In a new inteview with The New York times Suzanne talks about her war message among other topics:
Back in 2009, the literary agent Rosemary Stimola sat down to read “Mockingjay,” the third, highly anticipated book in a wildly popular trilogy of young adult novels by Suzanne Collins. Stimola, who represents Collins, read eagerly until she came to one of the last chapters, in which a firebombing kills thousands of civilians caught in a revolutionary war, including one heartbreakingly innocent and beloved young character. The book was then a computer file, not yet the blockbuster it would become upon its release last August. Changes could still be made. Stimola picked up the phone and called Collins.
“No!” Stimola wailed. “Don’t do it.”
She was reacting as a reader, not a career adviser, but perhaps in the back of her mind she was imagining the emotions the plot twist might provoke in the book’s youthful fans: depression rather than inspiration, desolation rather than triumph. The capacity of young-adult literature for dark messaging has been expanding since the early ’70s, but this poignant loss seemed almost unbearable.
“Oh, but it has to be,” Collins told her. Stimola, paraphrasing, recalled the explanation Collins offered her over the phone: “This is not a fairy tale; it’s a war, and in war, there are tragic losses that must be mourned.”
Her indictment of the media in “The Hunger Games” — the camera is the enemy, celebrity an empty, even dangerous contrivance — is reflected in her desire to keep fame at arm’s length.
In “The Lord of the Flies,” the children are in an amoral free fall; in “The Hunger Games,” young people, even murderous ones, are for the most part innocents, creations of adults’ cruelty or victims of adult weakness in the face of power.
When I asked Collins if she had drawn from “Battle Royale,” she was unperturbed. “I had never heard of that book or that author until my book was turned in. At that point, it was mentioned to me, and I asked my editor if I should read it. He said: ‘No, I don’t want that world in your head. Just continue with what you’re doing.’ ” She has yet to read the book or to see the movie.
The director, Gary Ross, has pledged that it will be safe for viewers as young as 12. But it is one thing to depict bloodshed on paper, another to do so on film. Collins was enlisted to write the original script. Ross, whose films include “Big” and “Pleasantville,” completed the final treatment, consulting heavily with Collins. In February, she flew out to Los Angeles to discuss sets, costumes and changes to the script. Though many directors might find such collaboration burdensome, Ross seems to welcome it. When Collins, looking at a set design, pointed out that the government building on a town square needed to loom more prominently — as a more obvious symbol of power — Ross agreed. Collins has been included in casting discussions as well. “I want her to be on the set as much as possible,” Ross said. “I’d like her next to me every day.”
Collins is also researching another young-adult series (typically cautious, she would not say more).
For now, she seems intent on doing as much as she can to avoid becoming someone who would be, God forbid, recognized on the street. “I’m not a very fancy person,” she said. “I’ve been a writer a long time, and right now ‘The Hunger Games’ is getting a lot of focus. It’ll pass. The focus will be on something else. It’ll shift. It always does. And that seems just fine.”
Coming from most authors, this might sound like obligatory modesty. Coming from Collins, it sounds as if she knows her history.
I too had never heard of or read Battle Royale before reading The Hunger Games. So that was a good piece of info, maybe now people will stop always trying to compare the two. I would happily read any other book she writes! For some reason I love the ending statement where she’s already thinking ahead to the end, which is sure to come.