Love Gone Wrong: Joy Interviews Lauren Strasnick

The arrival of a new Lauren Strasnick book is always cause for celebration! For me, there is just something uniquely brilliant about her spare prose, about her willingness to go to darker places and to tell relationship stories that don’t always have happy endings. Not that I’m opposed to happy endings or anything, but I do appreciate when an author writes the ending the story needs, even if it might not be the one readers are rooting for.

So of course, I can hardly wait to read her latest contemporary YA, 16 WAYS TO BREAK A HEART, which arrives on 7/25 from the Katherine Tegen imprint of Harper Collins.

Told through letters, texts, and conversation, it’s the story of love gone wrong. And let’s face it, by the end of July, we could all do with a bit of a tempestuous read to get us through these steamy days of summer.

But while we wait for 16 WAYS to appear on the shelf, I was fortunate enough to be able to sit down with Strasnick– whom I’m also fortunate to have as a friend– and chat a bit about writing, relationships, life and other stuff.

JOY: I fell in love with your writing back when we were both debut authors in 2009. Your spare, evocative prose astounds me in deep and surprising ways--like the last line of NOTHING LIKE YOU, which never fails to move me to tears no matter how many times I read it. And as a reader and a writer, I appreciate your willingness to go to dark places, to write stories that end as they need to, even if that finale is not a happy one. So can you talk a little about your style? About what inspires you and about your artistic aims?

LAUREN: Ah, Joy! Such sweetness, thank you! You know, I don’t think a ton about my artistic aim or my style while writing, but thinking about it now I’d say my intention is always: act natural. I like easy sentences that sound nice, and characters that behave in honest ways. If I think about, I’m only ever really writing about one thing: intimacy. And I’m interested in all sorts – romantic, familial, friendly.

JP: Now let’s chat about your newest-- 16 WAYS TO BREAK A HEART, which I’m so excited about. Like all your books, this one is about relationships gone bad or off in some way. Can you talk a bit about what continues to fascinate you about human relationships (not just love but also siblings and friends) in all their messy, crazy glory? What inspired Natalie and Dan’s story in particular?

LS: Oh gosh! I mean, what’s not fascinating about humans trying - & sometimes failing! - to connect? With 16 WAYS, well - I’ve always wanted to write, like, the anti-love story. Dan and Natalie are complex characters with insane drive and intense desire, and each has their own agenda. Together, they’re kind of an explosive mess. I’m guessing some readers will find them seriously unpalatable, but I wrote these two with so much love and affection!

JP: You also write – although sometimes indirectly– about a topic that I also frequently mine, which is loss. What are your thoughts as a writer and observer of human nature about how we all handle loss and how you work to represent that on the page?

LS: Yeah, I wrote about loss and grief in a very concrete way in NOTHING LIKE YOU, and then indirectly I guess in the books that followed. It’s interesting – in the last 12 years I’ve lost, both, my mother and brother, and both losses came with their own special challenges. I’ve also watched a handful of friends lose parents in recent years, and it’s been different for every one of them. So I guess I don’t think there’s one “right” way to write about loss. It’s just about staying true to your characters and their experiences, and I suppose it’s also about writing with authenticity and heart.

JP: Why young adult fiction? What draws you there as an artist?

LS: This is actually a question I’ve been asking myself a lot lately. Because I’m four books in and I still haven’t really found a solid teen readership. I write YA for a few reasons: everything’s so fresh and scary and intense as a teen – so many firsts! And I’m also just really interested in youth culture, I always have been. But if I’m being completely frank, I frequently wonder if this is the right market for me. Friends have suggested that what I’m really writing is teen fiction for adults. That may be true.

JP: I know you’ve been doing a lot of teaching lately. Advice for newer, aspiring writers? (And no, you can't say ‘run away!’)

LS: Ha! Ugh, this is tough. I mean, truthfully? This business is really hard. It can be challenging to make money, to get your books noticed, to weather the criticism and rejection, and to balance day job duties with book deadlines. Most fiction writers have to work in addition to working, LOL. So my advice for newbie, aspiring writers? You have to really want it. You have to be really persistent. And you shouldn’t quit your day job.

JP: Three things you’d like us to know about Lauren Strasnick?

LS: These days I’m very into Fuji apples, high-waisted jeans, and no-makeup makeup tutorials on YouTube.

JP: Hah! Thanks, Lauren! This has been a pleasure.

Lauren Strasnick writes books about doomed love, toxic friendship, and existential dread. Her first novel, NOTHING LIKE YOU (Simon Pulse/S&S, 2009), was an RWA RITA award finalist in two categories, Best First Book and YA Romance. Her second novel HER AND ME AND YOU (Simon Pulse/S&S, 2010), named a 2012 ALA Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers, and followed by another novel, THEN YOU WERE GONE (Simon Pulse/S&S). She teaches fiction in the MFA program at Antioch University, and also leads weekly novel novel workshops at Writing Pad in Los Angeles. 16 WAYS TO BREAK A HEART, her next book, is coming in July from Harper Collins’ Katherine Tegen Books.


16 Ways to Break a Heart By Lauren Strasnick Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062418722
Availability: Unlikely to Be Available
Published: Katherine Tegen Books - July 25th, 2017

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