As we celebrate the release of one of our most highly anticipated reads of 2012, Veronica Roth’s Insurgent, we are excited to share some of our other favourite dystopian teen fiction books with you. Below is an exclusive Q&A with bestselling author of Delirium and Pandemonium, Lauren Oliver. Chandra and I have already blogged on this series, describing what we loved when it first released.
Once again, we give you, Lauren Oliver:
Indigo Teen Blog: Pandemonium is structured a little differently than the first book in the series, Delirium. You really give a new definition to the word “flashback.” What were some of the challenges you faced writing this second novel?
Lauren Oliver (LO): Sequels are difficult because they must be both familiar and unexpected. You must give the reader just enough of what they loved in the first book, but you must also subvert their expectations. So that was very difficult, but a challenge I really embraced.
ITB: You write both Middle Grade and Young Adult novels. Many writers have problems switching between these two genres. What advice do you have for them?
LO: The story, the narrative, is king. It’s important not to worry too much about genre; follow the narrative thread, listen to your characters, and I think you can’t go wrong. And, of course, it’s crucial to read widely—I still read as much middle-grade as I do anything else.
ITB: Before I Fall, Delirium and Pandemonium, all deal with first love, loss, and grieving so well. I’m curious from where do you draw this from?
LO: I suffered a great loss in my mid-twenties, and went through a long period of grieving. I think I incorporate a lot of my own experience into my books.
ITB: On your FAQ, you mention that Pride and Prejudice as one of your favourite novels. We’ve had this book boyfriend debate happening on our blog and in store. Darcy was actually picked by our customers as their number one book boyfriend. I was wondering what aspects of Darcy do you think are in Alex and Julian? Or, have you drawn them from other influences and inspirations?
LO: I do love me some Mr. Darcy! But I think that for Julian and Alex I’ve pulled more from my own projections of an ideal man, and from my own boyfriends, than I have from other literary characters. In general, I tend to idealize men who are sensible and strong and mature, people who are kind and good and who know how to listen.
ITB: What do you think it is about Dystopian fiction that has attracted so many readers?
LO: In dystopian fiction, young people confront a landscape that has been scarred and/or permanently damaged by previous generations, and I think that many young people now can relate to and empathize with that plight. The world is underscored, now, with a constant rhythm of fear—the economy is in tatters, the environment is in tatters—and I think many young people feel they’ve inherited a broken world. So dystopian literature feels real and pertinent.
We would like to thank Lauren Oliver and Harper Collins Canada for their help with this Q&A.