I met Liz Lawson at last year’s YallWest conference in Santa Monica, and she was delightful to talk to. Her book, THE LUCKY ONES, doesn’t come out until April, but I couldn’t wait to spread word about it:
May is a survivor. But she doesn’t feel like one. She feels angry. And lost. And alone. Eleven months after the school shooting that killed her twin brother, May still doesn’t know why she was the only one to walk out of the band room that day. No one gets what she went through–no one saw and heard what she did. No one can possibly understand how it feels to be her.
Zach lost his old life when his mother decided to defend the shooter. His girlfriend dumped him, his friends bailed, and now he spends his time hanging out with his little sister…and the one faithful friend who stuck around. His best friend is needy and demanding, but he won’t let Zach disappear into himself. Which is how Zach ends up at band practice that night. The same night May goes with her best friend to audition for a new band.
Which is how May meets Zach. And how Zach meets May. And how both might figure out that surviving could be an option after all.
In high school, you wrote an essay about gopher throwing. I’m dying to know more–what can you tell us about it?
Hahaha! I’m trying to remember more details! It was something about my brother winning a gopher throwing contest* and then getting invited to be a guest on Oprah and my whole family went. I wrote it for the Writing SAT II and got a perfect score, so apparently they appreciated my…odd sense of humor.
*No animals were actually harmed in the writing of that short story.
What a great story–and I bet it was a thrill to meet Oprah! In THE LUCKY ONES, May loses her twin brother to a school shooting. Did you originally know that May had a twin, and in what ways does this impact her journey?
When I started writing the book, all I had in my head was there was a kid (Zach) whose mom is a lawyer defending someone who did a very very bad thing. But, once I started writing May’s character, her brother appeared. I’m not sure if he was always her twin, but that definitely happened early in the writing process. I thought it would be interesting (and important) to explore the weight of guilt a person would feel if they were to survive a terrible situation that took their life of their sibling, and it would add a layer if that sibling was their twin, who they shared a womb with and grew up close to.
Definitely. THE LUCKY ONES also received a starred review in Kirkus. What was your reaction when you first learned of this?
It did! I have to confess, I’ve read that review approximately 100 times (maybe more) at this point—I am FLOORED by it. It’s so lovely and I feel so fortunate that the review understood my book so well. My publisher sent it to me when I was on a plane, about to take off, and when I read it I burst into tears. (Good tears, of course.) Publishing can be rough—all the “most anticipated” lists can be rough—and it was so affirming.
I’m sure there will be more affirmations to come! What are some of your current projects?
I’m currently working on the first draft of my next book, which is due out in 2021 from Delacorte! It’s entitled IN SILENT SEAS WE DROWN, and it explores the lives of three teens, whose lives are sent into a tailspin when one overdoses at her best friend’s home and her parents decide to press charges against the parents’ of the best friend. It explores addiction and its ripple effects, and the secrets we all have. I’m currently thinking of it as an emotional thriller.