Sybil's Garage magazine has an interview with Lauren McLaughlin, a new young adult writer whose debut novel, Cycler, will be published in September. I've known Lauren for some years now and she inevitably says the smartest stuff about writing in any conversation around the table. I've enjoyed her short fiction and the films she wrote immensely, and can't wait to read this book.
Storytelling is the foundation of any good novel and I think it's actually a very rare talent. Plenty of writers get by on killer premises and witty style. But effective storytelling is all about structure. It's very mechanical, almost architectural. When you can marry that structure to a framework of ideas, then the novel can transcend pure entertainment. The trick, in my opinion, is to weave these ideas invisibly into the story so that they are discovered, unraveled by the reader. My goal is to seduce my reader into a compelling narrative that whittles away at some preconceived idea and leaves them with an uncomfortable but somehow intriguing gap in their sense of the world. I want them to close the book and have a head full of questions. I'm not interested in merely diverting them for a while or helping them fall asleep. Nor do I want that from the books I read. I want to be unsettled, challenged. I want to close a book and say "I never thought of that before."