Author Victoria Aveyard talks about her imaginary world in the ‘Red Queen’ series and fangirls over Steven Spielberg.
Move over, Suzanne Collins and Veronica Roth: dystopian YA has a new queen. A Red Queen, actually.
After a nuclear disaster of apocalyptic proportions, some of those who survived evolved to become Silvers, people with silver blood and superhuman abilities. The Silvers then took it as their right to rule over the unexceptional Reds of red blood, establishing a powerful monarchy and causing a great rift between the two classes. After centuries of laboring under terrible conditions and fighting on the frontlines of the Silvers’ war, the Reds are angry — and a revolution is brewing.
Think Hunger Games but more CGI. Game of Thrones but fewer boobs.
Only a year after the release of her debut novel Red Queen, 25-year-old Victoria Aveyard is already topping bestseller lists all over the world, going on book tours, signing babies’ foreheads and all that jazz. Young STAR got to chat up the screenwriter-slash-author about the world she’s built, Donald Trump, and treating the writing dream like a real job.
YOUNG STAR: Could you tell us how you went about world-building for Red Queen?
VICTORIA AVEYARD: World-building is probably my favorite thing about writing — creating these expansive stories that feel like if you open a door in a room in the middle of a scene, there’s something that’s going on on the other side, even though it’s not part of the story.
I did a couple of pages on the basic bones of the world. I have Excel graph sheets that tell me who has what ability, I have a little bank of names that I can pick from. Very basic. I discover a lot of the world as I’m writing it.
Did you have any particular worlds in mind when building this one?
Politically, I took a lot from Game of Thrones. I knew I wanted to do court intrigue, so obviously you have to have a monarchy in place for that. The reason I wrote this book the way it’s written is because (Game of Thrones) inspired me so much. I was also really inspired by Hunger Games.
With the Silvers and the Reds, I couldn’t help thinking of race issues. What are some of the socio-political issues you maybe wanted to draw attention to?
Because I grew up in a post-9/11 America, I’ve seen real division in society in terms of race and economics and political standpoints. So that all sort of bled into the book.
And it’s Super Tuesday (primary voting) in America. We have someone quite terrifying in (Republican candidate) Donald Trump. It’s very, very scary to think half the country wants him to be president. You think: Are we hearing the same thing? If this were written in a book, no one would believe it. The stranger-than-fiction things do happen in real life. Demagogues do get elected.
Could you share with us your creative routine? ‘Cause, as you know, writing isn’t all about “inspiration.”
Luckily, writing is my full-time job.
I know. It is a dream, but on the flipside, it’s a job. So to keep myself from getting too caught up in it, I treat it like a job. I work 9 to 5. Come five o’clock — unless I’m really on a deadline, or I’m really in a scene — I’ll stop. The rest of the night is mine.
I don’t work on the weekends either. It’s really good for not burning out because a lot of writers burn out from constantly writing. It helps me actually be excited for Mondays.
How do you battle writer’s block?
Writer’s block means one of two things. Either I just need fresh eyes or a palate cleanser. Usually I go and chip away at another project to flush out my system. Sometimes, I’ll read a book. A lot of really good YA books will make me wanna write.
Then sometimes it means what you’re working on just isn’t working. It’s hard, but in the end, it’s best to just cut back to when you knew what you were doing. You gotta be brutal sometimes.
As a screenwriter, what are some of the films that have influenced your writing?
Movies influence me just as much as books, if not more. I’m a Spielberg worshipper. I love Jurassic Park, E.T., Indiana Jones. I’m a really big Star Wars fan. I love The Lord of the Rings. Those movies were what made me decide I need to tell stories for the rest of my life, this is what makes me happy.
I have really great memories of going to the movies with my family, so for me, it’s always going to feel like home.
Victoria thinks you should read the Grisha trilogy and Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo, Maze Runner by James Dashner, and The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken.
Glass Sword, the second installation of the Red Queen series, is available in National Book Store. Follow Victoria on Twitter and Instagram @victoriaaveyard or check out her website www.victoriaaveyard.com.