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New author we love: Elizabeth Laban

Elizabeth Laban’s young adult novel, The Tragedy Paper, is a beautifully-written story that has captured the attention of everyone from New York Times bestselling author Jennifer Weiner to Booklist. This debut novelist has intrigued SheKnows too — making her the newest author we love. She chats with us about everything from the most shocking thing about her road to publication to the books she’s loving now.

Elizabeth Laban

Sheknows: Tweet us a blurb of your novel. (In 140 characters or fewer, of course!)

Elizabeth Laban: Students at a prep school study classic literary tragedies while their own tragedy unfolds. #tragedypaper

SK: The premise of your book is so unique. How did you come up with the concept?

EL: I have always been intrigued by young adult books, and really wanted to write one. When I was in high school, I wrote an extensive paper about Greek and Shakespearean tragedy that stuck with me. About three years ago, my agent Uwe Stender suggested I read Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s The Sorrows of Young Werter. I loved the story, and especially the structure of the story. I started playing around with ways to modernize and retell it. Being one of the classic tragedies, it sparked my memory of the paper I wrote in high school, which, in turn, brought back that whole world for me. It all started coming together in my mind and The Tragedy Paper was born.

SK: As a debut author, what was your biggest surprise during your road to publication?

The Tragedy Paper by Elizabeth Laban

EL: My biggest surprise was how long it took between the time my editor made an offer, and the time the book appeared in stores. It was a solid two years. I was so eager to get it out there that it seemed like forever, but I can see now that it was a luxury to have a publisher take such good care of the manuscript and not rush the process. Along the same lines, I was also surprised by how many times the book went through the copyediting process.

SK: What author(s) are you loving right now?

EL: One of the most memorable books we read this year as a family was R.J. Palacio’s Wonder. I read it to myself first because I couldn’t wait, and then out loud to my kids (ages 11 and 13), and I just loved it both times. We still talk about Auggie quite regularly and quote from the book. Another debut novel I recently bought and look forward to reading soon is Maggie Shipstead’s Seating Arrangements.

SK: What’s up next for you?

EL: I am working on another young adult novel. This one is from a girl’s point of view, and it takes place in a city. There is a school, but not a boarding school. And there is an important classroom assignment that features prominently in the story.

Read about more authors who have captured our attention

New author we love: Megan Mulry
New author we love: Jessica Grose
New author we love: Lydia Netzer

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