To celebrate the release of The Fates Divide, the satisfying sequel to Carve the Mark, we chatted with author Veronica Roth and asked her some of our most burning questions.
(Luckily, she’s awesome and was nice enough to answer them for us!)
Our interview with Veronica Roth is spoiler-free, but if you haven’t read The Fates Divide yet, be warned: This interview may make you want to do so immediately!
Author Veronica Roth answers all of our burning questions about ‘The Fates Divide’
1. While Carve the Mark was told from two different perspectives (as well as two different narrative voices), you diversified the storytelling in The Fates Divide even more. I found the addition of Eijeh’s voice to be the most interesting. Why did you choose to tell parts of The Fates Divide (including the opening chapter) from his perspective?
Eijeh resolved one of the big problems I had in The Fates Divide, which is: how do you show things that are happening on the other side of the galaxy without having a bunch of characters standing around futuristic space TVs? Through his perspective, these big events become personal, which was a huge help, plot-wise! But he also offered the opportunity to get into some of the weirdness of currentgifts — how they are as much curses as gifts, how they change and shift and warp as a person goes through life.
2. Out of everyone in the world that you created, I find Cisi’s current gift to be the most fascinating, especially the aspect where she can’t express what’s on her mind. How did her gift challenge your writing of her?
You know, it wasn’t all that challenging, which I think is pretty telling. Cisi’s currentgift (the term “gift” in these books is a bit ironic, because often “currentgifts” are more curses than gifts) is essentially the exaggeration of what many women experience in the world. Women are socialized to make people comfortable — speak gently, apologize often, couch requests in soft language to make them sound less demanding—but that is often extremely limiting, essentially trapping women inside these unspoken rules so they can’t express themselves fully.
I basically wrote Cisi from the place inside me that understands exactly what that feels like. I experience a great deal of privilege in this world, but even I know what it’s like to come up against people who try to shape me into something sweeter and kinder than I am. Cisi endures that but to a greater degree, because of her currentgift.
3. Our heroes find refuge on Ogra early on in the novel. A lot of times, Ogra feels so foreign yet so familiar at the same time. Where did you get your inspiration for this colorful and dangerous planet?
If you’ve ever seen Tron: Legacy you know where the basic idea of Ogra came from. Say what you like about the movie itself, but it is so fun to look at, with everything dark and glowy. Beyond that, though, I took a lot of inspiration from our world: actual carnivorous plants (venus fly traps, pitcher plants, drosera), and deep sea creatures. The episodes of Blue Planet and Blue Planet II that delve into the deepest parts of the ocean yield enough weird sci-fi looking creatures for a dozen sci-fi novels.
I basically just wanted this mysterious place, that very few people in Cyra and Akos’s world have been to, to reveal dangerous and strange and beautiful things. And it’s particularly important to Akos’s character, because he’s trained as a fighter but he’s basically an aspiring botanist. Ogra is the perfect place for him.
4. The book’s major twist comes about halfway through the novel. It not only affects the characters as individuals, but it also affects the way in which we perceive a few important fates. It also really differentiates this book from the first, especially in terms of the importance of the fates. How did this twist affect your storytelling (either before or after the twist)?
It’s difficult to talk about without giving something away! But I’ll give it a try. I’ve had all this mapped out very carefully from the beginning of Carve the Mark, so the groundwork had been laid. How it affected my writing was basically by filling me with excitement as I got closer and closer to The Moment. And the tricky thing was finding emotional realism in the aftermath. (Is that vague enough for you? Hehe.)
About the fates generally, though, what I like about them is that they seem so concrete to the characters, but they’re actually not, not necessarily. The way characters interpret them says more about the character than the fate itself.
5. Which character was the easiest to write for this time? Which character was the most challenging?
The easiest was Cyra. It made sense for her humor to come out a little more in this story, particularly in her banter with Teka, so that was really fun to write. And I also just understand her the best, I think.
The hardest was Akos. He endured a great deal at the end of Carve the Mark, so figuring out how that would manifest emotionally, and how it would affect his actions moving forward, was difficult. Despite my struggle with my own mental illness—anxiety—I’ve never been depressed, so writing Akos in that state required a lot of research and thought and talking with beta readers. It was good work to do, but it was a challenge, to be sure.
6. Were there any aspects of this world or Akos and Cyra’s story that you wanted to explore more but just couldn’t make work?
Just one that I can think of—I really enjoyed Cyra and Akos combat training in Carve the Mark (what can I say, I love training sequences!), and I wanted to find a way for them to continue Akos’s education in The Fates Divide, but it just didn’t make sense for the story. So, no tropey training scenes that turn into makeouts, alas.
7.Though the ending satisfies our need to know about what happened to all of the characters, it leaves the overarching planetary unrest relatively unresolved. Is this world one you’re hoping to return to in the future, or did you have other reasons to leave larger scale loose ends untied?
My reason for leaving some large-scale loose ends untied is basically to give the appropriate respect to these kinds of conflicts. War divides nations, it devastates people and the ripple effects last for a long, long time. A peace treaty or an armistice doesn’t make everything okay again— sometimes it just establishes a short break before fighting breaks out again. So with the conflict I had set up, I knew I couldn’t resolve it at the end, that it might actually never “resolve” with finality.
That said, I’d love to return to this universe someday. There is so much to explore there! But for now, I’m satisfied with how these characters’ stories wrapped up.
About ‘The Fates Divide’ by Veronica Roth
In the second book of the Carve the Mark duology, globally bestselling Divergent author Veronica Roth reveals how Cyra and Akos fulfill their fates. The Fates Divide is a richly imagined tale of hope and resilience told in four stunning perspectives.
Fate brought them together. Now it will divide them.
The lives of Cyra Noavek and Akos Kereseth are ruled by their fates, spoken by the oracles at their births. The fates, once determined, are inescapable.
Akos is in love with Cyra, in spite of his fate: He will die in service to Cyra’s family. And when Cyra’s father, Lazmet Noavek—a soulless tyrant, thought to be dead — reclaims the Shotet throne, Akos believes his end is closer than ever.
As Lazmet ignites a barbaric war, Cyra and Akos are desperate to stop him at any cost. For Cyra, that could mean taking the life of the man who may—or may not—be her father. For Akos, it could mean giving his own. In a stunning twist, the two will discover how fate defines their lives in ways most unexpected.
About the author
Veronica Roth is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Divergent Series (Divergent, Insurgent, Allegiant, and Four: A Divergent Collection) and the Carve the Mark series (Carve the Mark, The Fates Divide). Her short stories and essays have appeared in the anthologies Summer Days and Summer Nights, Shards and Ashes, and Three Sides of a Heart. The Divergent Series was developed into three major motion pictures.
Veronica grew up outside of Chicago and graduated from Northwestern University. She now lives in Chicago proper with her husband and dog and writes full-time.