Veronica Roth is an American author best known for her Divergent Trilogy, a series of young adult science fiction adventure novels set in a post-apocalyptic version of Chicago.
The first two books of the series ‘Divergent’ and ‘Insurgent’ have been adapted into successful films starring Shailene Woodley.
Roth was born in New York City on 19th August, 1988. Her parents divorced when she was five years old, her mother Barbara Ross (a painter) has since remarried to Frank Ross, a financial consultant. Veronica is the youngest of the three children.
She grew up in Barrington, Illinois and graduated from Barrington High School. After high school Roth attended Minnesota’s Carleton College for one year before transferring to Northwestern University’s Creative writing program.
Interest in Writing
Roth credits her mother for fostering in her creativity and love for books. Her mother used to read to her every night when she was young and raised her by the motto ‘Boredom is not allowed.’
Roth has been writing since the age of 12, partly as a way to deal with her anxiety problems and mostly because she loves writing.
Concept of Divergent
It was while on a long drive from her home near Chicago to Carleton College in Minnesota that Veronica Roth saw a billboard that intrigued her. It was an image of a person leaping off a building and she wondered why anyone would do that. At that time Roth was studying the treatment of phobias by repeated exposure to fears in her Psychology classes.
From these thoughts she developed the concept of Divergent, where the main character, Beatrice Prior (Tris) sets on a journey to become fearless. She confronts her deepest fears, guards an ominous secret, and also leaps off trains and buildings!
Veronica Roth Meets Her Agent
Roth met her agent Joanna Stampfel-Volpe (JSV) while attending the Midwest Writers conference at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. She signed up for a pitch session with Joanna, who would later become instrumental in the success of her writing career.
Roth’s response was to write another book, make it as polished as it could be and request Joanna to take a look at it. Joanna liked Roth’s writing and signed her after reading the plot of Divergent.
Roth Receives an Offer from Harper Collins
Magically, Roth received an offer from HarperCollins within four days after submitting Divergent, she celebrated by jumping into a tub filled with 42 bags of mini-marshmallows.
You can call this destiny, we would like to attribute this to the great chemistry and teamwork between the two ladies. Joanna’s talent for precisely conveying and guiding writers to what the publishers were looking for, and Roth’s adaptability and ability to grasp market demands at such a young age.
I have loved Harper Collins since I was little, even though at the time I didn’t know that a lot of the books I loved were HC books. Never did I think “one day, I’m going to be published by HC” and actually believe it. – Veronica Roth
Divergent became a New York Times bestseller upon its release in 2011, and Veronica Roth became a bestselling-author at the young age of 22.
Advice for Aspiring Writers
Veronica Roth advices aspiring writers to take criticism constructively, learn from it and try to become a better writer.
Her second piece of advice is to develop persistence and keep writing no matter what. She says writers who write because they love stories and writing is more likely to succeed than those who just have an idea of getting published.
Her last piece of advice for aspiring young writers is to develop patience, take the time to learn about writing, learn about the publishing world and how it works.
It is all about Questions
Veronica Roth is not trying to answer questions with her books; rather, she wants her readers to come away with questions.
This is consistent with her own experience with books.
I don’t think books have ever solved my problems or made my decisions for me, but they bring me out of myself and make me ask questions, and that’s life-altering enough. – Veronica Roth