To celebrate the release of her new YA novel, Again Again, we sat down with author E. Lockhart to find out a little more about her newest release, writing process and inspirations.
“If you could live your life again, what would you do differently?
After a near-fatal family catastrophe and an unexpected romantic upheaval, Adelaide Buchwald finds herself catapulted into a summer of wild possibility, during which she will fall in and out of love a thousand times—while finally confronting the secrets she keeps, her ideas about love, and the weird grandiosity of the human mind.
A raw, funny story that will surprise you over and over, Again Again gives us an indelible heroine grappling with the terrible and wonderful problem of loving other people.”
Congratulations on the release of your new YA novel, Again Again! For readers who may not be familiar with its premise, could you tell us a little bit about it?
Thank you! It’s a love story set in multiple universes.
What was your biggest inspiration behind Again Again?
I was looking for a way to write something true about my own experiences of love and infatuation — I think that it’s actually very hard to see the object of your affection clearly. We see a romantic partner through our fantasies, through the pain of our wounds, through the constructs of our own identities.
When did you first ‘meet’ Adelaide and is the Adelaide we meet in Again Again different from how you initially imagined her? If so, how?
Adelaide was always Adelaide. Her younger brother is struggling with opioid addiction and the pain of that shapes her life and her romantic feelings; she’s also an extremely bright and charming person who masks her unhappiness so successfully she misses human connections, sometimes.
What was your favourite thing about writing Again Again?
I got to write the same scene in multiple universes. Haven’t you ever wondered, what would have happened with that person if only I had said this instead of that? if only I had leaned in for a kiss? if only I hadn’t taken that call? In this novel I got to play out the consequences of many different choices.
Did you face any unexpected challenges whilst writing Again Again? If so, what were they and how did you overcome them?
It’s very hard to structure a book in multiple universes and to give the story a dynamic arc and a plot twist and all that. I solved those challenges the only way I really know how to solve anything, which is by returning to the work over and over, with a willingness to revise.
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Which character from your previous novels do you think Adelaide would get along with the best and are there any you think she’d clash with?
What a fun question! Adelaide goes to the same school as the heroine of my novel, The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, but not at the same time. She would admire Frankie a lot, but Frankie is a difficult person to be friends with.
How do you think you’ve grown and developed as a writer in the 10+ years since your debut was released?
I hope I tell better, more compelling stories, that move people and make them think.
What is one piece of writing advice you wish you’d been given before you started your journey as a writer?
I used to focus on the reception of a book and feel something of a failure if the reviews were bad or if it didn’t sell. But those things are not under my control. We Were Liars reached a lot of readers and I am grateful, but the real question is, did I make a piece of literature I am proud of? And did I explore what I wanted to explore in the writing of it? Did I say what I wanted to say? If I did, then the reception doesn’t deeply matter. The act of creation matters.
What is one message you hope readers will take away upon reading Again Again?
I write novels because the things I have to say are much messier and more complicated than any message could ever be. And hopefully, more fun. I want readers to have an experience.
Are you currently working on anything new and if so, can you give us any hints as to what we can expect?
I am writing a new Gotham-City superhero for DC Comics. Her name is Whistle. The graphic novel about her will be out in Summer 2021 in the US, at least. I read a lot of Batman comics as a kid, and it was unbelievably cool to get to use his hometown and some of his worst enemies (the Riddler! Poison Ivy!) in a story of my own.