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You got a degree in History at Radford University. How did you end up becoming a writer?
Accidentally. I did a few random jobs after college, including being a substitute and a dance teacher. The end goal was being a stay-at-home mother, but after going through some difficult times, I started writing as a form of therapy. It gave me a lot of positive mental space, and I knew I wanted to keep going. I thought what I was working on was good enough that it might be worth sharing. I'm so happy I did! It's made so many people happy!
How did your degree in History contribute to the creation of the political environment we see in The Selection series?
I think studying real-life stories helped me see how things don't always unfold in ways that are possible to plot, and I had a wealth of information on different types of governments and how they sometimes lord over people and how sometimes people tear them apart. But I still ended up doing tons of research to make sure the Selection had one foot in the real world. Luckily, studying history made me a great researcher.
So far you’ve published four novellas of The Selection: The Prince, The Guardian, The Queen, and The Favorite. Why did you decide to write them? Did you want to take a closer look at these characters from the very beginning?
That was another accidental thing. My editor wanted to know why Maxon didn't know any of the girls' names when they arrived. She also wanted to know why Aspen responded so recklessly when he showed up at the palace. So I thought, “Hold on, let me go look." So I started writing things from their perspectives to understand how Maxon was afraid and Aspen felt foolish. When the fandom started to grow and wanted more of the world, we decided to simply expand on those scenes.
In your opinion, what have been the key factors for The Selection’s success worldwide?
In both, The Heir and The Crown, Eadlyn's strong personality stands out. Was the potential you saw on this character what drove you to write her novels or did you come up with the story first and then built up the character according to the plot?
Again, this wasn't planned. My editor asked me to write a bonus epilogue as a thank you to the fans after The One came out, and I was totally on board. My first thought was going to the second generation, so I started working and called my editor completely exasperated. I told her this wasn't an epilogue, it was another book. So we stepped back, looked at how many books Eadlyn's story might fill, and instead wrote an epilogue of America telling Maxon she was pregnant to bridge the two stories. Not every author gets a chance to do something like that, so I was grateful for the opportunity.
You published The Siren back in 2009. Do you think there was a big quality leap between this novel and the first volume of The Selection?
Yes and no. When I wrote it, I didn't know how much I didn't know. Most people's first attempt at writing isn't something that ever sees the light of day, but I loved it so much I published it myself. I'm fortunate I got another crack at it, but I have TONS of people come up to me and tell me that they love the original version more than the new one, or that they love it way more than The Selection. What can I say? Art is subjective.
Did you write any other books before The Siren? Have you always written young adult fiction?
I wrote lots of bad poetry in high school. We'll just ignore that though.
The Selection's TV adaptation ended up having two different pilot episodes ordered a year apart, with different actresses in the role of America Singer, but neither of them were picked by the network. How do you see the possibilities of the movie adaptation by Warner Bros?
I'm actually feeling really positive about the film. We're still a ways away from it being a definite thing, but this experience has been much better than the TV one was. There's not much else to say about it for now. We have a great team, and we'll see what happens!
We know from previous interviews that you’re currently working on a new project. Is it intended for the young adult readership? Which genre have you chosen for this book?
Yes, it's a young adult book! But as for what it's about...I can't say! Even if I could, I don't have a great or easy way to explain it just yet. But I love it endlessly and can't wait to share it with you.