An Interview with E. Lockhart
“Just do it. Just write it.” This is what E. Lockhard said to encourage aspiring young writers. The New York Times best selling author was in the Philippines recently to promote her latest book, “We Were Liars.” Organized by National Book Store, the book signing took the author to Cebu City and to Glorietta 1 in Makati City.
E. Lockhart, whose real name is Emily Jenkins, further explained that she writes on a regular schedule, and pointed out that one of her novels consists of 60,000 words. She continued that, “If you write an email to a friend and tell the story of your day, you can write a 500 word message. If you do that every day for 5 days and take the weekend off, you’ve got 2500 words. In a month, you have 10,000 words. In six months, you have a novel. Just write those 500 words every day. Just write them. And you’ll have a novel.”
E. Lockhart flew in all the way from the US to promote “We Were Liars,” which she said was the answer to all her childhood curiosity about the private islands that she sees when she takes the ferry ride to Martha’s Vineyard. She takes the ferry ride whenever she visits her maternal grandmother in their little house built on Martha’s Vineyard. During the trip, she would see one beautiful house on a small island and wondered what were the people doing on that island. This later inspired her to answer all the questions which filled her mind when she was still very small.
During the book signing, she also discussed the novel as a universal experience of the childhood realization that families fight. Some families fight every day; or maybe once a year during Christmas. Some may be violent while others fight very quietly with angry tones and side glances. However, she thinks that all kids have grown ups in their lives arguing with each other in one way or another, and as the kids grow up, they begin to question why grown-ups fight, how they fight, what they say, what they refuse to say and what their values are. That’s the moment she wants to remember in this book: growing up, where you begin to think that the adults in your life are mascots; and you begin to think that you no longer believe them.
When asked why she named the four main characters as Liars, she reiterated that everyone is a liar. The novel is about a family of liars, called the Sinclairs, who lie with themselves and as well as with others. They lie for good reasons as well as for bad. She says that people lie a lot of times about love. People lie to protect someone’s feelings. They lie because someone might not be ready to hear what they have to say because they are protecting themselves. It doesn’t mean that they are mysterious. It means that they are emotionally complicated.
Jenkins caters to the young adult market in her novels. Her books include “The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks,” which was a Printz Award honor book, a finalist for the National Book Award, and recipient of the Cybils Award for best young adult novel; and the Ruby Oliver quartet: “The Boyfriend List,” “The Boy Book, The Treasure Map of Boys,” and “Real Live Boyfriends.” All of these are comedies but she tried a suspense genre for “We Were Liars” to challenge herself by getting out of her comfort zone. She confided that she likes reading suspense novels, which inspired her to write one. She then said, “Actors do it, so I can do it, too.”
“I want to write a novel where the characters had a lot of objects, a lot of baggage, meaning symbolism,” E. Lockhart explained about the depth of her books. In “We Were Liar,” she detailed that the whole island is the endowed object of the book. All of these are weighted with this extra meaning of the grandmother’s love and the grandfather’s evil nature.
Regarding her books’ pre-production process, she narrated that her publishing house, Random House Dell Delacorte Press, copyedits her manuscript and she reviews the two passes as well as check the copyedit as well. It is a series of sending manuscripts, copyediting and lots of reviews.
With regards her pen name, she says that Lockhart came from her maternal grandmother’s maiden name. She decided to use it when she started to publish for young adults after producing 35 picture books. It served as a fresh start for her in the market place.
Before the book signing started, E. Lockhart extended her warmest gratitude and appreciation to all her fans who came out to her tour in Makati and in SM City Cebu last March 21. She then ended by saying, “I hope that this is not a message so much as the invitation to think things. That is what I hope people get out of my books. I hope they want to reread them to connect with other readers to shake it up a little bit.”