AUTHOR Q&A FROM LAUREN BIRD HOROWTIZ
1. How did the story come to you?
I always like to say that Noa’s adventures sort of burst out of me at a time I really needed them. I was in the process of some serious adult-ing—buying my first home—and I was incredibly stressed out over both tiny escrow-esque details and Larger Metaphorical Profundities Concerning Adulthood. In stressful times, I usually turn to my poetry as a way to take in what is making me anxious and rework it into something artistic and… Light. I suddenly flashed on the idea of a heroine who, like myself, relied on her poetry to process the world and its trials—and I thought, wouldn’t it be amazing if she then discovered that the world was, in reality, just as magical as what she’d imagined in those poems? And so Noa was born, along with the mythology of Aurora, and it all kind of started embroidering itself from there.
2. What made you decide to sit down and write it?
I absolutely love to write. It’s more than a passion—it’s almost an addiction, in the most incredible, soul-cleansing way. If I miss a day of writing, I feel physically out of balance and emotionally anxious! So it was less a matter of deciding to sit down and write—because I am always sitting down to write something— and more that I suddenly felt the need to burrow into an entire world of my own imagination. My outside world was so Adult and Responsible; I just wanted to live inside my crazy metaphoric head as much as I could!
3. Did you do anything to prepare for writing sessions? Have any sort of pre-writing ritual?
I don’t have a ritual, per se, more of a routine—I write every morning, then I go out into the world with my rescue pup Ninja and a little janky voice memo recorder, where I record writing thoughts and edits I think of while I’m adventuring, and then I come home and do a shorter writing session in the evening. I like to say that I am a big fan of writing while not actually writing—you’d be amazed at how much plot organization, revision, and composition actually takes place in my voice memos. The many twists and turns of Shattered Blue could not have been so intricate without so many hours on the beaches of Kauai, playing Frisbee with Ninja and looking like I was talking to myself like a crazy person!
4. What was the hardest part about writing?
The hardest part of this particular project was probably meeting the word count desired by the publisher. The first draft of this Shattered Blue installment was 630 pages something like 200,000 words—and I had to cut it to under 80,000 words! I had to sacrifice a lot of scenes I really loved, and fight hard for some ‘non-essential’ things that I couldn’t bear to lose too!
5. Any suggestions to wannabe authors and writers?
Develop a thick, thick skin, but keep a very vulnerable spirit. You need an open, raw, fragile spirit in order to write authentically, to talk about things that will resonate with others in a meaningful way. But you need the toughest armor imaginable to try to bring those words to publication—it is a process fraught with rejection, criticism, and endless stretches of nothing but ‘no.’ You have to be your work’s best ambassador—believe in it when no one else does, fight for it when no one else will, and never, ever give up.
6. Were any of the characters based on real life people?
Of course! I think all writers pull from their own lives in order to make their characters relatable, real, and relevant to their own journeys. Even if the genre is fantasy and the characters have special, extra-human abilities, they only become beloved by readers if they feel kindred. Olivia, for example, is very closely based on my real-life BFF Janet Kim, and Miles is an amalgamation of a group of eight guys I roomed with in college (and each of whom I adore!).
7. How much is Noa like you?
So much! She is me in high school, no question. She processes the world the same way; she’s a secret writer learning to share her words; she struggles with trying to both love her family and find a way to separate from them into a world of her own. It’s interesting to continue to write her as the series goes deeper and deeper into the fantastical and magical, because her experiences begin to diverge so much more from my real history. It’s like putting yourself into a fantasy movie and then getting to see what happens!
8. Do you absolutely love some characters and hate others?
I definitely love all my characters. Well, maybe except Ms. Jaycee (sorry unnamed folks she is based on, that’s addressing a very personal wound). With the exception of Ms. Jaycee, I really do try to make all of my characters sympathetic and relatable. Even the most villainous, like Darius, need to have understandable struggles at their core, which they twisted themselves to try to survive. It has always been very important to me to never, ever write an out-and-out villain. It’s also not realistic. Evil is much too nuanced, hidden, and complicated for that.
9. Is there a sequel to Shattered Blue and can you give us any special info about it? E.g. Title)
Shattered Blue is the first installment of the three part Light Trilogy, chronicling Noa’s adventures with the fae. Each book is named for one of the fae Colorlines in the novel, and I can reveal that while the first installment, Shattered Blue, was obviously the Blue Chapter, the next will be the Red Chapter.
– Lauren Bird Horowitz
ABOUT LAUREN BIRD HOROWITZ
Lauren – or ‘Bird’ as she is often known – is a screenwriter and novelist lucky enough to call both Los Angeles and Kauai home. Bird also counts herself lucky that writing exists as a profession—how else could she share the crazy, fantastic worlds in her head? Bird studied writing at Harvard University with novelist Jamaica Kincaid, where she won several prizes including the Edward Eager Memorial Prize for fiction. She’s a proud member of the Writers Guild of America.
Lauren believes strongly in dog rescue organizations, whom she has to thank for her beloved Ninja. Ninja was saved by Lucky Dog Animal Rescue in Washington DC. To find out more, please visit www.luckydoganimalrescure.org.