Reading with... Victoria Aveyard

photo: Lucas Passmore

Victoria Aveyard was born and raised in East Longmeadow, Mass., a small town known only for the worst traffic rotary in the continental United States. She currently splits her time between the East and West coasts. As an author and screenwriter, she uses her career as an excuse to read too many books and watch too many movies. She is the author of the Red Queen and Realm Breaker series, the final installment of which, Fate Breaker, was recently published by HarperTeen.

Handsell readers your book in 25 words or less:

When the typical heroes fail, the ragtag B team steps up to save the world. It's Lord of the Rings meets Guardians of the Galaxy.

On your nightstand now:

My nightstand pile is a mix of currently reading (for pleasure or research) and to be read.

I'm working my way through Fairy Tale by Stephen King, and I find myself extremely anxious over the fate of an old German shepherd. I can handle pretty much anything in text, but dogs in danger really test me.

I also have a pair of books I'm reading for research right now: Black Flags, Blue Waters by Eric Jay Dolin and Sea of Faith by Stephen O'Shea.

As for the TBR: What the River Knows by Isabel Ibañez, Legendborn by Tracy Deonn, and Divine Rivals by Rebecca Ross are all waiting in the wings!

Favorite book when you were a child:

The first book to really grip me was Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine. I must have read it a dozen times when I was seven or eight, and it never got old. I was enamored with the world and the characters, as well as the concept of falling into a book. I was also deeply obsessed with the Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis. Obviously, I started with The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (I had a beautiful, illustrated edition), but my favorite novel in the series is The Horse and His Boy. It's the only installment entirely grounded within the magical world, so to speak, and gave us, I think, the biggest view of the realm. Not to mention one my favorite female characters, Aravis Tarkheena, who I idolized when I was little.

Your top five authors:

Obviously, this is not set in stone, but these came to mind quickly. I am forever indebted to J.R.R. Tolkien and George R.R. Martin for the inspiration I've leeched out of their work, as well as Stephen King, who continues to boggle my mind. I'm also endlessly jealous of Megan Whalen Turner, who can somehow balance being both exceedingly intelligent and impossibly entertaining. I am also eagerly awaiting the next Katherine Arden novel!

Book you've faked reading:

Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton. It was a summer reading assignment in school, and something about being forced to read a book always made me angry. It wasn't the book's fault my teacher assigned it, but I hated it all the same. And now my own books are on some summer reading lists, so I don't blame anyone if they hate my books on sight, either.

Book you're an evangelist for:

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden, as well as her entire Winternight series. I was late to join the craze, and it was absolutely one of the best reading experiences of the last decade. This is always my recommendation when someone is looking for a fantasy series. More recently, I've also been passing around my copy of Bright Young Women by Jessica Knoll. It isn't often you find a book that is both important and engaging, but Jessica Knoll knocked it out of the park.

Book you've bought for the cover:

Circe by Madeline Miller as well as A Thousand Ships and Stone Blind by Natalie Haynes. I've been a sucker for Greek mythology since D'Aulaires' Book of Greek Myths sucked me in as a child, and I love the evocative symbolism and artful simplicity currently trending in mythology retellings.

Book you hid from your parents:

Technically every book I read before going to college. I was absolutely scolded for reading at the dinner table or when caught reading under the covers well after bedtime. But neither of my parents were very curious about the content of what I was reading. I did hide quite a lot of fan fiction, both what I was reading and writing myself, largely because, at least when I was growing up, I was very embarrassed about it and had no idea how to explain what fan fiction was without sounding like an absolute loser. I'm very glad fan fiction is now a point of pride in the reading community.

Book that changed your life:

I would be lying if I didn't say The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien. It shifted my entire being and opened my eyes not just to what I loved, but to what I had to do with my life. Unfortunately, my first copy fell apart, but I lugged that brick around for all of seventh grade. She earned a good death.

Favorite line from a book:

"I feel that as long as the Shire lies behind, safe and comfortable, I shall find wandering more bearable: I shall know that somewhere there is a firm foothold, even if my feet cannot stand there again." --The Fellowship of the Ring, J.R.R. Tolkien

This quote has stuck with me through the years, both for its poignancy and tragedy. So much of my favorite works circle around the concept of a fading world or disappearing age, the idea that something you hold is already slipping through your fingers. I feel like that a lot, so I take comfort in Frodo's words--the good thing still exists, even if it no longer exists for you.

Five books you'll never part with:

I'm getting repetitive, but I have an illustrated edition of The Lord of the Rings that I bought with all my birthday money when I was 13. It has lovely illustrations by Alan Lee, and I've taken it with me for over 20 years now. I also have a George R.R. Martin signed edition of A Dance with Dragons that I waited several hours in line for. It was the first book signing I ever attended. I also have my lovely collection of Tolkien universe reference books that I've had since middle school, including my very battered Atlas of Middle-Earth. My mom also has my old copies of the Maisie books by Aileen Paterson, a Scottish children's book series I read growing up. My granny used to send them over to us from Scotland, along with annuals of The Broons and Oor Wullie, both by R.D. Low and Dudley D. Watkins. I'm very sentimental about those as well--they're Scottish comics from the newspapers, going back to before World War II, and written in Scots! I used to read them all the time as a kid and didn't even realize I was technically reading another language. 

Book you most want to read again for the first time:

I can't say I would enjoy having my heart ripped out by George R.R. Martin's A Storm of Swords, but that would certainly be an experience. Probably Megan Whalen Turner's Queen's Thief series. Or I wish I had read Tamora Pierce's Alanna books when I was in middle school, instead of as an adult. They were fantastic, but I can't imagine my obsession if I got them when I was 12.

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