‘Divergent’ author, Northwestern grad Veronica Roth talks new movie, advice for students


Source: Veronica Roth's Facebook page

The film adaptation of “Insurgent,” the second book in Veronica Roth’s (Weinberg ’10) “Divergent” series will premier Friday. Roth is currently working on a new book series and encouraged writers to stick with their craft even when faced with tough competition.

Rachel Yang, Reporter


Veronica Roth, now 26, was still attending Northwestern when she wrote “Divergent,” the first novel in the popular dystopian trilogy.

Fans are anxiously awaiting the March 20 premiere of “Insurgent,” the second installment of the series’ film adaptations.

But despite achieving success at a young age, Roth (Weinberg ’10) told The Daily that while attending NU’s creative writing workshops, she struggled with being surrounded by writers she thought were more talented than she was. In an interview with college media organizations, Roth discussed what she learned from her college experience and what fans can expect from the upcoming film, her new book series and her advice to aspiring writers in college.

“Of the three books, ‘Insurgent’ probably has the most complicated plot,” Roth said.

As a result, there had to be cuts in order to keep the film action-packed. The first novel introduced readers to the “Divergent” world, where people are sorted into factions based on personality types. The protagonist, Tris Prior, played by Shailene Woodley in the films, breaks the norm by being Divergent and possessing multiple traits. The first book left off as Tris embarks on a plan to stop the corrupt faction leader who is trying to use one faction against another. “Insurgent” focuses on the struggles of carrying out that plan.

In the “Insurgent” novel, Tris cannot use a gun because of stress, a plot point changed for the film.

It would be hard to have a heroine “who doesn’t touch a gun and somehow also doesn’t die,” Roth said.

Roth told The Daily her favorite scene in the upcoming movie happens when Tris and Four, a fellow Divergent, are subjected to a truth serum trial. Roth called the scene a “sci fi-esque moment.”

“They’re taking this thing that doesn’t exist but (it’s) also a good character building moment, where people are revealing things,” Roth said.

The last book in the trilogy, “Allegiant,” will be split into two films, Roth said. After these films are released, she said she will be ready to move on to her new book series.

Roth said the first book in the new series, which she hopes to release in 2017, also has otherworldly elements and shares traits with “Star Wars.”

“It’s set in space and it’s about a young man who unites with someone who’s supposed to be his enemy to get revenge,” she said.

As she moves forward with the book, Roth also reflected on advice for aspiring writers in college.

Roth told The Daily that the creative process is more important than the results of the creativity. Citing a passage from comedian Amy Poehler’s book, “Yes Please,” Roth advocated for “passion about the creative act” but “ambivalence about the results of your work.”

“You don’t need to take to heart every single person’s reaction,” Roth said. “Some people are going to like it, and some people are going to not like it.”

For college students, adopting this attitude is especially important, she said, because they are constantly worrying about the future.

“If you can let writing carry through good times and bad times,” Roth said, “you have a much higher likelihood of succeeding in the industry, because you’ll be able to take criticism and you’ll be able to take rejection because you know that you’ll still be able to write at the end of the day.”

Roth, who said she “just Googled it” when she wanted to get published, said she learned at NU to “go after the things that I want and not to wait until someone tells me how to do them.”

NU’s driven environment, especially in creative writing workshops, made her realize the importance of “being comfortable with a lot of people around you being better than you,” which she said many NU students have not yet accepted.

“Just because someone is more skilled than you, doesn’t mean that you don’t have value,” Roth said. “It’s okay to be in the world and to look up to people.”

Email: [email protected]northwestern.edu
Twitter: @_rachelyang