1:45 pm EST, January 23, 2017

Exclusive: Veronica Roth discusses swapped gender roles, narrative voice in ‘Carve the Mark’

Carve the Mark, Veronica Roth’s new novel, came out this past Tuesday and we were lucky enough to chat with her about the book’s interesting take on gender, narrative voice, and more.

Carve the Mark is the first novel in Veronica Roth’s new duology, and it tells the story of two fated young adults with special gifts who must either work together or destroy each other. It’s a classic tale of survival and taking your life (fate and all) into your own hands.

But Carve the Mark is much more than that. How much? Well, you’ll just have to read it.

However, we will say that the way in which the novel handles voice and gender is quite different from other novels in the genre. Essentially, not only does Roth pull a gender role reversal with her two main characters, she also allows them to grow as people while maintaining the reversal. In other words, the characters don’t “grow” into “normalized” gender roles. Yes, they take on different aspects that could be associated with the stereotypical roles for their gender, but their core personalities and identities don’t change.

It turns out that the gender role reversals and narrative voice in the novel were topics Roth was interested and excited about as well.

When it came to writing Akos, the novel’s male lead, Roth wanted to explore a different kind of male character type. “It is not just okay but also desirable to be vulnerable and kind of soft-hearted as a more masculine figure,” she explained. “I think that’s a strength, not a weakness, and so it was kind of just a really interesting thing to explore with Akos.”

In addition to physical and personality traits, Veronica Roth also crafted Akos’ (as well as Cyra’s) identity through the use of narrative voice. The novel is not only told from two perspectives, but also two different narrative voices. While Cyra’s first person voice reads like an open book (which jives with her “tell it like it is” personality), Akos’ third person narration demonstrates how guarded he is. From Roth’s point of view, “It gave this layer of separation. It’s almost like he won’t let you in all the way.”

Though Roth made a point of tackling gender roles in Carve the Mark, she knows she still has a lot to learn about writing gender roles. She also noted how, even though the reversal was a bit of a challenge, it was an interesting and exciting thing to explore. “There is such a wide variety of different kinds of strength, different kinds of honorable qualities that a person can embody,” Roth said “[and] they really have nothing to do with that person’s gender.”

Are you intrigued by Carve the Mark yet? Be sure to check out our full interview with Veronica Roth in the video below!

Related: Carve the Mark book review: An engaging sci-fi tale in a(nother) galaxy far, far away

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