Wednesday, January 17, 2024

Q&A with C.L. Lauder




C.L. Lauder is the author of the new young adult novel The Quelling. She lives in Hong Kong.


Q: What inspired you to write The Quelling, and how did you create your character Kyjta?


A: I first tried to write a middle-grade book, but I soon realized it wasn’t the book I wanted to read.


I often wonder why so many books are written about young female leads. I think girls have a hunger to understand the world from a younger age, and books are a healthy and safe way to explore social constructs.


Kyjta’s character was a device I used to explore my own divided family structure growing up. Her mother disappeared under suspicious circumstances, her father is estranged, and she’s left to navigate the troubling terrain of a long-standing alien invasion in the care of her inattentive stepfather.


Without a solid support structure, she makes a number of tragic mistakes but ultimately emerges as a stronger, wiser person.


Q: How did you come up with the world where the novel takes place?


A: I didn’t intend to write The Quelling or craft a new world to support it. The Quelling Series started as a novel called Transference Day, now book two of The Quelling Trilogy.


After writing Transference Day, I realized I had to go back to discover precisely what was driving the alien invaders. A villain without a decent motive can easily fall flat, and I wanted a villain with a true calling.

Q: Did you know how the novel would end before you started writing it, or did you make many changes along the way?


A: I always start out with a 60-scene plan for any novel, so I knew where I was going when I started writing The Quelling, but I probably replotted the novel three times during the writing process, so I didn’t end up where I originally planned.


Even with a scene plan, writing a novel is like a treasure hunt; you start out following the markers, but the clues your subconscious leaves scattered across the map can soon have you heading off in a different direction from the one you consciously intended.


Q: What do you hope readers take away from the story?


A: I’m fascinated by the following line from Rachel Dawes in Batman Begins (2005), “Deep down you may still be that same great kid you used to be. But it's not who you are underneath, it's what you do that defines you.”


I hope readers will take away a similar message from The Quelling. Both Kranik and Kyjta suffer from social stereotyping. Kranik is part of the institution inflicting suffering on the local population, and Kyjta is one of the victims, full of hate and resentment.


Kranik sees himself as a monster, regardless of the beauty inside him, and Kyjta can’t see Kranik’s inner beauty for all her hate. Only through their actions can they cross the void from monster to hero, victim to victor. It’s that, or spend eternity in a state of internal turmoil.


Q: This is the first in a trilogy--can you say anything about what’s next?


A: I don’t want to give too much away, but Book Two is very different. The location and social set-up are a world apart from what we witnessed in The Quelling and the characters are battling an entirely different set of circumstances.


Book Two was the original Book One, and it can easily be read and understood without first reading Book One, which is in essence a prequel to a duology. 


Q: Anything else we should know?


A: The Quelling was released on Jan. 16. Readers who think they’ll enjoy it can sign up for my mailing list via my website, For a limited time, subscribers will receive two items of fan memorabilia that won’t be made available via mainstream channels.


--Interview with Deborah Kalb

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