How does it feel to finally put a period on the Delirium series?
It’s probably what parents experience when they drop a kid off at college. First of all, there’s a sense of release — you’ve been raising this thing for a long time, and it’s given you a lot of trouble as well as joy. And there’s a real pleasure and pride in how it grew and turned out. At the same time, grief and terror of not knowing what’s going to come next.
It’s not like you’re sitting around dwelling on it. You have so much going on: multiple middle-grade series, YA novels, adult novels, TV and movie deals, even your own publishing company, Paper Lantern Lit. Are writing and business inextricably intertwined?
I guess I consider myself an expert on writing and storytelling. And I’ve chosen to do it from several different angles. It’s hard to think of oneself as a serious businesswoman when 90 percent of the time one works in pajamas, though.
Have you always been a multitasker?
Yeah, definitely. When people tell me they’d love to be writers but they don’t have time to write, I kind of obnoxiously tell them about writing [my first novel] Before I Fall. I was a full-time graduate student and I had a full-time job — and actually also a part-time job — so I wrote half of Before I Fall on my BlackBerry. To this day, I have creepily scary thumbs. My sister says they look like the disembodied hand in the Addams Family movie. [Laughs]
How did you come up with the concept for Delirium?
Before I Fall dealt quite prominently with themes of death, so I started thinking how interesting it would be to write about love in a new way. I had an aha moment in the gym a few years ago during the swine-flu or bird-flu epidemic, I don’t remember which one. People in New York were bum-rushing Duane Reade to buy Purell and bathe in it. I started thinking how easy it is to be driven into a fear or panic over these supposed epidemics, and then I started thinking: If you look at the symptoms of romantic love in its early, passionate stages, it does have a lot in common with a psychiatric disorder that we’d commonly treat with medication. I’m not even the thousandth writer who’s had that thought, but I thought it would be a really fun idea to explore.
Hollywood was interested in your novels before the first one even came out. How do you feel about Delirium being reimagined as a Fox TV pilot?
It was originally slated to become a film, but Fox felt it could be serialized as a more expansive series. Some fans were upset because that meant certain things had to change. For example, in the pilot script you see almost every character from all three books. In order to be a great adaptation, it has to evoke the same feeling my books evoke: It has to be romantic, epic, and exciting. I think the show will do that. I’m excited about the script.
What do you think of Emma Roberts as Lena, the gutsy protagonist of Delirium?
I’m really thrilled! She’s read and loved the books. Also, we have the same New York hairstylist, so I feel like it’s fated. It’s kismet.