Joining us today for Death and Bereavement Week to talk about her debut novel, Before I Fall, is author Lauren Oliver.
The plot for Before I Fall is such an incredible idea. How did you come up with the idea for it?
To be honest, I was really mostly interested in writing a book about the possibilities of change. I wanted to explore a character’s evolution, from a mean and self-centered girl to someone with a real capacity for care and self-sacrifice.
What research did you have to do for this book?
Fortunately, none! That’s the great thing about fiction—you can just make it up! I grew up in a town similar to the one in which Before I Fall takes place, so I was really just inspired by my own memories and observations.
Before I Fall has such intricate plot threads. How did you keep track of the secrets, stories, histories of all the characters in the novel?
Outlining, outlining, outlining! I carefully mapped out the whole book before I began writing, because I knew that otherwise I’d become hopelessly ensnared in continuity problems.
Why did you decide to write a story about death for your debut?
To be honest, I didn’t initially set out to write a book about death; that part of the plot was kind of secondary, which surprises many people. I set out to write a book about Sam Kingston, a mean girl who changes, and I was trying to generate a convincing set of circumstances that would allow her to begin to see her choices from a different perspective. Paradoxically, it’s her death that she gives her clarity about her life.
Your novel is an eye-opener and very thought provoking. Did you write Before I Fall with the intention of making people think about how they live their lives?
A central theme of the book is that it’s important to live life with as much deliberateness as possible. That’s definitely something I believe in very strongly.
Were there any books you found dealt well with this topic when you were a teen?
There are a ton of books that deal well with death, particularly ones aimed at young readers, although I happened upon many of them later in life. The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson and If I Stay by Gayle Foreman are two that come to mind, for example. But I like both of these books because they’re actually about life, and I’d like to think that Before I Fall is, too.
Anything else you would like to add?
Thanks for having me! And please check out http://www.laurenoliverbooks.com/ for more info/upcoming book releases.
Thank you, Lauren, for such a great interview! What do you think of Lauren's answers?
Be sure to check out Lauren's website, above, and her blog.