Roth at the film premiere of Divergent in California on March 18, 2014
|Born||Veronica Anne Roth
(1988-08-19) August 19, 1988
New York City, New York
|Occupation||Novelist and short story writer|
|Alma mater||Northwestern University (2010)|
|Genre||Young adult, dystopian|
|Notable works||Divergent trilogy|
|Spouse||Nelson Fitch (m. 2011)|
I think everyone’s a little afraid of being part of a trend, because you get compared to each other. Writers tend to have a lot of camaraderie, and when you’re constantly compared to someone else, it kind of damages that camaraderie, but I think this is a great trend. I’m honored to be a part of it in many ways.
Maybe it’s a little depressing to think that my vision of a perfect world is actually so messed up, but I think it means that I don’t really understand what ‘perfect’ is.
In my own relationships, I know that I should break up with someone who doesn’t encourage me to be strong and make my own choices and do what’s best in my life, so if you’re dating someone who doesn’t want you to be the best person you can be, you shouldn’t be dating them.
I know exactly what it’s like to stand on top of a tall building or in a high place and look down and go, ‘Ohhhh my God.’ I try to get into that place every time I write a scene like that. And definitely when I write the action scenes, I get overheated and my heart goes really fast. I get very involved.
‘Divergent’ was my utopian world. I mean, that wasn’t the plan. I never even set out to write dystopian fiction, that’s just what I had when I was finished. At the beginning, I was just writing about a place I found interesting and a character with a compelling story, and as I began to build the world, I realized that it was my utopia.
When you’re a teenager, everything seems like the end of the world, and I don’t think that’s necessarily a silly thing. You’re waking up and becoming aware that the world has problems and those problems affect you, whereas when you’re young they don’t seem to affect you that much even if you’re aware of them.
I love ‘Harry Potter.’ I’m a huge nerd – I would dress up if I could.
As a teenager, I put a lot of pressure on myself, and a lot of that, for me, was about finding a moral high ground. As I’ve grown up, I’ve decided to abandon that because it made me judgmental and also stressed me out.
When you’re a writer, you hear your internal critic, and that’s really hard to get over. And then sometimes you hear critiques from classmates and stuff. But when a book comes out, it’s just hundreds of opinions and you have to learn to separate out the ones you want to listen to or figure out many you want to listen to.
There’s really no way to be perfect. Perfectionism is a silly trait to have, so in a lot of ways that inspired the world of ‘Divergent,’ in which everyone is striving toward that ideal and falling short of it.
I don’t really think about what’s ‘age appropriate’ for my audience because I think they can handle quite a bit, but I do try to think about what’s honest and true to my characters who have grown up in situations where they’ve been taught to handle these things very carefully and that they’re very powerful.
If you actually succeed in creating a utopia, you’ve created a world without conflict, in which everything is perfect. And if there’s no conflict, there are no stories worth telling – or reading!
I want people to come away from my book with questions. Questions about virtue and goodness. Not answers.
It’s not that I ever sat down and outlined a trilogy, but I always have a sense of what size an idea is when I start it.
I think it’s fascinating to look at a world that an author has created that has sort of stemmed from the world now, and usually dystopian books point out something about our current world and exaggerates a tendency or a belief.
I really like the group tour better than going it alone. First of all, it kind of takes the pressure off a little. I’m not a naturally extroverted person. But I also like it because it brings in new fans. For example, someone who really loves Aprilynne Pike’s books might pick up mine and vice versa.
I think it’s a human tendency that’s been around for a while to try to be as good as possible to prove your worth.
I always appreciate people’s opinions, but sometimes I have to take a step back and remember why I’m writing and what I want to do with it. Shutting out the voices is difficult but it’s been good for me.
People make me key chains… someone attached a Dauntless symbol to a silver pen. That one is what I use to sign books. I use that a lot. I like to keep them around because they remind me that people are waiting for these books and that they really love them. It gives me motivation in those times when I’m not feeling very motivated.
Seeing people who are actually reading your book and listening to the wide variety of reactions they have to it, is really special.