This Wednesday (October 8th) Chapel Hill’s Flyleaf Books welcomes Marie Lu, the bestselling author of the Legend trilogy, for her new young adult novel The Young Elites, out tomorrow from Putnam Juvenile: “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.”
You can learn more about the book from its book trailer, and! of course in this interview by Sharon Stogner, where she talks about NC in the fall, writing in the point of view of a villain-to-be, YA vs. adult fantasy, and graphic novel adaptations.
Interview by Sharon Stogner
Q: Hello, and welcome to NC. You are a long way from home. NC is the second stop on an extensive book tour. Have you ever been to NC? Do you have time to explore any of the cities you visit while on tour, because I’m sure someone here can tell you where to find the best food NC has to offer!
I have been to North Carolina before, but never in autumn—so I’m especially excited to be here right now. The state is absolutely gorgeous! I never get to see any seasons at home in Los Angeles, but here, the leaves are all changing color and fall is in the air!
Q: I did some stalking searching on your Pinterest and Deviant Art pages (my goodness you are a talented artist!) and the images for The Young Elites are hauntingly dark and beautifully sensual. How does the tone of this series compare to your Legend series?
Thank you so much for the kind words! Both The Young Elites and Legend are dark stories, but while Legend’s Day and June were still inherently good people at heart, The Young Elites’ protagonist, Adelina, is a villain-to-be and her mind is full of dark, twisted thoughts. This made The Young Elites particularly hard to write, because I had to force myself into the headspace of someone who is more an antagonist than a protagonist.
Q: The Young Elites could have easily been The Elites, a new adult or even adult series. What elements of a YA story made you think that was the way to go?
The heart of every YA story is the journey from childhood to adulthood, and what life experiences take you there. The Young Elites is essentially about Adelina’s fall into darkness, and her endless yearning to find acceptance. I feel like the need to belong and the process of learning good from evil are both intimately tied with growing up and becoming your own person, so I thought that the story was particularly suited for YA as opposed to Adult.
Q: Do you see yourself branching out into adult fantasy?
It’s possible! I didn’t really choose to go into YA, though—I wrote Legend before I really understood that YA was a category, so it could be that my natural voice skews YA. As long as I get to continue telling stories, wherever they fall, I’m happy.
Q: Because you are also an artist, do your ideas come in the form of images first?
The earliest seeds of my ideas are indeed images, and before I can ever write a word of a new story, I have to sketch my characters and the world. I find that I have trouble getting a good handle on a story if I can’t visualize it on paper in some way.
Q: Your Legend series is being turned into a graphic novel coming out next year. How involved in the process will you be? Your fans already know what your characters looks like based on your artwork. Will the illustrator stay true to your idea or go for a different look?
I’m incredibly excited about the Legend graphic novel, and even more thrilled that the artists and writers working on it are so talented! They have been wonderful about keeping me close in the loop, sending early sketches and exploring the characters’ appearances with me, so they are staying very true to the book. I’ve seen quite a bit of the artwork, as well as the script, and I can say with complete confidence that the graphic novel is going to be absolutely spectacular.
Q: Thank you for taking the time to talk and best of luck with The Young Elites. Before you go, what is something a North Carolinian must see or do in L.A.?
Take a walk (or a dip!) at the beach, stop by the LACMA and Getty Center museums, and then attend a concert at the Hollywood Bowl. That would be a pretty quintessential Los Angeles day!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Marie Lu is the author of the New York Times bestselling novels Legend, Prodigy, and Champion. She graduated from the University of Southern California and jumped into the video game industry, working for Disney Interactive Studios as a Flash artist. Now a full-time writer, she spends her spare time reading, drawing, playing Assassin’s Creed, and getting stuck in traffic. She lives in Los Angeles, California (see above: traffic), with one husband, one Chihuahua mix, and two Pembroke Welsh corgis. Find her online on Tumblr, Pinterest, Deviant Art, and Twitter.
ABOUT THE INTERVIEWER
Sharon Stogner is the co-creator of the quirky multi-media reviews and interviews site I Smell Sheep and a freelance editor though her Devil in the Details Editing Services. A stay at home mom for a 12 year old daughter and an 18 year old daughter (who will be going off to college in 2014) and married for 21 years, she has a BS in Biology from UNC Chapel Hill and a Masters in Microbiology from NCSU. She and her family currently live in the Winston-Salem/Greensboro area of NC.