Wednesday, 6 November 2013
NEW Interview with Veronica Roth at the Dublin ALLEGIANT Tour Event
We posted some of our favorite excerpts, but you can read the interview in full HERE.
CLICK: "Roth is an amiable interviewee, prone to fits of laughter and self-deprecation, and still seems somewhat amazed that the dystopia she created has captured the attention of so many people. She’s also very tall. And she was nice enough to sit while we talked about her inspiration, her involvement in the movies, choosing a faction for herself and jumping into bathtubs full of marshmallows.
This interview was conducted in person in Dublin on the 3rd of November 2013.
CLICK: Allegiant came out recently and the reaction has been… you could say passionate from the fans! Were you expecting that?
VR: I was expecting mixed reactions. I always expect mixed reactions but this time in particular. I was not expecting the intensity of the reactions! But I think that suggests people feel very strongly about certain characters and they love them and that’s a good sign for an author. Even if they hate what I did at least they cared about it. So that’s a good sign.
CLICK: Did you ever consider a different ending for Allegiant?
VR: It was a hard ending to write. It was very emotional. So sometimes I thought about not doing it, pulling back from it but ultimately I realised the motivation for that was fear. Which I try not to obey. So I picked the most honest ending possible.
CLICK: You’ve earned a reputation of sorts for killing off characters. Do you ever feel like the Joss Whedon of the literary world!?
VR: [laughs] No! Although that would be great! I think it comes from my experience as a child reading books where authors did that. Harry Potter for example, huge losses in that series. And it taught me to take the world of the book seriously. If you’re always saving people with the authorial hand of God then people don’t trust when dangerous things happen.
CLICK: You need consequences.
CLICK: Do you enjoy meeting the fans or can it be a bit overwhelming?
VR: No it’s great! Sometimes the numbers have been a little hard – just because that’s a long time to spend signing books. But I love hearing their reactions in person and their questions. It’s great.
CLICK: You also keep a very active blog is that a nice counterpoint to your regular writing?
VR: I think so. The reason it’s so important to me is because it’s easy for people to start thinking of you as a faceless force! Instead of a human being with likes and dislikes and thoughts on things. So I like the blog because it shows I’m human!
CLICK: Moving onto the movie, I believe the rights were sold before book was published?
VR: Right before the first book came out
CLICK: Do you just have to keep your expectations in check when something like that happens?
VR: Yes! Defensive pessimism is my official strategy! And it was the same strategy for my agent – just because they bought it doesn’t mean anything will happen. So throughout the whole process this good thing was happening but I didn’t want to say it meant anything. Until suddenly I was on set!
CLICK: That was when it became real?
VR: Yeah, on set. I was pretty confident before that point that they were actually going to make it but that was the moment that really brought it home.
CLICK: People make movies of all sorts of scale, there was no reason to assume Divergent was going to be on a massive budget. Were you surprised at all when it became the size it is? [$80 million]
VR: A little bit but I hoped for that because there are so many special effects involved in making it happen.
CLICK: And you don’t want them to be crappy!
VR: Right! The hope is they will look at least good enough to not be distracting. I spent most of my time with the visual effects guy and he was explaining to my about how they were going to do each shot and it was so interesting. Fascinating.
CLICK: Have you seen anything finished?
VR: Only the trailers that are out, I saw them early. But that’s all I’ve seen. But I was on the set a lot so I saw it being filmed, just not all finished. I don’t think they’re done!
CLICK: Making movies is such a long process, how involved were you at various stages. Were you most busy in pre-production?
VR: Yes. I talked extensively to the director Neil Burger and I read over the scripts. That was about the extent of my involvement honestly, because I was writing the third book and I wanted to focus on that. And I don’t know anything about making movies so I was like ‘I’m just going to trust you guys to do what you do best!’ So that was the situation but I have good relationship with the people working on it. So it feels like a good partnership so far, we’ll see how it turns out!
CLICK: You didn’t have a veto on anything like the script?
VR: No I don’t have any official power. But I don’t know what would have happened if I had any really grave objections to anything. I think they might have honoured them.
CLICK: And how much of the book do you visualise as you write? Was it easy to tell them what things look like?
VR: Sometimes that was hard because when I write… one of the things I’m working on is having more detail in the setting and the description. Because the book is very sparse in Divergent.
CLICK: Which is fine for a reader.
VR: Right. But when I imagine things its sort of like squinting [mimes squinting]. So I didn’t have such a clear image of what the characters would look like or the settings. And I actually think that worked to my advantage in the movie adaptation because they would do something I would say like [squints] ‘yeah, that works!’ It’s great!
CLICK: I love concept art for movies, what was it like to get concept art from your book!?
VR: Oh it was cool! Some of the things are a little different. For example the Dauntless headquarters, the Pit. It’s supposed to be this big underground cavern. In my head it’s very dark. But in the movie they wanted to be able to shoot there! So it’s sort of white but still in a creepy kind of way so when they showed me the concept art for it I was pretty amazed! It’s beautiful!
CLICK: And they have to design everything – costumes to logos and everything. Was there any detail that really surprised you?
VR: I don’t know. Everything was surprising because the level of detail was extreme. One of the best moments I had though was when they took my through the costume shop and the guy was trying to explain the world of the book to me! And he knew it really well and I was like ‘I know! I remember!’ But it’s nice because he cared!
CLICK: Has that been your experience with everybody, that they have a deep knowledge of the book?
VR: Yeah it seemed that way. They would do things for reasons that came from the book. Like the floors in the Abnegation houses were supposed to be reclaimed wood.
CLICK: So selfless!
VR: Yea, right! And not wasteful. So even the people figuring out the flooring in that house were very concerned.
CLICK: And during the casting were you sent headshots or anything?
VR: I was informed I would say. But I didn’t encounter a whole lot of conflict over it. Sometimes I would hear about things right before they were announced. But it was never unpleasant. I’m not sure again what would have happened if I’d freaked out about someone.
CLICK: They didn’t send you screen tests?
VR: The only screen-tests I saw, I saw one with Theo James and Shailene Woodley. And I saw it and I said ‘yes him – get him, he’s the best!’
CLICK: Do you really just see this as Neil Burger and Evan Daugherty’s take on your book? They can do what they like?
VR: It’s an interpretation and I’m very lucky that they’ve got people like Neil and Evan who took the book seriously and respected it as a work. They didn’t just trample it. Neil especially was very concerned with making the decisions that he made that were kind of extraneous to the story. Like how to show the world. The little details. He would ask me things to make sure that if he changed it it wouldn’t mess anything up. He was very concerned and I appreciated that.
CLICK: What were your thoughts then when you found out the characters would be older?
VR: I kind of liked that. It still feels true to the experience of the book because you have to make these big decisions at several points in your life. In the book they make them at 16 but in real life you could make them graduating from college. What am I going to be, who am I going to belong to? That kind of thing. And to me it meant that they were able to get more experienced people as actors. So I thought they would turn out pretty well.
CLICK: I read that you were on set quite a lot. Was there a standout moment when you saw something that was either very like or unlike the book?
VR: There was one… I wasn’t there when I shot that scene but they were shooting at the Ferris wheel on Navy Pier, which is THE Ferris wheel in the book. So it was an exact replica of what I had imagined. Because I did a lot of research for that scene about the ladder on the side of the Ferris wheel and this platform. And they did the whole thing, just like it was real. And it was incredibly weird to watch. Like, this is actually perfect!
CLICK: Well done!
VR: Yeah, good job guys!
CLICK: What was it like the first time you met Shailene Woodley? Was she in costume?
VR: No I met her a couple of weeks before filming. She was in town for training because it’s a very physical role. And she’s just incredibly warm welcoming person. She hugged me immediately! I have a little bit of a space, barrier issue but I strangely didn’t mind! Because she’s so nice. It’s weird.
CLICK: You mentioned you don’t really feel like Tris is that like you. Did she have questions?
VR: I don’t know if she ever asked me. She had read the books which I feel like is the best bible for the role. Everything that Tris thinks is on the page so she kind of got the character pretty well. As did Theo, I think he really understood the character of Four, what he is. But the person I talked to the most is Miles Teller who plays Peter. Because Peter is a little confusing as a character – a villain and not villain. So I talked to him – he’s also very chatty!
CLICK: He tends to play nicer people – not so much here!
VR: He was great at it though!
CLICK: The books are fairly dark and ruthless – are you hoping that level gets retained for a teen friendly film?
VR: I hope that they keep the sense of danger in this dystopian world. Because if it’s a perfect world then it’s not dystopian and it’s not right. And it would be strange that she’s losing so many friends if there’s no danger. So I’m hoping they retain it but if they scale back the violence a little bit I’m not going to complain about it. Because as I’ve grown older and as the series has gone on I think I’ve pulled back a little from that graphic level. Because it feels more real to me and more disturbing I guess.
CLICK: It would be hard to really maintain a PG-13 rating if you were very explicit about it.
VR: It was funny to see them evaluate it – like ‘how much blood can we have in this scene to still keep the rating?’
CLICK: But still be horrible!
VR: Yeah, but still be horrible. Get it but not quite!
CLICK: You’ve seen some of that back and forth?
VR: A little bit yea, it was fun [laughs]! I didn’t know that those conversations happened, I thought you just made it and then they rated it. But that’s not quite it.
CLICK: Do you think it’s hard to make a film for fans and newcomers? It’s going to be a bigger audience.
VR: I mean it depends on how open the fans are to seeing a different version. My hope is that they’ll embrace it. Sort of like Harry Potter fans embraced those movies. They’re not exactly like the books but they have enough of the details and the sense of the books to please fans. I don’t know what those movies would be like actually if you haven’t read it because I read them. I think it’s a hard balance to strike and it definitely depends on the source material, how adaptable it is. I guess we’ll see!
CLICK: This is your first interaction with the movie world, do you think you’d like to be a screenwriter?
VR: I don’t think so. It’s a totally different animal kind of? And it involves so much dialogue which is one of my least favourite parts. So it’s never been something that’s appealed to me all that much. I also just really like the book world and writing them. So I don’t want to split my focus.
CLICK: What would you consider a good book to movie adaptation? Apart from Harry Potter?!
VR: Oh man that’s a good question! I think some of the best ones are the ones you don’t remember are adapted from books!
CLICK: Ender’s game?
VR: I haven’t seen it yet! I read that as a kid so I’m interested to see how it goes. I’m trying to think of like… any. You asked the question and all movie adaptations fell out of my brain.
CLICK: Lord of the Rings is all I can think of.
VR: Lord of the Rings is not bad. Pretty good!
CLICK: Do you have a favourite genre of movies or movie?
VR: I mean my favourite genre is sci-fi, especially like early 90s… when did Bladerunner come out?
VR: That kind of age of sci-fi movies was great for me.
CLICK: You haven’t seen Ender’s game yet – are there any other movies you’re looking forward to over the next little while?
VR: I’m looking forward to, weirdly sharing a lot of the same cast, the Fault in our Stars adaptation. Which also has Shailene Woodley. Because I’ve been watching her now because we’ve met I’ve been paying a lot of attention so it looks like it’ll be really good and really moving. So I’m excited about that. It comes out next June.
CLICK: In your interviews, you’re always asked which faction you would belong to but that seems to change.
VR: It does
CLICK: And it seems to mostly be Abnegation these days?
VR: Yeah. I think that’s the one right now. I think I choose them depending on what I feel like I need.
CLICK: You need some time out?
VR: Maybe some simplicity. I’m hoping to grow into a humbler more selfless kind of person. And I feel like that would be a good faction.
CLICK: And you said you wrote the books originally because you wanted to be a braver person. That’s quite a transition.
VR: Right. I think they’re related!
CLICK: I had one question myself - where are the other people on the L trains and where are they going?!
VR: It’s mostly the Dauntless who ride them but the Factionless drive them. And that is an interesting question – where are they going… Because we learn throughout the series that they’re engaging in some kind of conspiracy on their own. Which comes out a lot more in the short stories that I’m writing, which has been part of the fun of them. Because the Factionless are far more prominent. Which is great.
CLICK: I had a couple of questions from the fans quickly. Would you ever consider writing a prequel focussing on Natalie Prior?
VR: That’s kind of what these shorts are. They take place right before Divergent and have a bit of overlap. There’s four of them and they’ll be bundled together and sold in February.
CLICK: And you mentioned somewhere there might have been alternative endings for the last book? VR: Alternate endings… I never wrote them. I considered them mostly from fear but never wrote them down.
CLICK: And finally, you’ve done so much over the last few years, are you finally going to take some time off?
VR: I will yes! I’m not going to write anything seriously for a while. Might play around, go on vacation.
CLICK: Some blog posts or videos!?
VR: Maybe. Maybe jump into some marshmallows again!
Allegiant is out now wherever books are sold. The Divergent movie arrives in cinemas in March 2014.
Posted by DivergentLife at 8:16 pm