"about veronica roth", "divergent author", "insurgent author"
Divergent Book and Movie Fansite
Veronica Roth is a twenty-two-year-old debut author and a recent graduate of Northwestern University's creative writing program. While a student, she often chose to work on the story that would become Divergent instead of doing her homework. Now a full-time writer, she lives near Chicago.
Apart from writing and reading, I like to cook. I'm interested in psychology (especially as it relates to personality, brain chemistry, and group dynamics), biology, theology (lately, the writings of John Calvin and Augustine), fashion, contemporary art, and poetry (Edna St. Vincent Millay is a favorite), among other things.
From Publisher's Weekly:
On a long drive from her home near Chicago to Carleton College in Minnesota—which she attended as a freshman before transferring to Northwestern—Veronica Roth saw on a billboard an image of a person leaping off a building.
"I wondered why someone would do that," she recalls. "At the time, I was also taking Intro to Psych and we were studying the treatment of phobias by repeated exposure to fears."
From those musings came the underlying concept of Divergent (HarperCollins/ Tegen, May), Roth's thought-provoking debut set in a crumbling
dystopian Chicago, where citizens are divided into five factions depending on their beliefs, passions, and loyalties. When the main character, Beatrice Prior, or "Tris," forsakes her Abnegation family to become a Dauntless, she must confront her deepest fears, guard an ominous secret, and, incidentally, leap off a few buildings.
Roth began writing around the time she got too old to play pretend in the backyard. After reading the entire Animorphs series and Ender's Game a number of times, she knew exactly what genre she was headed for, and what age group. "I never had the same enthusiasm for an adult book that I do for young adult literature," she explains. "I have a deep respect and love for this genre and these readers."
Roth started writing Divergent while in college, originally from the perspective of Tobias, Tris's mentor and love interest. But Tobias's voice didn't feel quite right. So Roth switched to a strong-willed female narrator. "I knew that Tris would not be nearly as compelling if she was perfect," Roth says. "Her flaw became her lack of compassion."
Which sometimes made Tris a difficult protagonist to like. But Roth believes that having your character make unpopular choices is a "weird sacrifice that's always for the greater good. The stronger a character is, the more flawed she has to be."
While shopping around a different manuscript as she polished Divergent, Roth caught the eye of Joanna Stampfel-Volpe of Nancy Coffey Literary. Though Stampfel-Volpe turned down that first project, she loved Roth's writing and invited her to submit other manuscripts. After reading Divergent, Stampfel-Volpe quickly signed her on. An offer from HarperCollins came only four days after Divergent went out on submission.
Roth says working with editor Molly O'Neill has been a match made in heaven: "We have these direct message conversations on Twitter. Molly will send me a link and we'll tweet about how it relates to Divergent. It's not just a job for either of us."
Today, Roth is a full-time writer living in Evanston, Ill. At 22, and a recent graduate from Northwestern's writing program, she fully appreciates Divergent's quick rise to success; HarperCollins printed 200,000 copies, and Divergent became an immediate bestseller. In the second volume in the Divergent trilogy, due out next spring, Roth promises readers more about the factions that weren't highlighted in the first book, and a lot more of Tris and Tobias.
Having readers react to Divergent has been a treat for Roth, though like many authors, she's had to overcome the initial anxiety of being in the spotlight. On a recent Dark Days of Summer Tour—with fellow authors Aprilynne Pike, Ellen Schreiber, Tara Hudson, Josephine Angelini, and Amy Plum—she met hundreds of teen and adult fans across five states. "Seeing people who are actually reading your book and listening to the wide variety of reactions they have to it," Roth says, "is really special."
When asked what message she hopes readers take away from her book, Roth is definite. "I want people to come away from my book with questions," she says. "Questions about virtue and goodness. Not answers."
Official Veronica Roth websites:
What we have learned about Veronica Roth from interviews and fan Q&A sessions:
What inspires Veronica?
Veronica has been writing since 6th grade. She writes because she likes to and because she’s likes working through things in her head. Tris’ entire struggle is overcoming fear and that’s also Veronica’s issue. Veronica has Anxiety problems. Veronica says writing about the problem, helps with the problem.
How has Veronica's childhood influenced her writing?
Veronica's mother read to her every night when she was young, Veronica would say that’s where her love of books began. If Veronica ever complained about being bored, her mother would say, “boredom is not allowed,” so I guess you could say that the rules of Veronica's house demanded that she be creative. It worked, though, because she used to go outside every day and invent these elaborate worlds and scenarios in her head, and when she grew too old for playing pretend, she started to write everything down instead. Veronica thanks her Mom for her creativity.
What is Veronica's writing style?
Veronica doesn’t like to outline and when she does," it hurts". She writes out of order. She wrote all the scenes with Four first. He was compelling to her. Then she wrote the beginning and filled in the gaps. "Sometimes you’re just in the mood for zip-lining off the Hancock building".
Veronica's favorite character to write?
This answer has changed a couple times. But do we blame Veronica? With such great characters it's hard to choose. Her favorites are FOUR and Tris. FOUR because he is compelling and what inspired the first 30 pages. But recently she has mentioned that her favorite to write is Tris.
Why did Veronica pick Tris' age?
Veronica picked the age16 because it seemed like an awful idea to make someone decide who they are and who you will be forever at such a young age.
Does Veronica read her book reviews?
In the beginning she used to, but now she thinks they harm her ability to write.
What advice does Veronica give to aspiring authors?
Veronica says, "Learn to accept criticism". She had a writing proffessor in college that gave her a metaphor – The backpack. When you’re writing a story it’s like climbing a mountain. You don’t pack a hairdryer (aka extraneous details that never come into play – what they ate for breakfast), because it’s not useful to climbing up the mountain. Veronica had to cut a lot of those details out of her writing, but it's made her a better writer because of it.
What has Veronica done that was "crazy" in the name of research?
Veronica had to come up with crazy stunts for the Dauntless to do in Divergent. Veronica thinks the craziest is hide-and-seek in the Hancock building instead of zip-lining off the top like Tris.
What is Veronica most fearful of and why?
Rollercoasters. Heights. Spiders. Bugs of all kinds. But seriously, things that are difficult to predict, or that I can’t control myself—those tend to scare me more than anything else. Sometimes it’s frightening to let go and trust that I can deal with whatever happens. But life has a way of forcing me to do just that.
What was the most surprising thing to happen to Veronica since she was published?
Before the book deal happened she wrote off-hand about how she’d jump in a pool of marshmallows. She decided to go for it in a bathtub – she went to Jewel and Dominick’s and got a bunch of marshmallows. Her mom told her she needed at LEAST 50 bags. She ended up with 42 bags, but it was all she needed. Veronica and her editor filled the tub with marshmallows and she and her editor jumped in. She became a "marshmallow person" and it took forever to clean up. It stuck to everything! Here's a video.
What was your first reaction to your cover art?
When Veronica first got the cover art, it looked almost exactly like it does now. It wasn’t originally the Chicago skyline. When she first got it she was all “this is not Chicago, they’ll know”. She was very happy about it, she didn’t think having a face/girl on the cover would be good because there’s a lot of action stuff on there…and putting a girl on the cover would exclude a lot of people. The symbol is in the book so to see it in front of her was awesome and she loves it.
What book(s) changed your life and why?
I could probably list books for days, so I’ll just list a few favorites: The Giver by Lois Lowry, Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card, A Wrinkle In Time by Madeleine L’Engle, the Animorphs series by K.A. Applegate, 1984 by George Orwell, the Bible, Gilead by Marilynne Robinson, Juliet by Andras Visky (which is a play, but I think it still counts). Some have taught me about writing, but even if they didn’t, they all inspired me, challenged me, encouraged me, and guided me in different ways. I don’t think books have ever solved my problems or made my decisions for me, but they bring me out of myself and make me ask myself questions, and that’s life-altering enough.