Young Adult authors and childhood friends Lauren Oliver and Elizabeth Miles had audience members utterly captivated and laughing hysterically during their event at Books of Wonder in New York City last Friday, where they discussed their mutual interests, their writing processes and what books they’ve recently read and loved. As a fan of both authors, we certainly were not going to miss this event and we're excited to share highlights from the discussion for those unable to attend!
Lauren Oliver and Elizabeth Miles answer reader questions
The discussion kicked off with an introduction from Peter Glassman, author and owner of Books of Wonder, and then Lauren Oliver and Elizabeth Miles began what ended up being a funny and nostalgic evening full of childhood memories and embarrassing anecdotes, including their days in an a cappella group and their mutual love for The Beatles. Oliver brought a journal she and Miles had shared during high school and read a few passages from it, including a story the two had written together. Both authors were cracking up over the “flowery” language and said they wanted to show aspiring authors in the audience that you don’t have to be a great writer from the start. Oliver stressed the importance of writing constantly to improve one’s craft.
Miles, who is also a journalist, discussed the challenges she initially faced when transitioning from nonfiction to fiction. She said, “I definitely had to teach myself ... to linger in passages and take the long way around.” She also revealed she’s working on a standalone young adult thriller. Oliver responded with, “But you’re a scaredy cat!”, which had the crowd laughing.
When asked about writing in different genres, Oliver said she “never sets out thinking, Oh, it’s time for another middle grade book!” and that she gets inspired by different things at different points, and that the way the character in her head speaks usually informs which audience the story is meant for. She also remarked that, unlike Miles, she can’t write nonfiction because she finds the parameters to be stifling and too restrictive.
Despite being such good friends, the two have very different writing processes. Oliver prefers to write every day and said she can’t help but wonder if it’s because she’s “driven by the fear that if you stop you’ll never do it again." In contrast, Miles finds it difficult to write every day due to her day job as a journalist, and said the last thing she wants to do when she gets home is stare at a computer screen again. To help solve this, though, she said she’s going to try writing long hand and transcribing it later.
After finishing their discussion, the two began taking questions from the audience. One person asked what books the authors were currently reading. Oliver said she is reading three books, one of them being The Cuckoo’s Calling, JK Rowling’s mystery novel written under the name Robert Galbraith. Miles praised Leila Sales’ upcoming YA novel, This Song Will Save Your Life, releasing in September, and urged everyone to give it a try when it hits shelves.
At the end of the Q&A, the event was brought to a close with a book signing. Readers milled about talking to one another while waiting to meet Oliver and Miles, and it was great meeting fellow fans. This was definitely a memorable event and we hope Oliver and Miles share the stage again in the future.
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