I recently met Lauren Kate for a chat at the Brisbane Botanical Gardens. Passion, the third novel in her Fallen series, was released in mid June and has dominated Australia’s bestsellers lists since then. Lauren said she was enjoying her Australian tour and had also enjoyed her pre-tour holiday at Port Douglas in northern Queensland. She said it was great to be able to connect with Australian fans at book signings and events like a ball in Sydney where lots of people dressed up as characters from the books.
I asked Lauren about her experiences starting out as a novelist and she explained how her first manuscript became a practise one before she wrote her second manuscript, The Betrayal of Natalie Hargrove, and got it published.
I asked Lauren about her experiences teaching fiction writing. She taught fiction writing to undergrad students while completing her Masters at the University of California and she sometimes teaches writing workshops. We discussed the extent to which fiction writing skills can be taught and learned. Lauren expressed that she firmly believes fiction writing skills can be significantly improved through learning, as opposed to some who believe that people are born with good or bad writing ability and that learning only has a minor influence on a person’s writing skills. Lauren said that when she teaches writing she strives to “help writers develop openness, curiosity and inspiration”. Lauren believes that workshopping can be enormously beneficial because it “helps writers understand their writing from a wider perspective and prepares writers for working with editors”.
We discussed what Lauren could reveal about Rapture, the upcoming fourth and final novel in her Fallen series, and she explained how Rapture would be different in the sense that the main characters finally have a chance to be happy together and how these different story circumstances allowed her to assign different roles to the characters.
I asked Lauren about what her next novel will be after Rapture brings the Fallen series to an end and, while she was not ready to reveal many details, she told me it will be a magic realist novel with no angels, vampires, werewolves or zombies. She wouldn’t reveal the nature of the magic or if the main characters would be any specific type of magical creature. We will have to wait for more details.
We discussed what kinds of fiction Lauren likes to read. Basically, Lauren reads speculative fiction – fantasy, magic realism, dystopian, paranormal, etc. One author Lauren mentioned was Suzanne Collins and I asked her about the Hunger Games series. Lauren said she loves The Hunger Games and was so hooked by the first book that she had to read the other two. Lauren said she is “envious of how she (Suzanne Collins) manipulates her characters in fast, punchy ways”.
I asked Lauren about the Australian fiction she reads and she singled out two books as being among her Australian favourites; They Came on Viking Ships (titled Rover in the US) by Jackie French and Tender Morsels by Margo Lanagan.
We discussed short stories and Lauren said she is much more of a novel writer than a short story writer because when she has a story idea she naturally likes to expand it into something more novel than short story length. However, she said she very occasionally writes short stories such as when a writer whose work she admires asks her to. Lauren said she can see the positive side of being a writer who finds short story writing as appealing as novel writing because it allows a greater participation and interaction with other writers and readers.
Finally, I gave Lauren a copy of Australian Literature: A Snaphot in 10 Short Stories, making special mention of the story Angel Blood by Jo hart, an emerging author who lives in Maffra in country Victoria.
You can read a previous interview with Lauren Kate at https://auslit.net/2010/09/27/lauren-kate-author-interview. You can find more on Lauren Kate and her fiction at http://laurenkatebooks.net, and more on her Fallen series can be found at www.fallenbooks.com.au.
The Australian Literature Review