Rooms by Lauren Oliver: interview + giveaway

October 3, 2014 2014, adult crossover, ghosts, giveaway, Wendy 38

Rooms by Lauren Oliver: interview + giveawayRooms by Lauren Oliver
Published by Ecco Books on September 23, 2014
Genres: adult, paranormal
Pages: 320 pages
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
AmazonIndieboundBarnes & NobleGoodreads

The New York Times bestselling author of Before I Fall and the Delirium trilogy makes her brilliant adult debut with this mesmerizing story in the tradition ofThe Lovely Bones, Her Fearful Symmetry, and The Ocean at the End of the Lane—a tale of family, ghosts, secrets, and mystery, in which the lives of the living and the dead intersect in shocking, surprising, and moving ways.

Wealthy Richard Walker has just died, leaving behind his country house full of rooms packed with the detritus of a lifetime. His estranged family—bitter ex-wife Caroline, troubled teenage son Trenton, and unforgiving daughter Minna—have arrived for their inheritance.

But the Walkers are not alone. Prim Alice and the cynical Sandra, long dead former residents bound to the house, linger within its claustrophobic walls. Jostling for space, memory, and supremacy, they observe the family, trading barbs and reminiscences about their past lives. Though their voices cannot be heard, Alice and Sandra speak through the house itself—in the hiss of the radiator, a creak in the stairs, the dimming of a light bulb.

The living and dead are each haunted by painful truths that will soon surface with explosive force. When a new ghost appears, and Trenton begins to communicate with her, the spirit and human worlds collide—with cataclysmic results.

Elegantly constructed and brilliantly paced, Rooms is an enticing and imaginative ghost story and a searing family drama that is as haunting as it is resonant.

I was sold on this book by two things: the words “Lauren Oliver” and the idea of ghost POVs.

Rooms by Lauren Oliver is a slow, secretive book that intertwines the lives of the dead and the living, and yet its tone is, in turns, contemplative, chilling, and in the end, nearly unbearably sad. If you’ve read the author’s previous young adult or middle grade novels, you probably know that a supernatural book by this author is not going to be your typical ghost story, and it’s a pleasure to find that her first adult novel is sure-footed and clear-eyed. Not all transitions from YA to adult (and vice versa) feel as natural as this, but the author handles adult themes and language and structure with ease. It also has surprising moments of lightness and humor–although Rooms is certainly about death and its aftermath, it is also about life and the importance of living it well.

Lauren’s visiting us today to chat a little bit about the inspiration behind her unusual story. I’m always happy to see she has a new book out, and I’m always happy when she’s our guest!

vine-divider-finalQ&A with Lauren Oliver

When I first heard you had written an adult novel, I thought, this makes so much sense. The depth of emotion and themes in your previous work are striking, and I’m curious how the experience of writing for adults differed from writing for teens or children.

Thank you so much!  That’s so sweet. To be honest, I didn’t process the experience of writing for adults as particularly different from that of writing for teens and children–maybe because I’ve previously tackled themes of death, identity, connection, and family in my mother books. Every book is different, but the process and the experience of writing it often feels the same.

I understand this story came about after you went to an old estate in England that was allegedly haunted. Is there a photo you could share of the house or the grounds?

Sure! The house is this one: It’s actually owned by a family I know through a close friend, and it’s a beautiful, strange, and labyrinthine old house, filled with beautiful and strange old things. I was actually there for a party and never felt that the place was haunted, but so many different families and guests had been joined for the weekend under one roof, I began to think about the emotional collisions and intersections that might occur in a house that size.

gunthorpe hall

Do you believe in ghosts yourself? You’ve written several books in which the characters are dealing with death, and both Liesl & Po and Rooms have ghosts that are distinctly different from the usual ones who are moaning in attics or rattling chains. There’s a pensive, sad quality to your ghosts that lingers long after readers have finished the books. Your view of the afterlife, as presented in your books, seems equal parts wistful, philosophical, and hopeful.

Once again, thank you. I don’t disbelieve in ghosts–let’s put it that way. I wasn’t raised with a traditional conception of the afterlife, so I think I enjoy speculating about what comes next. It’s incredibly compelling to believe that there’s something afterward–that we get to see people we love, right wrongs, even just exist.

Your writing is filled with such lovely descriptiveness that you strike me as a very visual person. Do you come from an arts background? Or what inspired such poetry in your prose?

Oh my goodness, enough with the compliments! I’m blushing! This font should be in a red color! I don’t think of myself as particularly visual, although it’s funny–recently I took a crack (very casually) at experimenting with some movie scripts, and I do “see” scenes. But I also “hear” language when I write. I pay attention not just to their rhythm but to their interplay, the way that words bounce off each other. I think that comes from having grown up in a house with two parents who love literature and have made it the basis of their lives.

Is there anything interesting that changed or was deleted in the process from draft to final page? It’s always fascinating to hear how characters or plot elements evolve.

Oh, a ton. Rooms had so many different permutations. Originally I was kind of writing two separate books: one narrated from the perspective of a house, one featuring the family that eventually evolved into the Walkers. It took me about six months to realize that they were, in fact, the same book and to figure out a way to unify them.

The ending of Rooms is one that I haven’t stopped thinking about since I finished. While the last few chapters are written with restraint, the knowledge of what transpired in that house is nearly unbearably sad. There’s a lovely sense of freedom of release as well, however. What do you hope that readers will take away from that ending? 

I think one of my major themes is that of the complexity of our experiences: things aren’t good or bad, sad or joyful, but often a combination of all of the above. Endings are beginnings. Death is resurrection. Change can only occur out of the ashes of our old selves. So I guess I’d hope that readers get a sense of that.

We’re always curious what our favorite authors are reading, so what adult novels have you enjoyed recently?

Joshua Ferris’ To Rise Again at a Decent Hour; A.A. Milne’s The Red House; and Bill Bryson’s 1927 come to mind as books I’ve enjoyed in the last month.

Care to share what you’re working on next? Now that you’ve tackled YA, middle grade, and adult fiction, perhaps we’ll see Lauren Oliver picture books and cookbooks will follow soon?

Ha–I do love to cook! No picture books in the works yet, but I never say never. I have a new teen book called Vanishing Girls coming out in spring 2015, and a new middle grade series launching in the fall of 2015. In addition, I’m working on an adult book. So lots of irons in the fire!

Thanks so much for joining us at The Midnight Garden, Lauren!

Thanks so much for having me.

vine-divider-finalWin an Autographed Copy of Rooms!

Thanks to Ecco Books and the author, we have a beautiful finished copy of the hardcover to give away to one of our readers–and it’s signed, too! All you have to do is fill out the Rafflecopter form and leave a thoughtful comment below telling us why you’re interested in reading the book and/or responding to the interview above.

Open to US residents aged 18 and up, or 13 and up with parental permission. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Photos are courtesy of the author and Gunthorpe Hall. Review and giveaway copies were provided by the the publisher.

vine-divider-finallauren oliverAbout the Author

Lauren Oliver is the author of the New York Times bestselling YA novels Before I Fall, Panic, and the Delirium trilogy: Delirium, Pandemonium, and Requiem. Her books have been translated into thirty languages. She is also the author of two novels for middle-grade readers, The Spindlers and Liesl & Po, which was a 2012 E. B. White Read-Aloud Award nominee. Lauren’s first adult novel, Rooms, will be published in September 2014. A graduate of the University of Chicago and NYU’s MFA program, Lauren Oliver is also the co-founder of the boutique literary development company Paper Lantern Lit. You can visit her online at her website and Twitter.

vine-divider-finalHave you read Rooms yet, or are you looking forward to it? I don’t know about you, but all I have to do is hear the words “haunted house” and I’m intrigued! Couple that with Lauren Oliver’s thoughtful prose, however, and you have an adult debut that’s well worth your time.

Wendy signature teal





38 Responses to “Rooms by Lauren Oliver: interview + giveaway”

  1. Lark @ The Bookwyrm's Hoard

    I’m intrigued by this book, and I doubt I would have been if I hadn’t read this. I love the setting (English manor? bring it on!), but above all it’s the sense of Lauren Oliver’s writing that I’ve gotten through both the review and the interview that attract me to the book. That and the idea that even though the ending is sad, there’s a hopefulness to it too; I can’t bear unrelievedly dismal endings, but sadness and redemptive hope? That I can relate to and embrace.

  2. Savannah

    Thanks for the giveaway! I don’t believe in ghost. I do believe that if you give it power (Ex by believing in it, acknowledging it, talking to it, etc) that things can happen.
    Savannah recently posted…Bump Update: 4 Weeks

  3. Joyce Caballero

    I love Lauren Oliver’s books. I was so excited to hear that she was writing an adult novel and can’t wait to dive in!

  4. Clare Kamertz

    Lauren Oliver is one of my favorite authors and I am so excited about this read. It seems so different from her other books, especially since it is her first adult book. I also never read anything that dealt with ghosts and would love for this to be my first!

  5. Natasha

    I am excited to read Rooms because I love ghost stories and this one sounds amazing!
    Also the ghost POV sounds really interesting.
    Thanks for the chance to win!

  6. Crystal Liu

    I’ve been looking forward to reading this book. Can’t wait to get my hands on this one!

  7. Michelle @ A Thousand Lives Lived

    Thank you so much for sharing, Wendy! I love every single book by Lauren—she hasn’t failed to disappoint me once! I’ve been awaiting Rooms for a very long time, and coming from the fact that it is her first adult book makes it 10x better! Love the interview!

  8. Jen Frederick

    I always like a good ghost story, especially this close to Halloween. I love old homes and I like to imagine all the history in the home and what the house would say “if the walls could talk” so to speak. In yourbook the walls do talk.
    I have not read any of your books, but I think that may need to change. Thanks for the giveaway.

  9. Vivien

    Honestly, this sounds like a very very promising read. I’ve enjoyed Oliver’s novels in the past, but the reaction hasn’t been uber love. I’m extra super excited for an adult novel from her. I’m hoping for a stronger connection to it vs. her YA novels. The setting sounds phenomenal and I just love that she included a photo of the estate! Ghost novels aren’t always my thing, but this sounds like a touch The Haunting so I’m extremely intrigued. Plus, that cover! Probably my favorite of hers :D

  10. Thomas

    Excited to read this one! After reading Before I Fall, I definitely felt like Lauren Oliver had a lot of potential to write another meaningful story – her past works, especially Panic, have disappointed me, so I’m hoping this one will work its magic (and its magical realism) to make me fall in love again.
    Thomas recently posted…Amour, Redux

  11. Larissa

    I’m so excited for this. I love Lauren Oliver’s Before I fall and her delirium series, completely amazing. Her writing is just so beautiful and always manages to captivate me. From the sounds of this adult book and your description it sounds that once again Oliver’s writing is truly beautifully haunting. It’s encouraging to hear that the transition between YA and adult is done in such a smooth way. I’m also liking the sound of humor amid all of the seriousness.

    Loved the interview! it’s really cool to see the house that inspired the one in the book. I wish I lived in the US because I really am so excited for this release. I can’t wait to fall in love with another book by Oliver.
    Larissa recently posted…Discussing Through Midnight (45): The Stigma Surrounding YA

  12. Kristy Petree

    It’s very intriguing…ghosts, the setting, but also the estate pictured which was sort of an inspiration. I really liked her Delirium trilogy and loved her standalone Panic. I think I’d love this book, too. Thanks!

  13. Sierra

    I’m looking forward to this one because I need to read more from Lauren Oliver! I’ve only read one book of hers before and to be honest, it wasn’t what I thought it would be after everything I’ve heard. So I just want to find out more about her writing and I think something spooky for October would be fun!! Thanks for the giveaway! :)

  14. Natalie

    I love ghost stories!!! And the cover……..can someone say insta-coverlove? Old homes, though they scare me, make great settings. Can’t wait to read this! Thanks for the chance to win it!

  15. Sharon Rose

    Oh, and the reason I’d like to read it: a friend on Goodreads whose opinion I always trust has been raving about it. He gave it a high creepy factory, and that sounds great to me :)

  16. Sharon Rose

    Great interview, I am so intrigued by this book and would love to read it. Thanks for the chance to win!

  17. Stephanie

    This book sounds so interesting. I will have to check it out.

  18. Carina Olsen

    Amazing post Wendy. <3 thank you so much for sharing about this book :D I am still unsure about it. Sigh. I don't read Adult yet, hih, but I did love her middle grade book, Liesl & Po :) SO cute. But yeah. I might read this, one day. Maybe :D Love the interview. <3
    Carina Olsen recently posted…In My Mailbox #153

  19. Pili

    I’ve heard some really interesting and positive reviews of Rooms, and after reading the interview I’m even more curious to read it! The idea of having a story with the ghosts POV sounds so very unique and even if I’m not as sure about the very sad ending (I don’t think I’m emotionally ready), I’m sure this one is gonna move from the wish list to the TBR list very soon!
    Fantastic interview, Wendy!
    Pili recently posted…First Chapter, First Paragraph #12: Lark Ascending by Meagan Spooner!!

  20. Louise

    This book looks super interesting! “Rooms had so many different permutations. Originally I was kind of writing two separate books […]” I’m fascinated by this. It’s interesting to me that the idea wasn’t originally a ghost story, but that it sort of morphed into that.

  21. Nikki

    I’ve heard some good and bad things about this book but I honestly think the idea is so intriguing I will be trying it out for myself.

  22. Leah

    I love Lauren Oliver and am really intrigued by her new venture into adult books. I love the way she uses words, so I’d probably read ANYthing she writes anyway, but I’m really curious about the house having a voice in the story. Your review does make it sound really, really sad, so I’ll probably have to pep talk myself before diving in. Thanks for the great interview!

  23. Tia

    I love ghost stories and haunted houses. This one sounds perfect for me.
    That place looks Awesome. I would love to stay there.

  24. Emma @ Never Judge a Book

    WHHHHHAAAATTTT!? I did not know she was writing an adult ghost story. I have to say, the transition between teen and adult can be tricky but if the books is flawlessly written then I will go for it. I don’t read enough ghost stories, purely because one did scare me before I went to sleep. LOL! But maybe I should totally give this one a go. Great interview and thanks for the giveaway, Wendy!
    Emma @ Never Judge a Book recently posted…DISCUSSION & CHALLENGE – Do you still borrow from your Library?

  25. Rebecca

    Great interview! I love Lauren Oliver’s books, and I’m really looking forward to reading Rooms. I feel like it would be such a good fall read.

  26. Bethany

    You know, I’m not the biggest fan of ghost stories, or books with this sort of melancholy, contemplative tone… But I do enjoy Lauren Oliver’s books and often enjoy books you recommend, Wendy… And it’s a gorgeous cover… So never say never! I’m almost persuaded already.
    Bethany recently posted…Unintentional Blog Break & Visiting the 50 States