Two weeks ago, Lauren Kate was in the Netherlands. Readers’ reporter Eline Mannie was one of the lucky ones who got to interview her. Read here the conversation between the worldfamous author and the big fan.
Have you always wanted to be a writer?
‘From when I was born I already loved to write. When my girlfriends came over, we would write a small play or a musical. I used to see writership not as something you could make a living from. Around me I did not know anyone who wrote. I used to think that, as you would get older, you would grow over it and get a ‘serious’ job. My mother loved to read, but did not know how she should handle my creativity. When I went to university, I took almost exactly the same classes my brother took. The problem was that these were not the classes I wsa good in, so I came home with very bad grades. Later on, I walked past a flyer of a writing class. As application you had to hand in a story and the deadline was the next day. During the night I wrote my first short story and with that I was selected. I took the class with great pleasure and the teacher was a great inspiration too. After this class I did not want anything more than becoming a writer.’
Do you have to be in a certain mood to write?
‘I used to, then everything around me had to be perfect before I could start to write. Not anymore though. I have learned that inspiration does not come along easily, that I had to go out and find it and that my surroundings cannot change that.’
Doesn’t it feel like work then, if something ‘has to be’ done?
‘Yes, I often feel that pressure because of a deadline you agree on with your publisher or because of fans who wait for a new story. After an hour or two I am completely in my story. I continue writing and do not delete anything in the draft version. That way, I get a page a day and I get closer to the end of the book.’
How do you come up with the characters from your books?
‘For the Fallen-series I had the characters completely figured out already. Lucinda (the main character from Fallen) I had in my head in a certain way, but in the story my image of her did not fit and so it failed. Because of her I learned that I had to start my new book in a different way. I do not work on my characters to the smallest detail. I know the events that I will describe in the book and how the characters will respond to that, I will make up as I write.’
How long did it take you to write Teardrop?
‘The draft version I finished in six months. Then I usually go on tour or I have some time off. Then my editor and I start to correct small parts and edit them. So in total it took me almost a year to write Teardrop.’
Are your editor and you always in agreement when you are editing the book?
‘We have a good relationship, Teardrop is the seventh book in which we work together. She knows which way I want to go with a story and understands when I hand in a somewhat weaker first draft.’
When you start writing, do you already know how the story will end?
‘With the Fallen-series I already had a spectacular ending in mind and that is what I was writing towards the entire time. When I got to the ending of the fourth book however, my view on how the book would end was completely different because of the many plottwists and the development of the characters.’
In Teardrop the main character can resurrect the lost city, this is deduced from the Atlantis myth. Are you a big fan of mythologies?
‘Yes, absolutely, all my books are based on something like that. For Fallen I have done a lot of research on angels and demons, good and evil. For Teardrop I chose the Atlantis-myth. It is a weird but fascinating story, even though everyone has probably heard of it. It is the oldest mythology that is not connected to a religion. It lives amongst people and it is still being researched, that is why I found it such an interesting topic to work with.’
Would you every want to write books for adults?
‘The other day I was approached by a publisher who asked if I wanted to write a book about an adult. And that is it: I do not write for young people, I write about young people. I like to write about young people because they face more challenges. The risks they take are often much greater and the mistakes they make are sometimes dumber than adults’ mistakes. I think that as you get older, your fear becomes larger. Like the other day: I tried to ski once, but without any luck, I did not dare to further than five meters. Next to me I saw seven-year-olds going down the hill, without any hesitation. That is why I find it very interesting to write about young people.’
Do you help with creating the covers of your books?
‘Before Angela (the designer of my books) starts, we always deliberate for a long time about how we’re going to design the cover this time. With Fallen the girl in the striking dress draws your attention. With the Teardrop-cover another girl is central to the cover. We gave a little twist to the dress of the Fallen-girl and made this connect to the theme of Teardrop. You’re looking at a new cover, with something recognizable from an earlier book of mine.’
On the Internet everyone vents his or her opinion about your book without thinking twice. How do you deal with this criticism?
‘I used to take criticism very personally, but now I don’t even read it anymore. Occasionally I look at the comments, that can’t hurt, because sometimes there is a tip I can use for my next story. Still, a book is something everyone can and may think about differently.’
Fallen is being made into a movie currently. How do you choose the actors for the parts of, for example, Lucinda or Cam?
‘I think it’s all very exciting and thrilling. The director and I can get along really well and we have many of the same ideas for the movie. When he finalized the last round for the eventual cast of the movie, we watched the audition tapes together. We were both pretty nervous, because this was an important moment. But when we saw the audition tapes of Addison Timlin (Lucinda), Harrison Gilbertson (Cam) and Jeremy Irvine (Daniel), I was very confident that it would turn out well. They directly corresponded to my image of the characters.’
You are currently on a Teardrop-tour to meet fans and give lectures, what do you think so far?
‘I really like meeting fans and giving interviews. Often there are a couple of questions that surprise me and get me thinking. In the beginning I was still very nervous, but now it feels like my fans are my friends. During such tours the meetings with fans and giving interviews are a source of inspiration to me.’