As many of you will have seen this past Wednesday, I am a huge fan of Lorie Langdon’s Olivia Twist (my review can be found here). It was certainly one of my favorite new releases for 2018. Today we have a wonderful post–an interview with the author herself, Lorie Langdon!
Olivia Brownlow is no damsel in distress. Born in a workhouse and raised as a boy among thieving London street gangs, she is as tough and cunning as they come. When she is taken in by her uncle after a caper gone wrong, her life goes from fighting and stealing on the streets to lavish dinners and soirees as a debutante in high society. But she can’t seem to escape her past … or forget the teeming slums where children just like her still scrabble to survive.
1) Was there a particular book/series/author that inspired you to start writing? I have many inspirations. The Outlander Series by Diana Gabaldon captured me so completely that I longed to recreate something similar. But I knew I couldn’t write in her verbose, detailed style. Then I read the Harry Potter books and saw how they inspired an entire generation to love reading. I began to think I could write something for a younger readership. It wasn’t until I read Twilight that I was inspired to write young adult literature. My first published books, the DOON SERIES were a mash-up of inspirations from all three!
2) Was there a specific moment that inspired Olivia Twist?
OLIVIA TWIST, is a love letter to characters that first entered my life as a child in the musical, Oliver!, and later in Dickens’ classic, Oliver Twist. After my Grandma took me to see a rerelease of the movie musical, I became obsessed with the story and would sit in my room and listen to the double album soundtrack for hours, making up new adventures for the characters. In my favorite daydream, Oliver had been born a girl and was disguising her true gender as a safety measure. I imagined that the two became embroiled in endless mysteries and eventually fell in love.
As a teen, I devoured every bit of historical fiction I could get my hands on, including the classic Dickens’ novel, Oliver Twist. I quickly realized two things: The Artful Dodger was not the hero I had envisioned, and the film had missed a major character; Oliver’s half-brother, the villainous Monks. When I began writing my own books, the dynamic duo of Jack and Olivia would not leave me alone, and a mash-up of the original novel and the film began to solidify in my mind.
3) Do you draw inspiration from pop culture (TV shows, Video Games, Movies, etc.), and if so, which ones? All the time! For my book, GILT HOLLOW, the hero, Ashton Keller was inspired by the character of Bellamy Blake on The 100. I was struggling to pull together a solid vision for a boy who had been convicted of manslaughter at the age of 14 and returns to his hometown seeking revenge after serving four years in juvenile detention. Bellamy’s anger punctuated by moments of vulnerability gave me the perfect inspiration!
4) If you could live anywhere (any time, era, and place), where would it be? I would love to live in Victorian, London for a while! But then I’d want to come home since women didn’t have many freedoms back then.
5) If you had 24 hours to do ANYTHING you wanted, what would you do? I would fly to St. Thomas with my husband and sons and spend the day snorkeling and eating great seafood!
6) You’re trapped on an island, but are allowed to bring one person, one food item, and one object. What are your choices? My husband. Avocados (so I could grow more with the seeds), my Bible.
7) What was the most difficult part of writing about such well-known characters? Turning off the part of my brain that was worried about reader expectations. I had to be true to my vision, while knowing that Dickens’ fans may not embrace that vision. Fortunately, the Dickens’ readers who I’ve heard from have loved my interpretation.
8) Did you enjoy getting to give classic literature your own spin? If so, which story/character did you enjoy reinterpreting the most? One of my favorite things about writing OLIVIA TWIST is Olivia’s sense of justice, kindness, and love. She experienced a harrowing childhood as an orphan living on the streets and uses what she learned to fight for those who can’t help themselves. Even after she’s taken in by her wealthy uncle, she doesn’t forget those who are still suffering. Her ability to circumvent the restrictions society has placed on her as a female, while still accomplish her goals, is one of my favorite things about her. It sounds odd, but Olivia inspires me to be a better person!
Thank you so much, Lorie, for taking the time to answer those questions! Dear readers, please make your reading life even more magical by picking yourself up a copy of Olivia Twist.