Everybody knows what a crazy fangirl I am for J.K. Rowling. Seriously, I want to be her best friend. I even have permission to replace one of my current best friends should she ever wish to join our group. But in my avid research of J.K. Rowling, I had been completely neglecting another author crush–Suzanne Collins.
After reading Mockingjay, I couldn’t help but think that I really wish I could be her. So, since I’ve taken notes on interviews, documentaries, and all things Rowling, I thought I should add Collins into the mix. So, I culled the interwebs for some juicy writing tidbits from one of the bravest authors I know of and here are the bullet points I’ve put together for your enjoyment:
-Before writing the Hunger Games Trilogy, most fans probably know that Collins originally wrote for children’s television shows such as Clarissa Explains It All and Little Bear. She then went on to write the bestselling Underland Chronicles.
-Collins says her first inspiration for the Hunger Games came from the Greek myth Theseus and the Minotaur. In it, Minos who is the king of Crete has a falling out with Athens. Crete is a far more powerful country. Every year as part of the punishment Athens has to send 7 youths and 7 maidens to the labyrinth to be devoured by the Minotaur. Sounds pretty similar to Hunger Games, yes? Collins also details the story of Spartacus, a gladiator with an unknown story who went on to lead a revolution. So…Katniss, basically.
-Collins: You need three good elements to make a gladiator game. You need a ruthless, all-powerful government, people being forced to fight to the death, and for it to be a popular entertainment.
-She has a complicated relationship with music because she can’t listen to anything with words since it interferes with her own thought processes. Therefore, she’s a fan of classical music.
-The most difficult parts for her to write were the deaths and the violence between young characters. But in this type of book you have to commit to it and you either make a decision that you are going to do that no matter how painful or uncomfortable to write those scenes or you should go write a different type of story.
-The more enjoyable passages to write are Katniss reflecting back on the past, about how she met Gale, and stories she tells to Peeta like about how she got the goat for Prim
-Collins loves the goat story. You see the relationship between the sisters and how Katniss has become Prim’s parent and how important it is to bring her joy and happiness and the lengths she’ll go to do it.
-When she got the initial idea for the story, she was pretty focused on the first book, but when she got to the conclusion of that she knew there had to be a sequel. Initially plotted out all three books, but you learn so much about the characters as you go along that it’s not good to plot too much toward the end because hopefully you’ll discover things as you go along the way.
-Typical workday: Gets up, grabs cereal, and starts working as soon as possible because the more distractions at the beginning of the day, the harder it is to focus on the story. She works until she is tapped out, usually early afternoon. Some days are spent staring at the wall, but that can be productive when working out character and plot developments.
-There was a complete embargo on Mockingjay being sent out before its release date, even to School Library Journal.
-About Mockingjay, Collins says that, thematically, this is the place she was headed in all three books. She feels that it is the story she set out to tell.
-Since so much of her background is in scriptwriting, she still feels very new to writing prose. There is a lot of unexplored territory, she thinks because she started it later in life but maybe it’s like that for everyone always. She has a very “How do I do this?” feeling.
-It’s easier to write dialogue than description, probably because of her 27 years of scriptwriting. Dialogue and action sequences are like stage directions, but descriptive passages can feel like hitting a wall.
I’ll continue to update this as new youtube videos and written interviews come out. If you have any links or tidbits, feel free to share.