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Interview with L.B. Schulman, author of League of Strays

Thursday, October 25, 2012
Today we have the pleasure of having L.B. Schulman on our blog for an interview. Please welcome her! :)
Q/A with L.B. Schulman
1. What inspired you to write the League of Strays? Where did the idea come from?

The idea came about a few years after the massacre at Columbine High School in 1999. Tragically, 35 people were shot and 13 killed by two teen boys. One was later diagnosed as being a psychopath; the other was not. Dylan Klebold was a “follower” who was influenced by the highly-manipulative qualities of his friend. Unfortunately, these boys were bullied, and their response was to hurt back. League of Strays was a way for me to explore the power that leadership has over us, and why we need to be true to our own moral compass first.

2. How did you come up with the characters?

Some were loosely-based on friends I’ve had over the years. Others just wrote themselves. At times, I felt like a “channeler” more than a writer. These characters seemed to already exist in my mind and were just waiting to have a voice.

3. Which character was the most difficult to write?

Kade, I think. He’s dark and thrilling and seductive, and I feel like a lot of teens might fall for him given his manipulative ways; however, what made him attractive to Charlotte might scare off a reader, who knows what the book is about. Making him charming and scary at the same time was a challenging balance to achieve.

4. In the League of Strays, you include every day challenges that a lot of teenagers face in high school. How did you determine which ones to include?

Once you’ve gone through high school, you’ve experienced so many ways that life can be “unfair.” Some things about high school have changed since I was there, like technology and block schedules, and other things, like bullying and falling hard for the wrong person, don’t. Feeling slighted by others is pretty much a universal feeling that I wanted to explore. It wasn’t hard to come up with situations that would make a person feel that way. All my characters come from a place of hurt, and a yearning for something better, too.

5. Kade is such a strong, brooding and charming character yet a pyschopath. Was he a hard character to write? Did he scare you? He sure scared me!

Those characteristics that you named are what makes him a psychopath. I know there are some readers who say, “She should have run away from page 23,” but the reality is, psychopaths are very good at getting what they want. They are not easy to identify. And when they lavish attention on you, it’s easy to take a stance of denial because the attention feels so good. But yeah, he creeped me out. I got chills when writing his scenes. And I got more chills when I learned how common sociopathy is in our society, so never follow someone blindly! Always listen to your conscience.

6. What was your favorite part to write in the book?

 I can’t really say because it would be a spoiler, but for those who have read it, the “prom with the dead” scene. This is where the character growth occurs, and it was rewarding to reveal to the reader.

 7. What was the hardest?

The beginning scene, when they first meet. I had five characters, each with very different motivations for being there, and I had to make it clear that they weren’t all hooked because Kade was “hot.” It was about so much more than that. 

8. Who is your favorite character? Why?

 Zoe. I loved that she was hard on the outside and like “melted butter” inside. I loved that she was tough on Charlotte, but hugged her, in the same scene. She was clearly someone who’d built up some serious defenses but really, really needed to tear them down.

9. Would you ever consider writing a sequel to League of Strays? Perhaps a few years down the road, where Kade comes back and terrorizes everyone.

It would be a great idea, and fun to write, but it wouldn’t be young adult anymore. It would be adult genre because they would all be graduating from college. Not sure how that would work, and besides, I love writing for teens (and people like me, who love YA, regardless of age.) But I do love my sociopathic characters, so you never know…

10. Do you have any current projects you are working on? Can you share a little about them?

I feel like I’ve learned so much from writing League of Strays that I have a clearer sense of where to go with my work-in-progress novel. It isn’t scary in the same way, but it has a central mystery that is very surprising and different. It’s all about how withholding information about ourselves leads to an inauthentic life, and how the truth, as hard as it may be to express, is what allows us to connect with others. I would love to share the plot, but it’s better for me to write it than to talk about it. I want to finish it so it can get out in the world.

11. What advice would you give to someone who would like to become a published author?

Read the genre you are writing. It’s amazing to me how many young adult writers barely look at young adult books. I became a much stronger writer when I began analyzing what worked and didn’t work for me with the books I read. Also, persevere like a machine; don’t let rejection get in the way of the tenacious pursuit of your dream.

For more info on L.B. Schulman click here :

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