Lauren Kate: On Luce’s lifetimes and writing bad guys

This is the penultimate installment of the transcript of my interview with New York Times Bestselling Author Lauren Kate last July 15th. Here, she talks about Luce’s past lives, free will vs. destiny, and Bill. (Muwahaha!)

Spoiler Warning: Some plot lines and outcomes in Passion were discussed here.


Meann: In Passion, how did you go about choosing which time and place you would like to include in the book?

Lauren Kate: There were different reasons. Some of them are vacation spots that really affected me, like her life in Chichén Itzá. I went there 2 or 3 years ago, I think. I always thought the culture is so startlingly different from anything I know—it’s so fascinating how violent they were, but how much they value their lives. That strange juxtaposition of those 2 things really startled me.

I remember thinking at the time, I’d love to write about those, but I’m not gonna write a whole book about a character who lives there. So it’s really cool to just drop her [Luce] in for a chapter, let her sit there and deal with it, and then take her somewhere else.

A lot of them actually were based on novels that I really liked and settings that I had read about and wanted to explore, like when she’s in Milan, that’s A Farewell to Arms. So I reread that, and pulled a lot of those images and little bits of the story there into the book. Same thing with the Halston, England chapters; I’ve always loved Victorian novels. Further back, some of them are just fantasy, settings that I’ve always been intrigued by and wanted to learn more about.

M: I really love the Egyptian one.

LK: Do you? I like that one, too.

lauren reads

M: Which one was the hardest to write?

LK: The earliest ones—the ones that appear latest in the books, or earliest in time—those are just so foreign to me. It’s a lot easier for me to write about the 1920’s, the 1940’s, or even Shakespeare’s time because we’re so familiar…or I guess American culture is so obsessed with Shakespeare’s time that we see it a lot in movies, we read about them all the time in school.  But yeah, like the Egypt chapter, and the Shang dynasty chapter—I had to take a different approach to ground the reader and myself in the scenes.

M:  In the China chapter, I kinda envisioned her looking like Mulan.

LK: [laughs] Yeah, me too, me too! I don’t know… That’s funny, but yeah, me too.

M: I like the Mayan one, too. It was kinda scary. And there’s an actual pit where they throw in their human sacrifices?

LK: Yeah, it’s like this very green, acid green water, and you can still see the skeletons there.

M: Did you have any discarded ideas for places or time periods?

LK: Yeah. Yeah, I have a scrap pile that has little bits and pieces from here and there. I’ve gotta figure out what to do with them. Someday, I’ll figure out a format, whether it’s online or something in print.

M: What do you think Luce and Daniel would have been like in a Philippine setting?

LK: [laughs] They would’ve eaten a lot of balut. I can picture them on a little deserted island, one of the 7,000 islands here.

M: Bill. Is he really who we think he is… you know…

LK:  Yeah! He really is. Bill is going to be a force to be reckoned with in Rapture.

M:  He was fun, though, when he was a gargoyle.

LK:  Yeah. He was a very interesting character to write. Obviously, I knew exactly what was going to happen to him, I knew exactly who the readers are going to find out he was in the end.  But I had to make him… I think most readers are suspicious of him, at least in the beginning.  But those characters, there’s always a fine line between how much evil should I show, how much darkness should I show.  We still gotta stick around with this guy for several thousand more years, so you have to make him enjoyable, but also the foreshadowing has to be done just right.

M: And he’s also the guy in the Prologue.

LK: Yeah, he is. Yeah.

It’s hard for me to write bad guys; a truly vicious bad guy is no fun to read about.  You’ve got to give them some sort of charm. And then when I do that, I start to like them and I start to not want them to be quite so bad. I had to figure out how to do that.

Passion Tour Manila

M:  In Passion, we go back to The Very Beginning. I had a sort of Hermione Granger Time-Turner thing going on in my head when Daniel went back to the very start and realized that it was his intervention that changed everything. Can you explain a bit more about how that works?

LK:  I don’t think I should; that’s going to be in Rapture. The first meeting [with Luce] that he thinks he’s going to, he doesn’t end up there. He ends up further back—he ends up in Heaven before he ever met Luce. That moment, that is like the Elusive Mystery Moment of the whole series: when did they actually meet, why did they fall in love originally? And I’ve been teasing and teasing and teasing it, and I gave a little bit in Passion, but still, I’m backing away from it. But we’ll get there in Rapture.

M:  There’s also the element of Luce’s choice alluded to in The Ethereal Monarch’s judgment. Can you also explain that a bit, or is that going to be in Rapture as well?

LK:  Those are probably the biggest issues in Rapture. Because she’s not aware of it yet in Passion, I don’t think I should disclose it to the reader yet.

M:  The choices that the angels and Daniel make, I like that part in the book because the choices themselves are not really black and white, or good and evil, and not exactly a bad choice or a good choice. Someone said before that “Free Will is an illusion,” but is it, in the context of the mythology of Fallen?

LK:  That’s a good question, because even the characters that are operating as if they have free will, it was given to them by God. But I think what Luce and Daniel are proving is that free will is a very very difficult thing to achieve, but they’re always in pursuit of it. Their choice to love each other is constantly being swatted away, and the forces of good and evil are always trying to suppress it. I think, if and when they succeed, they’ll prove something about free will—that it’s possible.

M:  So is it more free will or destiny for Luce and Daniel, again, in the context of Fallen?

LK:  It’s very hard to tell one from the other, I think, especially with regard to their relationship. At times, it seems a lot like destiny, but in the end, I’m leaning towards free will. This is what bothers Luce a lot—she’s frustrated by the fact that they love each other because they’re supposed to. That they love each other for the right reasons is something that she’s thinking about a lot.

M:  Which is also part of the reason why she went back.

LK:  Yeah.

M:  Why did Daniel go back to that time with Cam and Lilith?

LK:  Oh.  Ummm…we’ll see.  We’ll see more of that.

M:  Because it was a little different from the other times; Luce wasn’t there.

LK:  There are a couple moments when he sort of loses track of Luce, like in the Greenland one.  I like those scenes where she’s not in it.  I mean, her role is obviously the most important, but it’s fun to show the other characters talking without her there.  That Greenland scene is one of my favorite ones.


Next time:  What to expect in Rapture, random bits of Fallen Series trivia, playlists, the movie, future projects, and Lauren talks about writing.

Image Credits:
– Lauren Kate: The Passion Tour photo by Gary Mayoralgo
– Gargoyle front page featured image from

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

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