I am so excited to be able to host a Q & A with Lauren McLaughlin. I’ve recently read and reviewed SCORED, her latest novel. I enjoyed the dystopian world she created so much. I was glad to get a chance to ask her some questions. Enjoy.
1. Your first two books, CYCLER and (RE)CYCLER are very different from the world you created for SCORED. I understand you were inspired to write this story because of an experience you had in your old neighborhood. Had you already been thinking about writing a dystopian novel or did this experience put that idea in your head?
It was the experience of observing surveillance cameras in action that put the idea in my head. I wrote the first draft of this novel in 2007, in between writing Cycler and (Re)Cycler. At the time, I wasn’t aware of any major trend in dystopian fiction. It was just the story I wanted to tell. I’ve always been interested in the great potential of machine thinking, but as soon as you start writing about it, all kinds of nightmare scenarios become possible. I knew that once I was frightened by my own idea there was a novel there.
2. Just knowing how I behaved in junior high and high school I can guarantee I wouldn’t have been in the 80s or 90s. 70s would probably even be pushing it. What do you think your Score would have been?
3. You have a wonderfully rebellious teacher in SCORED named Mr. Carol. His disregard for the Score is evident in his assignments, discussions, and behaviors. He seems very inspiring to me. Did you have a teacher that really pushed you to think about things in new and different ways when you were in school?
None of my teachers was overtly political in the classroom, but I was fortunate to have several teachers who pushed me intellectually. I remember one in particular who gave me a B on an essay I thought was perfect. When I asked her about it, she said it was beneath me, that I hadn’t risked anything with it, that I hadn’t said anything she didn’t already know. That was the kind of challenge I got from my teachers. I’m endlessly thankful for that.
4. I’m sure you’ve been asked this a million times, but….will there be a sequel?
5. Can you describe your writing process? Do you outline or just have main plot points figured out and let it flow from there? Do you compose directly on the computer or write long hand? Do you write every day? Do you have a particular place you like to write? Do you need quiet or can you write in a public place?
I’ve tried a variety of approaches to writing. For Scored, I had a pretty extensive outline, but, per usual, it became obsolete as soon as I started writing the first draft. The difference between the final draft and that original outline is enormous. I never write long hand because I can’t read my own handwriting. I do write every day, except weekends, and usually I write in my daughter’s room while she’s at pre-school. I don’t necessarily need quiet, but I can’t have people speaking directly to me when I write. If I’m having trouble focusing, I usually listen to Bach on headphones. It’s the perfect concentration music.
6. Are you a PC or Mac?
Mac all the way. I use a MacBook Air, which is light enough to take anywhere.
7. On your blog you mention several of your favorite authors. Meg Rosoff seems to be the only one who primarily writes for young adults. Do you read the work of any other young adult authors?
8. What do you think of the explosion of dystopian books being published for young adults right today? Why do you think teens are so drawn to the dark worlds these authors create?
Thank you so much, Lauren. I have CYCLER on the bookshelf behind me. I’m going to move it to my To-Read-Pile right now. Be sure to check out Lauren’s website to learn more about her and her books. http://www.laurenmclaughlin.net/
Now, how would you guys like to score a copy of SCORED? ha ha ha. Enter below for your chance.