OH MY GOD YOU GUYS. I’m so happy that my next fantasy after my Throne of Glass binge was The Young Elites!! SO GOOD. I’ll be reviewing it soon but make sure it is on your TBR because it is SOLID and I cannot WAIT for book 2.
I was VERY excited to be able to get in on a phone interview with Marie Lu because I loved the Legend series and I HAD to listen to her talk more about The Young Elites after reading and loving it!!
My question to Marie was this:
So, in the Legend series, you gave us this really compelling dystopian United States, which was both familiar and unfamiliar to us. And in Young Elites, you give us a really kickass and amazing fantasy world. I was just curious, now that you’ve done both, what was one of the most difficult parts of writing your own world and the rules to that world?
“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. And a lot of those things went into the story. I’d feel weird saying that it’s my world, because it’s still very much based on reality. And I took a lot from what already existed.
But, it was definitely a different experience because Legend was sort of looking forward and this is kind of looking back in time. And it was interesting playing with that, because oddly enough they kind of end up at the same place where it’s still a dystopia in some ways. But, it happened in the past and– ultimately thinking about it, I was really–I was like, wow, it’s interesting that no matter if you go forward or backwards, we’re still going to have these similar issues. And that was fun to explore.
But, it was definitely a challenge trying to switch my writing style, because now I kept trying to avoid using a lot of modernisms that kept creeping their way into the story. And the first time that I turned in my manuscript, my editor was like, “I feel we could tone down on the modern tone of your stuff. It’s kind of futuristic for an old-timey sort of story.” So, that was an adjustment as well.”
She was also really kind, because we only got to ask her one question, let us email any further questions we had hoped would be covered but weren’t. So I had to ask her about her art and Pinterest boards!
On how her art and her (amazing) Pinterest board for The Young Elites aids in her planning of the book:
“I’m so thrilled you like the Pin board! Haha, it’s totally my procrastination enabler…..but it also really does help as I draft. I like to Pin as I go, and sometimes I’ll even see something on Pinterest that will inspire something in the book. Teren’s hairstyle, for example, was inspired by this:
Photo credit here
As for my art–yes, I find that before I ever start a first draft, I must draw my characters first in order to get a firm handle on who they are. All of my sketches in my Pin board were done very early on in the TYE writing process. I also like to draw whenever I get writer’s block or find myself mentally exhausted. It’s my way of taking some time away from the writing, but still getting to do something creative that’s set within the same fictional world.”
There were some other great questions asked and some really interesting things discussed! But my FAVORITE thing was about one of my favorite aspects of this book — which is how Adelina is pretty much an anti-hero. June and Day, from her Legend series, are good people and Adelina is definitely darker and not as easy to like but you STILL root for her in a lot of ways even when you are like OMG BAD ADELINA. So I was SO happy someone asked about this!
On The Young Elites being an origin story for a villain and the writing of an anti-hero of sorts:
“I thought it was the idea of writing from the antagonist’s point of view after I was talking to my agent about this book. When I first started writing The Young Elites I wanted to write a fantasy book, but at the time it was–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.
So, I don’t know. It was very, very odd. And I feel like I got depressed more when I was writing this book, which is kind of–it’s kind of sad to say. But, having to put yourself into that space was–I mean, it’s not a great place to be in. So, afterwards I always have to go, like, hug my dog or, you know, go eat and drink something so I don’t feel quite so awful about writing stuff that’s, like, yay, killing people. But, yeah. Yeah, it was very, very odd.”
Because I loved The Young Elites SO much I’m going to give away my ARC of it because I plan on buying this puppy when it comes out!! (I have a feeling you all are going to want to as well!!). It’s going to be one of those series I need to have complete & on my shelf. I just know it.
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About The Book:
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.
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.