On May 17th, I had the great pleasure of attending The Dystopian Tour 2011, featuring authors Lauren Oliver and Veronica Roth. The event was held at Chapters Indigo at Yorkdale Mall in Toronto (one of three events in Ontario!), and was made possible thanks to Harper Collins Canada, Chapters Indigo, and Space TV.
Lauren was in town promoting her newest book, Delerium, while Veronica was here with her offering, Divergent, both of which have been getting a lot of buzz in the book community. Both young women were interviewed by Ajay Fry from Space TV, so the audience got to sit in on the interview then the floor was opened up to some fan questions.
Ajay started off with questions about inspiration. Lauren said she had read something from Gabriel Garcia Marquez saying that all writing was either about love or death. This got her thinking that the 'symptoms' of love can be quite similar to the symptoms of disease, so from there her story was born. Veronica
attributes Divergent to a psych class, where they had been discussing the psychology of fear, which became the basis of her first group "Dauntless". Her idea began along the line of fears being altered by a certain way of rewiring the brain, changing the way people think about them, and I would imagine, changing their reactions along the way.
On the subject of characters, Veronica said her characters are always a matter of trial and error. She began with a male 'voice' but it didn't work. Then she found Tris, which became a better fit for her novel. Lauren, on the other hand, allows her characters to speak to her, in essence, telling their own stories. I've heard this before and envy this type of writing, personally. She adds that novels are like dreams, where every character is really you.
Both ladies weighed in on selling of the movie rights and ebooks. Lauren is a little further in the movie development process than Veronica, but admitted she is glad that someone else will be taking over the task of writing the screen play. Lauren said that the movies are just "different expressions" from the books, though each will hopefully drive attention to the other, with each representation having its own merits. Veronica talked about the e-book movement, saying that as long as people like her were around (the kind that simply love the feel and smell of books), the hard copy won't go out of style.
Once the questions were drawn from the audience, one young girl stood up to ask the authors' opinions on society's conformities versus the ideals found within dystopian novels. After telling the questioner she should go to Harvard immediately, Lauren offered her opinion that humans should be constantly working to re-address their ideals. Sadly, the rest of her comment was lost while I was jotting down my notes. So much for my hardcore reporter status...
It was a great evening with two young authors on the rise. Veronica, while she held her own throughout the interview, seemed a bit more quiet in personality, admitting to being a SciFi geek growing up, reading books like Dune, 1984, and Ender's Game. Lauren, on the other hand, has easily adapted to her "New York Times Bestselling Author" title, and even offered up a song to those of us that were straggling around after all was said and done. Overall, this was a very entertaining event.
*Photos are courtesy of my daughter, Jordan, who did a great job considering she was using my iPhone. Next time she brings her own camera :-)