Thursday, September 18, 2014

Marie Lu on The Young Elites

Despite the fact that I'm often drawn to dark works, I've frequently wondered how the creation of such work affects the creator. In order to really enter into those places, it seems like you'd have to go to a pretty dark place yourself. So it was interesting to sit in on a phone interview with Marie Lu last week where she discussed this very thing in relation to her new book, The Young Elites which is the origin story of a villain. First let me tell you a little bit more about the book.

It has a really gripping tagline:

Some hate us, think us outlaws to hang at the gallows.
Some fear us, think us demons to burn at the stake.
Some worship us, think us children of the gods.
But all know us.

And the official copy:

I am tired of being used, hurt, and cast aside.

Adelina Amouteru is a survivor of the blood fever. A decade ago, the deadly illness swept through her nation. Most of the infected perished, while many of the children who survived were left with strange markings. Adelina’s black hair turned silver, her lashes went pale, and now she has only a jagged scar where her left eye once was. Her cruel father believes she is a malfetto, an abomination, ruining their family’s good name and standing in the way of their fortune. But some of the fever’s survivors are rumored to possess more than just scars—they are believed to have mysterious and powerful gifts, and though their identities remain secret, they have come to be called the Young Elites.

Teren Santoro works for the king. As Leader of the Inquisition Axis, it is his job to seek out the Young Elites, to destroy them before they destroy the nation. He believes the Young Elites to be dangerous and vengeful, but it’s Teren who may possess the darkest secret of all.

Enzo Valenciano is a member of the Dagger Society. This secret sect of Young Elites seeks out others like them before the Inquisition Axis can. But when the Daggers find Adelina, they discover someone with powers like they’ve never seen.

Adelina wants to believe Enzo is on her side, and that Teren is the true enemy. But the lives of these three will collide in unexpected ways, as each fights a very different and personal battle. But of one thing they are all certain: Adelina has abilities that shouldn’t belong in this world. A vengeful blackness in her heart. And a desire to destroy all who dare to cross her.

It is my turn to use. My turn to hurt.

So as you can kind of see from that the book delves into some dark places of the mind. Marie was very candid in her interview with us about how that affected her as a writer and as a person. She mentioned that it was definitely the hardest book to write for this reason, but it's a challenge she came to when she realized her original character for the story was boring. :) She said that,

"Her family is twisted and terrible, and that rubbed off on her a lot. And it was kind of disturbing to have to get into that headspace, because I didn't experience any of that. And to be able to try to figure out a way to make this person do horrible things but also not make her totally unlikeable so that you're like, "God, I just want this character to die already" was a bit of a challenge too."

Well, if she'd made her a boy aka a bad boy, I'm sure that wouldn't have felt problematic. Just kidding! But she also mentioned that she got more depressed while writing this book than the others because of the headspace she had to put herself in....and one solution to make herself feel better was to go hug her dog. :)

She chose the title, The Young Elites, because it came to her first! But also because she liked it as a positive name for her characters who have a very derogatory name used against them in the book.

And while the world is a fantasy world in the book, it's one that borrows heavily from Renaissance Italy so it is very grounded in a time and place that is familiar! But she also drew inspiration from Assassin's Creed for the setting.

Talking to authors is one of my favorite parts of being a book blogger as I find it really interesting to hear about how something creative was born. Additionally, I found it really interesting to hear how writing about the darker stuff affects the writer!

You can learn more about The Young Elites by visiting the official website. And you can learn more about Marie by visiting her website!


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