I’m super thrilled to have the author of The Lucky Ones, Liz Lawson, on my blog today for an interview! The Lucky Ones takes your heart and wrenches it. It’s an incredibly real and raw book about the reality of school shootings. I 100% recommend checking it out if you feel you can handle it.
Before we get into the interview, here’s some more about the book!
May is a survivor. But she doesn’t feel like one. She feels angry. And lost. And alone. Eleven months after the school shooting that killed her twin brother, May still doesn’t know why she was the only one to walk out of the band room that day. No one gets what she went through–no one saw and heard what she did. No one can possibly understand how it feels to be her. Zach lost his old life when his mother decided to defend the shooter. His girlfriend dumped him, his friends bailed, and now he spends his time hanging out with his little sister…and the one faithful friend who stuck around. His best friend is needy and demanding, but he won’t let Zach disappear into himself. Which is how Zach ends up at band practice that night. The same night May goes with her best friend to audition for a new band. Which is how May meets Zach. And how Zach meets May. And how both might figure out that surviving could be an option after all.
It’s a book that left me teary and book that pulled at my heart.
Zach and May both have difficult, emotion-filled stories. How did you balance making them distinctly their own in certain ways, while also making them reflect each other in other ways?
When I decided to write THE LUCKY ONES as a dual-POV book (something I’d never attempted before!), it was really important for me to have both my main characters have distinct voices. I once read that a strong dual POV is one where a reader could flip to any given page and know whose perspective you’re reading from, so I keep that in mind while writing. I actually originally started the book with the second chapter, in Zach’s POV, and then started writing May’s after. Zach is such a gentle character and May is very much not, and the duality that created kept each of their voices in my head in a really concrete way.
THE LUCKY ONES is a raw, real, and realistic book. What is something (or multiple things) that you hope people get out of it?
Most important to me was to write a book that kids who have been through pain and grief and trauma could read and feel seen. Feel like there are people out there who get what they have gone through or are going through, so they wouldn’t feel so alone. Something that might help them recover and move on from those experiences. 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.
THE LUCKY ONES has some amazing supporting characters. Which one would you consider your favorite and why?
I love Lucy. She’s just such a badass and knows so deeply who she is. I always felt like she was wise beyond her years because of her dad’s troubled past and the fact that she almost headed down the same road as he did when she was a few years younger. She’s so fierce, and I adore her.
Being a debut can be an experience! What do you feel is the most important thing you have learned from it?
I think the most important thing I’ve learned is how dangerous it can be to compare yourself to other people. Everyone’s debut experience is different, and that’s not good or bad — it just is. It’s easy to feel lost in all the noise of new releases and press and all the external things that can distract you from the most important thing—writing that next book that might affect a reader’s life in a positive way.
Writing a book can be difficult, but what is your favorite part of the process? Or the one that makes you want to bang your head against the wall the least?
Haha yes that is VERY true. My favorite part is actually revising! Drafting can be really anxiety-inducing for me, because I’m constantly afraid I’m going to “mess up” somehow (which is silly – you can’t actually mess up a first draft!). But, once I get to the revision stage, I feel like that’s where the magic happens—when I REALLY get to know my characters and my world and start to understand it beyond the surface level.
And here’s more about the author herself (seriously an amazing person, she always has some wisdom to share too!)!
Liz Lawson is an author, a music supervisor, a wife, a mom, and a bunch of other things, too. She’s been writing for most of her life in one way or another — in high school her SAT II essay about gopher throwing was awarded a perfect score, and in college she held a position on the editorial board of the campus newspaper. Since college, she’s written for a variety of publications, including PASTE MAGAZINE, went to grad school, lived in six states + D.C., worked on a multitude of films and many, many episodes of television, got married, birthed a child, birthed three books (the last of which is her debut, THE LUCKY ONES!), and has done some other stuff, too, probably. Her debut contemporary YA novel, THE LUCKY ONES, will release from Delacorte Press/Random House in 2020. It’s the story of May and Zach, and deals with the healing process after extreme tragedy. It’s inspired in part by all the children who have experienced school shootings, of whom there are far too many in this country. Currently, Liz resides in Los Angeles, CA, where she lives with an adorable toddler, a fantastic husband, and two VERY bratty cats.
Once again, a thank you to Liz for allowing me to interview her! The Lucky Ones comes out April 7, 2020, which is super soon! I’m so ready for this book to be in the world.
Thank you for reading!