Welcome back, Papercuts fans! Today, Ollie chatted with author Lauren Miller, author of PARALLEL, FREE TO FALL, and her latest ALL THINGS NEW!
Check out the blurb below:
Jessa has always felt broken inside, but she’s gotten very good at hiding it. No one at school knows about the panic attacks, the therapy that didn’t help, the meds that haven’t worked. But when a severe accident leaves her with a brain injury and visible scars, Jessa’s efforts to convince the world that she’s okay finally crumble—now she looks as shattered as she feels.
Fleeing from her old life in Los Angeles, Jessa moves to Colorado to live with her dad, where she meets Marshall, a boy whose kindness and generous heart slowly draw Jessa out of her walled-off shell and into the broken, beautiful, real world—a place where souls get hurt just as badly as bodies, and we all need each other to heal.
Sound interesting? Then let’s see what Lauren has to say!
Olivia with Papercuts Podcast: Lauren, welcome to Papercuts Podcast! We’re here today talking about ALL THINGS NEW.
Ollie: Let’s talk about Jessa. Her story sounds like one a lot of young adults will find familiar, either for themselves or people close to them. How did you two first meet?
Lauren Miller: I think Jessa has probably been inside my head since my the summer after my sophomore year in high school, when I had my very first panic attack. She isn’t me, but her voice — particular in her moments of panic — came really easy when I started writing her, because I knew exactly how she was feeling. It was the way I felt in my anxious moments when I was in high school. My parents never got divorced and I was never in a terrible car accident, but I hid my anxiety and pretended like I was okay, just like Jessa does when we first encounter her in the novel.
Ollie: In your opinion, what is the most unique aspect of Jessa’s story?
Lauren: Definitely her aphantasia! This isn’t a spoiler, don’t worry… but when Jessa wakes up after her car accident, she can’t see anything in her head. She’s lost the ability to visualize. The name of that condition is aphantasia, and it’s a real thing. It was so fun researching it! And even more fun writing about it. As far I know, ALL THINGS NEW is the first novel to feature a character diagnosed with aphantasia.
Ollie: What are some books that you would say are similar to ALL THINGS NEW, for readers who are on the fence about adding it to their TBR?
Lauren: Oooh, I love this question. I’d say if you enjoyed Tamara Ireland Stone’s EVERY LAST WORD or Jennifer Niven’s ALL THE BRIGHT PLACES, this book might be for you. Several reviewers, including Kirkus, have compared ALL THINGS NEW to John Green’s THE FAULT IN OUR STARS, which of course is a huge compliment!
Ollie: What non-book influences (films, television shows, music, plays, etc) helped spark this story?
Lauren: When I first started writing, the film THE ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF A SPOTLESS MIND was a huge reference point for me. But, as the story evolved, I moved away from the more sci-fi version of this book and wrote something pretty contemporary (with just a slight touch of magical realism). Oscar Wilde’s THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY plays a big role in the narrative, and so does that art and life of Vincent Van Gogh and the philosophical writings of Rene Descartes. There’s quite a bit of philosophy and plenty of big ideas in this story that I hope will make the reading experience even more satisfying for readers.
Ollie: Very cool! I love all of those. All right, so, when you were a teen, what was your favorite book (YA or otherwise)? Now that you’re an author for teens, what are some of your favorite recent YA releases?
Lauren: When I was a teen, I read mostly adult books, since I’d buzzed through most of the YA books when I was in middle school. If you’d asked me back then, I would’ve said THE PRINCE OF TIDES by Pat Conroy or A PRAYER FOR OWEN MEANY by John Irving. These days, I read quite a bit of YA — there is so much out there! My all time favorite YA read is definitely THE SEA OF TRANQUILITY by Katja Millay. It’s beautiful and heartbreaking and wonderful all at the same time.
Ollie: I’m fascinated with how authors decide on a book’s title. What is the story behind ALL THINGS NEW?
Lauren: This book had a title before it was even written, which is crazy, because the title totally fits now, but in early versions, it didn’t at all, and yet I kept insisting to my agent that this book had to be titled ALL THINGS NEW. It was incredibly cool to watch the story “grow into” its name. The phrase “all things new” is from a line in the Bible that says that one day there will be no more tears or pain and all things will be made new. It’s meant to capture the idea of healing and the power of hope.
Ollie: Aww, that’s really beautiful! So is this a standalone novel? Are there others characters in it that you’d love to explore with their own story?
Lauren: Yes, this is definitely a stand-alone, though I’ve toyed with the idea of setting another story at the arts school where Jessa goes in Colorado. The school, called Crossroads, has two tracks — one for kids with artistic ability and the other for kids who would otherwise find themselves at an “alternative” high school. So it’s a really cool mix of students — in other words, a ton of fun characters to work with.
Ollie: What’s up next for you? Any pet projects you can tease us about?
Lauren: Right now I’m working on a movie version of my first book, PARALLEL, with a very talented director who has a super cool vision for how to bring the story to the screen. I’m also working on a fourth book, another standalone, about two sisters who respond very differently when they find out their mom is dying.
Ollie: Last one! If you could spend one day with Jessa, what would you do together? What would advice would you give to her?
Lauren: I think Jessa and I would probably go to a museum, preferably to a Van Gogh exhibit (she becomes a fan of his art over the course of the novel), where we’d talk about art and life and get real about our shared anxiety. As far as advice, I’d probably just remind her that we all have broken places inside, and those broken places don’t make us weird or different, but the same.
Ollie: Thank you very much, Lauren! And again, from Papercuts Podcast, congratulations on ALL THINGS NEW! We look forward to hearing from you again!
ALL THINGS NEW, published by Three Saints Press, is in stores TODAY and available at your favorite retailers and local independent bookstores!
Lauren Miller grew up in Atlanta, went to college at Yale and law school at Berkeley. She is currently a business affairs executive at Studio 8, a film and television studio in Los Angeles, where she lives with her husband and three children. Miller’s debut was the critically acclaimed novel, Parallel. Her second novel, Free to Fall, appeared on YALSA’s Best Fiction for Young Adults reading list in 2015 and is currently being developed into an episodic series for StyleHaul.
Author photo by Genine Esposito.
Olivia Hennis is a transplanted New England girl dropped by a tornado into the magical Land of Not Quite New Jersey. For more, follow her on Twitter @OliviaHennis.
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