she goes, her life takes an unexpected turn; especially when she finds herself discovering more about an ancient tale that tells the story of a girl who cried an entire continent into the ocean; a tale that she herself, may have more of a connection to than she realises.

Soon it becomes clear that there's more to her mother's death than what she was led to believe and that unlocking the mystery of her heritage, while bringing her some much-needed answers, will also put her life and those of hers closest to her, at risk.

The events that soon unfold will test everything she thought she knew about her mother and herself.

First books in trilogies or series are often hard to get right.

On the one hand, as an author, you need to make sure you engage your target audience with enough information, a strong plot and interesting characterisation without giving anything away in the first book.

On the other hand, you need to develop the book in such a way, that it not only makes readers want to invest in this new world they've immersed themselves in, but also have them begging for more at the end of it.

Teardrop is a book that, for me, falls somewhere in between the two.

Lauren's created an interesting cast of characters; they're not necessarily all likeable, but their roles are suitably filled for it, both in terms of the readers' perspective and how the characters perceive other characters.

Eureka, in particular is a rather complex and complicated character. I mostly found myself sympathetic towards her, given that her home life hasn't been easy following the death of her mother.

With a stepmother who spends most of her time trying to control her and a father who seems to be too busy to really find out how she's doing, Eureka feels like she's just drifting through the day.

However, there were a number of times she really frustrated me.  Her interactions with Ander, veered between outright mistrust to a weird closeness, that at times, felt a little too contrived for me.

Having said that, she does grow on me as the novel progresses, especially towards the end when she proves that she'll do anything to keep her loved ones alive.

What I loved most about Teardrop though, is the story behind the story.

While I certainly had some theories behind the story, the mythology explored in this novel was something that was both tragic and enchantingly romantic.

Lauren teases the reader with snippets that are spread out throughout the book and that are translated by another interesting character, Madame Yuki Blavatsky, a fortune-teller who is quite versed in translating ancient texts written in languages that no longer exist.

The mythical element of the novel becomes more pronounced and reveals a story of a time and place that are filled with magical folk that are looking for a way to revive a world that once existed before.

The most surprising thing about this is that, I would never have figured that Louisiana as a setting would be a place of origin for the myth. In fact, the little that I know about Louisiana and its climate, makes it a bit of an anomaly.

And an interesting one at that.

On top of that, Ander's history and how it affects his role in Eureka's life, combined with the undercurrents of a mounting supernatural and malevolent force trying to rise to the surface, adds a dynamic that makes Teardrop the unique offering that it is. One that's definitely worth reading!

I, for one, can't wait to read Waterfall, the next instalment in the Teardrop trilogy.