An Evening With Lauren Oliver

I do enjoy a good author event, and last night I was treated to a very good one indeed. Lauren Oliver was at Waterstones Piccadilly, doing her first public event in the UK. It was obviously something that many people had been waiting for, as it was very well attended. Lauren’s visit coincides with the publication of the final part in her Delirium trilogy – Requiem.

Delirium - Delirium Trilogy 1Pandemonium - Delirium Trilogy 2Requiem - Delirium Trilogy 3

How gorgeous do those cover look all together?

Lauren’s talk ranged much more widely, and the insight into her writing process was fascinating and a little inspiring. She talked about growing up in a house filled with books, with writer parents who encouraged and validated creativity and a deep and abiding love of reading. Her own writing started at a very young age when she would write to sequels to stories she had read and loved, and was therefore reluctant to let go of the characters. Lauren was writing fan-fiction before the term was invented!

Having parents who wrote helped with the discipline of writing – and it does take discipline and practice. Lauren told us she is inspired by her father, who has written at least one page a day every day for decades now. Writing is hard work, but persistence is key. Although I don’t think many of us were convinced when Lauren tried to assure us she had no natural talent for writing, just a whole lot of perseverance! 

I was so interested to hear about how she learnt to plot a novel. Despite having written a full-length one and getting an agent after University, her first and second books were rejected by publishers for not having enough plot to them. The quality of the writing was there, but the narrative drive was missing. A Master’s in Creative Writing helped with things such as knowing when to accept and when to reject criticism – but not with the slippery plot problem. It was actually working at Penguin in the YA section that solved it. Working as an Editor on a whole host of amazing, weird, and innovative stories was revelatory stuff.

I also loved hearing about how Lauren needs to keep herself engaged as a writer, and needs to write different things. This is reflected in the different books she written – Liesl and Po and Spindlers are both for a younger age group than the Delirium books – and also in the different structure of each of the Delirium triology. Delirium itself is Lena’s story; Pandemonium is told in two different time frames; Requiem is told from two narrators’ perspective. Right now, she feels that she has finished Lena’s story, but that doesn’t mean the door has been closed on those characters. They continue to live on in our imaginations…

Lauren is an amazing speaker, effortless and engaging. She fielded lots of questions from the audience, and chatted with each person individually when they got their books signed. She has so much energy and enthusiasm – she completely bowled me over!

The lovely Lauren Oliver keeping us entertained

The Delirium books are brilliant, if you haven’t read them yet, then do. I also want to recommend Lisel and Po, it is completely different but equally brilliant. Oh, and keep your eyes peeled for the Delirium TV series…  

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