Interview with Lana Popović, Author of Wicked Like a Wildfire

Lana Popović studied psychology and literature at Yale University, and law at Boston University. She is a graduate of the Emerson College Publishing and Writing program and works as a literary agent with Chalberg & Sussman, specializing in YA.

Lana lives in Boston, subsisting largely on cake, eyeliner, and aerial yoga. She’d happily spend all her waking hours hanging out in silks, and may very well be upside down right now. Just ask her about it (depending on your tolerance for high enthusiasm and hand-waving).

Hey Lana, welcome to YA SH3LF! Your new book Fierce like a Firestorm will be released on August 21, 2018. Are you excited? What can you tell us about this book?

I’m very excited! As sequels tend to be, this book was a heavy-duty labor of love; it was really challenging to write, but ultimately even more rewarding than the first in many ways! For instance, I got to spend much more time with Malina, as she’s one of the three first-person narrators… along with a mysterious, sinister third voice, whom I creepily loved writing!

One of the aspects of your writing I love is how fully your characters come alive. How do you go about creating such vivid characters?

Thank you! That’s a wonderful compliment. I feel very strongly that stories should be driven by characters–the way they think, the choices (and mistakes) they make, their struggles and desires–and in order to make that possible, the cast has to be vividly fleshed out. Iris always came easiest for me, as she was the character through whom I found this story, but her journey wouldn’t exist without Malina, Niko, Luka, and all the others. I don’t know that I have any specific method for delving into character development. I usually begin by picturing their personalities in broad strokes, and am often later surprised by the decisions they make and the things they say. So for the most part, they fill themselves in for me as the story progresses.

What authors inspired you to start writing?

Reading is by far my favorite activity, so my inspirations are legion. I’m a huge Stephen King fan, and Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel series is also one of my all-time favorites. In YA, Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone (along with everything else she’s ever written) inspired me both to write and to become a literary agent with a focus on YA books. Then there’s Holly Black. Maggie Stiefvater, Julie C. Dao, Natasha Ngan… and many of my own clients, as well. Rebecca Podos’s incredible books have always inspired my striving for strong voices, while Emily Henry’s tender emotional depth and Brittany Cavallaro’s brilliant plotting and characterization have driven me to do better with my own work.

Do you have any ideas for new books?

I do! I have several projects in progress, including a YA contemporary fantasy, an adult contemporary fantasy, and an adult psychological thriller with a witchy bent.

If you could spend one day doing anything what would you do?

This is a tough one! My bucket list is long, and ever-evolving. If I could fly, I’d definitely spend a day doing that 😉 Otherwise, I recently visited Switzerland and went up to the Pilatus peak, where people were paragliding down the mountain. I didn’t have a chance to do it, but I’m DYING to, so let’s go with that!


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