Lauren Thoman, debut author and pop culture writer, recently celebrated the release of I'll Stop the World, a time-bending mystery with a multigenerational, diverse cast and an 80s twist. The book is the first debut to be released by Mindy Kaling's Amazon imprint, Mindy's Book Studio, and Mindy said she fell in love with the book because it’s “fun and entertaining” and, at the same time, will make the reader think about “fate, the nature of existence, the power of forgiveness, and second chances." City Lifestyle caught up with Lauren to get the scoop on the book and learn more about her publishing experience.
CL: This is your debut book. Tell us about it!
LT: I’ll Stop the World is about a modern teenager who finds himself inexplicably transported back to the year 1985. He meets an 80s teenager, and together the two of them try to figure out why he's traveled back in time. Their best working theory is that he's probably there to prevent the mysterious deaths of his grandparents, which are due to occur exactly one week from when he arrives.
CL: How long did it take you to write it?
LT: I started writing in 2014, but I was working on it in between other projects. I signed with my agent, Holly Root (Root Literary), in 2014, and we tried to sell several books I wrote that all got to the finish line but then just couldn't get across. For a while, I thought writing fiction wouldn't be the path forward for me. In 2021, I decided to finish I’ll Stop the World. I checked myself into a hotel alone and shut myself in a room for a week with my computer. I made enough progress to get back into the story. It didn't take me long after that to finish it.
CL: After you finished, how long did it take for the book to sell?
LT: I gave it to my agent at the beginning of 2022, and we sent it out to editors in the middle of March 2022. It sold within two weeks. After, you know, just a very quick eight years and two weeks.
CL: Mindy’s Book Studio was established to celebrate emerging and diverse voices. What does it mean to be with an imprint with diversity as a focus?
LT: I've always been a voracious reader and I love TV and movies. Growing up, I rarely saw characters who looked like me. For a long time, I clung very tightly to Claudia Kishi from The Babysitters Club. She's Asian, and she was not a stereotype. I didn’t see a family that even remotely resembled mine until I was an adult. I was reading Celeste Ng’s first book, Everything I Never Told You, about a Chinese-American family. The dad is Chinese, and the mother is white, and that's what my family looks like. My grandparents were immigrants, and their Chinese culture was very, very important to them. I'd read hundreds of books and seen hundreds of movies and TV shows, and Ng's book made me feel seen in a way I never had before.
I'll Stop the World has a diverse cast, and those different types of diversity very much affect who those characters are and therefore affect their storylines, but it's not a book about those things. It just shows how different people of different backgrounds would navigate this fictional situation, and I love the idea that Mindy’s imprint exists to explore that whole gamut of experience and also gives that opportunity to creators from backgrounds that tend to be underrepresented in publishing.
CL: This book would translate well to the screen. Would you prefer a movie or a tv series?
LT: A TV series, one hundred percent! I love time travel movies, but I wrote this book after watching a whole bunch of limited series. That's the type of storytelling that informed the way I approached the book, and the result is a story that wouldn’t fit into a two-hour movie. You'd have to cut so much out it would be almost unrecognizable. The limited series format allows viewers to spend time with every character and move through the action of the plot. I’d like to see how it would be interpreted for visual media.
CL: Would you want to be involved with filming?
LT: I am too clingy with my stories, so I’d love to be involved. I've written about TV for a number of years and I think writing for TV would be amazing. I would not want to be a showrunner or the person in charge because I have no experience. If there were a writer’s room, I’d want to be in it. I'd want to be on set talking to the people that are in charge about what I envisioned, but I would want someone else at the helm who really knew what they were doing in that medium.
CL: What's next for you?
LT: The common advice in publishing is that the only thing you can control is the next thing, so I'm working on the next thing!
Thank you, Lauren, and we can't wait to read it!
Readers can follow Lauren's journey here:
“A whip-smart mystery with a vibrant cast of teenagers that gives off great ’80s vibes.”
"I’ll Stop the World is the mind- bendy time-travel eighties romp we all need right now." - David Arnold, New York Times Bestseller