Lauren Owen spoke to MuggleNet recently about her upcoming book, The Quick, and her history with the Harry Potter fandom. You can find The Quick online or at your local bookstore from today!
Thanks for your time Lauren. First of all, are you aware of MuggleNet?
Definitely yes! I’m a big Harry Potter fan and MuggleNet is one of the most famous sites out there.
It’s very exciting that The Quick is out this week. You just appeared on BBC Radio 4 Woman’s Hour before this chat. Was that fun?
Yes, gosh, it was amazing. That was only the second time I’ve been on the radio, so I was very excited to go on and do that. It’s quite an amazing opportunity.
So first of all can you introduce your book to MuggleNet readers?
The book is called The Quick and it’s a supernatural mystery set in late-Victorian London. I would say it’s ideal for fans of Dracula, A Picture of Dorian Gray and The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. I think this is the vein it’s written in.
How does it feel to have written a book which is causing a bit of a sensation?
(Laughs) Goodness, it’s something I’ve wanted to do since I was about 11, so to finally have done this is incredible, if slightly surreal! I sometimes wonder if it’s all going to suddenly hit me months down the line. But months go by and it’s just all been amazing.
Is it true to say that you grew up in quite Harry Potter-type places?
I do know quite a lot about the boarding school environment. My parents – and my dad still – worked in boarding schools for most of my life. Growing up we lived in one boarding school and then moved and lived in another. So it’s definitely an environment I feel quite familiar with.
You were a Potter fan growing up. What was your introduction to the series, and how big a fan were you?
I think I got into the series when I was about 12. I remember the first two were already out and I read through them pretty quickly. We were all waiting for The Prisoner of Azkaban to come out and that clinched it for me. By the forth book I was very, very into the series. I was there between books four and five pacing the floor waiting for the book to come out. I was also quite involved online with the Harry Potter fandom. It was a very fun, lively place to be; waiting for the fifth book to come out. The speculation, the dates going online, it was a fun way to experience the series. When the seventh book was published, I went to a live midnight reading party at Borders – which sadly isn’t there anymore. It was a wonderful night, we were all dressed up and sitting around waiting. It was a really fun to involved in that kind of communal fan experience.
Is that how you got involved in writing Harry Potter fan-fiction?
Yes, definitely. I was trawling the internet for new Harry Potter sites. When you really invest in a book and you finish it, the impulse is to go out and talk about it with other people. You want to seek out people who have read it too and who love the series as much as you do. I was online searching and I discovered fan fiction. It seemed like
‘Whoa, what a fun thing to do!’ Essentially I started writing my own and I enjoyed sharing it with other fans.
Did wanting to be an author come first? Or did fan-fiction start you off?
Wanting to be an author, I think. I had been writing my original fiction since I was about 9. It was something I’d played with for a while. I always enjoyed fan-fiction, I always saw it as a fun thing in it’s own right rather than a means to and end, or for developing any skills as an author. I think that’s maybe the most fun way to experience it – to just be playful and to share your ideas with other people.
Is there anything you have taken from J.K. Rowling’s writing that you use in your own work?
Ah, that’s interesting. I’m sure there must be. I think one thing that I still love about Harry Potter is that I feel like it enjoys itself very much as a series. I get the impression that J.K. Rowling wrote because she loved writing. The joy of pure creativity and the humour of the series comes across in all the delightful little details and quirky humorous moments. I think that influenced me in what it means to write, and why bother to write in the first place.
You bring a lot of horror and supernatural elements to The Quick. How did they come into your writing?
I think my first experience of vampires was when we read a book at school called Room 13 by Robert Swindells. That is an amazing introduction-to-vampires book for children. It’s set in Whitby and it looks at the Dracula myth but it’s made very accessible for primary school kids. From then I think the supernatural was something I was drawn to a lot. As I grew older I was thinking ‘What’s the appeal? Why am I so fond of this?’ And I think that book is partly what led me to supernatural fiction later on.
Some of the fantastic reviews for The Quick have mentioned that it could make a great movie. Is that something you would be interested in? And how would you feel about it?
I’d be really intrigued to see it. I’d not want to be hovering over the people adapting it – telling them what to do or what not to do. I think adaptations sometimes work best when they are allowed a little bit of flexibility. There are certain things that I’d be quite keen on keeping, but I’d say it would certainly be a fun idea.
Back to J.K. Rowling. It’s just been announced she will write scripts for three Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them movies.
Ooh, yeah I’m really excited! I’m confused how it’s going to work given the size of the book but I’m really eager to see what they come up with and I’m optimistic. I think given the amount of love that there is for the book, hopefully the people coming up with the films will similarly share this enjoyment and do the book justice.
Finally, do you have any advice for anyone of MuggleNet who might want to write?
I think the obvious ones are read a lot – that definitely helped me. And my other one would be to go around and talk to people. Sometimes it seems like there’s a big temptation to stay in the library – and that can be a wonderful place – but I find if you talk to people they automatically start telling you stories. And almost everything is useful. So those are my two tips.
Find out more using #TheQuick, @TheAegoliusClub or buy your copy now.