Book Nerd Interview
Lauren loves her husband, her family, her friends, and stories that end happily. (Unfortunately, hers never do.) She also loves digging into her mind and revealing tiny gems she didn’t know were there.
Lauren learned to mind dig while getting her MFA in Creative Writing from Naropa, a Buddhist college in Boulder, Colorado. Before Naropa, Lauren studied film in Rome, where she developed her love of crypts and other beautiful creepy things. She also worked in the film industry in New York and San Francisco, focusing mainly on film festivals, as she can never pass up a good party. In San Francisco she worked for Chronicle Books, where she was inducted into the fascinating world of book publishing.
For the past eight years, Lauren has been teaching college students the joys of creative writing, whether they like it or not.
In 2008, Lauren was published in Undiscovered Voices, an anthology of the best new writers for children in the U.K., where she was living at the time. Then life got very exciting very quickly. She signed with Jodi Reamer Esq. at The Writer’s House Agency in New York, and they made magic happen, and that magic is named Katherine Tegen. (aka: Katherine Tegen Publishing, Harper Collins).
Lauren's first book, Vivian Divine is Dead will be published June 3 2014. She's currently working on her next book, which she can't wait to tell you about (but has to wait just a little while anyway).
Lauren believes that being a teenager is an act of courage, and is proud of anyone who manages to stick through it, despite the pain. :)
What was your first introduction to YA literature, the one that made you choose that genre to write?
I spent a summer in Rome, Italy, and I couldn’t find any English books. (I also got lost 50 times on my own block. Apparently other people can find English bookstores in Rome, but I’m direction challenged.) When I finally found a few books in English, one was a young adult book. I got really into the book, and I realized that I loved reading a story from a teenager’s viewpoint. Since I still remember my teenage years in a painfully sharp way, I thought, “Hey, I can do this.”
What was the greatest thing you learned at school?
I guess it’s what I didn’t learn at school that helped me.
I used to write poetry all the time, in math class and gym class and at lunchtime, etc. I got in trouble a lot for not paying attention, and writing poetry was seen as pretty nerdy anyway, and kind of useless, like “where’s that gonna get you?” But I just kept writing, and daydreaming, and here I am, despite what I heard about writing being “useless and nerdy”— so I guess I learned that it’s worthwhile to follow your passion.
What’s one thing that readers would be surprised to find out about you?
I was once pulled over by a cop for driving my convertible naked.
When did you write your first book and how old were you?
I wrote my first “book” in third grade. It was titled Green Sea, about two kids who go on adventures on their magic sailboat. But I lost it, which is probably good, since I’m sure it was terrible. Vivian Divine is Dead was my second book, and I started that when I was about thirty.
How would you describe yourself in three words?
Whimsical. Macabre. Obsessive.
Did you learn anything from writing Vivian Divine Is Dead and what was it?
I learned that writing a book is largely about not giving up. It’s about the story, yes, and the character, for sure, but it’s mostly about sitting down in front of the computer day after day and making that one paragraph or chapter or plotline better than it was the day before.
What part of Vivian did you enjoy writing the most?
I love setting. It’s the closest thing there is to daydreaming. I get to picture a place in my mind, and then find words to bring that place to life for other people. I want people to feel like they’ve been to a place after reading my book; it should be that alive for them. In Vivian Divine Is Dead, she goes to Mexico during Los Muertos (the Day of the Dead). I got to go to Oaxaca, Mexico to experience that, and I want everyone who reads my book to experience it too.
If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
Ray Bradbury. His imagination was endless, and his work ethic was even better. He wrote six days a week for over fifty years, and my goal is to have a writing discipline as intense as his. Bradbury inspired me so much that I wrote my graduate thesis on his book of short stories The Illustrated Man. It is one of my favorite books on earth.
You have the chance to give one piece of advice to your readers. What would it be?
Don’t listen to haters. They are always there, and they are not important. Everything you do and everything you are has an audience, and you just have to find it. Don’t ever believe that just because there are haters that it means everyone is a hater. Find Your Audience. Find Your Fan base. They are out there.
How many books have you written?
I just finished my second book. Vivian Divine is Dead was my first book, and my second is about a teenage psychic who works undercover for the government. I’ve also written part of a sequel to Vivian Divine is Dead in response to readers asking for a second book, but I haven’t signed a contract for that one yet. If you want a Vivian Divine sequel, tweet #letnicklive or #viviandivinesequel or #helpsavenick. My readers started these hashtags, and I so much appreciate their support.
What's the most memorable summer job you've ever had?
I was a summer camp counselor for gifted and talented eighth graders at the University of Denver. Most of the activities offered by the camp were sports, so I started a poetry circle. And wow, did those teenagers amaze me. The huge talents they had inside of them, and they didn’t even know it!
Once I pointed their talents out to them, I got to watch them gain confidence in themselves as they realized their own brilliance. That was one of the most meaningful experiences in my life.
Which would you choose, true love with a guarantee of a heartbreak or have never loved before?
I’d take the heartbreak. For a writer, all of this pain is useful. It’s the fodder we use to create stories that reach out and touch other people. Think about it: when did you last read a story where the character had no problems, encountered no obstacles? Writers have to feel those emotions in order to write characters that feel them too. Without ever feeling heartbreak, I never could have written the scene where Vivian is betrayed by Nick. Without feeling grief, I never could have written about Vivian’s devastation at the death of her mother. So yes, these emotions are horrible, but they pass – it’s the ability to write about them that stays with you forever.
If you had to go back in time and change one thing, if you HAD to, even if you had “no regrets” what would it be?
I would change how insecure I was as a teenager. I didn’t realize that I had this whole life in front of me, filled with people who would appreciate the strange, quirky person I am. In middle school and high school, being unpopular seemed like a lifetime curse, but it’s actually the opposite. As soon as high school ended, the things about me that made me unpopular became valuable to people. At the same time, many of the things that made other people popular in high school seemed suddenly unimportant as adults.
When was the last time you cried?
Sometimes I cry when my writing isn’t going well. It’s like the words are stuck inside of me, and I can’t get them out. I build up all this anxiety about it, until I kind of implode, and the tears come out. But soaking in a hot tub or taking a long walk helps calm me down, and then I make myself pull it together and continue writing.
Where can readers stalk you?
But twitter’s my favorite.
When a death threat arrives with teen celebrity Vivian Divine's fan mail, Vivian has no choice but to go on the run to Mexico. She soon discovers, though, that her Oscar-nominated performance killing villains on-screen did nothing to prepare her for escaping a madman in real life. Some people say he's a hero, others tremble in his presence, but one thing is clear: he won't stop until Vivian is in his grasp. Why didn't she pay more attention during those judo lessons for her role in Zombie Killer?
Vivian finds an ally in the mysterious and charming Nick. He is everything Hollywood boys are not-genuine, kind, and determined to see Vivian for who she really is. But even he seems like he can't be trusted-what could he be hiding?
Beat up, hungry, and more confused than ever about who she's running from, Vivian is living in a real-life blockbuster horror flick. But there's no option to yell "cut" like there is on set....
Lauren Sabel's Vivian Divine Is Dead is a creepy, witty, fast-paced adventure about family, fame, and having the courage to save yourself.