The Hunger Gamemakers: Interview with Author Suzanne Collins and Director Francis Lawrence

A rare conversation with the writer of The Hunger Games and the filmmaker responsible for Catching Fire

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Collins: It's ironic, on a level, but I hope it's an irony that the audience is aware of as well. It's one of the reasons I'm so thrilled about the marketing campaign, because it's using the same images to promote the movie to our audience that the Capitol is using to promote the Quarter Quell to the audience in the Capitol. That right there, that dualism, is very much what the book is about. The propaganda war, the image of real or not real, and whether or not you can believe what you're witnessing on a screen, how much you're being manipulated, how much the image is being manipulated, how much you're being lied to.

How are you with a bow and arrow? Did you ever pick them up in the name of research?

Collins: In high school for a couple years we did archery. Nothing to report there. You choose your weapon by the kind of war. In this one, I needed a weapon that would be believable that she could use--not magically use but really use. You could have built a bow out of things you found in the woods, if you knew how. You could realistically have snuck out and used the bow and become very good. In fact, you'd have to be very good to feed your family with it. So her talent with the bow is hard won. It's not something that magically happens when someone zaps her.

But it wouldn't be your weapon of choice.

Collins: When I was young I was trained in stage fighting, rapier and dagger.

Lawrence: You like to take people out up close.

Collins: [Laughs.] It's all choreographed. It's more like dance, really.

Sometimes it seems like you've spawned an entire subgenre of young-adult dystopias with The Hunger Games.

Collins: I don't think I can take credit for that.

You can! Go ahead, take it!

Collins: Well, I just think the dystopian stories are striking a nerve with people right now, and The Hunger Games contributed somewhat to that, but that can't be the whole explanation for it. It's something that's going on within the culture. I think people respond to dystopian stories because they're ways of acting out anxieties that we have and fears that we have about the future. And so much media's coming at you and so much stuff comes at you over the Internet, your brain gets overloaded. You don't know what to do with it. And one thing you can do with it is read a story. I think of dystopian literature as being cautionary tales. It's a way you can kind of frame it and try to make sense of it and set it outside yourself but look at the issues involved.

Has your life changed a lot since the books came out?

Collins: Not my real life. I mean, I still have the same friends and my family and my writing, and that's my real life. The big change would be that this is the first time in my career where I've been able to work on whatever I wanted and not have financial concerns involved.

What are you working on now that you're free to work on whatever you want?

Collins: I have a piece I'm playing around with, and it's very new, so I can't give you the specifics of it, and we'll just see where it goes. It may go nowhere. Right now it's extremely complicated, and it would have to be simplified a good deal to make it into a narrative. The world is complex. So we'll see.

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