This was a wonderful informative and entertaining discussion. I had so much fun. Pierce has an easy going and charming personality.
I took a lot of notes so I’ll get started and share some photos I took.
My sister and I showed up right after work, bought our books and waited on the queue for the events room.
A woman on the queue with us went around and handed out a notebook with the Sons of Ares symbol and a Morning Star keychain that she made herself. Cute.
There were about 10 to 15 people ahead of us so when we entered the room it was easy to pick the seats we wanted. We sat in the center of the second row.
The discussion was led by Pierce’s editor Mike Braff. They made a joke that Mike already knows the answers to his list of questions but I think that makes the q&a more relaxed and allows for more spontaneity.
One of the first things discussed is that Pierce is working on a new trilogy called Iron Gold. USA Today broke the story that it is set in the Red Rising world and what happens after the fall of an empire.
Warning: There are a couple of spoilers below the cut for Red Rising.
Pierce wrote Red Rising in about two months and while he was writing it he was reading the Sophocles play Antigone. There is a similar theme about a woman who stands up against a corrupt system, to do what is right even if it means her death. When Pierce was creating Darrow he was thinking of what kind of man would Antigone fall in love with.
The Color-code hierarchy was inspired from the abandoned city of Burma, Naypyidaw.
“In the city’s residential zones, rooftops are colour-coded according to where people work in the “ministry zone”. Many rank-and-file government workers live in dormitories and military-style barracks while the top officials have opulent mansions. It is rumoured that opposition politicians have smaller lodgings than the ruling party honchos – a petty touch, perhaps, but entirely in keeping with this monument to hierarchy.” It’s an interesting story. (Read more.)
He’d written six novels before Red Rising and they were pretty bad. He told a funny story about catching his mother in a lie when she said she had read one of his stories. He asked her what she thought of a certain character, she said that character was her favorite, but Pierce made it up.
Now his mom does read his books. She loves Sevro and doesn’t want him killed off.
Everyone loves Sevro. I always think of my questions too late. I should have asked Pierce if he has ever encountered a person who dislikes Sevro. I doubt it.
He jokingly described himself as pretentious kid because he read the children’s editions of classics. When he told his grade school teacher that he read Voltaire she looked at him with doubt. That story got a lot of laughs. Trust me, I am just lame at retelling it.
When it came to writing Morning Star it took Pierce nine months to write.
He said for him writers block is not about having no ideas but having about 35 different ideas. The other reason it took more time to write is because Morning Star was written for the fans. (Red Rising was for himself, Golden Son for the characters.)
Of course the question of the movie came up. Universal has the rights and there are drafts written. With Deadpool being rated R and coming in number one that changes the paradigm. Gives us fans hope that the Red Rising films will be rated R too, as they should be.
(I personally would have preferred a TV series on HBO or Showtime, but if we can get these films to be rated R then I don’t have to worry about content being edited down.)
As far as casting, and I totally agree with Pierce’s idea for Darrow, he’d like to see someone unknown. That way we can grow up with the character. I think Mustang should also be an unknown actress.
For the Jackal Pierce said he pictures Eddie Redmayne, because he has cheekbones that can cut glass. Someone in the audience added, “Or your own hand.” Poor Eddie! LOL
For Mickey he mentioned Gary Oldman. I always pictured Godfrey Gao. He played Magnus Bane in The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones.
And although Sevro’s potential casting was not mentioned, I picture Moises Arias. He was in The Kings of Summer and Ender’s Game.
Two more fan questions that really stood out to me were:
1) There are a few shout outs to Star Wars and Lord of the Rings (among other beloved stories) in the books that the fans catch and get excited about, so what does Pierce fanboy over?
It’s the little easter eggs in movies, like seeing the hieroglyphs of C-3P0 and R2-D2 in Raiders of the Lost Arc. Or seeing E.T. in one of the prequel’s Senate scenes. Pierce couldn’t remember which Star Wars it was so I called out, “The Phantom Menace.”
2)Pierce mentioned that he doesn’t make outlines, but did he know who would survive at the end of each book?
While there are no plot outlines he does write each character’s story on post-it notes. If he can’t fill that post-it then he hasn’t developed that character. When writing the end of Red Rising, he didn’t know who he would kill off so he put all the characters’ post-its in a hat and he drew out Pax’s name. It broke his heart and he almost put it aside to draw again. Apparently it threw off his idea to have Darrow join the Telemanus House and be under their protection from the Bellonas. There was also the potential story for Pax and Ragnar to become friends. That would have been awesome to see. (An Alternate Universe novella, maybe?)
The story would have been so different, but at least it wasn’t Sevro’s name. Servo’s name should never be put in the “who do I kill off?” hat.
The Upper East Side Barnes and Nobel was really organized. When it came time for the signing we went up to the stage row by row. No one was chased away, everyone got a photo with Pierce, and our books were personalized. I do wish I brought my copy of Golden Son. I called B&N a few days to before to ask if he’d sign his other books and they said he would only be singing Morning Star. Some people had the whole trilogy and I saw one person with 5 copies of Morning Star! Next time I am bringing Golden Son so I can have the set signed.
That night I was 50 pages away from finishing Morning Star. I read 100 pages on Sunday and another 100 pages on Monday. By Monday night my right eye was blood shot. When it was my turn I told this story to Pierce and he asked in jest if I read with only one eye. He was also really sweet because he remembered we met before at a past event.
My sister told him she’s scared to start reading and because she can’t handle a Sevro death scene. He told her he has faith in her inner strength. Awww.
Review of Morning Star will be up later this week. Still sorting my feelings.