Allison's Book Bag

Author Marie Lu Has Experienced Dystopian Events

Posted on: April 3, 2014

A former art director for video games, Marie Lu is the author of the best-selling dystopian trilogy known as Legend. I’ll review it here tomorrow.


Born in Beijing, China, Lu shared with Beth Revis how she has experienced some dystopian events in her own childhood. For example, her mother lived through the Cultural Revolution in China. Lu also lived only a few blocks from the Tiananmen Square. She saw students protesting in the square for a couple of months. Her aunt would take her out to the square every weekend or so to see what students were up to. Lu has vague recollections of the white statue of liberty that was erected there. She even stood on the square the day of the massacre, although the shooting didn’t happen until later in the night. On a walk with her aunt, Lu witnessed tanks and soldiers preparing for what would become the famous massacre of 1989. She even remembers that kindergarten was canceled the next day. A scene in Legend was apparently inspired by these experiences.


At age five, Lu’s family moved to Texas. On Lu’s Frequently Asked Questions, she tells of how she grew up writing and was always putting together books of all shapes and sizes for her tales. The notebooks grew in size. When she was five, she filled a ten-page one with a story about farm animals. A few years later, she wrote out a bunch of short fairy tales about unicorns and cats. Then at age eleven, she filled eighty pages with a fantasy heavily influenced by Brian Jacques. It was her first “novel”. Not knowing that there were publishers who took care of mass production, she even thought about how to bring it to the public. By age fourteen, she had become serious about getting published.

At her blog, Lu also recalls setting her alarm for 2 AM every night, then writing by lamplight for two hours with a robe stuffed under my door so that no one would know I was awake. She remembers everything about those late-night writing sessions: “How quietly I tried to type on that old IBM computer. How annoyingly hot the lamp would get. How chilly the nights in winter were, and how stuffy the summers felt. How sometimes I’d pass out in front of the computer from sheer exhaustion, then wake up after half an hour and keep going…..”

MarieLuLu also grew up to attend the University of Southern California, where she studied political science. Lu originally considered becoming a lawyer, but instead she interned for two years at Disney working on their video games. After that, Lu took a position as an art art director for a video game company to make Facebook entertainment. Grade Saver reports that certain elements of Legend, such as the Skiz fights, were inspired by Lu’s love of games. Lu wrote novels for twelve years, before Legend was accepted for publication in 2011. Now she is a full-time writer.

According to her Frequently Asked Questions, if Lu could be anything else, it would be a fighter pilot or astronomer. She admits to being obsessed with jets. (Favs include: F-14, F-15, F-22, and the Sukhoi-47.) She actually wanted to be a fighter pilot in her youth, but lacked good eyesight or a proper sense of direction. As for her fascination with astronomy, Lu interned for NASA for a short time, working on public release photos from the Hubble Space Telescope.

But Lu also views being a professional writer and artist has the most incredible job EVER. “I mean, I’m getting paid to make up stuff and put it down on a Word doc (or blank canvas). Unreal.”

Lu currently lives in Pasadena with my fiancée, two Pembroke Welsh Corgis, and a chihuahua mix. She spends her time writing, reading, drawing, and playing video games.

Anyone who thinks video games are just mindless entertainment that eats your brains and corrupts our youth, has obviously never played video games. They’re not all Grand Theft Auto. But before this gets me up on a soapbox to rant about the virtues of video games, I’ll stop myself and answer the question. 🙂 My all-time favs: Assassin’s Creed EVERYTHING (god this franchise, I love it so much it hurts–Brotherhood being the best one so far), Sonic 2 and 3 (ah, the 16-bit Sega Genesis days!), Flower, Journey, Mario Kart DS (when I worked at Disney Interactive Studios, my co-workers made this game the most epic thing of all time), and Kingdom Hearts 2. I also like a smattering of Facebook/iPhone apps, like Bejeweled, Plants vs Zombies, Ravenwood Fair, Ravenskye City, Tetris Battle, Ruby Blast, and Bubble Witch Saga.

–Marie Lu, Frequently Asked Questions


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Happy New Year!

Allison’s Book Bag is currently on hiatus. I will return after a much-needed rest with reviews of Advanced Reader Copies including: Freddy Frogcaster and the Flash Flood by Janice Dean, One Two by Igor Eliseev, Incredible Magic of Being by Kathyrn Erskine, Dragon Grammar Book by Diane Robinson, and Wide as the Wind by Edward Stanton.



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