She may not be a household name yet, but with more than 12 million books sold of her famous Hunger Games trilogy, Suzanne Collins is about to rise to the ranks of J.K. Rowling and Stephenie Meyer fame.

It wasn’t long ago when Collins was a writer for children’s television at the Nickelodeon network, plugging away on shows like Clarissa Explains It All and The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo. Then she got the idea for The Underland Chronicles, which gained her a modest following of young adult fans, before coming up with the story of The Hunger Games and 16-year-old heroine Katniss Everdeen.

“A significant influence would have to be the Greek myth of Theseus and the Minotaur,” said Collins of her inspiration for the story, reports NewsTimes. “The myth tells how in punishment for past deeds, Athens periodically had to send seven youths and seven maidens to Crete, where they were thrown in the Labyrinth and devoured by the monstrous Minotaur,” she said in the rare interview.

Add a current culture of reality television to some classical roots, and you’ve got your Hunger Games. “I was channel surfing between reality TV programming and actual war coverage when Katniss’ story came to me,” Collins said. “On one channel there’s a group of young people competing [in reality programming] … and on the next, there’s a group of young people fighting an actual war. And I was tired, and the lines began to blur in this very unsettling way, and I thought of this story.”

Collins also brought what she calls “the voyeuristic thrill” to the book, she told Scholastic. “Watching people being humiliated, or brought to tears, or suffering physically … that’s what I find very disturbing. There’s this potential for desensitizing the audience so that when they see real tragedy playing out on the news, it doesn’t have the impact it should.” Perhaps all of this has something to do with why The Hunger Games resonates so much with young readers today.

Find out on March 23, when the movie, starring a cast of newcomers and old favorites, including Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Elizabeth Banks, Liam Hemsworth, Stanley Tucci, Wes Bentley, Woody Harrelson, and Lenny Kravitz, opens in theaters.

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  • Johnathan Lugo
    Johnathan Lugo on

    I'll take this over twilight any day of the week.

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