EAST LONGMEADOW – For the past two weeks “Red Queen,” a young adult fantasy novel by Victoria Aveyard has been on the New York Times Best Sellers list. During its first week it reached No.1 on the young adult listing.
Aveyard, a 2008 East Longmeadow High School graduate, told Reminder Publications her novel is the first book in a planned trilogy, set in a dystopian world where people are divided by the color of their blood.
“You can either be born a red, which is a normal red-blooded human like you or me or you’re born with silver blood, which means you’re one of the elite and you have really cool superpowers,” she added.
Aveyard said the “silvers” have powers such as super strength, mind-control, or the ability to manipulate fire, similar to mutants from Marvel Comics’ X-Men series.
“The story really follows a 17-year-old girl [named Mare Barrow] who thinks she’s normal,” Aveyard noted. “She has red parents, has red blood, and is a thief, basically a criminal to help her family stay alive, and then she discovers somehow, even though it’s impossible, she has superhuman powers too.”
One aspect of the story unique to “Red Queen” is that it is not set in the realm of medieval fantasy, she added.
“Electricity exists,” Aveyard said. “There are guns and cameras and light bulbs.”
Aveyard said “Red Queen” is also inspired by storytelling elements in the medieval high, which are adapted for a modern setting.
The second book will begin to be copy edited soon, she added. The release date is scheduled for 2016.
“I really enjoyed writing not an anti-hero, but a hero who has flaws who is very much not perfect, who isn’t just going to be like, ‘Oh, I’m clumsy, that’s my problem,’” Aveyard added. “Her problem is that she’s vengeful and selfish and she’s not always going to make the right choices and that was really interesting for me to write.”
She noted that her influences include fantasy series, including “The Lord of the Rings,” “Harry Potter,” and “A Song of Ice and Fire” as well as film directors such as Steven Spielberg and George Lucas.
“My mom’s an English teacher [and] my dad’s a history teacher,” she added. “So, I’ve always had a love of those two things and it always comes out in my writing.”
A 2012 graduate of the University of Southern California with Bachelor of Fine Arts in screenwriting, Aveyard said, “I had a crushing amount of student loans and I had a film degree in a recession and you feel really trapped by that situation.”
Aveyard began writing “Red Queen” in June 2012 and finished the first draft of the book in January 2013. The book has also been optioned by Universal Pictures for a movie adaptation.
“They have a script and if the book does well they might move forward and go on with the rights and hopefully produce it,” she added.
Aveyard said this past winter she sold an action film screenplay to Sony Pictures about the Greek gods and goddesses set in modern times.
“So it’s kind of like The Avengers, but with the Greek gods and goddesses,” she added. “Stan Lee [comic book creator] is onboard with that, so apparently that’s pretty cool. He has a Greek god project that he’s working on and now they’re melding it with mine. It’s still in the very early stages.”
For more information about Aveyard and her novel “Red Queen,” currently No. 6 on the New York Times Best Sellers list for young adult fiction, visit www.victoriaaveyard.com.