News and culture through the lens of Southern California.
Hosted by A Martínez
Airs Weekdays 9 to 10 a.m.

25-year-old bestselling author Veronica Roth on her hit 'Divergent' trilogy

Veronica Roth attends the European premiere of
Veronica Roth attends the European premiere of "Divergent" at Odeon Leicester Square on March 30, 2014 in London, England.
Dave J Hogan/Getty Images

Listen to story

Download this story 4.0MB

Writer Veronica Roth is taking the world by storm. Her new book "Four" sold more than 600,000 copies in its first week.

Her previous works, known as the "Divergent Trilogy," are also New York Times best sellers. The first book has already been made into a major feature film and the second comes out in film form next year. Not bad for a 25-year-old. 

Veronica Roth recently joined Take Two to talk more about what it was like to land a book deal at such a young age, what it was like to see her books turn into movies and more. 

Interview Highlights:

What sort of books did you read when you were a young adult?

"I think they were very much the same kinds of books that I'm now writing. So I was always interested in genre fictions so sci-fi fantasy and everything under the speculative fiction umbrella and I didn't read up in reading level despite being told to, I guess, by a lot of teachers because the plots didn't interest me as much so I did read a couple of adult sci-fi book when I was that age, but mostly I stuck to what we would now call YA, even though that distinction wasn't as clear when I was younger."

When and how did this world of the Divergent Universe come to you?

"It was a little gradual, but I do remember a few moments where it came together and the first one was a couple of years before I wrote the rough draft. I was taking a Psych 101, basically, and we were learning about exposure therapy, which is a method of treating anxiety and phobia in which someone is repeatedly exposed to the stimulus that provokes their fear response in a safe environment until their brain habituates to it.

It's a really interesting technique and it's very effective in the treatment of anxiety and phobia and I wanted to use it in a science fiction context. So these weird, creepy simulated realities in which a character confronts their deepest fear was like the little piece of inspiration that started the series, I guess."

You landed a book deal while you were still in your senior year at Northwestern. How did you pull that off?

"I don't know. It was always my ambition to get a book published someday. There are a lot of people working very hard to make that happen and it's just that for some people it could happen and for some people it doesn't. For some people they have to wait a long time and some people hit it on the first try and I was just one of those very lucky people who the timing kind of match up very well for me."

What was it like for you when you visited the set?

"Well, I have a kind of philosophy about detaching yourself from your work once it's done simply because I think that's the best way to improve as a writer. It's the way that you can accept constructive criticism in the best way so I wanted to be open minded, and I think I carried that philosophy into the movie adaption process. I recognize that it was a new medium and that they would have to adjust the source material to suit that medium and we were all concerned with making a good movie.

"I tried to experience it as it came and to see it as someone else's interpretation of the work and to see that as a kind of reawakening of the work for me so it was like watching, I mean it was definitely my book and I think they stayed pretty true to it, but it was also like rediscovering it at the same time so I tried to focus on that kind of magical rare thing instead of the 'Oh, but they took out some of my favorite characters,' that kind of thing. Like I wasn't going to hold on to that because how many people walk around in a movie set and think like these were my ideas and someone is making them into a serious thing. That's an incredible gift and I try to appreciate it, I don't know. "