Lauren Oliver, author of Delirium, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

by |January 21, 2011

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Lauren Oliver

author of Delirium and Before I Fall

Ten Terrifying Questions


1. To begin with why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself – where were you born? Raised? Schooled?

I was born in Queens, New York but raised primarily in a small town about 30 miles north of New York City. I went to the University of Chicago, where I studied philosophy and literature; afterwards, I got my master’s degree in creative writing from NYU.

2. What did you want to be when you were twelve, eighteen and thirty? And why?

Hmm. When I was twelve I wanted to be a ballet dancer—I danced quite seriously when I was young. When I was eighteen? Sheesh. Maybe a back-up dancer or an actress. I’ve always been super creative—other things I’ve wanted to be over the years include: a painter, a chef, a singer, and a burlesque dancer. I’m not thirty yet, but hopefully I’ll want to be a writer—because it looks like I will be!

3. What strongly held belief did you have at eighteen that you do not have now?

That people were universally bad.

4. What were three works of art – book or painting or piece of music, etc – you can now say, had a great effect on you and influenced your own development as a writer?

All of the works of Maurice Sendak, both his writing and his gorgeous illustrations; One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez; and the fairy tales of Grimm. I’ve been heavily influenced by fairy tales, fables, and folklore.

5. Considering the innumerable artistic avenues open to you, why did you choose to write a novel?

I didn’t really choose to write a novel, per se. Writing has always been a part of my life. I’ve written every day since I was a child. I attempted my first novel at nine and finished my first novel when I was fourteen. I have to write, the same way I have to sleep. If I don’t write, I get anxious and I feel disoriented. Writing helps me make sense of the world. It grounds me.

6. Please tell us about your latest novel Delirium

Delirium takes place in an alternate United States, in which love has been declared a contagious disease. Scientists have invented a cure of “amor deliria nervosa,” which is administered around the age of eighteen to all citizens. Lena, the main character, is just a few months away from her procedure at the start of the story, and very much looking forward to the cure. Then, of course, she meets a boy, and complications arise…

(BBGuru: Here’s the publisher’s description –

Lauren Oliver’s groundbreaking and emotionally wrenching storytelling will resonate with readers young and old.

There was a time when love was the most important thing in the world. People would go to the end of the earth to find it. They would tell lies for it. Even kill for it.

Then, at last, they found the cure.

Now, everything is different. Scientists are able to eradicate love, and the government demands that all citizens receive the cure upon turning eighteen. Lena Haloway has always looked forward to the day when she ll be cured. A life without love is a life without pain: safe, measured, predictable, and happy.

But then, with only ninety-five days left until her treatment, Lena does the unthinkable…)

7. What do you hope people take away with them after reading your work?

I want people to take away a sense of what makes life meaningful. And of course, reading is meant to be an escape—it is meant to provide you a vivid alternative world and sensory experience. So I want readers to find that within my books as well.

8. Whom do you most admire in the realm of writing and why?

Oh, man. There’s nobody I admire “most.” I really admire anyone who is working and producing good work. But some of my favourite authors are: Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Roald Dahl, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Philip Pullman, JK Rowling, Jeffrey Eugenides, Virginia Woolf, and Agatha Christie.

9. Many artists set themselves very ambitious goals. What are yours?

Do they? Eep! I don’t know that I have very ambitious goals. My goals are simply to work every day and try to always find new inspiration. I’d like to challenge myself and find joy and pleasure in the work.

10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?

Write every day! Even if you only write a little bit. Even if you’re writing nonsense. Just write.

Lauren, thank you for playing.

Buy Delirium now – click here.

Lauren’s Australian publishers have a special price for Lauren’s first and acclaimed novel Before I Fall, anRRP of $10.00 which we’ve magically turned into $8.95 – bargain! – buy now.

Follow Lauren on Twitter – here and befriend her on Facebook – here

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About the Contributor

While still in his twenties, John Purcell opened a second-hand bookshop in Mosman, Sydney, in which he sat for ten years reading, ranting and writing. Since then he has written, under a pseudonym, a series of very successful novels, interviewed hundreds of writers about their work, appeared at writers’ festivals, on TV (most bizarrely in comedian Luke McGregor’s documentary Luke Warm Sex) and has been featured in prominent newspapers and magazines. ​Now, as the Director of Books at, Australia’s largest online bookseller, he supports Australian writing in all its forms. He lives in Sydney with his wife, two children, three dogs, five cats, unnumbered gold fish and his overlarge book collection. His novel, The Girl on the Page, will be published by HarperCollins Australia in October, 2018.

Follow John: Twitter Website


  • January 23, 2011 at 11:37 am

    What a great interview. I really enjoyed learning new things about Lauren.

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