Ten questions posed and answered truthfully by the author of LIE, the debut young adult novel from Caroline Bock, just out this fall from St. Martin’s Press, and already called: “Unusual and important,” in starred Kirkus Review, “Gripping” in starred Library Journal Review, “Smart… painfully truthful” in starred Publishers Weekly review and “Suspenseful and thought-provoking,” in starred Booklist Review.
So, where did you grow up?
Forty-five minutes from Broadway.
That’s actually the beginning of an old, old song about my hometown –
New Rochelle, New York, and yes, it’s about 45 minutes north of New York City.
Anything unusual about your childhood?
I was raised by a single parent – my father. He raised four kids, two girls, two boys, after my mother had a stroke when I was four-and-a-half. She was left brain-damaged and paralyzed. So let’s say I had an unusual, often chaotic, childhood. And I was the oldest of the four of us. In order to escape, I read all the time. My life-long dream was to be a writer, and I’m often stunned these days to call myself one.
What’s the most unusual place you ever visited?
Comer, Georgia outside Athens, Georgia. My brother and father live there, and that’s a whole story in itself. A beautiful state park is along the river, but it’s as if I’m visiting another country – small town and Southern, where everybody knows you. I’m used to New York City. I’ve never lived anywhere else but in New York City or in its suburbs, and there’s an anonymity here. LIE is set on Long Island, where I live now, which is a suburb of New York City.
Let’s get back to your debut novel, you’ve said it’s inspired by real events?
Yes, most notably the Marcelo Lucero murder on Long Island three years ago this month. Two brothers were walking down the street in this suburban town and a group of teens out for so-called fun, they called it, ‘beaner-hopping,’ were driving around looking for Hispanics to hurt. They ended up murdering one of the two brothers. But there were similar hate crimes in Brooklyn, New York and in Pennsylvania around the same time. I kept asking myself, ‘how could this happen here?’ in the 21st century, this kind of vigilante justice, but here it was. I thought someone else would certainly write about this, until, I had this moment of realization – why couldn’t that someone be me? Yet, it was only until I hit upon the structure of ten distinct first person voices, five teen and five adult, and the fact that it was about the aftermath of the crime, the reaction to it, that the novel took off.
How long did it take you to write?
About eight weeks for a first draft. But it was a mess.
Yes. The first draft was way too short. I revised it for about another year with the help of close readers, and ultimately my agent and editor. If you are a writer, the best thing you can find are early readers that care about you and your work to read closely and tell you why something is working, or not working.
Any other advice to writers?
Write. I know that sounds so basic, but I know a lot of people want to be writers, but the idea is better than the reality. Writing is hard. I have to do it everyday whether it’s working that day or not, whether every line I write sounds worse than the last one. I have a sign up in front of my desk (I’m big on inspirational quotes or sayings or news clips or poems around my desk), and this one says, “Writing is easy… just a matter of staring a blank page until your forehead bleeds,” from Gene Fowler, an old-time scriptwriter.
Am I going to enjoy LIE?
I’m starting not to like this word ‘enjoy.’ You read this novel because life doesn’t always have fairy tale endings, because sometimes we make bad choices and we have to live with the consequences. Sometimes we follow our friends, or our boyfriends, without questioning ourselves on whether it’s the right or wrong thing to do. Sometimes we hear what our parents are saying about others, and don’t question them. We don’t always tell the truth to one another, or to ourselves. This is a novel you read with your teen, or with your book club, and ask, could this happen here? What would I do or say to my teen if I heard they were speaking or acting against another group of people? There are a lot of novels out that you read to escape the world, I read them too, but sometimes you need a novel that makes you question the world.
What’s your favorite line in the book?
‘A lie can take you many places, but never back.’
It’s said by Skylar’s father. Truthfully, I stole it from my own father.
--Caroline Bock, November 8, 2011
Teens. Race. Hatred. Love.
This murder, in part, inspired LIE:
Marcelo Lucero was killed Nov. 8, 2008, when a mob of teens attacked him in Patchogue.
May Marcelo Lucero rest in peace.
Caroline has been super awesome and is offering up Two Signed First Edition Copies of LIE just for you guys. And because I think you guys are so special I'm going to throw in a supa-dupa special surprise for one lucky person.
1. One entry per person.
2. You must be 13 or older.
3. Giveaway is US only.
4. Contest ends at 11:59 p.m. on November 21st.