Thursday night, The Bookmark in San Patricio Plaza held its monthly book club meeting, with a Q&A via Skype with Victoria Aveyard, author of Red Queen. I confess, I’ve never had the opportunity to attend a book club, but I’ve dreamt of it since I was a kid and would beg my mom to take me to Borders, the few times we went to Plaza Las Americas. However, I don’t think I was mentally prepared to witness everything that happened at the event.
I start out by noting that the bookstore was packed. People of all ages, from tweens who have not yet completed middle school, (a shout-out to the twelve year old girl in her school uniform, who started out by fearlessly disclosing her personal opinions on current social situations, and expressed how they relate to the book, and finished with a complete dream cast. I wish I would’ve had that level of charisma at that age!), to grown adults. “I’m so excited to have so many young girls here …” said a lady in the front row. This participant read the book and contributed to the discussion several times.
******** SPOILER ALERT! IF YOU HAVE NOT READ THE BOOK AND/OR DO NOT WANT TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENS IN THE STORY, WE RECOMMEND THAT DO NOT READ FURTHER ********
The book discussion was energetic and fast-paced; from character analysis, to events that occur in the story, and even the possibility of several spin-offs. “I supported him from the beginning and he turned out to be a jerk,” said one of the participants of the book club, referring to Prince Maven. However, not all were expressions of hatred towards the prince and his mother, another girl said she loved him and that was the best character. “Team Evil”, added the same participant, while another compared him to Prince Hans of the animated film, Frozen. The possible casting for Queen Elara, Maven’s mother, also gave a lot to talk about. Most participants agreed that they could see an actress, such as Lana Parrilla (Once Upon a Time), giving life to Elara, Elizabeth Mitchell (Lost, OUAT) was also mentioned as an option, among others.
There were jokes about the name of the protagonist and her resemblance to some body parts, (Mare Barrow = bone marrow?) and also some speculation about the possibility of a larger storyline for Farley, spokeswoman for the Scarlet Guard, a group of Red revolutionaries determined to end the Silver reign; by having her replace Mare, an idea that the majority disregarded. “Maybe for a spin-off”, suggested another participant.
The intense and dangerous Evangeline, Cal’s fiancée and Lady of the House of Samos; was compared with Regina George, with supernatural powers.
What the participants liked the most was the way Aveyard managed to implement surprising and unexpected plot twists, and the way in which she developed and brought to life the kingdom of Norda.
After the book discussion, the Skype session with Aveyard gave lots to talk about and created high expectations for the rest of the series. “I wanted someone with lightning powers and wanted it to be a teenager and not to be like … Thor” Aveyard said, jokingly referring to what inspired her to create Mare. She also noted that the reason why Mare and Shade have powers despite the color of their blood, will be explored in the next book in the series. When questioned about the release date of the sequel, Aveyard said “maybe for next winter.”
The sequel, in which she declined to give many details, will deeply explore the friendship between Mare and Kilorn, a character who, until now, most readers who attended the event, considered irrelevant and without purpose. “Of course it has a purpose, He is a buddy!” She said amusingly.
Aveyard explained that during the process of writing, the characters she most enjoyed developing were Maven and Farley. She further indicated that developing a Maven as a deceitful character was simple, she knew from the beginning what his goals and intentions would be, but also drew inspiration from the conflicts in the series Game of Thrones. She also revealed that her main idea, that developed into this series is: “a teenage girl with the power to create electricity is thrown into a battle arena, in which she was expected to die, but ends up killing her assailant”. Geographically, it is inspired mainly by the northeastern are of the United States, where Aveyard grew up; but as the story progresses, the geographical location expands. “I have my own maps of the kingdom; but to add them is at the publisher’s discretion,” she added.
Terrorism and revolution play an important role in the course of history. Given the fact that you can clearly see the views and the concerns of both sides; Aveyard explained that it is a matter of cultural perspective and her intention was to show the reality, and that “literature tends to romanticize revolution”. Mare and her brother Shade play an important role in this revolution, not only because of their positions of power during the conflict, but because of their supernatural powers, especially now that we’ve discovered that Shade is super speedy.. However, the other three Barrow siblings, Bree, Giza and Tramy do not have special skills. “They could have [powers], but they don’t,” said Aveyard in response to the possibility that the rest of the Barrow clan has dormant powers.
Currently, Aveyard is contracted with HarperCollins for a Red Queen trilogy, of which the second book is ready and the third is in process. She confirmed that the story will have at least one novella that may be revealed this year. In response to the possible death of characters like Mare or Julian, Cal’s uncle, brother of the late Queen Coriane, and Mare’s teacher), her answer remained the same; “I can’t say anything, but if someone dies, there is a reason”. Aveyard also revealed that the second book ends in cliffhanger, leaving readers impatiently looking forward to book 2. Lastly, she expressed her admiration for the sequel’s cover design and admits she “likes more than the first book cover.” The night ended with a raffle prize draw where they gave books, shirts, and autographed copies of Red Queen, among other things.
It would be an understatement to say that this book club has created high expectations for the sequel, even more than for the first book. Were you there? What do you think? Do you think you’ll be reading the rest of the trilogy? Let me know in the comments below.