'Red Queen' Writer Reveals Cover, Talks Inspirations and Splurges

Red Queen Book Jacket - P 2014
<p>Red Queen Book Jacket - P 2014</p>
Victoria Aveyard, a 2012 USC grad, scored a three book deal and a film option for her fantasy novel about a kingdom divided by blood color--red for the masses, silver for the super powered elites.

Here's a first look at the cover to Victoria Aveyard's hotly anticipated first novel, Red Queen

The YA fantasy is set in a world divided by blood color — red for ordinary people, silver for elites with supernatural abilities. Mare, a street urchin who steals to help her family survive, tries to save her best friend from being conscripted in the army. That quest lands her in a castle where, in front of the king and his court, she suddenly displays special powers — powers impossible for a red blood. To hide this startling news and to keep her under control, the king invents a past for Mare as a lost princess and sets her up to marry one of his sons. Mare becomes part of the silver world but she also starts aiding the Scarlet Guard, which is plotting a red rebellion. Mare becomes caught between these factions and her own heart as plans for the rebellion move forward.  

Since graduating from USC's screenwriting program in 2012, Aveyard has scored a three-book deal for the Red Queen trilogy, had the film rights optioned by Universal and sold another screenplay. Now Red Queen is set to be published in January 2015. Gennifer Hutchison (Breaking Bad) is at work on the adaption, which will be produced by Benderspink and Pouya Shahbazian (Divergent).

The 24-year-old wunderkind talked with The Hollywood Reporter about the story, the writing process and how she splurged after getting a book contract and selling the movie rights in the same week. 

Aveyard recounted that she was interning at a studio, tasked with looking at self-published books on Amazon to see if there was anything to option. "I realized that everything good was taken and even everything bad as well." She decided to try her hand at writing. 

A total film geek who names the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Jurassic Park (she saw it when she was 3 years old), Star Wars and Independence Day ("the perfect summer blockbuster") as favorites, she says the inspiration for the book came from X-Men. "I was always fascinated by the X-Men and the story of mutants being oppressed, but 100 years in the future mutants will run the show."

At a pitch meeting for USC students at Benderspink, producers encouraged Aveyard to develop her idea, especially as a book. So after graduation, she moved home to East Longmeadow, Mass., and spent the next year writing the novel. When it was done, in January 2013, Benderspink helped set her up with a literary agent at New Leaf and by April she had the book and movie deal. 

She says it all happened so fast that it felt like being "in a coma, and this was the dream or hallucination." But after the initial euphoria wore off she realized, "This is my job. I need to be moving forward and not get caught up in the hype."

Aveyard buckled down, selling a spec screenplay, Eternal, to Sony and making progress on the second book in the Red Queen trilogy (it's almost done). But when pressed, she does admit to a couple of splurges to celebrate her first book and movie deal. After a year of living in back at home in her childhood bedroom, Aveyard told her friends she was coming back to Los Angeles if she sold the book. "I moved to L.A. and got a car [a Mercedes]. That was my splurge. And I got a desk. I didn't have a desk to write Red Queen on, so I got a nice writing desk."