As soon as we turned the last page on THE BEAUTIFUL LOST, we knew we had to catch up with the bestselling author Luanne Rice and learn more. The book tells the story of Maia, a girl struggling with depression who takes off on a road trip in search of her mother, using a book to help her find her way. 

What was the inspiration behind The Beautiful Lost?

Maia came to me in a dream, so real and true, and I knew I had to write her story.  She has experienced serious depression (so did I, when I was in high school) and I related and wanted to learn more about what was going on with her.  She missed her mother, who left three years ago, and she knows she has to find her soon—Maia feels herself getting close to the emotional edge again, and she needs answers about her mother.  It’s a way of saving herself.

How would you describe Maia in three words?

Determined, brave, vulnerable.

How about her crush and road trip partner Billy?

Loyal, mysterious, adventurous.

Such great qualities to take on a road trip! Why was a road trip story the perfect way to tell Maia and Billy’s story?

Maia is laser-focused on finding her mother.  The trip takes her and Billy along the New England coast and includes lobster rolls, college stations on the radio, sleeping in unexpected places, a deserted lighthouse, a girl who may-or-may not be clairvoyant, and an ancient book that shows them the way.  It was a way for them to get closer and tell each other the secrets that hold the key to everything.

Did you take this trip? We want to! The descriptions and locations were so vivid and unforgettable.

Thank you—I did! I love Canada and have taken lots of road trips to get there. Maia and Billy’s journey to Tadoussac is based on one of my favorites, but I’ve taken others through Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and from Banff through parts of British Columbia.

What inspired weaving a love of whales, constellations and sailing into Maia’s story?

I love everything about the ocean.  When I was a teenager I went to sea aboard RV Westward, a 100-foot schooner run by SEA (Sea Education Association).  We went to the Caribbean and studied humpback whales, observing their migration and behavior with their babies, and we practiced using a sextant to navigate by the stars.  Whales are so intelligent and emotional, devoted to their families.  And standing watch on deck at night, staring into the star-bright sky far from land, I began to read stories in the constellations.

Maia and Billy have different tastes in music but learn to appreciate each other’s choices in several so romantic and heartfelt scenes. Did you listen to any songs while you were writing or do you use music as inspiration while you write?

I had a loop of songs that included those mentioned in the novel, including Wagon Wheel by Old Crow Medicine Show.  And any road trip book playlist has to include Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen!

What do you hope readers take away from this book?

~That if you’re depressed, there’s help.  (It’s so important to know that, to realize you don’t have to—in fact you CAN’T go through it alone; I included a list of resources at the end of the novel.)

~That hitting the road with a friend can open new horizons and lead you to great lobster rolls in Maine.

~And that love comes in more forms than you can believe and really does change EVERYTHING.

We love everything about that. Thank you, Luanne!