How a poetry-writing teen became the heroine | March 24, 2017 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

- March 24, 2017

How a poetry-writing teen became the heroine

Author Lauren Horowitz sheds 'Light' on her fantasy trilogy

by Anna Medina

Hollywood screenwriter and novelist Lauren Horowitz may no longer live in Atherton, but her experiences growing up along the Midpeninsula fueled her inspiration for the poetry-writing female heroine in her award-winning "Light Trilogy" — a young adult fantasy series infused with lyrical prose, nail-biting adventure and a hidden world of mythical beings.

As a young girl and budding writer, Horowitz's favorite pastimes were hanging out at Kepler's Books in Menlo Park and at the Las Lomitas School computer lab, where her teacher Nancy Lund inspired her to write her first novel (about horse camp) in fourth grade. Horowitz said although she continued to write, she spent her high school years as a "secret writer," not showing anyone her work.

Years later, while working as a screenwriter for The CW Network in Hollywood, Horowitz remembered wondering why there weren't very many heroines in novels who are writers or poets.

"I thought, what if there was this girl who was growing up and she processed the world through her writing, the way I very much did when I was that age?," she told the Weekly in a 2016 interview.

This inspired her to write her 2015 debut novel "Shattered Blue: Book One of the Light Trilogy," which has garnered numerous awards, including finalist honors in the fantasy category of the 2016 International Book Awards; the young adult category of the 2016 Next Generation Indie Book Award; the best new fiction and best fantasy categories for the USA Book Award; and silver in the Young Adult Fiction category of the 2016 IPPY Award.

Horowitz, who now splits her time between Los Angeles and Hawaii, released the second book in her series this month. "Renegade Red" continues to follow female protagonist Noa as she simultaneously navigates universally teenage issues like relationships and school and larger issues like the threat of a ruthless "faerie" regime bent on enslaving and wiping out most of the faerie population. The romantic attraction between Noa and battling brothers Callum and Judah continues to leave fans decidedly divided in discussions on social media sites dedicated to the heated debate.

For the release of the new book, Horowitz has been visiting schools and bookstores in the Bay Area. She will be at Linden Tree Children's Books, 265 State St., Los Altos on Friday, March 24.

In a phone interview last week, The Weekly chatted with Horowitz about writing, poetry and (perhaps most importantly) whether she's "Team Callum" or "Team Judah."

What continues to prompt you to write?

I just can't even imagine not doing it. When I don't write, I start to feel bottled up and anxious. It's kind of like stress relief in a weird way. I try to write in the morning. It's as much mental health as anything else.

What led you to study English and writing at Harvard?

When I got to Harvard, people there were really unabashed about having a particular passion and just going after it with abandon. I said, "If that's the case and everyone here is amazing in their own way, I'm gonna choose English." I took a creative writing class, and it happened to be with one of my favorite novelists, Jamaica Kincaid. We are like kindred souls. She was so encouraging in the idea that I had a voice that was worth listening to. It was like a revelation, and she was a mentor. She was my biggest critic; she pushed me, she pushed me so hard.

What inspired you to write the Light Trilogy?

I was going through a really stressful time in my life. I was in the process of buying my first house; it was kind of like a crisis of "adulting." I thought, "I don't know what escrow is! I don't know what all these things are!" I felt like "Oh my god, I'm gonna get smashed by all this adulthood." That put me back in my high school self; I wanted to write my high school self feeling the crushing adulthood and that gave me Noa, who is like the secret artist who is dealing with having to take care of her entire family, and what she finds is that as she lets her art out, there's suddenly so much magic in the world. I didn't write for publication, by the way. I wrote it for myself and didn't show it to a soul.

You weave poetry into your writing; What role does poetry play in your novels?

Poetry for me is like the unfiltered soul, I think. It is my soul, It is Noa's soul. (It) speaks truth she doesn't know how to speak in regular words and gives her strength. There are no rules; there's no grammar. (It's) as much visual as it is written. (It) is physical. It's an animal. Poetry is an animal — finding a way to let out the animal, let that "girl beast" out.

The novel is my poem to the world.

What is the best writing advice you've received?

"Your voice is important," from Jamaica Kincaid, and that's what I try to pass on, that's the stone on the ground. In terms of craft, write every day.

How does the screenwriting process differ from the novel-writing process?

With screenwriting, particularly television, from the very beginning, even if you're the creator of a series of a pitch, it is so collaborative. The writer is one piece of huge team. From the very beginning, you've got producers in there giving you notes and many hands doing the soup. If a network buys the pitch, the network gives notes. (There are) notes from studios, (and) you redo it. By the end of getting the pilot made, there are tons of people in your creative kitchen. You get so many perspectives — in that way the collaboration is super awesome.

It was a revelation doing a novel. I was like, "Wait a minute. I, the writer, get to decide who the character is?" In that way, I've kinda fallen in love with (writing) novels because they're mine, and that's what's really great with them. With a novel, the novel is the art.

One last question: Are you "Team Callum" or "Team Judah"?

I'll never tell. The battle rages on social media. It's so funny.

Editorial Assistant and Intern Coordinator Anna Medina can be emailed at amedina@paweekly.com.

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