Lauren Oliver is the author of Before I Fall, amongst other great books. As a teen-fiction romance-writer, I chatted to her about the bones of writing romance.
I wrote an article on Inky exploring why people enjoy reading romance (here). In your personal opinion, what do you think people enjoy about romance novels that they don’t find in other genres?
That's a great question! I'm not sure. I think that romance novels satisfy our need for meaning and circularity in works of art: we want everything to come to a nice, unambiguous conclusion, partly because that so rarely happens in real life.
Before I Fall deals with extremely sad subject matter. What purpose or importance do tragic romance stories serve, as opposed to the light-hearted, feel-good alternative?
Tragic stories are cathartic, meaning that they allow us to 'process' or explore our darkest fears and feelings in a contained/safe space.
Sam, from Before I Fall, is not always seen as a particularly nice character, yet I always managed to identify with her. Why did you chose a heroine who is could often be downright mean and what affect do you think this had?
I wanted to write from a mean girl's perspective, because I hadn't seen it done. I wanted to write about the possibility of change, and explore how and why people can be cruel to each other. And I knew that she would be relatable - even if you hate Sam you know her or have known a girl like her.
In the Delirium series, you explore the idea of love being treated and ‘cured’ like a disease, in order to control the mass population. Is this something you could see happening in the far future?
I seriously hope not. But of course in other, non-Western societies, marriages are often arranged, the relationship between the sexes is rigorously controlled, and people can get in serious trouble for displays of physical affection. So in some parts of the world, 'Delirium' already exists!
Dystopian fiction is becoming increasingly popular. Do you think that the growing numbers of disturbing futuristic worlds in fiction could act as a warning for humanity, should anything like Delirium happen in reality?
I think the popularity of dystopian literature is less a harbinger of things to come than it is a reflection of current fears about the world.
On that note, I’ve got one more [slightly more simple!] question…what is your absolute all-time-favourite piece of romance writing, and why?
Does Pride & Prejudice count as a romance novel? It's the most satisfying and well-structured romance of all time, in my opinion. ☁
Written by Florence Molly. A huge thanks to Lauren Oliver for the interview - find more about her here. Also a massive thanks to Pearl for a hand with writing interview questions.