Today, I am so pleased to share a recent interview I did, along with a handful of other bloggers, with Legend series author Marie Lu, about her new book, The Young Elites. Check out our question for Marie, and some other highlights from our chat below, then keep reading to learn more about the book!
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Novel Novice: Part of what I thought made The Young Elites really fun to read was the fact that Adelina is not really the traditional likeable main character, but just the fact that she’s definitely her own person and she’s a very distinct character.
And so, I love that she’s very well-formed as a character despite her less desirable characteristics. So, I was wondering, what about that kind of nontraditional main character made her fun and/or challenging to write about?
Marie Lu: Thank you. I’m so glad and really relieved to hear you say that.
Adelina was by far the hardest character I’ve ever had to write. It’s difficult for all the reasons that I mentioned already, but it was also kind of fun and liberating, I guess, to write about somebody who just–she just doesn’t care sometimes. She just doesn’t care that she’s really angry at the world and she feels very entitled to that.
And I feel there’s something kind of empowering about letting yourself be bad. I guess it’s why we want villains so much. I mean, I love, you know, Loki and Magneto. You can kind of feel for them in a way. Like Loki, he kills lots of people, but he loves his mama and, you know, he’s had some feuds with his brother. And I think it’s fun to kind of imagine that space, because I think we all have issues in our lives.
And we all have that moment sometimes where you’re stuck in traffic and someone cuts you off, and you’re just like, “I just want to kill you right now. I just want, like, some force to come eat your car.” And then, I thought, you know, what if I create a character who actually acted out some of that stuff? And then, afterwards she’s like, “Oh, shit, I actually did this horrible thing that I wanted to do at the time, but now I kind of regret it.”
And it’s fascinating and kind of an unsettling way to write some of that stuff, because she feels powerful when she thinks that and does those things, but then afterwards she never feels great about it. So, it’s kind of like don’t always act out your demons–your inner demons kind of thing.
Perpetual Page Turner: What was one of the most difficult parts of writing your own world and the rules to that world?
Marie Lu: It was a completely different experience from writing Legend. It’s hard making up all of your own thinking. You kind of have to base some of it off of real life, so I don’t think anything can be completely my own. For The Young Elites, I did a lot of reading about Renaissance Italy and Renaissance Venice and what life was like back then, and what people ate and how they dressed.
The Compulsive Reader: I was just kind of fascinated by the idea of The Young Elites being an origin story of a villain, which is something that I didn’t actually know as I was reading the book … And so, I was just wondering, did the trajectory of Adelina’s story sort of differ from your previous writing, knowing that you were writing the villainess, and how does that, if it does, differ from any of your previous books?
Marie Lu: It’s totally different. It was really, really hard to get into that mind space, and it’s still very hard for me. I’m working on book two right now.
[When I started writing The Young Elites], it actually starred Raffaele instead of Adelina, and Raffaele was a totally different character too. He was very, very bland, just sort of like your every-boy, and he was going to university and he thought he was a Young Elite.
It just–it was a very, very sort of bland story. And I couldn’t quite put my finger on what was wrong with it, but I knew I wanted to write something about these types of people. So, I gave the first hundred pages to my agent, and she was like, “Well, who is this side character over here? She’s kind of interesting.”
And Adelina was a side character who is total evil. And after my agent said that, that was when I was like, “Hmm, I never thought about writing it from her point of view, but that might be an interesting exercise.”
And it was totally different from Legend, because Day and June, they live in a really dark world, but they’re inherently good people at heart. They have good families who treated them right, and I feel like that really made them who they are as people when they grew up.
And Adelina is totally different. Her family is twisted and terrible, and that rubbed off on her a lot. And it was kind of disturbing to have to get into that headspace, because I didn’t experience any of that. And to be able to try to figure out a way to make this person do horrible things but also not make her totally unlikeable so that you’re like, “God, I just want this character to die already” was a bit of a challenge too.
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THE YOUNG ELITES
by Marie Lu
In stores October 7
Some hate us, think us outlaws to hang at the gallows.
Some fear us, think us demons to burn at the stake.
Some worship us, think us children of the gods.
But all know us.
I am tired of being used, hurt, and cast aside.
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.
Pre-Order The Young Elites:
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Marie Lu is the author of the New York Times bestselling Legend series. She spends her spare time reading, drawing, playing Assassin’s Creed, and getting stuck in traffic. She lives in Los Angeles, California, with one boyfriend, one Chihuahua mix, and two Pembroke Welsh corgis.
Learn More at her Official Website