If you’ve been reading my blog, you may have seen how much I adored The Lucky Ones. Immediately after reading, I knew I wanted to see if I could interview Liz and she said yes! Come read this author interview of all my questions after finishing The Lucky Ones!
The Lucky Ones
How do you put yourself back together when it seems like you’ve lost it all?
May is a survivor. But she doesn’t feel like one. She feels angry. And lost. And alone. Eleven months after the school shooting that killed her twin brother, May still doesn’t know why she was the only one to walk out of the band room that day. No one gets what she went through–no one saw and heard what she did. No one can possibly understand how it feels to be her.
Zach lost his old life when his mother decided to defend the shooter. His girlfriend dumped him, his friends bailed, and now he spends his time hanging out with his little sister…and the one faithful friend who stuck around. His best friend is needy and demanding, but he won’t let Zach disappear into himself. Which is how Zach ends up at band practice that night. The same night May goes with her best friend to audition for a new band.
Which is how May meets Zach. And how Zach meets May. And how both might figure out that surviving could be an option after all.
Family is a huge theme in THE LUCKY ONES, can you talk about what it was like to write both May and Zach’s family?
Zach’s family came pretty easily to me—the idea of a workaholic mother, who actually is that way because of her strong convictions at the detriment to her own children, and a dad who had lost his dream and was very, very sad about it worked from the beginning. In terms of May’s family, I knew I wanted her family to be struggling, because any family would be. And, after going through a huge tragedy like the one they have gone through, I think there are two tendencies—for families to come together and lean on each other and get strong, or for them implode. And, since May’s family had so many issues even before the events of that day, them imploding seemed only natural, sadly.
In some ways, each of these characters deal with loss, can you talk about how each of the characters handle their loss?
May has lost both her brother and her memory of what happened one night before the shooting took place. She’s definitely not handling it elegantly, but who would? She’s hurt and blames herself and is struggling with guilt and PTSD. She’s mad. And for good reason! She’s been through something that no teenager (or, really, no person) should have to go through. She’s handled her loss (if you can say “handled”) but pushing away most of the people who want to help her.
And Zach is much softer. He’s lost less than May, but he’s still been isolated and alienated from his old life and friends at school. His mom took this case and he doesn’t understand why, and so it’s made his loss that much harder—he understands why all the people around him have reacted in the way that they have to her decision. He’s mad, but his anger is directed more at one person—his mom—and a bit at his old friends. He’s handled his losses by retreating inward, keeping his head down at school, and trying not to be noticed. He’s gotten a lot smaller than he used to be.
Was it easier to write one of the characters?
I think Lucy was probably the easiest to write, and May and Lucy’s friendship, particularly, was my absolutely favorite relationship in the book. Lucy is such a rock, in part because she’s been through so much in her own life, struggling with addiction and her father’s addiction, and she’s definitely wise beyond her years because of that. I love that the reader can see May through Lucy’s eyes at times, the person who she used to be, who Lucy loves. And how May softens around her. Lucy’s pretty amazing.
Did either Zach or May go through major character changes to the final draft?
They were both very similar to the final product, actually! Their voices were so clear to me from the beginning, that neither of them went through significant changes.
Did you always know where Zach and May were going to meet?
Yes! Actually, originally, I their romance played an even bigger also role in the story, almost a retelling of Romeo & Juliet. But, after I started writing further into the story, that disappeared. I strongly dislike when media tells stories in which one person is healed entirely by a new romance; I find that trope outdated and, honestly, a little problematic, so once I realized what the story was, I knew I had to really pull back on their romantic relationship in order for the book not to go in that direction.
When you begin drafting a book, do you first get an inspiration for a scene, a character?
Usually a scene! I start writing the scene and the characters slowly come. THE LUCKY ONES actually started from writing a scene off of a prompt in a short story class that I took a few years ago!
What are some other 2020 debuts you recommend?
So many! There are SO MANY good ones out / coming out this year (I hope! That’s all subject to chance right now, of course). I’d recommend: Suzanne Parks’ THE PERFECT ESCAPE, which came out April 7th too, Dante Medema’s THE TRUTH PROJECT, which comes out in October, Kim Johnson’s THIS IS MY AMERICA, which is out this July, THE PAPER GIRL OF PARIS by Jordyn Taylor, which comes out mid-May… I could go on for like pages about this haha. Andrea Contos’ THROWAWAY GIRLS is fantastic. June Hur’s THE SILENCE OF BONES (out April 21st). So, so many.
What’s your best snack for when you’re stressed out?
I really love eating dry cereal when I’m stressed! I think there’s something satisfying about eating each individual piece? Haha I don’t know – it’s strange, but I find it calming!
If your book had to have a different tile, what would you pick?
Agh this one is so hard! I actually just looked back in my drafts to the beginning and realized that, while it was always called THE LUCKY ONES, I briefly considered the title THE WEIGHT OF EVERYTHING. Which, to be honest, I don’t love. I honestly don’t think I’d pick another title! I think THE LUCKY ONES just fits too well.
About the Author
Liz Lawson has been writing for most of her life in one way or another. She has her Masters in Communications with a Concentration in Rhetoric from Villanova University, and has written for a variety of publications including PASTE MAGAZINE. When she’s not writing, she works as a music supervisor for film & television.
Liz resides in Los Angeles, CA, where she lives with an adorable toddler, a fantastic husband, and two VERY bratty cats. You can find her on Instagram and Twitter at @lzlwsn.