Barrington native Veronica Roth, bestselling author of Divergent and Carve the Mark debuts a stunning collection of novella-length stories in her newest release due October 1—The End and Other Beginnings: Stories from the Future. With tales of friendship and revenge, this collection has something for new and old fans alike. Each story begins with a hope for a better end, but always end with a better understanding of the beginning.
While out promoting her newest project, Roth sat down with Country Magazine and shared what inspires her whimsical tales, how growing up in Barrington influenced the writer she is today, and why she continues to make Chicago her home.
What sparked your interest in writing fantasy?
“As a kid, I read everything from the Babysitter’s Club and Judy Blume to the Harry Potter series, and The Giver, so I wasn’t picky about genre—but the books I remember resonating with me the most were always science fiction and fantasy. I feel the same way now. I like to think about the possibilities—where we, humanity, might go, what we might make, how we might react if we found ourselves in strange or impossible situations. All good stories challenge us on an emotional level, but with science fiction and fantasy, they also activate that part of my brain that always wants to know ‘what if.’”
Do you consider The End and Other Beginnings an evolution of your previous work?
“Interestingly enough, some of the stories in The End are my previous work—three of the stories have been previously published in other anthologies. The earliest one was ‘Hearken,’ which I wrote right after Divergent came out, about the power of music when the world is ending. I don’t think the stories are an evolution so much as another dimension of my work that maybe doesn’t come out as much in my novels. They’re romantic, they’re emotional, they’re more meditative, and they take a more optimistic view on technology—how we might use it to enrich and enhance our human experience rather than detract from it.”
What do you want readers to take away from your newest work?
“For any of my books, my hope is simply that readers connect with them in some way. I don’t have some kind of cohesive message I’m trying to deliver—I find that kind of writing preachy and a little creepy, to be honest. So I’m just here to tell stories, and I hope they make you think and take you on a ride.”
Did you ever anticipate your novels would have such a devoted following?
“No! No, I did not. But I feel pretty lucky that they do.”
Was the writing process for your novellas different from your earlier pieces?
“My one big career goal is to keep evolving and never stagnate. So yes, my process is different now, because I’m learning from each book. I do a lot more planning now, a lot more outlining, a lot more research. I know what questions to ask myself before I start. That’s the thing about writing—you can learn a lot from reading, a lot from critique, but you learn the most from actually doing it.”
How did growing up in Barrington shape the writer you are today?
“The education I got in Barrington was truly excellent. By the time I got to college, I knew how to study, how to write good papers, how to read critically—and maybe that sounds obvious, but not everyone gets into college with those skills, and you carry them with you for the rest of your life. Everything a person learns about the world feeds their writing, so that’s significant. I feel like Barrington schools helped me become a very capable person.
Other than that, I don’t know—it’s a beautiful place, and I did a lot of brainstorming while on walks. I used to wander around Ron Beese Park and daydream stories. It’s great that we still have those natural spaces.”
How did it feel to do your School Library Journal livestream at Prairie Middle School?
“Honestly, it was one of the highlights of my career. The staff were so lovely to work with, and made me feel proud to be an alum. Plus, it’s not often you get to tell a group of middle schoolers that you have quite literally been where they are (and lived to tell the tale). Middle school is a tough time for a lot of young people, so I hope it was an encouraging experience for them. It was for me!”
How is Chicago so lucky to have you call it home?
“I feel like the luck actually goes the other way—I’m lucky to call Chicago home. It’s not without its problems, but I feel fiercely protective of it. It’s a place worth investing in. And every so often I’ll be driving along the lake shore, or I’ll see strangers helping each other shovel their cars out, or I’ll find some hidden gem I never knew about before, and I think, ‘God I love it here.’”
To learn more, visit veronicarothbooks.com.