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YA Wednesday Exclusive: Q&A with Lauren Kate

I've been a fan of Lauren Kate's bestselling Fallen series since the first book came out in 2009. (See our previous conversations with Lauren about Torment and Passion, and don't miss this thought-provoking guest blog in which Lauren unpacks the pros and cons of having an angel for a boyfriend.)

Rapture, the fourth and final book in the series, comes out this week (look for it in our Summer Reading store for kids and teens!), and Lauren was kind enough to answer my burning questions about Luce and Daniel's otherworldly romance, her feelings on finishing the series, and what she's working on next. Rapture


Amazon: Rapture is the fourth and final book in the best-selling Fallen series—how does it feel to have finished writing this story?
 
Lauren Kate: I wept while writing this book—a first for me. At this point, I just feel joy at getting to share the story. I’m ready to release Luce and Daniel into the universe. The three of us do each other proud in this book: Luce transforms into an inspiring force of nature and Daniel proves himself worthy of her love. These two outcomes were not inevitable at the start of the series.  I have given them an ending I think is worthy of their journey--it was the only possible ending for them.  I hope it makes readers say, “Yes, that’s right.”
 
This sense of closure does not extend to the other characters in the series. I’m working on a new book now, set in a completely different world, with an unrelated cast of characters. The other day I was writing a scene, and I kept having to stop myself from thinking: You know who’d know just what to say here? Roland!
 
Amazon: In Rapture we finally find out how Daniel and Lucinda meet—I won’t spoil it, but I will say it was an amazing revelation. (I did not see it coming, and I totally cried.) When you started writing Fallen, did you already know how Daniel and Luce first met? Or was it something that came to you while you were writing?
 
Lauren Kate: It was Luce who determined that this first meeting become so revelatory, not me. I didn’t realize how much it mattered until she kept bringing it up. (Having parted ways with the cast of Fallen, I see how the characters’ autonomies resided at the limits of my subconscious. When it seemed as if a character knew more about a situation than I did, I learned to follow his or her instinct to the edge of the universe.) In Passion, the at-first-sight moment’s elusiveness was like a delicious cupcake floating in front of a winged horse: If only Luce could work hard enough, go back far enough in time, she was bound to find it. And it was bound to tell her everything, right? This is a girl, remember, who’s had hundreds of lives, hundreds of origins, but she was looking for the most primal one, the source.
 
I didn’t know the details of Luce and Daniel’s first meeting until I wrote them. I knew there would be a moment when she would think she’d arrived at the start of all her love, which would feel strangely hollow and lacking. When Luce finally arrives at the source—like most elusive, long-sought goals—it’s not what she was expecting. By then her perspective has shifted so radically that a thousand other things matter more than the first moment she laid eyes on Daniel. But she still needed to get there, to realize how much she’d grown. It’s good to have ambitious goals in life, if only to be usefully disillusioned when you realize them.    
 
Amazon: Luce and Daniel have a love that transcends time, but throughout the series, Luce is still very much a normal modern girl, with normal insecurities and problems. How do you hope Luce’s metamorphosis in Rapture might resonate with young women today?
 
Lauren Kate: Evolution of character is happening to all of us all the time. Whether we welcome or reject it determines the nature of our evolution, but nothing stops us from changing. All change is not progress—Luce makes missteps throughout the series—but there is one way that she is consistently admirable: She’s open to change. Her metamorphosis at the end of Rapture did not surprise me. I don’t mean I knew what was going to happen--I didn’t. I mean she began in a place where she decided to open herself to the world, so it was only a matter of time before that openness would bring her to a place that was previously unimaginable to all of us.
 
Young women today: Sometimes evolution sucks because it so inevitable. Surround yourself with those who support your changes, who like to watch you grow, who want to help you become the person you’re always on your way to being. And don’t be afraid to own your failures.  
 
Amazon: Let’s talk about Lucifer—perhaps the most infamous of all angels in the Bible, and a major player in Passion and Rapture. In this series you’ve played with the blurry boundaries between good and evil, and in Lucifer we see this idea personified. How did you go about characterizing Lucifer, and how did you approach thorny questions like his motivation for what he did? Did you base his character and actions off sources you’ve previously mentioned, like Paradise Lost, or was his character entirely your own invention?
 
Lauren Kate: I write love stories. More specifically, I write love stories that slip love into the inception of a familiar myth or story. My first novel, The Betrayal of Natalie Hargrove, takes Macbeth and introduces thwarted lust into the backstory, so that unrequited love predates the fierce ambition of Shakespeare’s narrative. In the Fallen series, we get to know Lucifer very well. The Lucifer we meet in Paradise Lost is motivated by pride. But from where does such extreme pride spring?  Rapture proposes an answer.
 
When love is impossible it creates a dangerous and violent world. We see this in characters from Jay Gatsby to Humbert Humbert to Quentin Compson to Romeo Montague. Characters are worlds. They have their own atmospheres.  
 
Amazon: What are you working on now? Will you revisit the angels from the Fallen series?
 
Lauren Kate: I’m working on a new series that slips love into the origins of a beloved myth.  It’s challenging and invigorating to make a fresh start, like moving to another country and making all new friends. I hope they let me stay awhile.

Exclusive Interview with Christopher Paolini

It’s been a heck of a year for Christopher Paolini. In November he released Inheritance, the fourth and final book in the best-selling fantasy series he started writing at the age of fifteen. Inheritance was an instant hit, and in less than a month became our tenth best-selling book of the year.

In between packed tour stops at schools, bookstores, and libraries, Christopher made time to visit us and chat about the success of his books, his plans for his future, and what it’s like to be a teenage literary superstar. (He regularly receives marriage proposals, he says, but he hasn’t accepted any--yet.)

It was a rare sunny November day in Seattle, and Christopher, a Montana native, gamely agreed to record our chat on our deck overlooking the Space Needle and the Olympic Mountains. Watch the full interview:

Author Interviews @ Amazon, with Christopher Paolini from Neal Thompson on Vimeo.

Last Chance to Send Us Your Questions for George R. R. Martin!

George-rr-martin George R. R. Martin will be stopping by our offices later this week, and this is your chance to ask him your burning questions about A Song of Ice and Fire! Send your questions to omnivoracious@amazon.com with the subject line “George R. R. Martin.” We’ll ask him as many of your questions as we can, and we’ll post our interview with him on Omnivoracious.

George R.R. Martin Answers Your Questions

George-rr-martin

We are so excited to welcome bestselling fantasy writer George R.R. Martin to Amazon’s offices for a video chat! “The American Tolkien” will be visiting us in a few weeks, and we thought we’d share our luck with you, our faithful Omni readers! From now through July 27, email omnivoracious@amazon.com with the subject line "George R.R. Martin" with your burning questions about the Seven Kingdoms, Jon Snow’s mysterious parentage, and his tips for sitting comfortably on a throne fashioned of swords. We can’t guarantee that George will tell you who Jon Snow’s mother is, or even that he’ll have time to answer all of your questions, but here’s your shot!

Navy SEALS and Special Agents: Crime-Fighting Contemporary Romance Heroes

Breaking-point

Last week on Omni, we highlighted our #1 pick from our Best of the Year So Far list for Romance, Eleven Scandals to Start to Win a Duke’s Heart, by Sarah Maclean.

This week, we’re featuring two more of our BOTYSF picks in Romance—this time focusing on the contemporary crime-fighting heroes from Breaking Point, by Pamela Clare, and Face of Danger, by Roxanne St. Claire. Both of these stories were taut and action-packed, and both featured hard-as-nails heroes who were more than just white knights sent to rescue the damsels in distress.

In Breaking Point, Clare crafts a realistic, ripped-from-the headlines story about a journalist, Natalie Benoit, who is captured by a terrifying drug lord. Also imprisoned at the same time is a former Navy SEAL, Zach McBride. Natalie and Zach take turns saving each others’ lives as they escape the cartel and make their way through the scorching-hot (in more ways than one, wink, wink) Sonoran desert and over the U.S. border. But getting Natalie safely home is only half the battle…

In Face of Danger, tomboyish private investigator Vivi Angelino takes on a case to protect a Hollywood starlet by acting as her body double, and by-the-book FBI agent Colton Lang is sent along to protect Vivi. Vivi soon discovers that the starlet is into more than bad movies, and Vivi and Colton join forces to uncover the truth about the actress’s dark past.

The plot and the action in Breaking Point kept me glued to my chair for an entire afternoon—I literally could not put it down. I loved the progression of Zach and Natalie’s relationship, and I loved that Natalie did her fair share of butt-kicking.

What I loved best about Face of Danger was the strongly developed personalities of Vivi and Colton. Our first glimpse of Vivi is at a skate park, and she’s dressed in clothes normal women would wear on the weekend—baggy t-shirt and comfy cargo pants. It was refreshing to read about a heroine who isn’t perfectly polished in stylish, sexy clothes every hour of the day. And Special Agent Colton Lang is kind of a hoot—he struck me as a Mr. Hospital Corners in his Dockers and ironed polo shirts. Vivi and Colton are an odd couple, for sure, but when they finally get together…it all fits.

Did you love Breaking Point and Face of Danger? Let us know what you loved—or didn’t—in the comments!

Best of the Year So Far: Romance Books We Love

Eleven_scandals

Earlier this week we launched our Best of the Year So Far lists, and I’m particularly excited about the Romance list we put together. It was so difficult to choose our favorites for this year—there were way more than ten to choose from!—but as these lists tend to do, it forced us to think about what makes a Romance book truly great and focus on the ten most memorable books of the year (so far).

Our number one Romance pick of the year was Sarah MacLean’s Eleven Scandals to Start to Win a Duke’s Heart, starring feisty, Italian-born Juliana Fiori (who you might remember from MacLean’s first book in the Love by Numbers series, Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake).

Juliana is notorious for her difficulties conforming to the inscrutably complex rules of London society. One night, after thwarting the advances of an unwanted suitor, Juliana hides in a carriage—only to be discovered by its owner, Simon Pearson, Duke of Leighton, a man famed for his hauteur and aversion to scandal. Juliana resolves to teach him a lesson about living a passionate life before he marries his proper (read: dull) fiancée, while the “Duke of Disdain” agrees to watch over Juliana and protect her from further faux pas before she brings ruin to her family. But the Duke is hiding a scandal of his own, and when he becomes the center of the ton’s gossip, he realizes that the woman he wants by his side is the one who has caused—and weathered—a few scandals of her own.

I loved the realistic yet delightfully witty banter in Eleven Scandals, and I felt for both Juliana, who tries so hard to repress her unconventional nature (it’s not worth it, Juliana!), and Simon, whose primary motivation is to protect his family’s secrets, even at the expense of his own happiness. But what propelled this novel to the top of our favorites so far this year were the brilliant, fully realized set pieces (the best being a bittersweet Guy Fawkes Day bonfire) and the heart-wrenching role-reversal at the end. We won’t spoil it here—you’ll have to read the book to find out how it ends.

We’ll be discussing our Best of the Year So Far picks in Romance here on Omni over the next few weeks. We’d love to hear what you thought about our picks, as well as the ones we missed—join the conversation in the comments!

YA Wednesday: An Interview with Lauren Kate

Passion_fallen

How far would you go to find your true love? In Passion, the highly-anticipated third book in the bestselling Fallen series, the mortal Luce is determined to unlock her future by traveling through her past lives to find out about the mysterious forces that brought her together with her angel boyfriend, Daniel. We had an opportunity to talk to author Lauren Kate over email and ask her some burning questions about Luce, Daniel, Cam, and the true nature of eternal love.

Note: For readers who’d rather wait to find out what happens in Passion, stop reading now! There are some spoilers ahead.

Amazon.com: In Passion, Luce visits scenes from her past lives with Daniel, in an effort to find out more about their mysterious connection. How did you research the many places around the world and many time periods she visits?

Lauren Kate: Most frequently, I researched through literature. I was able to do some travel (Chitzen Itza, Versailles, and Milan), and of course there was some necessary historical research (fact checking online and such), but mostly, I read and reread novels set in the eras and locations I wanted to write about. When writing about Luce in Milan during World War I, I reread Farewell to Arms. When she’s in Moscow, I pulled from Bulgacov’s incredible The Master and Margarita. For her life with Daniel in Victorian Helston, I looked at North and South and The Woman in White. I went back to Shakespeare; I looked at Aida. This literary voyage was the most enjoyable research I’ve ever done, and I ended up with a very dynamic and exciting understanding of the journey Luce had to go on.

Amazon.com: Luce visits a dozen different past lives in Passion--our personal favorite was her life in Helston, England, which you wrote about in the very first pages of Fallen. Did you have a favorite as you were writing the book? Do all of the lifetimes have equal importance to the overall story, or is there one that we should pay more attention to?

Continue reading "YA Wednesday: An Interview with Lauren Kate" »

Green Books for Earth Day

Defense_of_food

Earlier this week, Heidi Swanson’s new cookbook, Super Natural Every Day, landed on my desk. As a longtime proponent of seasonal, organic, and nutritious cooking, I am super excited to give some of these vegetarian recipes a test drive—and what better time than Earth Day to try some meals that are good for our bodies and our environment?

In honor of the holiday, I thought I’d share some of my favorite “green” books from the past few years:

  • Gorgeously Green/The Gorgeously Green Diet by Sophie Uliano
    These two books by Sophie Uliano are great primers for women (and men!) interested in making their bodies and their homes gentler on the environment without sacrificing style. Uliano suggests dozens of brands and products that are easy on the earth, in a wide range of categories from makeup to baby products to furniture and food. Gorgeously Green inspired me, nearly three years ago, to get all-new beauty products, free from parabens, sulfates, phthalates and other nasty chemicals, and I haven’t looked back.

  • The Green Collar Economy by Van Jones
    This book opened my eyes to a new way of looking at the environmental crisis as an economic opportunity. In short, Van Jones suggests that we can create jobs in a new, green economic sector focused on cultivating sustainable energy sources and upgrading our personal, local and national infrastructure to be energy- and earth-friendly. It’s a fascinating and thought-provoking read.

  • Jamie At Home by Jamie Oliver
    TV’s superstar Naked Chef takes up the cause of “green” cooking in Jamie at Home. Focusing on seasonal recipes (made with ingredients Jamie grew in his backyard in the UK), this is a delicious introduction to cooking with fresh produce and meats, along with some informative asides on growing your own food.

  • In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan
    While not necessarily “green” per se, this blockbuster from by Michael Pollan is a personal favorite of mine, and a quick read to boot. The well-known central thesis of this “eater’s manifesto” (eat food, not too much, mostly plants) is a simple and memorable way to think about what we eat and how it affects our bodies and the world.

What are your favorite “green” books? Share in the comments!

Fourth Book in the Inheritance Series Announced

Inheritance

This morning, Random House announced a November 8 release date for Christopher Paolini’s Inheritance, the long-awaited fourth and final book in the bestselling Inheritance Cycle.

The book description gives nothing away, so we’re free to speculate whether, in Inheritance, Eragon’s true name will be revealed, whether he will have his foretold "epic romance," or whether he will leave Alagaesia forever. Will we find out about Saphira's parentage? Will we ever meet Galbatorix? And who will be the mysterious green dragon rider? What do you hope will happen in Inheritance? Let us know in the comments!

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