The Mockingjay Speaks

Suzanne Collins spoke at the Wellesley, MA Free Library tonight. She had no commentary and took no questions. But the 100+ or so children and young adults did not care. They arrived in force. I saw at least two “District 12” T-shirts; my friend saw a “Down with the Capitol” shirt. Fandom for books (or writing in general) gives me hope. When children get excited about things, they REALLY get excited. So it’s pleasing that they go all out to get creative and design their own shirts based on the messages that spoke to them. They dog ear yellow copies of paperbacks and write notes on pink sticky paper. Girl who did that tonight, I was you 10 years ago. I am you now. Let’s never lose that part of ourselves.

I love book events for the motley expressions you pick up while waiting. Behind us, a grandmother talked to her teenage grandson. She had just got the book; he had read it. “Is it any good?” He passed her the book. “Yeah, but well, there are some girly parts.”

In Mockingjay? Must have been the rare Peeta-Gale-war-driven make-out scene. Is it not spoilerish if I refrain from saying with whom?

Suzanne read from Catching Fire and Mockingjay. She always imagined Katniss having a “futuristic Appalachian” twang. I cringed at first. That’s not how Katniss sounded in my head! Also, she pronounced Panem as “Puh-nehm”,  not Pan (like the cookware)-ehm like I always heard myself read. It was jarring. But that brings up the musty-dust-jacket-old question of how you reconcile not wanting your reading experience invalidated with the writer’s vision and the notion that the writer is boss.

As a writer, I feel like my kitten’s been forced into a scratchy costume if everyone changes how the people in my head talked and looked. But as a reader, I like meeting the characters on my own terms. I befriend them and make them my own. Whenever I get published, I hope I have the answer that makes everyone happy.

Questions I wanted to Ask.

If anyone has uncovered the answers to these in interviews, please let me know!

1. Did you consciously know that Book 3 would be heavy on the revolution and depiction of war and vastly different from the first two books in the series?

2. A recurrent theme is the idea of a “sustainable population” and how awful it is that children are being used in war. What thoughts do you have about the real issues of declining birth rate in Europe and Japan as well child soldiers? Did they play any part in the writing of the 3rd novel? I mentioned the focus on the child and Katniss’ ultimate thesis that adults should not use children, and she deemed it pro-life. How do you feel about these readings?

3. Gale…changed. Did you consciously mean to depict him as a very real youth in certain very real societies in which young men whose homes have been destroyed resort to vengeful violence?

4. Katniss wonders to Beetee and Gale about their war tactics. “I guess there isn’t a rule book for what might be unacceptable to do to another human being,” (185). Sure there is. Or was. Panem is in a time and space removed from religion and seemingly the rest of the world. What happened?

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3 thoughts on “The Mockingjay Speaks

    • brittleighbooks says:

      Good point! Shoshana wondered what the heck happened to Mexico and Canada. I tried coming up with a timeline: 2025 = it’s the end of the world as we know it. US/Mex/Canada splits into Districts. Over, what? 100 years they specialize, Capitol assumes power. Rest of the world laughs their tails off and ignores us (because we’re separated by two really large oceans) 2124 = Dark Days. 2125 = First Hunger Games. 74 years later: Hunger Games the Book.

      Another post topic is germinating: which is better – we readers getting the pleasure of filling in the gaps? Or should the writer figure everything out in her head first to help with plausibility…the skeleton of the story that no one sees.

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