04 June 2014

Review and Author Interview: Free to Fall

We had a fantastic visit from YA author Lauren Miller! Everyone was so excited to sit down and talk about her books, going from screenwriter to author, where she gets her ideas, and any other author tidbits we could squeeze out of her! Read Marilyn's review of Lauren's newest book, Free to Fall, below and stay for the interview we did with Lauren!

Free to Fall by Lauren Miller
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publishing date: May 13, 2014

FREE TO FALL by Lauren Miller is the epitome of a futuristic novel, packed with thrilling suspense and a seemingly perfect romance. Set decades in the future, Rory, your average high school student, lives in a world where technology dictates decisions, and an app known as ‘Lux’ has become the puppeteer of choice and judgment. When Rory is accepted to the Thedan Academy, a prestigious school for the highly gifted, this should be the beginning of her academic success. However, due to unknown past family endeavors, she is stuck in a world of mystery, trying to connect dots that are far from lining up. Rory is placed in the impossible, all odds against her, and as the audience you can only hope she succeeds.

The novel, FREE TO FALL, is an astonishingly clever book with a plot line that will leave you wanting more at every turn of the page. Always expect the unexpected, for this story will continue to shock you, venturing to new and compelling places one could never see coming. I would thoroughly recommend this book to anyone who is looked to be transported into another world of excitement. This book will keep the reader at the edge of their seat ready to tag along in a journey with the main characters themselves. Although the story is a bit of a read, it is hardly noticeable when the reader is so captivated in the book itself, feeling a part of a whole other virtual world. Miller’s novel teaches the reader that trusting oneself is more powerful and reliable than the trust we put into our everyday technology. I would recommend this book for ages fourteen and up due certain content in the story.

Interview with Lauren Miller:

Lauren Miller wrote her first novel, PARALLEL (HarperTeen), while on maternity leave from her law firm job and blogged about it, an experiment she called “embracing the detour” (also the name of her blog). Many people told her she was crazy. When she realized they were right, she told no one and kept writing. Her second novel, FREE TO FALL (HarperTeen), came out this May. Born in NYC and raised in Atlanta, Lauren now lives in Los Angeles with her husband and two children. You can find her online atwww.laurenmillerwrites.com and on Twitter and Instagram at @LMillerWrites.

Do you think, theoretically, what happens in Free to Fall could happen to us? 
Absolutely. I actually don't think it's so far off. Maybe not the full extent of what is happening in the novel (I won't say specifically so as not to be spoilery), but definitely the reliance on technology for our happiness. Already we trust our apps and devices to tell us which driving routes to take, what songs to listen to, where to eat. We live in a culture hyper-focused on personal satisfaction, and we've come to believe that having things we like and enjoy will make us happy. Most of the apps on our phones are designed with that in mind. So, no, I don't think it's such a stretch to imagine that one of the big tech companies might put out an app like Lux that does it all.

Do you work from an outline or a basic plot when writing books, or just see where the story takes you?
I work from a very detailed outline. Before I begin drafting I know exactly where my story will go. I couldn't write the other way -- I need to make sure I have a story before I start writing one. How do you feel about fanfiction/fanart of your work? I love fan fiction! I encourage it. That's what art is all about, in my view -- starting a social conversation and letting it live on its own, separate from you.

Where do you get your inspiration from?
For me, inspiration typically comes in the form of a question, and my writing becomes my answer to that question. For Free to Fall, that question was "is our happiest life necessarily our best life?" It popped into my head one afternoon after church. Our pastor had been preaching on the Book of James, and in particular the idea that our struggles should bring us joy. As I started thinking about this idea, a story began to take shape in my mind. It just sort of snowballed from there!

Do you ever base characters off of yourself or other people? 
Always. But it's not a one-to-one thing. Every character I've written is a combination of two or three people I know. Basing characters on real people helps ensure that my characters are relatable and authentic. What is the hardest part of writing books? The first draft. The outlining is the easy, crazy, imaginative part for me, and the revising is the part where I get to hone my prose and add all the fun nuances and layers. The first draft, which happens in the middle, is the difficult, ego-shattering part, where I doubt my writing ability pretty much on a daily basis.

Do you write the titles of your books prior to, or after you write them?
It totally depends! With Parallel, the title came to me while I was writing it, and it never changed. With Free to Fall, it took much longer to find a title that fit. The story was almost ready to go to print before we had one that everybody liked. For my newest project, the title came first.

Did you always have a passion for writing and/or know you wanted to be an author?
I have always had a passion for writing, but I didn't know I wanted to be an author until my late 20s. Before then, the idea of writing a book was too daunting. But one day I woke up and realized that if I wanted to make writing my profession, then I would have to actually write something, and so I started writing every day. I've been writing every day ever since!

Anything next in the works? Shh, we won't tell...
Yes! I am working on a standalone novel about a "pretty girl" named Jessa who suffers a freak accident and loses her mind's eye. Although it feels more contemporary than Parallel and Free to Fall, this new story has its own "sci-chic" twist. I'm incredibly excited about it!

And the all important question: cake or pie? 

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