By RONALD S. LIM
July 23, 2011, 12:13pm
MANILA, Philippines — If the fan reception is anything to go by, New York Times bestselling author Lauren Kate's recent return to the country felt more like a homecoming rather than a book tour.
The author behind the young adult (YA) novels “Fallen” and “Torment” was brought back to the country by National Bookstore, which organized a series of book signing events for the author at its branches in Makati and Cebu.
Kate is back in the country to promote “Passion”, the penultimate book in her “Fallen” series of novels. “Passion” follows fallen angel Daniel Grigori and human teenager Lucinda “Luce” Price as they travel through the centuries to discover the root behind the curse that has hounded them and their love through countless generations.
“Passion” looks set to replicate the success of the two books that preceded it, as it has already reached the seventh spot on USA Today's Bestseller List. As of this month, the “Fallen” series stands at second place of the Series section of the New York Times Bestseller List, only behind Suzanne Collins' “The Hunger Games” books.
Returning to the Philippines was not a hard decision to make for Kate, who says that her visit to the country less than a year ago was one of the more memorable stops during her tour for “Torment”, the second novel in her “Fallen” series.
“The people were so immediately warm. I got a very strong sense of what the Filipino people are. They're very cozy, warm, and have a lot of good humor. It's just a different kind of energy,” she shares.
Apparently, that impression of what a Filipino is left such a strong impression on Kate that she was even able to pick out Filipino fans – in a book signing event in Singapore!
“When I was in Singapore, there was a long line of Singaporean fans, and there were these two people who came up and I could tell from the way they were walking and the way they were talking that they were Filipino!” she reveals with a laugh.
Fun in revision
With its time-travelling elements and breakneck pace, “Passion” is an exciting read for Kate's fans, with a cliffhanger ending sure to leave them eagerly anticipating the release of “Rapture” in 2012. But as fun an experience reading “Passion” may be to her fans, Kate reveals that writing it was a different case entirely.
“It wasn't fun to write. I had a really hard time writing the first draft. Moving from scene to scene, century to century, and being set in so many different places, it was hard to get a flow and I kept wondering if it was adding up to anything because it felt so episodic,” she quips.
Kate would go on tour after finishing the first draft and would return to it after a trip that took her halfway across the world and back. It was only when she was revising her first draft that she would actually have fun telling her story.
“I went back to it in the winter and the revisions were the most fun part. I started tweaking things and seeing connections I haven't seen before. That's when it got fun. It got a lot better in the revisions but it was a challenge to write it,” she says.
Things also got changed a lot while revising the book, says Kate, especially when it came to one of the series' main characters.
“Mostly it has to do with what Luce is feeling. In the first draft, she was more confident and less bothered by some of the things she was saying. She was more of a transparent lens and I was just describing the things that were going on around her,” she says. “In the second draft, I think it was in chapter five or six, when she encounters Bill inside the Announcers, was when I realized how terribly lonely she would have been at that point. It was little things like that began to make sense and it usually had to do with her state of mind.”
Some directions the story took surprised even her!
“One I can think of is Cam's story. When we see him in Jerusalem and we see him cross over. I don't think I knew why all the angels have fallen and that's why I wrote this book. I realized that it's a lot more complicated than just deciding to be evil,” she explains. “Cam's place in all of this, his journey from the time of the Fall, his moment in Jerusalem, and the time we see him with Luce in 'Fallen', that was surprising to me. It inspired me to reconsider Cam in a lot of important ways that we'll see more about in 'Rapture'.”
With a tableau of tales that stretches back to centuries, Kate says that research also played an integral part in the construction of “Passion”. And while she did delve into historical resources, Kate – who holds a master's degree in Fiction Writing – says that her research also had a literary bent.
“A lot of it was rereading classic works of literature. When she (Luce) is in Milan, that was 'A Farewell to Arms' by Hemmingway. I read a lot of Victorian novels for the Helston chapter like 'The Woman in White' by Wilkie Collins, 'North and South' by Elizabeth Gaskell. In Moscow, it was inspired by Bulgakov's 'The Master and Margarita' which I really love. That made the research more feasible for me,” she reveals.
Keeping her characters and the story's continuity in check would also be a challenge during the writing of “Passion”. While most of the characters introduced in “Fallen” and “Torment” do take a back seat in this novel, the time-travelling aspect of the story would prove to be tricky to deal with.
“I think it happened in stages. During the first draft I just worried about what Luce was seeing and what was actually happening on the page,” she says. “On the second draft, I went back and thought how her being there and the little things she's doing as an Anachronism, how does that change things, how will it be absorbed to the story?”
But even with all the work that had to be done on “Passion”, Kate says that writing the novel was a great experience for her, allowing her to grow and expand her heroine while setting things up for “Rapture”, the last book in the series.
“There are some questions that “Rapture” is going to really address, but it was wonderful to give Luce the power to see all these things about herself. Even though she dies, these small moments of tragedy, her life now is the thing that matters to us and to the reader, and to her story,” she says. “It's looking back and seeing all these mistakes that you've made in your life and Luce can look back and see that that was horrible and that that was a struggle, and that this makes her do that for the wrong reason. But it makes her stronger as a character.”
With the series about to end, fans here and around the world are itching for a clue as to what the final fate of Daniel, Luce, and their friends will be. The only thing Kate is willing to reveal is that it will be “really exciting”.
“I am very excited to see the characters fall back in line. I think that what they're banding to do together is really exciting and I think there will be a lot of surprises in store for the readers,” she says. “This is the only time that I've been drafting a book and I've been sitting in front of my computer and actually cried. There's this one moment that I'm excited to share with readers.”
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