Exclusive YALL Fest Interview with Marie Lu

Our very own Ellie attended YALL Fest last week and was lucky enough to discuss CHAMPION with Marie Lu!

Why did Marie choose build her world the way she did? What inspired the ending? What happened to the characters we all know and love after the epilogue? We asked it all!

Please note that the majority of the questions contain SPOILERS. The spoiler-free questions are above the cut and the spoilers are hiding under the cut. READ AT YOUR OWN RISK!

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Now that your final book in the trilogy is out, how do you feel about it being out there and being finished with it?

Marie Lu:
It feels really weird! I always compare it to how parents must feel when they send their kids off to college because on one end you’re really relieved, like “Oh thank God, they got out of the house and they’re off to do their own thing!” And at the same time, you’re sad because they’re out of the house and now it’s like an empty nest. I feel a little bit like that. I feel like my characters are not mine anymore and they’ve gone off to live in the real world. Wherever that is! (laughs) Wherever characters go off after stories end. And I feel like they’re not with me anymore and they’re off somewhere. They kind of belong to the public now. It’s kind of a weird, wistful feeling.

What have you learned about the whole writing process throughout the series and would you change anything if you could start over?

ML:
I’ve learned that writing changes over time, especially for someone like me who’s a pants-er. And I realize that characters change too. When I first started writing June, i didn’t identify with her at all so I had a lot of trouble getting into her head. She’s smarter than me and it’s really hard to write a character that’s smarter than yourself, so I would have to stop constantly to do research about her chapters. Towards the end of it, I kind of realized that I had been writing about myself all along. Not that I have her genius analytical side or intelligence, but that she kind of reacts to situations the same way that I do. We deal with grief and stress and panic the same way. I began putting bits and pieces of that into her and I didn’t realize until the last book when I really started to connect. At the end of it, I think June is my favorite person out of everybody because I really understood and sympathized with her. So it was like evolution for me too.

What it one thing you want readers to take away from this series?

ML: I’d like them to take away that even if you live in a very dark place, you have the potential to change that and that you can come out of it and be okay. I think that was something I really wanted Day to experience because he, more than anybody, came from a place of such hopelessness and he was so poor, but he managed to come out of that. I get a lot of reader emails from people who struggle with real life issues and I want them to know that you can make it out of anything like that.
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LEGEND Author Marie Lu Talks CHAMPION With USA Today *Spoilers*

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Marie Lu has obviously been quiet about where the Legend trilogy will end up in the final book, Champion.  And those of you who read Prodigy will know that there may be some trepidation going into the third book.  Well, I can’t say that there would be any less trepidation from what she stated in the USA Today article.  In fact, some people may be downright scared for what will happen with our favorite character(s), especially with a statement like “I hope people still like me after the ending!  I’m honestly not entirely sure if I’m going to be getting a lot of hate mail, but we’ll see what happens.”

If you are scared, don’t worry, because I’m right there with you!  But hey, at least you have until November to prepare yourself mentally for another piece of your heart possibly breaking.  Here’s some of what was discussed in that interview:

WARNING: Spoilers involved if you haven’t read Prodigy yet.  

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Marie Lu Answers Questions About LEGEND and PRODIGY

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Marie Lu, author of the Legend series, spent time with Hypable answering some really cool questions, and we have some of them for you here to read!

So Legend is full of villains.

A lot of villains, yeah!

And everyone’s a villain, even if they’re the hero in a way. So how do you approach writing villains who are heroes, and villains who a villains?

That was something I really wanted to play with with Legend, was to have two antagonists who were also antagonists depending on who’s side you happen to be on. I’ve always been interested in that gray area, where people aren’t really good or bad and that good is very relative, so I sort of approached it by thinking, ‘What if I put myself in the villains shoes?’ So for June, she was very much Day’s antagonist the first half of the book – and beyond, and it was interesting to try to force myself to see it from her point of view, why Day would be her enemy and why, if you happen to be in her head, he would be the bad guy even though as the reader you know he’s not. So it was kind of fun to hop back and forth through the heads of those two.

And then there’s the people who are true in Legend, and there’s a couple of them. And that can be a little bit disturbing to get into because I have to put myself in the heads of people who are essentially psychopaths. But it’s interesting to explore that darker area. I always found those more interesting to write about than really 100% good, sympathetic people.

legendWhat was your initial inspiration for Legend, the first image that popped into your head?

I got the inspiration first when I was watching Les Misérables on TV, and I thought it would be really interesting to do a teen-aged version of the criminal verses detective story line. So that was the first spark for it, and that’s what started off the whole thing.

Oh, that’s cool! Were they singing in the original idea?

They were both boys in the original idea! I was just lifting directly off of Valjean and Javert… It evolved quite a bit, but that was the original idea.

Did June and Day develop in tandem for you, or was one complete before the other? How did that work?

Day was always in my head first, because he was the protagonist of a book I’d written back in high school, which never got published. So I always had him in my head as a character, but I didn’t know what story to put him in, and it wasn’t until I got the Les Mis idea that I knew I needed to find an equal-but-opposite match for him. So that was when June came to be. But now that I’ve been in their heads for a long time, they’ve sort of become equal in my head, and I see myself from June’s point-of-view a lot more.

What was it like to invent a dystopia that still seems eerily close to modern-day American life?

I drew from real-life dystopias that have already happened and are still happening now. I’m very interested in reading about dystopia and relative it can be. So if you’re living in a dystopian world, like in North Korea – or even in the US right now, some people might see it as a dystopia and we don’t even realize it, so that was something that definitely inspired a lot of things in Legend.

prodigy-book-coverYou basically push June and Day to their utter limits in Prodigy, it’s hard to imagine that things could get any worse.

Oh, well… yeah….

Oh! Okay! So what is it like to approach that and be like, “Sorry guys. No, it’s not getting better.”

Yeah, I don’t really mind putting them in horrible situations! It’s sort of enjoyable to just, you know, ruin their lives any way I can. I think really, I push them because I love them, because I want to see them grow. Because I think it’s a challenge to see how they react to really difficult situation. And it’s also just fun to write about!

Is there anything you wish you’d known when you started writing Legend?

No… if I could go back in time, I wouldn’t tell myself anything, because I really like that I experienced the whole thing with new eyes. It’s all part of the process, and I think if you find out stuff ahead of time, it kind of ruins that journey. So actually no, I don’t think I would’ve wanted to know anything in advance. I would’ve just discovered it along the way. I wouldn’t want to jinx anything! To have done something different and you come back to the present world and everything’s destroyed and the rats have taken over. So I’m glad I discovered it along the way.

Read the rest of the interview to find out about her writing process at Hypable.

Exclusive Comic-Con Interview with LEGEND Author Marie Lu

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During my stay at Comic-Con, I opted not to go to Hall H on Sunday, which pretty much gave me more freedom with my schedule, and thus I was able to set up an interview with the wonderfully talented author (and artist) Marie Lu.  Despite not being able to sit down and find a quiet place to talk, and being pretty much forced to stand in the middle of a crowded hallway during the interview, she was super gracious to give me a few minutes of her time to answer some questions about the Legend series and even some questions about her next series after Legend.

But before we did, I also got to fangirl a bit with her, since she got to see uber handsome Henry Cavill in person as he made an appearance at the Hard Rock Hotel on Saturday night, which you can see below.

She had to one-up herself with the following photo with the lovely Tom Hiddleston –

 

So, really, I was honored to spend time with this person who got to be in the same room as Mr. Cavill and Mr. Hiddleston.

Now onto the interview.

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