Google+ Reading Teen: All You Ever Wanted to Know About Marie Lu, Author of Legend and The Young Elites

Saturday, November 14, 2015

All You Ever Wanted to Know About Marie Lu, Author of Legend and The Young Elites

 (Penguin Books for Young Readers)

The Inside Scoop on Marie Lu

Ever since Legend came out, I was convinced author, Marie Lu, would be too cool to have anything in common with me. One of those got-it-together types that do not live in a swirling mental world of emotional fantasy, but instead are intelligent, decisive, logical, and rock their wardrobes like the hipsters they are (hot boyfriends and snazzy apartments included).  Also, she would probably be a foodie.

In case you haven't heard, Marie Lu's newest book, Rose Society (the 2nd of the Young Elite trilogy) is now out on bookshelves everywhere. And lucky me, she was having a book signing at my local library! I could see if all my assumptions about her were true. Sometimes I need to be reminded that those I admire for their success, like Marie, are just normal people too.

I must confess--shame of shames--I didn't get my books signed or actually even meet Marie as I had to leave early.  But maybe that was okay, because after I got there, I realized I had brought Young World by Chris Weiss for her to sign and NOT Young Elites. Whew, that would have been embarrassing!  

Even so, I did learn a lot about her. She even answered the question of "the girl in the back with the white scarf" (that would be me!). So, because I listened so attentively, I can now share the inside scoop with all you YA lovers about this author of five published books.  

First, did you know that Legend wasn't Marie's first book?  After she realized (at age thirteen) books didn't just spit out of factories, she wrote and pitched her first book to be published while still in her teens. Despite being rejected, she pushed forward, trying to publish four other books, all of which were also rejected (pretty sure I have that number right). 

With all that rejection under her belt by college, she decided to go the practical route instead, aiming to be a doctor or lawyer. But around when she was graduating, on a whim she decided to apply for an art internship at Disney and to her surprise, got it. (By then she knew she wasn't cut-out to be a doctor/lawyer.)

That threw her into a much more creative world, the world of gaming. But she continued to write on the side until she finally published a book, Legend.  Great story, huh? Inspiring to all of us aspiring writers (and other persevering people) everywhere.

So what inspired Legend? Marie Lu saw a map of what the USA might look like if global warming continues and was fascinated by the idea of a world where her hometown, Los Angels, was a lake. And thus, this dystopian trilogy was born.

Did you know that when Marie Lu began writing Young Elite's, it was a totally different book? It was going to be a story about teens with superhero powers getting together. It had a different main character who was pretty bland. I guess the story was too, because Marie's agent didn't dice words after she submitted the first 100 pages of her draft, asking her, "When you gave this to me, did you think this was good?"

Ouch! Thankfully, her agent encouraged her to transform her original side character Adelina, whom Marie was having fun writing, into her new main character. Ironically, the original bland character, is now a prominent side character in Young Elites and Rose Society, and is currently her most favorite character to write.  Marie said that you can always tell who her favorite character to write is by noticing whose hair she describes the most. Turns out Marie Lu loves hair--who'd guess?

Apparently, Marie Lu's fans had a lot of questions about her characters and what it was like to write them.  In the Legend series, she felt like Day was always easy to write, as if she was always in his head. But then at some point in the series, she started noticing she was unconsciously putting her personality into June too. Those characters are like Marie Lu's split personality. In the same way, in this new series, she sees herself in both Adelina and Adelina's sister, Violetta.

Writing from the dark side: Marie also made sure we knew how hard it was to write from the perspective of a villain. If you haven't read the Young Elites series yet, I should mention that Adelina and her group are all the bad guys. Because it is really hard to get into Adelina's head, Marie has to listen to her "evil playlist" every morning to put her in a dark enough state to try to write from this perspective.

I admit, I agree with Marie Lu's pretty wise thoughts on the subject of evil:
"We all have a little villain in us, even if it is just wanting Godzilla to smash the car in front of us."

It really is a fascinating plot, creating a whole story-line about a person who is fully selfish, and only interested her own survival. In this series, Marie is fleshing out the consequences of what caring only about yourself brings.  And in these series (making a guess real life mirrors this) it seems to bring the main character to some pretty deep lows. 

One major difficulty Marie is having is trying to figure out how to finish this series off.  "After all," she told us, "what is a satisfactory end in the story-arch of a villain?" Dear Marie Lu, personally I believe either the villain's head gets smashed accidentally by a piano (as Fate would dictate), or the readers are required to grant mercy for their own villain-side as they admire the previously evil Adelina when she chooses the better path of selflessness when she saves another villain from being hit by the piano (even though the protagonist would forever be paralyzed).  YA lovers, how do you think the Young Elites should end?

Superpowers: As Young Elites/Rose Society are all about teens with superpowers, we just had to know what Marie's would be if she could choose one.  She told us that she'd either have the superpower of flight (if the wind didn't hurt, flying into it fast), or invisibility, so she could travel the world, taking pictures with lions without them mauling her.  If the Young Elite superpowers were transferred into the Legend series, Day's would be the power of speed and June's would be the ability to speak all languages (or something like that, matching June's smarts).

Marie Lu might not be in a different sphere than me, after all.   Why do I think this? First, she said she geeked out around some famous people herself, like when she saw the Game of Thrones cast. And, she seems to get lost in fantasy worlds too. She loves the same books that I love, such as Six of Crows, Illuminate, and Ember in the Ashes. Rather than doing intense story-planning, Marie said she writes from the seat-of-her-pants and her characters lead her (which is how my stories flow).  She's even married (I AM TOO)!

Even if she is a foodie (I forgot to ask), Marie Lu seems like a pretty cool person in real life, and, just like everyone else, doesn't deserve to be pinned into a box of presumptions. Heck, maybe she will do something really crazy and write a fantasy medical novel next (or decide to become a lawyer after all).

Don't forget to get a copy of her newest, the Rose Society!

Ethereally and unequivocally penned by Elisa (@AverageAdvocate) at “Inspiring the average American to change the world.”
She also dabbles in fiction hidden amongst others occasionally at She also really needs a new picture, because she hasn’t had red hair in like, forever.

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