After spending an afternoon in Amsterdam (spotting celebrities) in the rain and eating at Bagels & Beans, I went to ‘De Badcuyp’ (also in Amsterdam) for the ‘Best of YA event: A night with Lauren Kate’. The building was cute and we, the audience, were welcomed with a glass of wine and small pieces of ‘YA’ cake. It was raining outside when I got there, so I was glad to go inside. When I had settled, I saw Lauren sitting in the back. I smiled at her, a bit shy.
The people for the ‘Best of YA event’ welcomed us and then Lauren went on stage. Lauren read a few lines from the prologue of Teardrop. Her voice was soft, nice and relaxing. She knew the words by heart and everybody was dead silent. I was drifting into another world during the read; Lauren’s voice was full of emotions. “So this was it: Darky amber sunset. Humidity tugging on lazy sky. Lone car hauling…” Shivers went down my spine. I was absolutely stunned!
The Q&A was after she read it. I was looking forward to this so much! In Teardrop, Eureka is her new heroin. When Lauren started writing Teardrop, she had been writing the ‘Fallen’-series from Lucinda’s point of view. She told us, she felt like she couldn’t connect with Eureka first. So that’s when she decided, after three chapters, she needed to switch to Ander’s point of view. Ander, ‘the’ guy from Teardrop, was in love with Eureka. And Lauren told us that THAT was the point when she finally got to know Eureka; through Ander’s eyes.
We switched to the sequel of Teardrop, which she just finished writing and will be released in October 2014, and she told us that it would be full of dark magic, deep love and betrayal.
And then all of the sudden the conversation switched to Fallen. Fallen takes place in the south of the US. Lauren said she loves the atmosphere there. “The setting is just as important as the characters!” Fallen is dark, Gothic and Lauren was extremely drawn to that. She just loved how ‘distant’ Fallen is from the rest of the world.
Next subject; Atlantis is a big part of Teardrop. Lauren told us she lived in North Carolina, close to a lake. The lake was used for recreation and weekend fun. Everybody loved it; except for Lauren. She hated it, because there was a village beneath the lake once. It had to be flooded, and Lauren felt so sorry for the people who used to live there. Also, she was fascinated by flood-stories. Noah’s Arch, was one of her favorites. She wondered forever how it was for all those people to leaves everything behind and to start all over. She also found out that every culture has their own Atlantis story. She wanted to give THAT story a second change, but she wasn’t sure who would be the voice of her story.
One afternoon, she was really frustrated. Lauren let a tear and her husband caught the tear with his finger, and put the tear in the corner of his own eye. “Oink, that’s going into my book!” Lauren told us laughing about how she said that to her husband at that moment. The whole audience laughed and applauded.
She also told us, a lot of the situations of her own life are put into her books. Her friends and family recognized themselves in her stories.
Then we came back to Fallen. In particular, ‘angelology’, the study of angels. Lauren did a Master Degree Fiction. “Women are the daughters of angels,” she said smiling. And what about fallen angels? Lauren siad: “We put something above God and he was not cool with that.” Again, everybody laughed, including Lauren. For her study, she had to learn about the devil and needed to read a lot of books about them. “I was freaking out the librarian.”
One of problems in the Fallen series is how long it takes for an angel to fall. “Some stories say it takes 9 days, some stories say it only takes 12 hours. You just pick your favorite,” was her answer when we asked her how she got to the 9 days in the Fallen series.
A little bit more history is what the audience wanted. How did Lauren become an author? She told us that when she was little, she didn’t even know that ‘author’ was something you could become. Once she knew that, she was really looking up to the people who wrote a book. Once, there was a guy who was signing books but didn’t look happy. She said laughing (about the guy) “Yoo dude get excited, you’ve got your own book!” She said she’d freak out.
She told us, that we – her fans – are miraculous and unexpected. Once there was a girl, 12 years old, one of the first Fallen readers, who got up to her and asked her whether Lauren really believed in a love like Daniel & Luce have in Fallen. She asked the girl, joking, if she was in love. The girl answered she thought boys are gross. *laughter in the audience* She said her fans aren’t just her fans, but they’re also her friends. “MY BOOK” she joked. Then she got serious: “I owe you a lot, you inspire me.” She was so kind and sweet 🙂
So, are we, the Dutch fans, really that fun? Yes. We are. She told us that Dutch fans always told her how AMAZING her books are, but don’t really believe in angels. She said: “But when I’m in Italy or Brazil, everybody is like: ANGELS OMG!” She makes wild hand gestures and starts laughing.
Did she have advice for young writers? Yes, she did: “Keep writing, never give up. Don’t think your ideas are lame, because that’s what I thought of Fallen. And ALWAYS finish your book!” (She said this a bit different, but I didn’t write it down that accurate. But this is the point she was trying to make.) She smiled and continued: “Finish the book, you know you can do it.” That was the best advice she had ever gotten. Then she held up her book, doing the ‘freaking out’ ‘Yoo dude‘ thing I told you about earlier.
Back to the sequel of Teardrop. She said (a bit ashamed) she had let the title slip out somewhere in some far away country, but she wasn’t planning on revealing it to us. Even the cover of the book is ready. But she kept it a secret and we’ll have to wait until October 2014 🙁
And about the Fallen movie: the three main characters (Lucinda, Daniël and Cam) are already cast. She looked through the audition tapes with the directors and said: “I had goosebumps.” She was sooo afraid of the book being turned into a movie. She cried when she read the script for the first time: “I hated it”. It was on her birthday and she was on a plane. She told the director she hated it and eventually, they had to re-write the script many times. Finally, Lauren loved the script. She even told us there’s one scene in the script that isn’t in the book. “I wish I’d written that myself.”
Finally, WE could ask her some things. “What happens to Cam in the end?” somebody asked. Lauren: “I ran off with him.” She grinned and explained she thought that him disappearing was the best way for him to end the book. She based her Cam character on her husband. She gossiped about her characters to her husband all the time. Well, here’s something I would like to gossip about! Lauren suggested (unintentionally) that there might be some short stories about Cam.
The next audience question was how to preserve a story when you’re writing a book and all of the sudden another story pops up in your mind. Lauren suggested to just keep the notes an a book. The longer you keep them, the better they become. Any tips for a writersblock? Just KEEP writing is what she said. Being an author isn’t just any hobby; it’s also a real job. “Shift from character or shift from setting.”
Another interesting question was how Lauren heard all of the character’s voices in her head. She answered that sometimes, you just hear somebody say something and nobody else could have said it that way. She has a file with notes to keep remembering how her characters look like and what happened to them. She said it sometimes takes a while to know them well enough to not have to look in her notes every time.
Her favorite part of the Fallen series is the last part: Rapture. “It was emotional, I felt torn, I had to rewrite the ending several times and the revision killed me.” She added that now, she’s very proud of Daniël and Luce. And the epilogue was the best decision she had ever made.
Another obvious question was how she writes all her stories. Lauren told us she always started writing without a plot. When she found out a plot is very important, she kept that with her all the time. She made summaries of every chapter to keep track of her characters movements. “Outlines are very important,” she said. “You need a strong skeleton.”
The last question was about her favorite authors. She named Suzanna Collins and John Green. She said that her biggest problem with John Green books is that you just can’t read them in public because of the emotional parts of the books. “It’s stupid to read his books in public.” She said he’s the inspiration to her ‘sad’ scenes. I guess we all know what that means for her second ‘Teardrop’ book…
And that was the end of the Q&A. We got some snacks and drinks, you could take part in the ‘#Teardrop’ video and you could talk to other readers. I spoke to Katja, a girl with bright pink Dr. Martin shoes (God, I just love your shoes!). We shared the same book love. I liked this part of the evening so much; talking to people who have the same interests.
Then I got in line (as one of the last fans) for an autograph. I brought both my Fallen and Teardrop books. I was ready and waited patiently for her to sign my two books. When it was my turn, all I could say was how much I love her and her books. I bought her some ‘dropjes’ (a famous Dutch treat) and wrote her a letter. I gave it to her and she said ‘Thank you’ for about 10 times and I said ‘Thank you’ for about 10 times. She signed my books (yikes, she knew how to write my name because she tweeted me Friday night) and we took a picture.
I left the evening, happy and satisfied, with a full goodie bag (see my pictures). It was one of the best evenings in my life and I can’t say “thank you” enough to both the hosts of the event and Lauren Kate.