Today I’m excited to be a part of the 2013 Debut Authors Bash held by YAReads! There’s quite a few awesome debut authors being featured and I’m INCREDIBLY excited to have a blog interview with Lauren Miller, author of Parallel. If you saw my review for Parallel several months ago you’ll know that the book took me completely by surprised and left me with my jaw on the floor(in the best possible way!). I got to ask Lauren some questions that had been on my mind since reading Parallel, and her answers are below. Some are about Parallel itself, a few are about what it felt like being published, and one that touches briefly on the theme of her next book– Free to Fall!
Interview with Lauren Miller, author of Parallel
Q1: Having read Parallel, I can say that even though it’s a sci-fi book, the story felt very contemporary. Was this a conscious decision on your part and how did you work to create that atmosphere?
I’m not sure I could ever write a book that doesn’t feel contemporary. My voice as a writer just fits the contemporary genre, which I think is the main reason Parallel feels contemporary, more than the narrative itself. I grew up reading Judy Blume and Francine Pascal and watching 90210. I wasn’t into sci-fi or paranormal stories back then (although I was slightly obsessed with true crime novels for a couple years). So when I started writing as a kid, my stories would read like Sweet Valley High installments or teen romances. I guess I just never shook that. The sci-fi aspect speaks to my interests more than my voice. I love science and mysteries and stories that weave realism with supernatural elements. Parallel, I think, is a marriage of my voice and my interests. I have a feeling that much of what I’ll write will be that way. My second novel, Free to Fall, a standalone that comes out next year, is definitely like that.
Q2. The love triangle in Parallel is one of my favorites, and I think parallel universes really allow love triangles to flourish in their best state–you get to see two different sides of the protagonist, without most of the angst that sometimes comes with a love triangle. What are some of your favorite love triangles in YA fiction and why?
I totally agree with you about love triangles. I love the whole who-will-she-choose question, but I get so annoyed with all the angst! For me, the epitome of the teen love triangle was the Kelly-Brandon-Dylan triangle in the original 90210 (am I dating myself here?) There were good reasons for viewers to root for both guys – there wasn’t an obvious “better” choice. You had to invest in the characters to decide who you thought Kelly should end up with. I think that’s why Twilight’s love triangle worked so well – there were good reasons to want Bella to choose Jacob. He didn’t exist just as a foil for Edward. He was a legit option. As for my favorite love triangles, there are so many out there that it’s hard to pick! One I’ve read recently and liked was in Anna Jarzab’s new book, Tandem. It’s a more traditional love triangle, but it’s not angsty and there’s no insta-love.
Q3. Was there any media(books, movies, etc.) with the parallel universe idea that influenced Parallel?
Maybe Sliding Doors, but honestly, Parallel didn’t start out as a parallel universe story – it just sort of became one. It started as a pure “do-over” story, with Abby getting a second chance at making better choices. But that wasn’t all that satisfying for me. I wanted a reason why she could get a do-over, and I wanted to see the cause-and-effect of her choices in action, as her decisions were being played out. Entangled parallel worlds was my solution to that problem. It gave me the (somewhat) plausible explanation I was looking for and allowed me to keep the story dynamic and active — Abby’s reality doesn’t just change once, it changes over and over again. This made it fun for me as a writer, and, I hope, fun for readers, too.
Q4. When did you realize your book was really happening–that you wrote it & it was going to be published and available for everyone to read, and what were some of the accompanying emotions?
For me, it didn’t feel real until my agent called and told me we had an offer from HarperTeen. Before that, I didn’t think much about whether it would be published — or, rather, I forced myself to put off thinking about it until the moment arrived when it could be published. I figured there was no use fantasizing about a publishing deal until I had a finished manuscript and an agent who was willing to champion my story. Although, I have to say, the moment I read that first email from my agent, telling me she’d read Parallel and wanted to represent me, was super surreal. She was the first agent to read my book, so I wasn’t expecting it at all. I remember where I was when I got her email, and the world just sort of slowed down. So maybe that was really my THIS IS HAPPENING moment. As for the emotions, I’d say joy and humility more than anything. It felt like such a gift, one I certainly didn’t deserve!
Q5. Another aspect of Parallel I really loved was the friendships in the book. Were those types of relationships drawn from your own life experiences?
Definitely. I modeled Caitlin after a college friend of mine, who made her very easy to write! I had very close girl friends both in high school and in college, the types of friends who supported each other and encouraged each other and didn’t play games. I feel like we see the opposite so often in YA lit, and I wanted to paint a more uplifting picture of what female friendships can be. Also, I think romance is overvalued in literature in general. Yes, I am a romantic and I (clearly) believe in meant to be, but I also believe that our friends can and should play a key role in shaping who we become. I know mine did!
Q6. Is there a question you’ve ever wanted to be asked in an interview about your book or writing in general, but haven’t? If so, what question would it be, along with the answer (I find this question so fascinating because it seems to lend itself to very interesting answers!)
NOTE: Part of this answer contains spoilers. The spoiler information is written in WHITE text, so if you have already read Parallel/you are fearless in the face of spoilers, you can highlight text to read the rest of Lauren’s answer.
I’ve been waiting for someone to ask me if Josh and Abby end up together! From some reviews I’ve seen, I think there are readers who mistakenly assume that my ending is meant to convey that they would’ve ended up together no matter what. That’s not it at all! My ending only says they would’ve MET no matter what — that they would’ve gotten their chance to be together even if the worlds hadn’t collided. It’s still up to them to make the choices that will lead to their happily ever after. I ended the book the way I did because I wanted to give Abby her power back, the power to make decisions to help create the life and love she wants, knowing what she knows now about the interplay of free will and fate – that both are at work in our lives, and that neither trumps the other. Realizing this gives Abby a shot but not a guarantee of happily ever after. I’d say it’s a hopeful ending more than a happy one.
Q7. What’s been the biggest surprise in the process of being a debut author?
Probably how excited people get when they hear you have a book published. I went to my college reunion and was surrounded by people who have done REALLY amazing things with their lives, and all anyone wanted to talk about was my book! It’s kind of hard to get used to, honestly. It doesn’t matter to people whether your book is a best seller or completely unknown – they get so jazzed hearing that you’ve been published, and they have a million questions about what it’s like to be a writer.
Q8. I’ve noticed a decent increase in the amount of books that have been marketed as parallel universe/multiverse books lately, and they seem to be fairly popular. What do you think attracts us to these kinds of books?
I was attracted to this type of story because I’m so interested in the what-if question. What might have been. That’s probably the dominant reason for most people, although for some it might just be the creative possibilities these types of stories offer – you can do so much if you have multiple worlds!
9.I read your blog post about your second book, Free to Fall(love that the title is from a line of Milton’s!), and you mentioned that it has a theme of free will, which also seems to be a theme of Parallel as well. How have these stories started for you–for example, did you know these themes of choice would always be there, or was that something that developed more gradually through your writing?
For me, theme always comes first. For both Parallel and Free to Fall, the stories began as thematic ideas, or questions I was asking myself about the nature of things, and the narrative emerged as the answer to those questions. In Parallel, the free will questions relate to love and soulmates and destiny. Free to Fall is totally different in that regard – it’s more about free will generally, and the conditions under which people are willing to give theirs up. My third book, which I’m working on now, revolves about the theme of beauty. So, for sure, for me themes come first!
Giveaway of Parallel!
Lauren is offering TWO signed ARCs of Parallel for 2 winners, PLUS a signed HARDBACK of Parallel! Giveaway is open to US & CANADA only. Must be 13 years old or older to enter, only entries through the Rafflecopter will be counted, & entries are checked. There will be three winners who will be notified by email and will have 48 hours to respond. For full giveaway policies, please see my giveaway policy page. Giveaway will run from today through September 30th.
a Rafflecopter giveaway