Liz Lawson has been writing for most of her life in one way or another. She has her Masters in Communications with a Concentration in Rhetoric from Villanova University, and has written for a variety of publications including PASTE MAGAZINE. When she’s not writing, she works as a music supervisor for film & television.
Liz resides in Los Angeles, CA, where she lives with an adorable toddler, a fantastic husband, and two VERY bratty cats.
Can you tell us more about what inspired the writing of The Lucky Ones? Why this book, this setting, these characters?
My inspiration was all the kids who have had their lives ripped apart by school shootings. According to a recent article in the Washington Post 228000 students have experienced gun violence at school in some manner. School-related violence has increased by 19% in the 21st century. Those facts are just horrifying. I wanted to write something that might give all those kids hope again. Something that might help them recover and move on from experiencing something so horrible. And something that might help kids who have never been affected firsthand but who are just plain terrified to go to school sometimes because they don’t know what might happen. May’s story is one of pain and fear and loss but also one of hope. I hope my book gives hope to people who need it most.
Who is May? What was it like writing her?
May is angry and hurt and thinks she’s broken when the book opens. Her twin was killed in a school shooting a year prior, and she was the sole survivor of that shooting (other than the shooter himself) so she’s struggling to cope with PTSD as well as carrying around an enormous amount of survivor’s guilt on her shoulders.
It was hard at times to write her, because it meant getting deep into the headspace of pain and loss, but it also felt right in a lot of ways. She’s in pain, but she’s also smart and quick and sarcastic and loving, and struggling with how to live and keep breathing after such a giant loss.
What were your favorite and hardest scenes to write?
Oh man – this would be super spoile-y if I put my REAL favorite scene here so I’ll just generally say that I really loved writing from dual POV’s! I’d never tried it before this book and was a little terrified by it at first because I had heard that it can be tough to get the two voices to be different enough to be distinguishable. I kept in mind something I read once that said to think about a reader opening your book to a random page and reading and make sure that they would know whose chapter they were in just from that. Hopefully I did a good job!
What do you hope readers take away from The Lucky Ones?
I really hope it gives them some semblance of peace and hope.
How do you create characters that act and think and speak like authentic teenagers, especially when each character is unique?
Oh man this is a tough question to answer because voice in writing has always been sort of an innate thing for me… I honestly can’t describe how they come into my head, just that they do. That said, one of the biggest thing I always heard about writing dual POV was that each character should have a strong enough voice where, if the reader were the open the book to a random page, they’d be able to tell which head they were in. So that’s what I was shooting for while writing!
Do you have a strict routine for writing or do you have any strange writing habits?
I never have had a strict routine, but I’m strongly considering it now that things with my writing are more professional + there are deadlines to hit! My strangest writing habit is probably the fact that I’m always writing with a cat on my lap (although I’m sure I’m not alone in this)!
Who were your favourite authors during your teenage years, and who do you read nowadays?
I’m aging myself here (ha) but PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER was published on the latter end of my teen years, and was life-changing. I hadn’t read a voice like that in YA previously, and it was eye-opening. I think it was the first taste I had of what YA could be. Around 2012, I started reading the new generation of YA which really inspired me to start writing in the genre. Authors like Courtney Summers Jennifer Niven, Laurie Halse Anderson, Stephanie Perkins, and so many others opened my eyes to the fact that YA had changed in really beautiful and remarkable ways and I started writing my first book soon after.
In your opinion, what is the greatest book ever written for younger readers?
THE WESTING GAME by Ellen Raskins!!! SUCH A FANTASTIC BOOK. I’ve read it sooo many times and just love the character and world and mystery so much.
Without giving too much away, can you tell us a little about what else you’re working on?
I got some exciting news on my second book this week… it’s not super public yet but I will say that it explores heavy themes just like THE LUCKY ONES, and will likely appeal to the same readers. It’s about heavy issues that are really relevant to contemporary teenager’s lives. Another book I’m sure I’m going to cry while writing. 😉
INTERVIEW : YA SH3LF