{Interview} Lauren Oliver, Author of PANIC

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PANIC by Lauren Oliver just came out in paperback last month!

Universal Pictures recently announced that they've hired Lauren Oliver to adapt PANIC into a screenplay!!! 
(I love when authors are hands-on with their movies, don't you? They come out so much better!)

An interview with 
Lauren Oliver

Lauren Oliver comes from a family of writers and so has always (mistakenly) believed that spending hours in front of the computer every day, mulling over the difference between “chortling” and “chuckling,” is normal. She has always been an avid reader.

She attended the University of Chicago, where she continued to be as impractical as possible by majoring in philosophy and literature. After college, she attended the MFA program at NYU and worked briefly as the world’s worst editorial assistant, and only marginally better assistant editor, at a major publishing house in New York. Her major career contributions during this time were flouting the corporate dress code at every possible turn and repeatedly breaking the printer. BEFORE I FALL is her first published novel. Lauren has also written the best-selling series Delirium, three books for children (LIESL & PO, THE SPINDLERS, and the upcoming Curiosity House series) and one novel for adults (ROOMS). Her newest YA novel is VANISHING GIRLS.

She is deeply grateful for the chance to continue writing, as she has never been particularly good at anything else.

Visit her websiteFacebook, Twitter, and Tumblr!

Very few people know that your new novel PANIC was inspired by the Grimm's tale The Story of the Youth Who Went Forth to Learn What Fear Was. Can you tell us a little bit about that inspiration and how it evolved into PANIC?

It seems almost paradoxical that a realistic, gritty, and frightening novel like PANIC could have been inspired from an absurdist and humorous story like the The Story of the Youth...Etc., but it's true. 

The Grimm's tale tells the story of a boy who is literally too "simple," i.e. stupid, to know how to experience fear. A disgrace to his family, he sets off to earn his fortune, where his insane obtuseness proves an unexpected boon: a king has decreed that any man able to stay three nights in a haunted house can marry his daughter. So far, no one has succeeded, but our pea-brained friend has no problem cozying up to bones and corpses and easily and happily succeeds. 

The fairy tale is, as I said, very funny, but it got me thinking about the nature of fear and what bravery really is--and whether other emotional or psychological factors might contribute to our ability to act bravely.

Do you think you'll use fairy tales or other retellings again when creating your novels in the future? Do you have any in mind?

I certainly wouldn't rule it out! Fairy tales were integral to my early life, and they're also archetypal, meaning they remain current and relevant forever. They speak to our deepest narrative needs. For years I actually have wanted to adapt a series of fairy tales and combine them into a single book with elements of magical realism, but I haven't yet figured out a way to make it work.

My favorite novel by you is LIESL AND PO. It's very whimsical and reads like an instant classic. In some ways, it feels like a fairy tale in and of itself. THE SPINDLERS is also very fantastic in nature. Your writing style is so different from how you write for teens and adults; I just want to wrap up your words in a blanket and carry them around with me. How is your writing process for middle-grade different? Will you continue writing books for children? (Psst....maybe some fairy tale retellings in the future, yes? ^.~)

I will definitely keep writing for middle grade, yes! I'm super excited that in the fall I'll be launching an MG series (check out the first book, CURIOSITY HOUSE: THE SHRUNKEN HEAD, on Goodreads!). The process itself doesn't change very much, actually, although of course tonally the books turn out very different from their YA and adult counterparts. The voice kind of floats up through the idea. I love MG of a whimsical and fantastical nature, and I'm glad that shows.

Which fairytale villain would you never want to reform and why?

Ursula. Those lips! Those hips! Those nasty little eels! Poor unfortunate soul, my ass. Some women are just meant to be bad. Ursula is alllll about that bass, no treble, and we love her for it.
Which fairytale mode of transportation would you want to try out? (eg. Cinderella's pumpkin coach, seven league boots, ship, flying carpet, etc...)

Honestly, my favorite fairy tale magical mode of transportation is the hidden door in the Grimm's story the Twelve Dancing Princesses, which leads from the girls' bedroom to a glittering subterranean lake and a beautiful palace on the opposite shore where there is always a Gatsby-esque party rocking. This fairy tale is one of my all-time favorites, and teaches an important lesson about maintaining a vast shoe collection.

If your life was a Disney movie, which would it be...and which character would best represent you?

I think I would be Anna, from Frozen. I'm a younger sister, I'm spunky, and I definitely want to end up with a hottie who befriends trolls and pals around with a reindeer. In the mornings, however, I am best represented by that giant and extremely grumpy snowman.


Dragon or kraken?


Hero or villain?

Villain. (I'm Slytherin.)

Befriend the birds or the mice?


Baba Yaga or a Djinn?

O F F I C I A   I N F O:

Title: PANIC
Author: Lauren Oliver
Release Date: March 4, 2014
Publisher: HarperTeen

Panic began as so many things do in Carp, a dead-end town of 12,000 people in the middle of nowhere: because it was summer, and there was nothing else to do.Heather never thought she would compete in Panic, a legendary game played by graduating seniors, where the stakes are high and the payoff is even higher. She’d never thought of herself as fearless, the kind of person who would fight to stand out. But when she finds something, and someone, to fight for, she will discover that she is braver than she ever thought.

Dodge has never been afraid of Panic. His secret will fuel him, and get him all the way through the game, he’s sure of it. But what he doesn't know is that he’s not the only one with a secret. Everyone has something to play for.

For Heather and Dodge, the game will bring new alliances, unexpected revelations, and the possibility of first love for each of them—and the knowledge that sometimes the very things we fear are those we need the most.