H. C. Chester is a collector of unusual relics who came into possession of the artifacts of the museum’s estate and discovered the story of the four children. (rumor has it he might also be Lauren Oliver's father, Harold Schechter)
Click here to read my review of Curiosity House: The Shrunken Head.
Click here to read an exclusive character interview with Andrew the Alligator Boy.
And now Lauren Oliver (and "H.C. Chester") face the 7 Questions:
Question Seven: What are your top three favorite books?
LO: One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Matilda by Roald Dahl
The Little Prince by Antoine St. Exupery
HCC: Sir Percy Grethwohl's MY HUNT FOR THE RARE ALBINO FRUIT BAT
Jonathan Twerky's ADVENTURES IN ANTIQUE POTTERY SHARD COLLECTING
Elizabeth Barrett Bernstein's GONE WITH THE PTERODACTYLS
Question Six: How much time do you spend each week writing? Reading?
LO: Oh my goodness. This is embarrassing--probably between 40 and 60 hours, I would estimate? I don't really have any other hobbies.
HCC: What with all the time I must devote to such daily activities as arranging my collection of early American dog-breeding pamphlets in precise chronological order and engaging in playtime with my trusted companion, Trudy, I have limited time for writing and reading. I would say no more than five or six hours per day.
Question Five: What was the path that led you to publication?
LO: I've always intended to be a writer, although I didn't know I could make it a career. I was working as an assistant at Penguin Books while working on my first novel, and at a cocktail party I pushed the first draft of Before I Fall into the hands of Stephen Barbara, who would become my agent.
HCC: My father, as most people know, was a celebrated author, best known for his groundbreaking book, "The Round and the Furry: Varieties of New England Rodents." He was not only an inspirationt o me but assisted me in finding a publisher for my first best-selling book, "Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Peruvian Bat."
Question Four: Do you believe writers are born, taught or both? Which was true for you?
LO: Both. I believe certain people are born with a passion for something--maybe it comes more easily to them, and thus they become passionate about it. But the passion drives hard work and the dedication and discipline to practice. And that then drives skill.
HCC: See above. I certainly believe that my exceptional gifts were largely inherited from my revered father. At the same time, they have been elevated to unprecedented heights by my constant application of them.
Question Three: What is your favorite thing about writing? What is your least favorite thing?
LO: My favorite thing is that you can do it anywhere; it is the best imaginative escape. My least favorite thing is how hard it is! You'd think it would get easier over time but I find the reverse is true.
HCC: My favorite thing about writing is that, insofar as it is a solitary persuit, it allows me to maintain a blissful seclusion from the world and the countless annoying beings who inhabit it. My least favorite thing, I suppose, is that interferes with other precious activities, such as playtime with Trudy!
Question Two: What one bit of wisdom would you impart to an aspiring writer? (feel free to include as many other bits of wisdom as you like)
LO: Practice. It's the only way to improve. Read everything you can, even things you think you won't like, and write every single day, even if it's only for a little.
HCC: It is very wise to make a carbon copy of your work as you type it. Otherwise, should anything happen to your manuscript, it will be lost forever!
Question One: If you could have lunch with any writer, living or dead, who would it be? Why?
LO: Maybe JK Rowling, so I could convince her to collaborate with me--or Stephen King. If I were going dead, I'd have to say Hunter S. Thompson, only because I bet we'd end up on a road trip to Vegas!
HCC: Unquestionably Sir Percy Grethwhohl. To hear from his own lips the thrilling tale of his decades-long quest through the well-nigh impenetrable jungles of Peru for a fleeting glimpse of the mythical albino fruit bat would be a dream come true!