LA Times brings us a recap of DIVERGENT author Veronica Roth at the LA Times Bookfest this month, plus we've included some photos of Veronica signing st the event and video of the talk:
In between some rants and
caveman talk, "Divergent" trilogy author Veronica Roth explained Sunday
how she came up with the female protagonist of her dystopian
Roth, 25, spoke at the Los Angeles Times
Festival of Books with Leigh Bardugo, whose books include "Shadow and
Bone" and "Siege and Storm." Bardugo set the stage by explaining why
young adult novels such as "Divergent" are such hits.
"That feeling never goes away of finding somewhere to belong," she said.
from the five groups of people in Roth's books, here's a look at what
Roth shared about her process, characters and message to young adult
Amity (the peaceful): Four, the male partner-in-crime for Tris, was purposely well-balanced with the heroine.
"I didn't want one person's strength to require the sacrifice of the
other," Roth said. "I think there can be two strong people but they have
to be complicated people. I think it's important to show he's a human
being, not just man candy."
In that same vein, Four isn't a typical male. He respects Tris,
respects women, Roth said, toning herself in a caveman voice. "That's
appealing," she said.
At the core of her series, Roth said, is a
reversal of the typical character arcs of males and females.
Traditionally, female characters keep things, such as family, together.
Male characters go through a journey of becoming a fully formed adult.
Instead, in "Divergent," Tris is becoming her "fully realized self."
really embrace who she is, find her strength and see what she really
believes in," Roth continued. "Tris' voice is hard, direct
straightforward and repetitive -- like a man's."
Four, the male,
speaks "poetic stream of consciousness, and he doesn't hold things
back," Roth said. "It was like a playground for my mind."
(the brave): Roth considers herself fairly tall, but she wanted Tris to
be the opposite. Getting that to work in the book required the help of
editors. "I kept having to edit over parts where she probably couldn't
see over crowds," she said. "I never have to really deal with that."
the recently released movie version of the first book, the contrast
between actress Shailene Woodley and the actors made Woodley look
appropriately small, Roth said.
"I was surprised to meet the
male cast, because all the male actors were so huge," she said. "They
made the cast taller around Shailene, and that was important because her
physicality is so important to her growth."
Erudite (the intelligent): Roth said it's not her role to tell people
what the point of her books is. "The last thing you need is me to stand
over you shaking my finger and telling you what to believe," she said,
noting she wrote the first book at the age of 21.
books will guide you to ask questions," Roth said. "But I don't want to
be the one telling you the definitive lesson."
She also had harsh
words for "intellectual elites" who bash young adult books, their
authors and fans. "The last thing young adults need to hear is what they
like is silly," she said. "What were you doing as a child? Smoking a
pipe and reading the 'Illiad?' "
Abnegation (the selfless): How
did Tris become such a generous yet fierce character? Roth started with a
voice. Specifically, she wanted a character [Tris] to be able to deliver a line from
the ancient play Agamemnon, "My will is mine. I will not make it soft
As a result, the story is truly about Tris -- not Four.
"It didn't work from Tobias' environment," she said, referring to
Four's given name. "It didn't feel surprising. 'Man leaves home and
becomes more manly.' That's everywhere."
And where does that one
line from Agamemnon take Tris? "She makes this choice .. ultimately
she's saying this faction-before-blood stuff is messed up," Roth said,
referring to the guiding virtue of the dystopian Chicago's leaders.
(the honest): Dropping candidly into her own development, Roth said she
grew out of playing make-believe in her Chicago backyard at the age of
11. The kids in the neighborhood were giving her those puzzled looks.
But she hadn't grown up playing make-believe. So she started putting her
worlds on paper, writing everyday. Her first full piece was a rip-off
of "Lord of the Rings," she said.
"I was so emotionally
involved, my heart would be beating really fast and my face would be
flushed red," she said. Her mom thought she was writing erotica.
writing, Roth also spent much of the early 2000s reading "Harry Potter"
just like other teens. Drawing laughs from the hundreds in the crowd,
she insisted Hermione should be pronounced "Her-me-one."
ended the morning on a serious note, saying that she's humbled as a
reader now knowing how tough it can be to put out a book. Roth just
finished copy edits on her next book, "Four," which features four short
stories about the character Four. It's scheduled for release July 8.