AUTHOR INTERVIEWS

  • E. Lockhart

    E. Lockhart

    GENUINE FRAUD

    HOT KEY BOOKS

    SEPTEMBER 2017


    GENUINE FRAUD, the new pschological thriller from bestselling author E.Lockhart ('We Were Liars'), takes us from the end of a story through to the beginning, with a runaway heiress, an intense friendship and a murder (or two) along the way....

    Aimed at readers aged 14+, Genuine Fraud explores identity, friendship and how far we will go to get what we want. We asked author E LOCKHART to tell us more.


    Q: What first brought you in to writing for young adults and what is it about this age group that you enjoy writing about?

    A: A long time ago, I wrote a novel for adults and everyone's favorite character was the teenage babysitter. Young adulthood itself is fascinating - you change who you are, fundamentally. You rebel, you reinvent yourself.


    Q: What was it about The Talented Mr Ripley that inspired you to write your own novel about identity?

    A: I love Patricia Highsmith's novels, but I don't remember when I first discovered her. Probably after watching the Hitchcock film of Strangers on a Train in college.

    With Genuine Fraud, I started with the idea of writing an antihero story - the kind that's usually told about men - with a very young woman at the center. I wanted to explore morality and the darkness that lies inside most human beings.

    Highsmith's premise was a place to begin, but quickly I realized I had many many other influences on what I was writing: the Incredible Hulk, Black Widow, and other superheroes; Great Expectations, Pygmalion, Vanity Fair and other stories of class mobility. Pretty soon after that, the story just became its own thing.


    Q: What did you feel having female lead characters in your story would bring to the novel?

    A: I am interested in women and what shape heroism and villainy takes in them.


    Q: Genuine Fraud with what happens near to the end, and takes us backwards in time to find out what happened and why. Why did you structure it like this? Was it difficult to plan?

    A: Telling the story backwards was a way to build connection to my hero - you become closer and closer to her as you see her progress to innocence from experience.


    Q: Your central character, Jule, is hard to like. How difficult was it to write her and how do you keep the reader engaged with her?

    A: I always write stories of women other people find difficult to like. I am that kind of person, myself. I am not that worried about being liked. I am more concerned with being an engaged mind, a loyal person, a creator.

    In this particular book I wrote about the most unlikable parts of myself as truthfully as I knew how, and hoped that my honesty would compel the reader. So many of us have feelings like Jule does.


    Q: Jule creates her own internal identity as a superhero, but she acts out the villain. Why did you want this and how hard was it to develop this dynamic in her character and actions?

    A: It's always a fine line between superhero and villain. How far will you go to help? How far will you go to defend, then? How far will you go for revenge, then?


    Q: Both the main characters, Jule and Immie, have questions about their identity. Do you feel this is something that many young adults will identify with? Is this particularly true for women and minorities, given the socioeconomic divides you explore?

    Q: Of course. Young people have a chance to reinvent themselves as they separate from their families of origin and figure out who they want to be in the larger world.

    A: That navigation of the larger world happens differently for women and for people of other marginalized identities than it does for people of the dominant culture. Jule and Immie are both running away from home and starting life anew.


    Q: Many novels in YA literature work towards redemption, while this one does not. Why did you decide to write 'against the grain' with this novel?

    A: Redemption can be boring.


    Q: What would you like readers to take away from Genuine Fraud?

    A: Feeling of cathartic exhilaration.


    Q: How does writing this novel compare with writing your earlier novels? Would you say, from the novel's dedication, that it explores parts of yourself that you've not explored in your earlier novels?

    A: Genuine Fraud has a lot in common with The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks. My feminist rage in two different story forms. It was the hardest to write because it goes backwards!


    Q: Where is your favourite place to write and what are you writing now?

    A: I have a home office with a couch and a kitty. I'm working on a new YA novel but it's top secret.


    Q: What kind of books and films do you enjoy?

    A: Right now I'm heading out to see Spider-man: Homecoming in a movie theater with a good friend. Spidey is my favorite superhero and I love seeing him on the big screen. I'm currently reading They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera.


    Q: What is your favourite escape?

    A: I do a lot of yoga and I travel. This year I went to Kerala, India and Tulum, Mexico. Pretty standard tourism agendas, but I felt very grateful to see some parts of the world I had only read about.





    WE WERE LIARS

    HOT KEY BOOKS

    JUNE 2014


    WE WERE LIARS by Emily Lockhart is a powerful story that follows a group of four privileged teenagers who summer every year on a private island off the coast of Massachusetts, and what happened one summer to change all their lives.

    The story is told by Cadence, one of the teenage group, as she tries to piece together what happened before the accident that robbed her of her memories. This is an original, fluid novel with a startling twist.

    Author Emily Lockhart answered the following questions for us:


    Q: Did writing We Were Liars feel like a different process for you from writing your earlier novels?

    A: This book is a suspense novel, so there was a lot more to think about in terms of the way the plot was structured than in my other books, which are comedies with a healthy dose of social critique. We Were Liars has a five act structure. I hadn't used that before.


    Q: We Were Liars has a big twist at the end is that the kind of book you like to read?

    A: I love books which invite re-reading, books you understand differently the second time around. I adore being dazzled by a writer's sleight of hand, even if it doesn't exactly mean a twist. Books like that: Fight Club (by Chuck Pahlanhuik), When You Reach Me (by Rebecca Stead), and Gone Girl (by Gillian Flynn).


    Q: When did you decide on the title and why did you choose it?

    A: The 'Liars' of the title are four friends - three cousins and an outsider - who spend every summer on a private island off the coast of Massachusetts. 'Liars' is just a name the family gives this group of kids. That said, there are many, many liars in the book - people lying to one another, and to themselves.


    Q: There are echoes of the 'Meat loves salt' fairy tale and King Lear through the book. What is it about the story that appeals to today's reader?

    A: I think competition between siblings for parental favor - and for family assets like jewellery, real estate, and money - is a universal. That story, the King Lear story, endures because it is so true. It is happening today, all across the world. An ageing, demented, power-mad old person. Adult children pitted against one another.


    Q: Can you tell us about fairy tales and how Cadence uses stories to try to express her understanding of what is going on in her world?

    A: The stories in the novel are used by Cadence, my heroine, to tell truths about her family that she can't express in ordinary language. 'Once upon a time there was a king who had three beautiful daughters.' For her, the king becomes her loving but manipulative and increasingly demented grandfather; the princesses are her mother and aunts, who battle one another for his favour and assets.


    Q: Cadence has lost her memory of what happened last summer and pieces things together with graphs, phrases, memories and stories - does this reflect your path to creating a story?

    A: I do piece things together as I write. Very often I find I have written a novel out of order, and must rearrange it significantly in order to tell a story.


    Q: How difficult was it to tell a story which is told in flashbacks and fairytale? Do you feel writing for teenagers means you can be a bit more experimental in how you deliver a story?

    A: Young readers have a great appetite and enthusiasm for experimental narrative forms and for strong and stylized first-person voices. I first fell for writing like this as a teen - reading A Clockwork Orange, The Color Purple, Still Life with Woodpecker.


    Q: The story is about a privileged group but you also touch on diversity, although the family you describe resist it. Do you feel the younger generation will change that?

    A: I live in Brooklyn, NY. Many, many of my friends are in mixed-race marriages. Many others are in mixed-religion marriages. Or mixed-nationality. I know many same-sex couples. All these people have children. So: it is changing already. Or has changed, where I live. But it hasn't changed across the world, yet.


    Q: What about the book's setting, is it based on somewhere you know?

    A: My family on my mother's side has a modest house on Martha's Vineyard, which is a 30-mile island with several little towns off the coast of Cape Cod, Massachusetts. It's an extremely beautiful landscape - huge, coloured clay cliffs. Big waves, scenic rocks, rolling farmland.

    I have been going there since I was three years old, and have met some people rather like the Sinclair family in We Were Liars. But I have never known such people intimately, nor visited a private island. I used memories of Martha's Vineyard to create an imaginary place.


    Q: Do you write mottos on your hands like the Liars do?

    A: I have written things on my hands since I was a small child. I don't know why. Since I have been touring for this novel I have been writing mottos every day. Here are some favorites: Try harder. Read widely. Don't panic.


    Q: What's your favourite writing place - home, office or coffee shop?

    A: Coffee shop with writer friends and a hot Americano.


    Q: Top writing tip?

    A: Most of writing is large-scale rewriting.


    Q: Can you tell us one thing your readers won't know about you?

    A: There are a lot of beloved dogs in We Were Liars, but I am a cat person, all the way.


    Q: What are you writing now?

    A: My next book. It has a little bit of murder.