Veronica Roth has created, yet again, a fascinating story to get lost in with her new novel, Carve the Mark.
An adventure-filled escape, that is what Veronica Roth, author of the Divergent series, hopes her readers gain from her latest work, Carve the Mark. Published by HarperCollins on January 17, the new novel is the first of a duology that enters a brand-new world of Veronica’s creation. From climate, to politics, and language, she created it all.
“Originally the idea came when I was 12-years-old. It was just the basic plot structure, about a young man who is kidnapped and has to adapt to living with his enemies,” Veronica told Faze Magazine. “There was something interesting about that idea. I don’t know where it came from. I had some dark thoughts when I was young, I guess,” she said with a laugh. Adding that she was often worried about the possibility of being abducted as a child, suggesting the idea may have come from a primal fear inside of her.
Veronica had a difficult time deciding on the exact genre and setting of Carve the Mark. “I kept writing different versions of it where it was fantasy, urban fantasy, or sci-fi. It wasn’t until I found this setting of space and invented the galaxy around it that the story really started to work.”
With this new world, Veronica wanted to start from scratch and create her own history and culture. When she wrote the Divergent series, she created a dystopian future stemming from where we are today. This took a lot more structure and planning. “Dystopia is basically a perfect future gone wrong. You have to think about what kind of future you want to show in the story, but you also have to think about how you might get there from here. Which means you have to know how long it takes for things to change and what kind of political government, social stuff has to happen interim. That requires a lot of knowledge that I did not have.” When it came to Carve the Mark, she wanted the ability to be free and not have to worry about how the story developed from earth’s standpoint; creating a brand-new world was the perfect way to do this.
How did she do it? She built it slowly, over time. “The really, really, rough draft of Carve the Mark was just a snowy planet. Sort of like Hoth. I think it’s just because it was winter in Chicago.” Veronica says she felt as though Chicago’s cold winter would never end, so she wondered, “what if it didn’t?” Then with each subsequent draft, she says she built more of the world and the logic behind it.
But creating an entirely new world required more than just imagination, and even though Veronica did conduct research for the Divergent series, Carve the Mark required her to conduct quite a bit more. She worked off of her own experience from her time living in Romania and read books about North Korea to help in building the convincing dictatorship she was looking to create and the process of how dictators seize and maintain power.
Her research also taught her how to build a constructed language for Shotet. First Veronica crafted a long list of syllables using sounds from Hungarian. Then she used a constructed language generator she found online to create a new language for her world. She also took kickboxing classes, partially for personal interest, but also to make the fight scenes more realistic. “So, I had to change some of those based on what I learned,” she added.
As to whether she sees any of herself in the characters in Carve the Mark, Veronica believes aspects of authors’ personal qualities always seep into their characters. “I try and find something relatable in each character and then I will build from there. Because I think, even with antagonists, you have to be able to sympathize with them to a certain extent.”