Lauren Kate: On visual inspirations and angel wings

Here’s another excerpt from my July 15th interview with New York Times Bestselling Author Lauren Kate. As promised, we talk about Justin Bieber, Barack Obama, and Lady Gaga. 😛


Question: The angels are very vividly described in you books. Did you have any specific references or any inspiration for why they look the way they look?

Lauren Kate:   I think so. Like Luce is loosely based on my oldest best friend—the way that her hair is, the way that her face is shaped, the way that her body moved—I think I did that just because I’m very familiar with the way she looks… So it was easy for me to think of her and channel her when I was writing Luce in the beginning. But in terms of personality, she’s not like her.

I don’t know how it happened, but I think I started more with their personalities. Like I started with Arianne—the way that she’s so insane, and the things she says helped me understand what she looks like, how wraithlike she is, the way that her arms flail when she talks, things like that.

I think also that the better I got to know the characters, the easier it is to picture them. Especially with angels, their physical traits don’t really matter that much—they matter to the readers, they matter to me as a writer, to be able to visualize them—but literally, they don’t matter. Their bodies are sort of just shells—they can change it anytime and look like something different, like when we see Daniel in China, he’s Chinese. It’s really what their soul looks like, which is a hard thing to describe. And so I think that it manifests itself in their physical characteristics so that I can paint a picture for the readers and for myself. I think probably the closest that I get to who they really are is when I describe what they look like.  I think that’s how I get closest to what their souls look like, if that makes sense.

LaurenQ: Just for fun, if you were an angel, what would your wings be like?

LK: That’s a great question… They’ll be silvery-white, and probably very long and maybe iridescent like Arianne’s.

Q: Just for fun again, what about famous people like…Justin Bieber?

LK: Oh, what will their wings look like? That’s a really good question. I think Justin Bieber’s wings will be thick, fluffy, white, and not very long…kind of thick and stout…I’m just making this up. [laughs]

Q: What about Barack Obama?

LK: I think they would be marbled, and very muscular, and very broad… I’m gonna write this question down.

Q: Lady Gaga?

LK: They’ll probably be mirrored, with spikes on them.

Q: Have you imagined what Michael and Gabriel and the other angels… what do they look like?

LK: Gabriel is actually the character Gabbe; she represents Gabriel in the books. I don’t have a Michael. Raphael is Roland, and Cam…Camriel is one of the Archangels.

Yeah, I don’t have a Michael because my agent’s name is Michael, and it’ll be weird if I had that be one of the main characters. [laughs]

Q: Do you have specific visual inspirations for Sword and Cross and Shoreline?

LK: I have specific geographical sites where they will be located. Sword and Cross is supposed to be set in a part of Georgia where there’s an old, abandoned military fort called Fort Pulaski.  It’s sort of out on the edge of the sandbars.

But the fort obviously is nothing like the school; the school was a complete invention in my mind. It’s become such a real thing in the books that it’s hard for me to remember how I came up with the little details. But I know that they were just very organic at the keyboard. Like the cemetery having that concave shape, or the gym…the natatory being a church. All of that was just sort of surprises at the keyboard, like whoa, that would be weird if I did this and it becomes reality.

Same thing with Shoreline. Shoreline, I based it on a site in Fort Bragg, California where there’s actually a winery; it looks over the ocean and it’s such a breathtaking sight. But in my mind, I took away the winery and planted this really beautiful school there.


Next time: Lauren talks about Luce’s temporal adventures

Image Credit:
– Lauren Kate portrait by Gary Mayoralgo

Related Articles:
–  Previous excerpt — Lauren Kate: On the WSJ debacle and writing for teens
–  An epic, romantic journey with Lauren Kate (on GMA News Online)

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