Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Interview: Veronica Roth Talks About Tris & Four's Relationship in ALLEGIANT

Thanks to RTBookReviews for sharing this great interview with Veronica Roth, who talks about Tris & Four in Allegiant, and the reason behind her 'Be Brave' parting words:

Q: Nature versus nurture is an important theme in Allegiant. Which do you think is more powerful, nature or nurture? Do you think your life is predetermined by your genes?

I think it’s really an even combination, at least in my own self-analysis, the ways in which both nature and nurture have influenced the person I’ve become, and the people around me.

Such as?

In my own life, my family has a history of anxiety disorders, or, we think so. I refer to this as the nervous gene. Because a lot of my aunts and uncles are a little bit nervous, some of my cousins, my grandfather, me and my brother — but not my sister. So you can kind of see how the genetic nervousness gets passed on. However, I learned in my reading that unless you have some kind of provoking event when you’re a child, even if you have the gene for anxiety, so to speak, then it won’t get activated. So there’s plenty of people walking around who could be anxious, but just aren’t, because nothing particularly bad happened to them when they were young.


Q: There’s a lovely passage where Tris talks about choosing Tobias over and over again. It almost sounds like marriage vows. Tell us how that passage came to be.

It definitely comes from what I believe about a healthy and good and beneficial relationship. My sister just got married and part of her vows said, “I promise not to leave you, but to choose you,” and I thought that was really wonderful. It was something that I think about a lot. But also, for Tris and Tobias’ relationship, it felt very natural for her to have those thoughts. Because they’ve been through these really intense situations together, and these incredible challenges. And the two of them and their personalities colliding over and over and over again. And she realizes that this illusion of natural compatibility in which people just work, and they never have to fight each other or make a decision to stay together, that that’s not really a real expectation, and if she wants to stay with him, she’s going to have to choose him, and he’s going to have to choose her. Every day. And so it felt very natural, as well as jiving with my internal sense of what a good or healthy relationship was like.


Q: Tris and Tobias have a great relationship. Tell us how that came about.

It comes from what I was interested in exploring in their relationship, which was extraordinary respect. There’s a place for broken relationships in YA, I don’t think that that’s a bad thing to have, but I just wanted this to be the best, most stable thing that she had. Not because she needed him, or because they were dying and in love with each other, can’t live without each other, not because of that. But because this is like a really good, stable friendship. And it is also romantic. But mostly, at the end of the day, they’re just really good friends who love each other. Not that they never suffer or have problems, but they’re always there for each other. It was really interesting to me and really fun to grow and expand their relationship as it went on. They’re two flawed people, and you push flawed people together and you’re going to have a problem sometimes. It was really interesting to me to figure them out and to continue to find places of tension to explore, and to make the relationship interesting, as the series goes on. It was a really interesting challenge and gratifying to me as the writer.


Q: There’s also a great deal of talk of ancestry in Allegiant. Do you think your lineage influences you?

It’s kind of two different understandings of how it works. There’s Tris’, which is a little more positive, her relationship with her parents and background is one of respect, she’s very curious and enjoys the process of discovery. Tobias kind of feels like he inherited all of his brokenness, and all of his damage from the people who came before him. [Looking at his ancestry], he’s like, these are the people who passed pain down to me, through the generations. To him the background is like a horrible skeleton in the closet, almost. To her, it’s like a sort of treasure chest she gets to open up and explore.


Q: At the end of your acknowledgements in Allegiant, you tell your fans to always “Be brave.” Why did you choose those as your parting words?

I think my most meaningful experiences since the trilogy began have been when the readers come up to me in line and they tell me about their anxiety or their fear or the way in which they’ve been inspired to take charge, or go to therapy, or stuff like that. That’s really meaningful to me, especially as someone who really struggles with anxiety. It’s wonderful to hear. It’s like in a small way the words that I wrote about fear could help them, or kind of spark something in them — I don’t know how much, because books are not therapy. Go to actual therapy. But those have been really wonderful, really touching experiences for me, and you know, I get all teary eyed when I meet people who have had them.
“Be brave:” It’s important for every teenager to hear. Even those teenagers who seem like they have it together all the time pretty much don’t, 100 percent of the time. Bravery is important to them, and to everyone really.

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