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February 24, 2014

Lauren Oliver at Books of Wonder in NYC

Lauren Oliver's new book, PANIC, comes out on March 4th, and at Teenreads we are so excited! To whet her appetite, Teenreads intern Brianna Robinson went to an event at the Books of Wonder bookstore where Lauren and her editor, Rosemary Brosnan, talked about her first book, BEFORE I FALL. Read below to learn more about this awesome event, and all the fascinating trivia Brianna learned about the book (including just how many titles they brainstormed before settling on the final choice.)

Even though I’ve only been to Books of Wonder twice, the Children’s and YA bookstore reminds me so much of the quaint and welcoming The Shop Around the Corner from You’ve Got Mail. As I realized this, I knew that I couldn’t possible love it any more than I already did. But then I attended one of their many, varied author events and knew that I had much more room in my heart for this wonderful bookstore.

On Wednesday February 12, Books of Wonder hosted a discussion between author Lauren Oliver and her Harper Children’s and YA Editor, Rosemary Brosnan. This discussion was in honor of Lauren’s book BEFORE I FALL which, if you’ve never read it, was set on ‘Cupid Day’ --- February 12th.

I first read BEFORE I FALL in 2010. It had just been released and I was intrigued by the title and what I could glean from the summary. I loved real life stories with some sort of supernatural or magical interlude, and BEFORE I FALL was no exception. Basically, it’s Mean Girls meets Groundhog’s Day. The main character, a popular and unlikeable girl named Sam has to relive ‘Cupid Day’ over and over again after she is killed in a car accident with her friends. What is so great about this book is that there is so much more to the premise and the character. It’s Regina George with heart. As readers, we start off disliking Sam and wondering about her motivations for being such a horrible person. But then, we start to sympathize and our opinions, as well as the opinions of those around Sam, drastically change as she repeats each day.

I remember the novel left me speechless. It was incredibly deep and soulful for a book that is seemingly about popularity. I immediately wanted to read it again and four years later, I still felt deeply about the book. I knew I had to hear more about it from Lauren’s and Rosemary’s perspectives. I was not disappointed.

First of all, it was a treat to hear the pair speak together about their experiences with the book. I was surprised to hear that BEFORE I FALL was an almost perfect manuscript and that the majority of the editing came from cutting. Lauren was very charming and hysterical as she explained the process. After her first editor at Harper’s left, BEFORE I FALL became ‘orphaned’. She and Rosemary also explained about the process of picking a title. Lauren admitted that she feels that she isn’t any good coming up with titles. BEFORE I FALL was supposed to be IF I SHOULD FALL and it took about three hundred titles to change the “If I Should” to “Before.” I loved hearing the variations in the proposed titles. If you know anything about the book, you know that butterflies are involved, so there are a large number of titles on the list related to butterflies.

I also really enjoyed listening to Lauren talk about writing in general. One of her biggest challenges when working on her debut novel was keeping all of the days straight and making sure that it wasn’t boring for readers. She kept a very detailed outline, something she confesses that she hates to do. She also said that she had trouble with Sam in the beginning. Like I mentioned, she was a bit of a hard character to like, at first. And so at the recommendation of Lexa Hillyer, Lauren’s friend and co-founder of Paper Lantern Lit, she made Sam more likeable.

During the event, Lauren also clued us in to the future. According to Rosemary, they have a few more books contracted together and an adult novel is on the way. She also confirmed that things are moving forward for a BEFORE I FALL movie, which definitely interested the crowd of YA lovers. I know I’m looking forward to it. In addition, she promoted her seventh novel, PANIC, which is scheduled for release in March.

If you’re interested in hearing Lauren speak, she’ll be attending an event with THE MAGICIANS author Lev Grossman at the 92Y on March 2. Tickets are still available. And be sure to check out Books of Wonder on twitter,  @booksofwonder, and tumblr for more great YA events. They’re totally worth it.