Author of the New York Times best-selling trilogy “Divergent” Veronica Roth spoke at the Ann Arbor Public Library about her new book Tuesday night. Residential College lecturer and author Alexander Weinstein led the conversation in front of a crowd of nearly 200 people.
Roth’s new book, “The End and Other Beginnings,” published Tuesday, is a collection of dystopian short stories. In addition to the “Divergent” trilogy, Roth has written other dystopian novels including “Carve the Mark” and “The Fate Divides.”
The night began with a reading of a selection from Roth’s book and Weinstein’s new book, “Universal Love.” They then opened up a conversation surrounding the topics of writing and dystopian novels.
Roth and Weinstein both said growing up in the Midwest had a significant impact on their writing.
“I feel like when I try to write about other places, I don’t feel like I know those places,” Roth said. “I’m always a visitor in those places. I’ve lived in the Chicago area since I was six years old and this is home.”
Weinstein shared how his first-hand experiences with Midwesterners helped him structure his stories.
“There is kind of that part of the safety that the way that people are very friendly in the Midwest, but also very distant internally,” Weinstein said. “And that creates this wonderful irony.”
Since Roth writes for an audience of primarilyteenagers and young adults, she has often been asked if she feels like she’s trying to teach a lesson through her readers. Roth said she doesn’t feel like her writing is supposed to teach — it’s meant to be an escape from the real world. Ultimately, Roth wants her writing to be a safe haven for young people.
“I think that it’s pretty clear now that the youths don’t really need me to teach them things.” Roth said. “They have access to a lot more information than I ever did. They are way more aware of the world. They’re starting climate strikes and marching for our lives and I think what they need is a safe place to go and I can create that and a quiet place to think, then that’s all I can do.”
When asked about her process of writing dystopian novels, Roth mentioned she is usually a pessimistic person, but that changes when she starts writing.
“I have a lot of pessimistic impulses, but when I write, I tend to challenge my own thoughts about the world and about people,” Roth said. “I’m a little pessimistic about people too, but when I write I find myself by having hope instead and … that’s why I do it.”
LSA freshman Molly Duplaga attended the event and was excited to hear from a successful female author. She thought both Roth and Weinstein had a lot of valuable information to share about writing and their own life experiences.
“I really enjoyed listening to Roth and Weinstein speak and hearing both of their thoughts on the process of writing,” Duplaga said. “They were fun to listen to and relatable. I liked how they both appreciated the Midwest and were able to put into words what it’s like to live here.”