ISSUE: Spring 2012
STORY: Janice Jann
The next big name in post-apocalyptic teenage angst coming to a bookstore (and a big screen) near you? Look no further than Marie Lu.
Yes, Marie Lu’s debut novel Legend is set in a bleak, distant future where, yes, there are warring factions and, yes, precocious teenagers must face obstacles where lives are at stake, but don’t think Lu is just another writer jumping on the Hunger Games bandwagon.
The 27-year-old Chinese American author was actually in the middle of shopping around another book — a novel centered on Mozart’s sister —when she decided to write Legend, a post-apocalyptic, Les Miserables-inspired saga. Though Lu never intended to write a young adult novel, she says, “ever since I was in high school, my protagonists have always been teens. It’s a very interesting time in life where you have more responsibilities, and mixing it up with hormones makes for fun ways to explore characters.”
The book’s film rights were scooped up within weeks and Legend has been receiving rave reviews for its well-blended combination of substance and suspense. Lu is grateful for all the positive response. “[The feedback] has been really good,” she says. “I love hearing most from teens. They’re so direct with their answers. ‘I like this character, and I don’t like that one.’”
Lu may seem young to already have found such literary success, but the payoff resulted from years of hard work. Since the age of 14, Lu would begin writing around 4:30 each morning. She wrote during her undergrad years at USC, wrote throughout her stint as a video game art director, and continues to keep her early-bird writing patterns even though now she can actually afford to spend all day behind her desk. “I got into a rhythm,” says Lu. “Now I can’t write past noon.”
Lu is currently working on the second and third book of the Legend series while juggling a writer’s tour, but she’s handling the pressure in stride. She considers her success icing on top of analready scrumptious cake. “This is something I would have done regardless if I got anywhere with it or not,” she says, “so I just think of that when I write.”