Exclusive Blog Interview with Author Lili Wilkinson – author of The Boundless Sublime


A dark YA tale of what it’s like living in a cult.. 4.5 stars

The Boundless Sublime is a shocking and dark tale of the exploitation of a young person’s vulnerability. It starts off with our main character, Ruby, living with guilt due to an unfortunate incident at home which has torn her world apart. Her world was bleak until she met Fox – but Fox is not what he seems… In Ruby’s most vulnerable moment, she fell into the sinister cult called ‘The Boundless Sublime’. It all started innocent until the cracks began showing in their web of lies. It is up to Ruby to discover the truth for herself and perhaps be her own salvation.

I really enjoyed reading this book, it was confronting and somewhat morbid but highly relevant. It felt like this could happen to anyone at any time. The story takes you through what it is like living in a cult – the brain washing that goes on and the helplessness of the victims. At a deeper level, the story tells a tale of self discovery, courage, love and redemption. There are definitely heart felt moments amongst the horrific incidents that happen in the story. There is a big twist at the end that I really did not see coming and I found it really shocking – my first thoughts were “NO!! how could this happen!?”

This book is a great read for inquisitive minds and suitable for readers who want a glimpse into the dark side of YA. It is very well written – 4.5 stars!!!

Let’s get to know the author of this great book – Lili Wilkinson!!!

1. What is the name of your debut novel – what other novels have you written? 
I’ve written ten books in all!

The Boundless Sublime (Allen & Unwin 2016)

Green Valentine (Allen & Unwin 2015)

The Zigzag Effect (Allen & Unwin 2013)

Love-Shy (Allen & Unwin 2012)

Pocketful of Eyes (Allen & Unwin 2011)

Pink (Allen & Unwin 2009)

Angel Fish (Black Dog Books 2009)

The (Not Quite) Perfect Boyfriend (Allen & Unwin 2008)

Scatterheart (Black Dog Books 2007)

Joan of Arc (Black Dog Books 2006)

2. When did you first get the inspiration to start writing novels?
I’ve always wanted to be a writer, since before I could read. I’ve always loved books and stories, and honestly could never think of a better job that one could have. But I started writing novels when I was working at the Centre for Youth Literature – being surrounded by so many amazing books and authors, it was impossible for me to not want to join in. 

3. Have you ever experienced writer’s block? How do you overcome it?
The thing about being a writer is that it’s still a job, and nobody in the world wants to do their job 100% of the time. There are many times when I’d rather be watching TV or playing with my toddler or eating everything in the fridge. And sometimes that feels like writers block. But it isn’t. It’s procrastination. Procrastination isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Sometimes it’s your brain telling you to take a break. Sometimes it isn’t, and you have to just suck it up and get back to work. But the first kind – the being-stuck-with-plot kind, I totally have a fix for that. Write a list of 15 ways to solve your problem – no matter how stupid or ridiculous they are. 15 possible solutions. I guarantee one of them will work. There are two kinds of writers block. One is the real kind, when you can’t figure your way out of a plot problem, and the other is just procrastination.

4. Is there a particular reason why you have written novels for the Young Adult (YA) genre?
Because YA is the best! I read mostly YA. It’s plot- and character-driven. It’s intense. It bends genres in ways adult fiction doesn’t. It can be profound and funny at the same time. And it’s much better at writing rad feminist female characters than adult fiction is.

5. When you’re not writing, what could we find you doing?
I have a two-year-old, so I’m often doing parenting stuff. Or reading. Or watching TV. Or gardening. Or procrastinating on the internet.

6. Who is your favourite author and why?
Diana Wynne-Jones. I discovered her as a pre-teen and have adored her books ever since. She writes my favourite kind of fantasy – where magic bleeds into the real world – and every time I reread one of her books, I discover something new.

7. What is the best piece of advice you were given as an author?
Actually the best piece of writing advice I was ever given was from my year nine English teacher. She came into class on the first day of school and wrote SUCCINCT on the whiteboard. It’s stuck with me.


1. How did you research the topic of cults i.e. was it based on real cult experiences?Definitely. I did a lot of research into real-life cults and new religious movements. The Institute is kind of a mix of a few different ones – I just picked the aspects I found the most fascinating and blended them together. (you can learn more about my research from my Youtube series Let’s Talk About Sects!)

2. What was the most difficult part of writing The Boundless Sublime?
I thought it was going to be writing dark, as it isn’t something I’ve done before. But I started it just after I had a baby, and it was such a relief to pour all my own darkness and exhaustion into the book, leaving me refreshed and cheerful for the real world! I’ve never found a book so easy to write as The Boundless Sublime – it came together so perfectly. The only hard part was stopping all the cult research… oh, and coming up with a title.

3. How did you come up with the “Boundless Sublime” cult name?
I knew the name of the cult would be the title of the book. AND I SUCK AT BOOK TITLES. The cult was variously called Panacea, The Subtle Body, The True Family, Quintessence and about a million other things. But I kept going back to the idea of sublimination – I like the double meaning where sublime is something really joyous, and sublimate is to turn something from a solid to a gas without passing through a liquid state. I knew I wanted the cult to have some weird beliefs about alchemy, so it seemed right. The Boundless part came after about three days of staring at a thesaurus. Did I mention I suck at titles?

4. The story had some creepy elements, as a writer, what is you top tip for writing creepy but heartfelt moments?
Creepy, awful, dark stuff is great. But it can’t be gratuitous. It has to serve the story. There’s one particularly awful thing that Ruby does in the book (no spoilers), that I knew I wanted to include. But I spent a lot of time making sure it really needed to be in the book. That it worked as a changing point in Ruby’s attitude towards the Institute.

5. How did you come up with the names of the Family Members? Are they Greek names? They are names of famous historical alchemists from all over the world.

6. In the book, Ruby had gone through so much in the story, was it an emotional roller coaster for you while writing her story?
Yes, but definitely not in a bad way. I found it an extremely cathartic experience. I confess I was a bit gleeful writing some of the horrid bits.

7. What message would you like to impart to YA readers to take from The Boundless Sublime?
Living can be messy and complicated. Don’t let anyone try and tell you they have all the answers you’re looking for.

Interview and Review compiled by NJ and Annie – Special thanks to Lili Wilkinson for taking the time to be part of our exclusive blog interview.

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