Describe Before I Fall in three words.
Redemptive; life-affirming. (I hope.)
Describe your main character Sam in one sentence.
Popular, pretty, superficial, and mean, Sam Kingston is also lost, and in desperate need of change.
If you could offer Sam advice, what would you say?
Be nice; it really is true that you receive by giving. Try to be yourself. And only fall in love with people who deserve it.
Why did you choose to have Sam relive her last day in seven days then say six or eight times?
It wasn’t a deliberate choice, honestly. When I was outlining the book that is how many days it required to bring Sam’s character arc to its full articulation. But afterwards I was pretty pleased, since obviously seven days makes one full week, and also has religious connotations as well. Again, that wasn’t deliberate, but I think it works thematically with my book.
What made you choose to have Before I Fall’s setting be a small, wealthy town instead of a city or a less affluent town?
I was influenced by my own memories of high school and the community I lived in for all of my adolescence. Like Ridgeview in the book, the town was small and affluent.
What was your favorite aspect of writing Before I Fall?
Definitely getting to coax Sam through so many big personality and character changes. At the beginning of the book, she is petty and cruel and superficial. She is also disconnected; she’s unhappy without even knowing she is unhappy. By the book’s end, she is generous and loving and connected, and she knows how to experience joy. Getting to move her through all of the different moments of growth was awesome and challenging.
Did Before I Fall change in any big ways form first draft to what we’ll see in stores come March?
Actually, not really. I did relatively little “big picture” editing. That’s what we call beginner’s luck, my friend!
Well, originally the title was If I Should Fall—a reference to, and slight adjustment of, a bedtime prayer mentioned in the book (If I should die before I wake…). But my publishers felt it was slightly too wordy. Strangely enough, we then went through hundreds of potential titles before we were able to settle on the word “before.” It was a terrible process, although funny in retrospect. I literally have pages and pages in my notebooks of suggested titles, each one worse and more nonsensical than the last.
I absolutely love the cover of Before I Fall which leaves me to wonder what your reaction was to it when you say it for the very first time.
I literally found it breath-taking. As in, all the breath wooshed out of my body and I was left kind of gasping.
What were you like in high school? Were you a lot like Sam or the polar opposite?
Hmm. There are definite similarities. I like to think I was nicer than Sam, and I believe I was, although I certainly had moments of cruelty. I was pretty lost and I had a tendency to lash out at other people as a result. Like Sam, I was pretty unhappy without really knowing it. I thought I had everything figured out, when really I was just so disconnected and confused and insecure. Other than that, I was pretty artsy. I was a very good student but I liked to talk back and show up late to class and wear pleather pants to school and stuff like that.
What part of writing do you find to be the most challenging?
Doing it every day! It is so, so hard to write every single day but it is absolutely necessary. I’ve been doing it every day since I was, like, five, and it’s still a challenge for me to sit down at the computer every day!
What are three completely random things about you?
I am addicted to ketchup.
My oldest friend calls me Lou.
I can’t stand bananas. I don’t even like to look at them.
I'm addicted to ketchup too. lol. What’s up next for you book-wise?
My second book, DELIRIUM, is being published in January 2011. I’m super, super excited about it. It’s kind of a dystopian Romeo-and-Juliet story—very different from Before I Fall, obviously, but a book I’m equally proud of.
Oooh, it sounds great! I can't wait wait to read it. Now, is there anything else you would like to add?
Thank you for having me! This was fun. :)
No, thank you, Lauren! By the way, you have an awesome first name. ;)
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