NU alumna publishes second novel in trilogy

Amy Whyte

About a week before its release date, the novel “Insurgent,” the second work from Northwestern alumna Veronica Roth (WCAS ’10), has sold more than 35,000 copies in presales, ranking it 14th on Amazon’s “Hot New Releases” list.

Roth, who wrote her first novel “Divergent” while a student in NU’s creative writing program, signed a book deal to write a trilogy with Harper Collins in the spring of her senior year. “Divergent” debuted at #6 on the New York Times bestseller list.

“Insurgent,” which officially debuts next week, is the second book in the Divergent trilogy. It picks up right where “Divergent” left off: society’s five factions – Abnegation, Dauntless, Erudite, Candor and Amity – are in turmoil. Protagonist Beatrice “Tris” Prior must move forward and continue to protect herself and her loved ones while also dealing with the losses she suffered in the first novel.

The dystopian book found a receptive audience following the earlier success of “The Hunger Games.”

Roth’s success has created a buzz in NU’s creative writing program.

“My one professor joked around that he was jealous of her receiving such success at such a young age,” Weinberg senior Allison Manley said.

Manley, a student in the creative writing program, met Roth last year, when PROMPT, an NU literary magazine, invited Roth to speak at an event it was hosting. Manley, who was the fiction editor of the magazine at that time, described Roth as having been “so friendly and so nice” and “really excited” about speaking at the event.

“She talked about the process of writing ‘Divergent’ and how she went about getting it published,” Weinberg sophomore Kathryn Halpern said. “Hers is clearly a very unique case, but I do think that at the same time it was a good thing for people in the creative writing program who want to be writers to hear her story because it shows that it is possible.”

Halpern, the current managing editor at PROMPT, had been working as the group’s publicity coordinator at the time of the event.

“The staff took her out to dinner beforehand, and we were all there for the presentation,” Halpern said. “It was very cool to get to meet her and hear about how much she’d already done since graduating.”

Manley said she agrees that Roth’s success at such a young age inspires students in the creative writing program, but noted that not all the students in the program would necessarily want to follow the same path.

“It is Young Adult and not all of us want to write Young Adult,” Manley said. “There is a bias against young adult fiction within Northwestern’s creative writing program because it’s less about style and more about the story… But for any writer of any genre, you can look at her and see that it is possible. She stuck to it and put her mind to it and didn’t give it up until she got published. It’s a reminder for all of us that we have to keep working.”

“Insurgent” will be in stores May 1.

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