Five YA Novels that Inspired Lauren Morrill
by Joyce Lamb
Authors always have a pile of books (and their authors) that inspired them to become the writers they are. Mine include Dean Koontz (Lightning), Stephen King (The Stand) and Nora Roberts (have you got a few days?). Lauren Morrill, who wrote the recently released YA Meant to Be, shares her inspirations here, including Judy Blume (which is so awesome!).
Lauren: I'm not just a YA romance writer, I'm a ravenous YA romance reader! My shelves are stuffed full of some of the sweetest, funniest, swooniest books out there, all of which inspire me to work harder on my own. Every book I read inspires me in some way or another. Characters, settings, jokes, they all stay with me in some way. But these are the five books that most inspired me to dive into my own YA novel and keep on writing. Meant to Be debuted in November, and these books paved the way for Julia and Jason and their own journey to love in London.
Every YA connoisseur has their favorite Dessen novel, and this one is mine. I love Macy and Wes, but this book also sports a fantastic cast of supporting characters. Dessen is famous for her character cameos in later books, and I'd love to see more Burt some day.
Reading this novel back when I was in grad school was actually what inspired me to return to writing and paved the way for me writing Meant to Be. I was lucky enough to meet Sarah Dessen at an author event on Cape Cod, and when I told her how much she inspired me to write YA, she couldn't have been more kind. I had her sign my much-loved paperback copy of The Truth About Forever, and it's one of my most-treasured in my book collection.
This is a newer book that, if you haven't read, you definitely need to pick up. On my journey to publication, I was lucky enough to join a 2012 debut authors group calling themselves The Apocalypsies. Huntley Fitzpatrick was one of the authors I met, and so when her debut arrived on shelves I snatched it up. It's incredibly swoony and steamy while also being chock full of heart. You will definitely fall in love with Jase and the rest of the Garrett family. My Life Next Door is one of those books that I wish I'd written, and it's sitting in the back of my mind as I work on the follow-up to Meant to Be, called Being Sloane Jacobs (January 2014). Huntley's writing is nipping at my heels, pushing me to up the swoon factor.
Just like every YA author has a favorite Dessen, we all have a favorite Blume novel as well. Just as Long as We're Together isn't your typical YA romance. In fact, there's not much of a love interest to be found. This is more of a love letter to your very best friends, the ones you giggle with and play cards with and hope to stay buddies with forever. I first read this book sometime in the fifth grade, and I've read it probably 20 more times since. It's the book that made me want not to just be an author, but inspired me to write YA contemporary. Meant to Be definitely owes a major debt of gratitude to Just as Long as We're Together and the Queen herself, Ms. Judy Blume.
I read Anna when I was smack in the middle of writing Meant to Be, and it was like a sweet, swoony light at the end of the first-draft tunnel. Not only did Stephanie Perkins create two of my favorite characters in YA lit, Anna and Etienne, but she made them and all their friends hysterically funny. Reading Anna was definitely a major inspiration for me, and I've been so flattered to see that lots of other Anna fans have been recommending Meant to Be.
If you've read McCafferty's comic series, which kicks off with Sloppy Firsts, then you already know what I'm talking about. And if you haven't, you should stop reading this, disconnect your Internet and start reading. I'll see you in a few days. It won't take you much longer than that to read the five books that make up one of my favorite love stories of all time. From Jessica's snark to Marcus' ginger mop, McCafferty inspired me and continues to inspire me. I reread this series every few years, and now that I'm gushing about it, I think it might be time to pick it up again soon.
To find out more about Lauren and her books, you can visit her website, LaurenMorrill.com. You can also connect with her on Facebook and Twitter. You can also chat with Lauren this week on her author board!
This post was originally published on USA Today on Dec 12, 2012.