You can learn more about Lauren and her novels at www.laurenmclaughlin.net.
Firstly, what inspired you to write Cycler?
I never know for sure what inspires anything I write. I came up with the idea for Cycler many years ago when I was a screenwriter. I've always considered gender an interesting topic because we invest so much in it and, at the time, are always changing our ideas about it. Each generation seems to define masculinity and femininity differently, yet each generation seems to think it knows best. Once the story and characters got rolling, I really liked the way that the main character's condition prevented him/her from settling down into a single identity. Since identity is so important for teenagers, it felt like rich territory.
If you woke up one day to find yourself as the opposite gender, what would be your first reaction?
In a way, I wouldn't be all that surprised. I've always been somewhat psychologically androgynous, my female friends often referring to me as the man of the gang. I don't look very androgynous, but when I think of myself, I certainly don't see someone extremely feminine. I think I would enjoy being a man for a while. I'd like to see how the world reacted to me, and how that changed my own reactions.
What do you find is the easiest part of writing? And the hardest?
The easiest part is coming up with ideas. My head is swimming with them. Too many of them, in fact. Dialog is also very easy for me. The hardest part is rewriting. By the time I've made it through a first draft, it's usually pretty rickety and needs a lot of help. But once you start making changes, it's very easy for the whole structure to fall apart. Another difficult thing for me is slowing down the pacing to include more interiority and mental wandering. I tend to write in very here and now, action-oriented scenes, undoubtedly because of my screenwriter background. I work hard to slow down and open things up.
Do you have any novels you are working on at the moment or will be releasing soon? If so, can you please give us a brief summary about them?
I just got my edit notes from the editor, in fact, on my third novel, tentatively entitled Steal the Future. It's set in the near future after someone has invented a software program which can process data from the now-ubiquitous surveillance cameras, along with cell phone conversations, email, and Web habits to come up with a monthly score indicating a teenager's overall social fitness. This score determines everything in life--who you can eat lunch with, who your friends are, where (and whether) you go to college, etc. It's like a universal S.A.T. score. The story follows a high school senior named Cady, whose own score is dropping because her best friend has started dating an "unscored" boy. The novel is scheduled for publication some time in 2011.
Since the holidays are around the corner, what novel(s) do you recommend for as a gift?
Right now, I'm reading Jonathan Lethem's Chronic City, which I'm quite enjoying. I also loved Justine Larbalestier's Liar and Robin Wasserman's Skinned and Crashed.
What is your favourite part of the holidays?
I love Christmas lights. The rest of Christmas leaves me a little cold, but I love the way the city puts on its brightest, sparkliest attire to celebrate the season. And, of course, I love when it snows. Snow is magical.
Lastly, please give us an interesting fact about yourself that not many know of!
I think my weirdest trait is that I am deathly afraid of butterflies.