We chatted with bestselling author Veronica Roth about her newest book, her favorite story in it, how she creates fictional worlds, and much more.
The End and Other Beginnings is a masterful collection of six stories, with tales of friendship and revenge – plus two new stories from the Carve the Mark universe. 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. Check out the full interview below!
1. You are known for stories set in futuristic worlds. What motivates you to write about the future?
I like to think about the possibilities! Particularly the possibilities for technology. I myself am fairly pessimistic about technology, so when I write short stories, I often challenge myself to imagine what the positive uses for technology might be—how we might use it to facilitate human connection and intimacy rather than let it take away from those things. That’s what most of the stories in The End and Other Beginnings feature, some kind of advancement in technology that creates an opportunity for emotional growth.
2. In The End and Other Beginnings, you wrote six short stories set in the future with sci-fi elements and new technologies. Tell us, how did this collection come together?
The End and Other Beginnings really came about because I had these three short stories that had been previously published in other anthologies, and they felt like they went together, even though I had written them sometimes years apart from each other. I thought readers might find new meaning in them if they were grouped together. But obviously three stories doesn’t make a collection, so I wrote three more—The Spinners, Armored Ones, and the Transformationist—just for this. Those last two are set in the same universe as my Carve the Mark books, so this was a great opportunity to go back to that galaxy and, in the case of Armored Ones, to those characters.
3. How do you conceptualize new worlds and technologies for your stories?
With these short stories, it’s often about the technology, first. In “Hearken,” there is a brain implant that allows some people to hear music in dying cells. In “Inertia,” a procedure connects two people’s minds so they can share memories if one of those people is likely going to die soon (in the story, one of the characters is about to go into a dangerous surgery). So I think about the “what if” first—what if you could share memories, what if you could hear this music, what if you could literally see the likely outcomes of a tough decision, etc.—and then I think about the best characters to use that technology, and the kind of world that would prioritize it. For the Carve the Mark stories, though, it was a bit different—there were a couple things I wanted to explore from that universe, including the currentgifts, as in the Transformationist, and the character Teka, one of my favorites from that series.
4. What do you hope to be your readers’ biggest takeaway from the book?
I hope it makes them feel something! That’s what I love about short stories. If they’re any good, they make you curious, they make you engaged with a particular character, and they leave you with a feeling that you can walk around with all day.
5. Do you have a personal favorite story in the collection?
I do, actually! I know I’m not really supposed to pick favorites, but I had a special experience writing The Transformationist. It’s set on a planet you don’t get to see in the Carve the Mark series, so you don’t need to have read Carve the Mark to understand it at all, and I loved showing that world. But more than that, the main character, Otho, hit me out of nowhere. His story is about learning to stop punishing yourself for your past, and to open yourself up to good things. I still think about him all the time.
6. How do you identify whether a story idea is better suited for a novel or a short story format?
For me, it’s about how “big” an idea is. So: does whatever happens in the story have big repercussions, ones that affect whole countries, or planets, or groups of people? Or is it really more of an intimate, individual story? The former is a novel, and the latter is a short story. That’s not to say you can’t have both! You can definitely have a novel that feels intimate, or a short story that feels expansive. But the question is which one is your highest priority—and how much space do you need to tell the story.
7. The book includes two new stories from the Carve the Mark universe. Can readers expect more installments from the series? I love the Carve the Mark universe, so I hope to return to it one day! We’ll see.
8. Having created multiple fictional worlds, do you find it challenging to move from one to another?
I don’t, really! Each one has its own logic and its own feeling. Sometimes I do find myself returning to the same ideas, so I’ll have to remind myself “that’s really more of a Divergent thing” or “that’s more of a Carve the Mark thing,” and make adjustments. But I also try to accept that no matter what, I am the same person writing in all these worlds, so there are bound to be commonalities, and that’s okay. For example: I don’t think I’ve ever written a book without some kind of training sequence. I don’t know why. I just love them. It’s like the book version of an action movie montage.
9. Have you always been a sci-fi fan? Can you give us your top 3 sci-fi novels of all time?
Yes! Ever since I was a kid devouring Animorphs books. It’s so hard to choose a top 3 when I feel like I’ve only made a small dent in all the sci-fi that’s available! But my formative scifi books, the ones that were most important to me as a writer, are probably The Giver by Lois Lowry, Dune by Frank Herbert, Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card, and A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle. (I know that’s four—I couldn’t help it!)
10. What are you most excited about for the future? What’s next in the pipeline for you?
I am VERY excited about the release of Chosen Ones, my first novel for adult readers, coming out in the U.S. in April! It’s about a group of people who, as teenagers, defeated a kind of “dark lord” figure—and now it’s ten years later, and they’re still dealing with the repercussions, both in the world around them and in their own personal lives. I always think about what happens to our heroes after they save the world, so Chosen Ones is my attempt to give myself an answer.
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The End and Other Beginnings is available for P499 (paperback) and P855 (hardcover) in selected branches and online. Connect with us on social media – it’s @nationalbookstore on Instagram and @nbsalert on Facebook, Twitter, Viber, and YouTube. For more updates, sign up for our newsletter: