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Midvale Journal

"Divergent” author talks new book, offers life advice at Utah visit

Feb 27, 2017 01:04PM ● By Travis Barton

Veronica Roth (left) speaks to audience members with Sarah Enni at Granger High School. Roth was promoting her new book, “Carve the Mark.” (April Hendriksen/Tri-Color Times)

By Travis Barton | [email protected]
Battling a respiratory illness, famous author Veronica Roth appeared at Granger High School on Tuesday, Jan. 24 as part of a tour to promote her new book, “Carve the Mark.”
Roth, best known for her Divergent trilogy—international best sellers that were made into movies—was joined on stage with Sarah Enni, host of the First Draft podcast, where they discussed everything from aliens versus robots to their Harry Potter fandom. They answered audience questions along the way.
“We’re happy to be here even if I sound like I swallowed a frog that is now speaking through my vocal chords,” Roth said of her illness.
Hundreds of people attended the event, sponsored by King’s English Bookshop, with 100 fans randomly selected for a special meet and greet after the show. Roth’s appearance came just in time as she was forced to reschedule her appearance in Texas the following evening due to her illness.
“She was awesome, literally awesome,” said Maddie Durham, 16. “She was even sick too and she still came out for this.”
Whitney Berger, children’s marketing manager at The King’s English Bookshop in Sugar House, said it was a great opportunity for youth to meet Roth with people sometimes not connecting the book to its author.
“You could just see the thrill and excitement in these teenagers’ eyes, who ya know are going through high school, which is an awkward period of time and meeting their favorite author meant a lot to them,” Berger said.
With help from the Granite School District, The King’s English Bookshop was able to not only get Granger High to host the event, but the district also purchased a certain number of books and tickets to allow their students to come.
“We got to see a lot of kids who maybe can’t afford her new book,” Berger said.
While authors typically will do events at the bookshop on 1511 S. 1500 E., Berger said this event allowed community members a chance to meet an author they otherwise wouldn’t normally get a chance to see.
“It’s a way for us to reach out to families and kids who don’t live in the neighborhood where our bookstore is located,” Berger said.
It wasn’t only teenagers who came to hear from Roth. Adults from across the valley came to hear her as she spoke about her new book, writing and fan fiction.
Dale Rogers, a Midvale resident, came with his wife and two kids. He said it was an experience to remember hearing from a famous author. 
“I’ve read the books and seen the movies, they’re fun, they’re entertaining,” said Dale Rogers, a Midvale resident. “She had some really good, thoughtful messages for kids tonight so I’m glad mine got to hear it.”
Durham added, “I learned a lot about being strong and having courage from her books.” Books still carry a level of importance, Berger said.
“The relationship between the written word and people is still very powerful,” Berger said.
Those messages were ones of encouragement as Roth spoke about empathy for people who suffer from illnesses.
Roth, who suffers from generalized anxiety disorder, said she feels “what we need more of is compassion for people who have these problems,” in response to an audience question about one of her book characters who experiences post-traumatic stress disorder.
Roth also shared how she learned the importance of being the best version of yourself and not someone else.
“There’s a lot of people you will love and admire and a lot of qualities that are awesome, but it takes all sorts to make this world work so just be the very best person you are,” she said.
Her encouragement extended to writers too, likening writing a book to climbing a mountain.
“What you do in the beginning is pack your backpack so you don’t put things in there that you don’t need to get to the top of the mountain…so if there are elements (of your story) that are really just there that aren’t doing anything to help you get to the end, you should take them out,” Roth said.
Roth said she wrote 12 different versions of “Carve the Mark” before finalizing on the now published version. The initial concept for the book, which tells of a man who must learn to live with the enemies that kidnapped him, came to her when she was 12 years old.
“When you think of the things you wrote when you were 12, maybe you’re like me and think ‘oh that’s embarrassing,’ but never throw them away because there’s always something in there that interested you that’s totally worthwhile. I encourage you to save your work, always,” Roth said.