Bestselling Author Lauren Oliver Talks about ‘Vanishing Girls,’ Writer’s Block, and More

Lauren Oliver’s newest YA novel comes out tomorrow, March 10! That’s right. Just one more day until Vanishing Girls will finally be available!

LaurenOliver credit Mike Holliday
Photo by Mike Holliday

For those of you who don’t already know her, Lauren Oliver is a tremendously talented author who’s written various books for all ages, encompassing middle-grade, young adult, and adult readers. Her YA novels include Before I FallPanic, and the books in the Delirium trilogy — which were New York Times and international bestsellers.

She worked in a young adult division at Penguin Books until she left to become a full-time author, now working at home in Brooklyn, New York. Besides writing amazing stories that we can’t get enough of, Lauren Oliver is also the co-founder of Paper Lantern Lit — an amazing company that helps and encourages writers to grow and be the best they can be.

Suffice to say, I was very excited when she agreed to an interview!


Photo courtesy of Lauren Oliver

A short synopsis of Vanishing Girls from

Dara and Nick used to be inseparable, but that was before – before Dara kissed Parker, before Nick lost him as her best friend, before the accident that left Dara’s beautiful face scarred.

Now the two sisters, who used to be so close, aren’t speaking. In an instant, Nick lost everything and is determined to use the summer to get it all back.

But Dara has other plans. When she vanishes on her birthday, Nick thinks Dara is just playing around. But another girl has vanished, too—nine-year-old Elizabeth Snow—and as Nick pursues her sister, she becomes increasingly convinced that the two disappearances may be linked.

In this edgy and compelling novel, New York Times bestselling author Lauren Oliver creates a world of intrigue, loss, and suspicion as two sisters search to find themselves, and each other.



One of our Germ reviewers recently read and wrote about your upcoming book, Vanishing Girls, and I must say that I am very intrigued and that I can’t wait to read this book!
What made you want to write this particular story? How did it come about?

It’s funny. I actually tried years ago to write a story of two sisters whose relationship has been altered in the aftermath of a terrible accident. But I couldn’t really find the heart of the story, the central conflict, at that time. Several years later, I returned to the book with a new idea about the disappearance of a third girl and the way the mysteries became interrelated.


Do you have any siblings? If so, did your relationship with them help you or inspire you in writing the bond between Dara and Nick in Vanishing Girls?

I have an older sister, Lizzie, and though our relationship is quite different from that of Dara and Nick, I definitely drew from my own feelings and experience. Having a sibling is very interesting because you develop your identity in relationship to this other person, often in opposition to them, occasionally in emulation of them. So the sibling becomes central to a sense of self.


When writing a story, where do you generally start? Do you pick the characters first, the overall plot, or the story’s moral/theme, etc?

It somewhat depends. I can’t write until I have a sense of the main characters’ voices, certainly, but that voice usually comes to me in the context of exploring a broader theme or story. In Vanishing Girls I always knew I wanted to write a story of sisters altered by an accident and their subsequent feelings of guilt, although it took me a while to figure out the exact story.


When writing a mystery thriller like Vanishing Girls, does your writing process change at all?

Not really, although I have to take extra time to try and untangle the plot and figure out a more careful outline.


How often do you write? Do you have a set schedule for when you write, or is it pretty spontaneous?

It is definitely not spontaneous! I write every day, 1,000–1,500 words a day, religiously. I try and write in the early mornings, but if I can’t, I’ll squeeze it in somewhere.


Do you ever encounter writer’s block? If so, how do you push through it?

Sure. I think everyone defines writer’s block differently. I feel like I have writer’s block every day! I really hardly ever wake up and want to write. In fact, I’d often rather be doing anything else. Writing is very, very hard, and so our minds put up resistance to doing it. It is helpful to be able to fall back on discipline and routine — i.e., to develop a set time when you always write, or a set word count, the way I do, and stick to it no matter what — and it’s also extremely helpful to always plan out what you want to say next before you stop writing for the day. That way you have an easy entry, a way “in.”


Do you have a favorite quote about writing?

“Aim for truth and beauty will follow.” — Chuck Wachtel


Do you have any advice for young writers hoping to make a career out of it?

My advice is always the same: read a lot and write a lot! The only way to improve is simply to practice.




Find out more about Lauren Oliver and her works at, and follow her on Twitter: @OliverBooks. 


Literary Editor/Copy Editor/Managing Editor Briana Bailey has a passion and appreciation for art, including music, writing, photography, and drawing. Her love for reading is why she wishes to one day copy edit novels. Yes, this means she is one of those people who really likes grammar. No, she is not one of those people who corrects other people's grammar when they talk.  (Don't believe her?  Email her at



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