Meet Our New Book Columnist, Rani Lee!
The search is over! In honor of the release of the final book in the Delirium trilogy, Requiem, Teen.com teamed up with Figment and HarperTeen for the ultimate writing contest. The winner would receive a two-day trip to the HarperTeen offices in New York City and… a one-year book column on Teen.com! Now, the day has come for you to meet the winner, Rani Lee (21, Atlanta, GA), whose story, Swimming, was handpicked by the Delirium author herself, Lauren Oliver. Read on to find out her favorite YA reads, best writing advice & more, then check out Swimming!
The greatest YA couple of all time is…
Clary Fray and Jace Lightwood from The Mortal Instruments. They fall in love, find out they’re brother and sister, love each other anyway, find out they’re not brother and sister — *phew* — save the Shadowhunters and the world, and then struggle to save themselves. Their relationship is kind of epic in a way, and I don’t mean awesome epic. They’re on a hero’s journey that keeps leading them back to each other.
Who do you think is literature’s most misunderstood villain?
Wuthering Heights’ Heathcliff is literature’s most misunderstood villain. He may have wicked tendencies, and technically he’s a kidnapper, but in the end he’s a victim of classism and a tortured love.
At 2am, you’re most likely…
Flipping between Netflix and YouTube while scrolling through my Tumblr and offering fleeting glances to whatever is on my television — unless I’m sleeping because that happens too.
What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever received?
Write what you feel like writing. I read that on a YA writing blog. It seems so simple, but there was a time when I felt obligated to devote any writing time to my current Work In Progress. Everything had to be written in chronological order — no straying, no detours, no nothing. That type of process even sounds constricting, and it sucked away all the fun. Allowing myself to write what I wanted provided more opportunities for creativity and, most of all, fun.
What’s your favorite book of all time?
My favorite book of all time is Peaches by Jodi Lynn Anderson. The novel follows three girls as they spend the summer on a peach orchard. I’ve read the book so many times that it looks like someone ran over it with a really big truck. My favorite thing about it is how Anderson ties in the life of the orchard with the life of the characters, and her descriptions are just gorgeous. It’s actually the book that inspired me to start writing, so even after the pages start falling out and the binding rips, it will still be the most prized book I own.
Describe one conclusion or final chapter of a novel that stuck out to you.
I finished If I Stay by Gayle Forman today, and the ending is still fresh in my mind. The main character, Mia, barely survives a car accident that kills her parents, her little brother, and leaves her in a coma. The novel is about her struggle to decide whether or not to give up or to keep fighting. In the final chapter, her boyfriend visits her and says the most perfect things a boyfriend could say in this situation, and right when she decides to stay, the book ends.
You get to invite three authors to dinner. Who do you choose and why?
John Green — I’ve been a fan of John Green since I started watching Vlogbrothers — the YouTube channel he shares with his brother, Hank Green. John Green is my favorite YA author, and it’s rare to get to see your favorite author voice his opinion on so much and just be human. I really admire him.
Laurie Halse Anderson — I swear she has metaphors for days, and every one of them sounds fresh and new. I would like to know how she does it, and if it’s possible to make my brain work that way.
John Milton — He isn’t a YA author, and I’m pretty sure he died in the 17th century. After he went blind, he wrote Paradise Lost by speaking it out loud to his daughters. Basically, he authored thousands of lines of poetry in perfect meter without ever putting pen to paper. That’s completely sick in the best way.
Do you have a go-to writing snack?
Doritos and salsa.
Besides Delirium, what’s your favorite dystopian book/series?
I like dystopias with creative ideas — like love being considered a disease in Delirium and kids being forced to compete for their lives in The Hunger Games. My favorite dystopian series is Uglies by Scott Westerfeld. The books were some of the first YA dystopian novels I’d read, and they were so creative — especially Extras.
The best book-turned movie is…
The Secret Life of Bees. I love that movie.