Saturday 12 October 2013

Divergent Author Veronica Roth Featured in Michigan Avenue Magazine (Oct 2013)

Veronica Roth is featured in the October issue of Michigan Avenue. The author reveals she is taking up new hobbies and where she loves to write:

Veronica Roth wants to learn to cook.

“When I became an adult, I realized that I had never developed hobbies,” says the 25-year-old Edgewater resident. “I’m trying to learn a few things.”

Roth hasn’t exactly been slacking— the Northwestern University grad has already carved a wildly successful career out of her passion for writing, selling more than four million copies of the first two books in her young adult fiction series, Divergent, which has enjoyed an impressive run on The New York Times best-seller list. The trilogy, which follows 16-year-old Beatrice “Tris” Prior in a futuristic Chicago, will culminate with the October 22 release of the final novel, Allegiant.

“With the first book, Divergent, I just sat down and started to go; I wrote pieces from the middle and then worked back to the beginning,” says Roth, who writes every day. “With the second and third books, I had to learn how to out-line because the books became complicated. Allegiant was totally outlined before I wrote it.”

A native of Barrington, Roth has long been fascinated with science fiction and fantasy (“I was a rabid reader,” she says, recalling her father recommending Frank Herbert’s Dune, which in turn led Roth to the Animorphs series).

The Divergent trilogy was inspired by the concept of exposure therapy. “People with anxiety and phobias are repeatedly exposed to what scares them in a safe environment until their brain lets go of their conditioned fear response,” she says. “I wanted to write about a group of people who employ those techniques to become fearless.”

She started writing the first book during her senior year at Northwestern, crediting the creative writing program for helping prepare her for the postgraduate publishing world. “I liked how much group workshop and critique there was at Northwestern,” she says. “I had been very private with my work, and suddenly I had to expose it to 15 people. While people critique [your work], you’re not allowed to say a word to justify anything. Now I know to let go of the things I don’t find useful and to take in the things I do.”

With a film adaptation of Divergent hitting theaters in five months (produced by Summit Entertainment, A Lionsgate Company, the movie’s debut is set for March 21, 2014), Roth has a lot to take in. “It’s really exciting and really bizarre,” she laughs. Starring Shailene Woodley as Tris and Kate Winslet as Jeanine Matthews, the movie was filmed exclusively in Chicago, at locations including Michigan Avenue’s Pioneer Court, Navy Pier’s Ferris wheel, and Cinespace Chicago Film Studios. “Everything looks familiar,” says Roth, “but it’s a totally different animal seeing it in real life—people walking around in this world that I built.” Not that she’d have it any other way. “I’m doing exactly what I want to be doing,” says Roth, whose plan is to see where her writing takes her—after she conquers the kitchen, of course.

“Sauces,” she says, chuckling. “That’s the next step.”

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