Interview with Lauren Oliver
BAM: This book is unique in that it is really two stories in one. What made you want to try something like this, and do you think you’ll try it again?
LAUREN: If I do attempt something like this again, I will definitely take a long breather–this was a real challenge. I’ve long been interested in the idea of writing two books that relate but are not totally dependent on one another, and when I began to think about replicas, and genetics, and two girls whose histories were entwined and yet radically different, it seemed like the perfect time to attempt it.
BAM: How would you recommend readers read these stories? One story and then the other, or flip back and forth between the two?
LAUREN: I don’t have a concrete recommendation. In some ways REPLICA deals with the way that our own narrative histories informs our perception of reality, and I kind of like that depending on how you read it you are really experiencing a very different book.
BAM: One of your previous books, Before I Fall, is currently being made into a movie, what was the process of taking your book to film like?
LAUREN: It was a long process and it’s actually kind of incredible to realize that the movie did, finally, get made–and that it was made beautifully and well. I think it’s a testament to the idea that movies, too, require passionate advocates and the involvement of people who truly believe.
BAM: Any chance there will be a Replica movie in the future?
LAUREN: Yes! I can say no more, but actually the people who did BEFORE I FALL have optioned REPLICA.
BAM: You mentioned on your website that you love reading – what is your favorite type of story? Has that changed as you have gotten older?
LAUREN: I love stories that pass fluidly back and forth between reality and a kind of elevated reality. As a kid, this meant stories like The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe and the Harry Potter series. As an adult, this means primarily magical realism. But I really read widely and love all kinds of books.
BAM: What are other authors that you look up to?
LAUREN: So many–it would be unfair only to list a few. I am constantly discovering new writers I admire and am in awe of. The most recent example is Anthony Marra, who wrote A Constellation of Vital Phenomena.
[more of the interview below]
Two girls, two stories, one epic novel
From Lauren Oliver, New York Times bestselling author of Before I Fall and the Delirium trilogy, comes an epic, masterful novel that explores issues of individuality, identity, and humanity. Replica is a flip book that contains two narratives in one, and it is the first in a duology. Turn the book one way and read Lyra s story; turn the book over and upside down and read Gemma s story. The stories can be read separately, one after the other, or in alternating chapters. The two distinct parts of this astonishing novel combine to produce an unforgettable journey. Even the innovative book jacket mirrors and extends the reading experience.
Lyra s story begins in the Haven Institute, a building tucked away on a private island off the coast of Florida that from a distance looks serene and even beautiful. But up close the locked doors, military guards, and biohazard suits tell a different story. In truth, Haven is a clandestine research facility where thousands of replicas, or human models, are born, raised, and observed. When a surprise attack is launched on Haven, two of its young experimental subjects Lyra, or 24, and the boy known only as 72 manage to escape.
Gemma has been in and out of hospitals for as long as she can remember. A lonely teen, her life is circumscribed by home, school, and her best friend, April. But after she is nearly abducted by a stranger claiming to know her, Gemma starts to investigate her family s past and discovers her father s mysterious connection to the secretive Haven research facility. Hungry for answers, she travels to Florida, only to stumble upon two replicas and a completely new set of questions.
While the stories of Lyra and Gemma mirror each other, each contains breathtaking revelations critically important to the other story. Replica is an ambitious, thought-provoking masterwork.
BAM: On a lighter note – why do you hate bananas?
LAUREN: Oh my goodness, so many different reasons! The smell, the weird way they are peeled, and the sound people make when they are chewing a banana, as if they are trying to ingest a damp sock.
BAM: Was it difficult to write from two different perspectives in one story?
LAUREN: No, not really. I love it. I’ve shifted perspectives a lot. There are six POV characters in my adult book, ROOMS.
BAM: Replica seems to explore the debate of nature vs. nurture. Is it our environment or our genes that makes us who we are? Did you have this in mind while writing Replica? What are your personal thoughts on this?
LAUREN: I think it’s a combination of both. I actually think recent research has suggested that our environment, and our responses to our environmental triggers, can in fact even influence the way our genetic code is expressed, not simply the other way around. I’ve always assumed this was the case.
BAM: What/Who is your biggest/greatest inspiration, and why?
LAUREN: Well, I will probably say my sister. She is brilliant and big-hearted, and she unifies moral goodness with intellectual curiosity and also just a sheer sense of fun.
BAM: Where do your best ideas come from the most?
LAUREN: Reading the newspaper! The real world is so much weirder than anything we can imagine. In fact, one of my favorite quotes about the difference between fiction and reality is that fiction must stick to what is plausible.
BAM: You’ve come so far having your book(s) published and take off. There must have been moments when you doubted yourself. What did you do to get past them or keep moving when you felt very low and unsure of you career?
LAUREN: Oh, those moments still come, believe me! I think most writers–and probably all ambitious people–are also prone to intense moments of self-doubt and uncertainty. The answer for me has always been to focus as much as possible on the work itself, and to ignore thinking about the future or worrying about how your work may be perceived.
BAM: How is this new book different than other books that you have written?
LAUREN: Well, structurally it is very different, of course. And I think it is also different because it leans on real science. But in some ways it is a return to the speculative fiction of DELIRIUM, in which by using a scientific lens I can ask questions that hopefully resonate with a contemporaneous audience.