Exclusive Interview With Marie Lu, Author of THE YOUNG ELITES and LEGEND

Back in July, we had the pleasure of interviewing Marie Lu, author of THE YOUNG ELITES and the LEGEND trilogy about her favorite things, the CHAMPION epilogue, the secondary character in THE YOUNG ELITES that started off as her protagonist, the trouble with “strong female character” terminology, and more!

WARNING: While there are no major spoilers for THE YOUNG ELITES, the first question in our book interview is a spoiler for CHAMPION, the last book in the LEGEND series. If you’ve not read the book and don’t want to be spoiled, skip that question!



In CHAMPION, the main protagonists survive even though it shows they’ve been apart for quite some time before meeting again. Do you imagine Day never fully remembering his prior relationship with June?

I don’t think he ever completely lost his memories. In the epilogue, he kind of has some of it coming back to him. But I do think with time, everything heals. I think he just needed– they both needed to live their separate lives.

Did you ever imagine an alternate ending for CHAMPION?

I did! It did not turn out to be what actually happened. I’m a pantser, so I just go with whatever the story is, I don’t really do a lot of outlining and that was the same case for CHAMPION.

Are you happier with this ending in the book?

I am, yeah.

Now you have a new book called THE YOUNG ELITES. Adelina is the protagonist, but she’s also a bit of a villain. Was it easier or harder to write from her perspective rather than a character that has good intentions?

It was so much harder! I remember there were days that after my writing session, I had to go pet my dog or do something nice just to not feel like a villain for writing from the first person point-of-view of a villain. Because sometimes she thinks twisted things and it’s a bit weird to kind of put yourself in that, but it was interesting. It was a really fun challenge.

Who was the easiest character to create and write in THE YOUNG ELITES?

The easiest is a character named Raffaele and he’s a male consort. He just sort of fell together really quickly. It’s like he was a finished character. I didn’t have to do a lot, once I started writing him. He was actually the original protagonist, but he did not work as a protagonist. He worked as a sidekick.

You recently did an interview with Veronica Roth where you said you were “meh” on the term “strong female character”. Can you elaborate on why the term just doesn’t work for you?

The term is so loaded these days. I feel like “strong female character” negates the different types of characters you could have. You don’t say that with male characters. You don’t say “Gosh, this movie has so many strong male characters.” You say “That was a really interesting male character” or a “complicated male character”. But for women, you have the one female and she has to be strong and I don’t know what that means, you know? I want to see women who are weak, who are timid, who are mean, who are bad, who have flaws, who are people. And I don’t think “strong female character” begins to cover that. I don’t think the term is quite valid for judging how good a character is.

How has writing THE YOUNG ELITES been different from writing the LEGEND trilogy?

It was very different writing from a villain’s point-of-view, but also from a fantasy point-of-view. I grew up reading so much fantasy and I don’t know… I kind of underestimated how difficult it was to create. Those are the two things, but it’s been really really fun.

THE YOUNG ELITES is on sale now. Check out our review here!

The Young Elites