Q&A: Marie Lu on Legend

Marie Lu was an art director at Online Alchemy, a video game company, before she turned on to write full-time. She always has a special interest in dystopian world that can be measured in her debut novel “LEGEND“, a full-fledged YA dystopian work. She was first inspired to write Legend while watching Les Miserables one afternoon, and wondered how the relationship between a famous criminal vs. a prodigious detective might translate into a more modern story. Her upcoming novel “PRODIGY” is the sequel of “LEGEND” and is going to release in January 2013.

Since it would be enthralling for the readers of dystopian genre to hear from the writer of the NY Times bestseller LEGEND, we recently had managed to catch up with Marie Lu through e-mail. She talked candidly on her debut and upcoming works. Check out the whole stuff:

How would you review LEGEND for those unfamiliar with your work?

Legend takes place in a dark, futuristic America. It tells the story of a fifteen year old boy who is America’s most wanted criminal, and a fifteen year old girl who is hired by the government to hunt him down. Think Blade Runner meets Catch Me If You Can.

How did you come up with this book?

I was first inspired to write Legend when I was watching the movie version of ‘Les Miserables’ on TV one afternoon. I thought, “Hey, it’d be really fun to write a teenage version of this story—a teenage criminal versus a teenage detective.” The story spun off from there.

What is legend in the book? Or how the title LEGEND describes the book?

The title refers to both Day and June, who are legendary in their own right in their world. They are young people who have the potential to permanently reshape their society.

How did you create the character of ‘Day’? Is he related to you personally in some ways?

Day is actually a character who has been in my head since I was in high school. I set out to create a Robin Hood type of character, and Day just walked into my head with his arrogant smile. It was sort of organic. He originally starred in an old fantasy manuscript of mine, but I could never find quite the right story for him. He doesn’t have much in common with me, although I see traces of his personality in my boyfriend!

Our readers would love to know about the LEGEND’s upcoming sequel PRODIGY.

Prodigy is set about a week after the events in Legend. Day and June are forced to strike a deal with the Patriot rebels: in exchange for the Patriots’ help, they must help assassinate the new Elector of the Republic. Readers will get to venture outside of Los Angeles and explore other areas of the Republic, and they might get a peek at the Colonies as well. There’s also more romance in this one, I’d say.

You must have had some interesting experiences whilst compiling as well as conducting research for this epic. Could you share those with the readers?

Much of my research came from real-life dystopias that have existed in our world and still exist today. I drew a lot of inspiration from research I did on North Korea, the eugenics movement that happened in the United States in the early 20th century, and China’s Cultural Revolution. I actually lived in Beijing during the Tiananmen Square Massacre (I was five at the time) and remember seeing the tanks out in the streets. That memory went directly into a scene in Legend.

If your readers were allowed to borrow anyone idea from LEGEND, what do you think could that be?

I hope readers take away Day’s motto from the book: that every day is a new twenty-four hours, and that everything is possible again. Day believes in ‘walking in the light’, which to him means to always seek out the truth even in a world full of lies, and to always do the right thing even if surrounded by darkness.

Apart from a writer, what’s the most dominating character in you?

An artist or a gamer! I love to draw, and I love to play video games.

Who is/are your major inspiration as a writer?

I’m constantly inspired by other writers, as well as by all forms of creative media, be it movies, music, art, games, etc. Everything around me inspires me.

Do you read in your spare time? What’s your favorite genre to read? 

Yes, I try to read as much as I can in my spare time. I’ve loved fantasy and science fiction since I was a kid, and those two genres are still my favorites.

Do you have any message for your readers?

The same message that Day has: Walk in the light!

Now, we would like to thank Ms. Lu for taking up our interview, and wish her all the best for  upcoming projects.

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