Thursday 3 February 2011

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Interview with Lauren Oliver

Guess what? You're all in for a treat! The lovely Lauren Oliver agreed to answer a few questions about her fantastic new novel, Delirium, realeased today (on the 1st in the US), and give us some insight into the novel! Excited? I know I am!

lauren oliverDelirium has such a brilliant premise. How did you come up with the idea of love as a disease? What was the initial spark of the idea, and how did it grow into what is now Delirium?

The idea for DELIRIUM came from an essay I read by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, in which he wrote that all great books were about love or death. The next day I was thinking about that quote--particularly about how and in what form a modern love story could be told--while I was on the treadmill at the gym. I was simultaneously watching a news story about a flu outbreak that had everyone freaking out about the possibility of a pandemic, and I was kind of marvelling that people so easily go into panics about reports of these diseases, and at some point the two trains of thought--love, and disease--just sort of combined in my head.

Despite the fantastical element of reliving a day over and over, Before I Fall was pretty contemporary. Why did you decide to make the shift in genre, and was it a difficult transition to make?

I didn’t consciously decide to switch genres. I don’t think at all about genres when I write. I think simply of characters and questions. In the case of Before I Fall, it was: what set of circumstances would enable a mean girl, a selfish girl, to begin seeing the consequences of her actions? In the case of DELIRIUM, it was: what would happen if love were a disease? I have a middle-grade book coming out in the fall and I’m working on a fantasy now because the world and its characters spoke to me. So I just follow the material. I think it would be harder if I tried to replicate the same book again and again.

I love all the texts from the world Lena lives in, such as The Safety, Health and Happiness Handbook (or The Book of Shhh), they make Delirium even more credible. How much work went into the texts, and did you write them in full for your own reference?

That was one of my favourite aspects of writing DELIRIUM. I definitely began working on these additional texts as a way of inserting myself more fully in the world of the book; ultimately I found that these texts could be inserted in the book as a world-building element, without cluttering the text with explanations and backstory.

In the text Genesis: A Complete History of the World and the Known Universe, the consensus of what Christian belief is based on is partially re-written from what is in the Bible today, to fit the ideas of the time. Are you trying to say something about human belief in general and perhaps how gullible we are, and the manipulation of those in power?

I’m not trying to say anything particular about religion or Christianity, certainly—in this world, scientific beliefs have also been twisted in service of the ideology of those in power. Any idea can become dangerous, except for the idea that people should think for themselves. But my intention was definitely to illustrate how easily a single idea or belief-system can be propagated by those in power, and accepted unquestioningly by the public. And I do think that is a very dangerous thing; history has proved it.

delirium by lauren oliverI feel Delirium is much more than a love story in a dystopian world. To me, Delirium also seems to make important points on how lack of love – namely familial love – can affect a person. Although Lena isn’t exactly neglected by her family, the lack of affection and tactility seems to really affect her at times. Was sending out a message about dysfunctional families an intentional undercurrent in Delirium?

I intended to explore love in all of its dimensions. I feel often in books, especially young adult books, romance is emphasized to the detriment of all of love’s other forms. But these are just as critical for a life of happiness and fulfilment, and people’s ideas of romantic love are based on their impressions of, say, parental love and the bonds between friends.

What research did you have to do for Delirium? Was there anything that surprised you?

I had to go to Portland, Maine, and eat a lot of lobster. It was terrible! I also researched various cultures/societies in which the relationships between men and women are strictly controlled, as well as places in which the government controls the media and the flow of information. What surprised me was simply the reminder of how vast our freedom is in the United States, and how easily we take it for granted—political, religious, and social freedom is simply not a reality in many parts of the world.

Both Delirium and Before I Fall have been optioned for movies. How excited are you to know your novels may both end up on the big screen?

Insanely, absurdly, ridiculously exciting. I am trying not to think too, too much about it, though, as there is still a long way to go before either movie actually makes it into theatres. (Although I confess I have given SOME thought to what kind of dress I would wear to the premiere!)

Delirium ends with such a killer cliff hanger! Can you tell us a teeny, tiny bit about what we can expect in Pandemonium?

Not even a chance! I will say, though, that Delirium takes place in two different settings, in two different time-frames, but Lena is still the main character in each.

You will be heading to the UK in March. What are you most looking forward to about coming to good ol’ Blighty?

Scones, scones, scones! I really love London. I’m super excited about seeing my editor and publicist, both of whom are all kinds of fabulous, and like every American I enjoy swooning over the British accent. I’m also EXTREMELY excited that during this visit I’ll get to meet some wonderfully supportive UK bloggers, many of whom I’ve been in touch with since before my first book’s release, including Carla of The Crooked Shelf and Jenny of Wondrous Reads.

Anything else you would like to add or tell us about?

Thank you for your questions! NOW GO BUY DELIRIUM! :P

Thank you for such brilliant answers, Lauren! Be sure to check out Lauren's website, and if you haven't yet, you can read my review of Delirium here.

Buy Delirium from Amazon UK and Amazon US.

love monthFinally, on a slightly related note, Michelle at Fluttering Butterflies is hosting Love Month this month, and today you can read a response to Delirium from me on her blog. I'd appreciate it if you could check it out. Thanks :) Michelle is also hosting a contest to win a copy of Delirium, so you might want to check that out as well.


  1. Fantastic and insightful interview! I enjoyed learning more about Lauren Oliver and her books. Thanks!

  2. No prolem! I'm glad you enjoyed it! Isn't Lauren just wonderful?

  3. She sounds so down to earth and lovely. I can't wait to read the book. Lovely post on Clover's blog too, very touching I thought.

  4. I'm glad you enjoyed the interview! The book is AMAZING! I absolutely adored it!
    Thank you, I'm so glad you liked my guest post! :)