Marie Lu talks Legend!!
Posted here are two awesome interviews with Legend author Marie Lu:
First Interview: (December 7, 2011)
Byrt: What’s the elevator pitch for Legend?
Marie: A teenage criminal versus a teenage prodigy in a cat and mouse game, in a dark future United States. It’s like Robin Hood meets Blade Runner.
Byrt: So what's wrong with the world of Legend? Why have things turned out so bad?
Marie: It’s set a hundred years in the future, in a world that is very flooded (the weather is very different from what it is now) and very crowded. Think Blade Runner – that’s a pretty good vision of what the Los Angeles of Legend looks like.
Byrt: As someone who lives LA, did you use any locations that we know?
Marie: I put in a couple – I put in the US Bank Tower (although it’s just called the “Bank Tower” because there’s no United States anymore); I put in the Walt Disney Concert Hall. But otherwise, Downtown is flooded – it’s a giant lake, and the valley has become the wealthy area. It was pretty fun messing with LA…
Byrt: Did you blow up the 405? Please blow up the 405.
Marie: I don’t think the 405 exists anymore…
Byrt: YES. And as for the whole country, you split it east/west?
Marie: I split it down the middle, from the Dakotas through Texas. The west half is called The Republic and the east is called The Colonies – and they hate each other!
Byrt: So were there any historical echoes in this project?
Marie: Definitely. The Eugenics movement that happened in the United States in the early 20th century was a big influence, as well as ancient Sparta and their habit of placing babies that were considered too weak to live out on a hill to die. North Korea was another big influence. It’s fascinating to see in real life how quickly a group of people can be brainwashed by their government, if the government has complete control over everything.
Byrt: Did you take any inspiration from American society today? In terms of politics, or…
Marie: A little bit. A lot of the division between the two sides (The Republic and The Colonies) came from what we’re seeing in American politics today, where the polarization has gotten to the point where it’s kind of ridiculous. There’s not a lot of logic to why the two sides hate each other, it just comes down to “I’m a Republican” and “I’m a Democrat.” People sort of forget why they’re fighting each other. That’s why The Republic and The Colonies fight each other so much too – I don’t think they really know why they hate each other so much anymore, they just have this innate hatred of each other.
Byrt: So in Legend one of your characters, June, is essentially a genius – was that hard to write?
Marie: Oh my gosh. I’m never going to do this again – I didn’t think this through when I created the character! Trying to write a person who is a genius when you’re not actually a genius is really hard! There was a lot of going online, and researching topics that June would know – I think I’m probably on the CIA watch list by now, just because of the nature of searching for things like: “assassination attempts in history”, or “how to make a bomb”. I’m sure there’s some Homeland security guy who thinks there’s something wrong with me… It was really challenging writing June – she’s very, very logical and detailed – but it’s also really fun. I’ve learned a lot.
Byrt: And then with your other lead – he’s a different kettle of fish entirely…
Marie: Day is very close to my heart because he’s a character that I’ve had in my head since high school, and I just never was able to find a good rival (or enemy) for him. He started out as this flirtatious, mischievous, roguish, Han Solo type boy – he’s always going against the law. He’s very smart but not incredibly logical, and sometimes he’ll do things just on instinct. He’ll leap before he looks.
Byrt: Did you read a lot of Dystopia before you wrote Legend?
Marie: I love The Hunger Games, and 1984 – but The Giver is probably my favorite out of all the dystopians I’ve read.
Byrt: And what books influenced you growing up?
Marie: I love reading fantasy and science fiction. Ssome of my favorite childhood authors were Richard Adams (Watership Down), Brian Jacques (Redwall), David Eddings, Robert Jordan – classic high fantasy. Ender’s Game is one of my most favorite books of all time – that influenced my writing a bunch as well.
Byrt: So I hear the film rights to Legend have already been optioned?
Marie: Yes, by CBS Films and Temple Hill (which is the production company that produced the Twilight movies), so very exciting.
Byrt: Do you have any dream casting?
Marie: I don’t have anyone specific that I can picture in my head – but if they could put Ben Barnes anywhere in it, for any role, that would be really awesome. He would make a good brother for June (actually I wrote that character with his picture in my head, so that’s exactly what he looks like…) But you know, this is all wishful thinking.
Byrt: And now that you’ve finished book two in the Legend trilogy – can you tease a little bit about what’s coming up next?
Marie: More mayhem – more romance between more characters – and more rebels. There’s going to be a rebel group called The Patriots, which are from the first book, that get a lot of air time. And I think that’s pretty much all I can say…
Byrt: Well thank you so much Marie for taking the time!
Marie: Thank you!
Second Interview: (January 09, 2012)
From: Time for Kids
How did you get the idea to write Legend?
The first spark of inspiration came when I was watching Les Misérables, the movie version, on TV one afternoon. As I was watching it, I thought it would be really interesting to write a teenage version of Jean Valjean versus Javert—a [story about a] criminal versus some sort of detective-like character. At the time, I already had a picture in my head of a character that was a teenage criminal. But I’d never quite found the right story for him until I watched the movie. That is where it originally started.
The dystopian setting for the book came about when I saw a map online of what the world would look like if all the [polar ice caps] in the world melted and the oceans rose. That gave me the inspiration for the flooded version of the Republic. Those two things combined to inspire Legend.
When you were writing Legend did you already plan that the story would be trilogy?
I don’t think I really knew it would become a trilogy. But when I first started writing it, I knew it was going to be longer than one book. I always had a feeling it was going to be a series, but not until recently did I realize that the arc of it fit pretty well into three books. So... I sort of knew!
Are June and Day based on real people?
Part of Day’s personality is based on my boyfriend’s and a couple of other people I know. June is the only character in the entire book that isn’t based on anyone. She’s the character that is the least like me. I had to do a lot of random research for her in particular. She was a challenge to put together. But Day was really fun to write since his character has been in my head since I was in high school. Over the years his personality kind of evolved with me.
Why did you choose Los Angeles for the setting?
I chose Los Angeles mostly because I live there. It was the cheapest method for me to do research! For example, if I needed to know where something was, or where a building was, or a street or things like that, I could actually drive out there and see it for myself. Also, I was looking at the map of the flooded world, and it was sort of interesting to see that California had become this gigantic lake that stretched from L.A. to San Francisco. To picture my own home city flooded like that with a lake nearby was really interesting. I wanted to explore that.
When did you decide you wanted to be an author?
I don’t know if I ever consciously knew I wanted to be an author. I‘ve been writing ever since I was really little. I think the first time I ever stapled together a book was when I was 5 or 6, when I first came to the states. From then on, I just always pieced together little booklets for myself with little stories. When I was about 15 or so, I saw this Houston Chronicle article about a girl named Amelia Atwater-Rhodes. She was 15 when she first got her book deal. That was when I realized that there are actually [everyday people out there] who write books. I always thought books were generated out of a library, like from some underground factory! I never thought I could make a career out of it, though. So it’s been a really pleasant surprise to see Legend [get published].
Legend is being made into a movie. Do you think the movie will say true to the book?
I was very pleased when CBS picked it up because they seemed very passionate about the story line. They had a conversation with me about it when we first signed with them. Everyone agreed that we really want to stay true to the book and keep the characters and the main plot points intact.
Does any part of the book reflect your life or your personality?
The book is pretty optimistic. Day is a very optimistic character, and I like to think that I try to look at the bright side of things in life. There’s also a scene in the book of where the soldiers are closing off the square and taking down the demonstrators. This was inspired by my experience growing up in Beijing, when I was 5 years old, during the time of the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989. My aunt and I lived pretty close to the square. We were just a couple of blocks away. I still remember us going out to look at the protesters. I remember us being out there and seeing the tanks—although, I didn’t see any actual shooting happen. When I read back over the book, I realized the scene in the square was definitely inspired by my memories of the Tiananmen event.
What’s your favorite part of the book?
I really liked when Day and June first meet each other on the street. That was a really fun part for me to write. They didn’t really know who the other person was, and they had a mutual attraction based just on their personalities.
What were some of your favorite books growing up?
Right off the bat, I can think of the Redwall series by Brian Jacques. That was my absolute favorite book series when I was growing up. It was what made me start reading a lot of fantasy and sci-fi when I got into high school. I still like to go back and flip through the books every now and then. Of course, Harry Potter was a huge favorite of mine when I was young. I remember obsessing over those books with my friends. Ender’s Game and Ender’s Shadow are still two of my favorite books. I love how Orson Scott Card handled the child prodigies in those books. It influenced how I wrote June.
So what are yout thoughts on Marie Lu's interviews? What questions do you want to ask Marie Lu? 'Leave a comment on yuor thoughts and questions (if you want)!!
(These interviews are pretty old, but I wanted them to be on the Wiki xD)