Exclusive piece by Marie Lu

Five Bits of Trivia about Warcross

1. The idea for Warcross was an extension of a bit of worldbuilding I did for the Legend series. In Legend, the dystopian/utopian society of Ross City, Antarctica is completely gameified. I never got to use this worldbuilding as much as I wanted to, but I did find myself thinking frequently about how to write a story around a game. Then, a few years later, I tried Virtual Reality/Augmented Reality for the first time, and knew that this was the missing piece of the story’s puzzle. Warcross came to me fairly quickly after that.

2. One of the major levels in the Warcross Championships was inspired by one of my favorite vintage video games, Sonic 3. Ice Cap Zone (Sonic 3) is a brilliant, frozen land you speed through on a pixelated snowboard. I loved that level so much as a kid, and wanted to capture that same thrilling feeling in an icy level of my own.

3. Setting Warcross in modern times brought unexpected challenges for me. For instance, there’s a scene where Emika gets a phone call, so I wrote out a random phone number. It turned out that that number actually belonged to a law office in New York, so we had to change it to a purposely fake, 555 number. I had a moment where I was like, “Wait–what, I can’t just make up stuff anymore? There are rules?” Such is the life of a fantasy/SF writer, I guess!

4. Warcross hit a lot of “firsts” for me. It’s the longest book I’ve ever written, for example. This isn’t actually saying much, since I have a tendency to write books that are quite short for the Fantasy and Sci-Fi genres. Legend is only 80,000 words, for example, and none of my books have cracked 100,000 words except for Warcross. It’s also the only book I’ve written solely from one point of view, which took some getting used to. When you can’t jump around to different characters’ heads, it’s a new challenge to attempt to develop characters who aren’t the protagonist. Another first is that Warcross is my first duology! I guess I’m slowly working my way down to writing a standalone novel. Duologies change the structure of your series’ story arc, though–something I’m learning the hard way as I now attempt to write the second book, which must function as the second and third acts of the full story.

5. I put in little Easter eggs for my past stories and my favorite things. If you’ve read and enjoyed any of my other books, look for small callbacks to Legend and The Young Elites. There are a few nuggets for fellow Harry Potter fans, and some general video game references. I hope you guys enjoy them; they were really fun for me to put in!

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