Have you heard about this little book and movie…?

20 Mar

Unless you’re living under a rock, you’re quite aware of the worldwide phenomenon known as The Hunger Games.

The bestseller has been made into a movie that premieres this coming Friday (and will be followed by Catching Fire and Mockinjay). Most experts are predicting one of the biggest movie openings ever, fueled primarily by the intense fandom for the books. (Yes. This fandom includes people like me. People who are hosting midnight premiere parties, complete with themed food and decorations. I am a book nerd, and proud of it.)

Whenever I witness the excitement and enthusiasm for a book, it thrills my writer heart. Seeing millions of people–children and adults alike–falling in love with books like those in the Harry Potter series and now The Hunger Games trilogy captures my own imagination as a writer. I am thrilled that a fictional story has inspired such love and devotion.

Even more so, though, I am intrigued by the authors who have created the stories that inspire such devotion. And I am intrigued by the stories of how those authors create the stories…and how they live their lives as authors who are now celebrities.

I have been reading recently about author Suzanne Collins and her journey in writing The Hunger Games. Collins has written for numerous children’s and young teen television shows, and is the author of previous young adult fantasy books. It’s The Hunger Games, though, that has made her famous.

The origin of The Hunger Games and the way Collins is handling her fame, while still living life as a working writer, is fascinating.

In a recent interview with the official Hunger Games website, Collins revealed some insight into the genesis of her stories. The trilogy–which takes place in the futuristic world of Panem, where the totalitarian Capitol keeps control of its twelve districts by enforcing the fight-to-the-death, gladiator-like Hunger Games–evolved from a number of inspirations, including ancient Roman mythology and reality television.

“I was channel surfing between reality TV programming and actual war coverage when Katniss’s story came to me. One night I’m sitting there flipping around and on one channel there’s a group of young  people competing for, I don’t know, money maybe?,” she said. “And on the next, there’s a group of young people fighting an actual war. And I was tired, and the lines began to blur in this very unsettling way, and I thought of this story.”

When asked about how she mapped out her book’s plots, Collins revealed: “I’ve learned it helps me to work out the key structural points before I begin a story. The inciting incident, acts, breaks, mid-story reversal, crisis, climax, those sorts of things. I’ll know a lot of what fills the spaces between them as well, but I leave some uncharted room for the characters to develop. And if a door opens along the way, and I’m intrigued by where it leads, I’ll definitely go through it.”

And how is her life different now that The Hunger Games has created such pandemonium? Can she still follow anything resembling a regular writing schedule? She says that her typical workday goes like this: “I grab some cereal and sit down to work as soon as possible. The more distractions I have to deal
with before I actually begin writing, the harder focusing on the story becomes. Then I work until I’m tapped out, usually sometime in the early afternoon. If I actually write three to five hours, that’s a productive day. Some days all I do is stare at the wall. That can be productive, too, if you’re working out character and plot problems. The rest of the time, I walk around with the story slipping in and out of my thoughts.”

As I get ready for my midnight premiere party, I will reflect a bit on the journey it took Collins to get to this night as well. And I will use her inspiration and success as a way to motivate and encourage myself.

(And if you haven’t read the books, I encourage you to do so. They are truly wonderful.)


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