After five novels, four novellas, and a trio of unforgettable queens, Kiera Cass’ The Selection Series — a YA franchise often described as The Bachelor meets The Hunger Games — has reached its end.
When it all began, Prince Maxon was looking for a wife and by the third book, he’d chosen the bold America from the wrong side of the dystopian nation’s caste system. Together, they abolished said caste system and had a few kids. At the beginning of the fourth novel, their oldest, Eadlyn, is studying to take the throne and begins her own Selection to find a husband. In the series’ fifth and final installment, The Crown, she accepts her fate and all that becoming queen entails.
EW spoke with Cass about saying goodbye, people’s prickly reactions to Eadlyn at first, and the status of the movie adaptation.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How does it feel to be bidding these characters and this series adieu?
KIERA CASS: It’s very weird. They’re still in my head — that’s a comfort. It’s never like they completely disappear. Eight years of work to be kind of putting a cap on that, that’s weird. As it’s gotten closer, I’ve gotten much more emotional about it. I decided when I get home from tour, I’m spending a week home on the couch watching movies and I’m going to throw myself a pity party to deal with it being done. It’s bittersweet.
What do you mean they’re still in your head?
How do I explain this without sounding psycho? When the [character] shows up in my head and they have to talk and I have to get everything down on paper, then they start quieting and they chill out and they’re fine hanging out. So it’s not like anybody’s yelling at me to say anything but I kind of know what happens after the last page. They’re still there, but no one’s shouting at me to make me tell everybody else what’s going on.
Does that mean there could be another installment down the road?
We’ll see. I’ve actually already started talking about [what] we’ll do for the 10th anniversary: something like go back and write from Maxon’s perspective — people have asked for that for a long time — or the break between The One and The Heir — people have talked about that. You know, there’s a chance of doing something else, but I don’t know today.
Not everyone loved Eadlyn at first, but her evolution in The Crown is significant and still feels organic. Was any of that a response to fan reactions?
No, she is who she is. She was raised differently than her mother so it makes her a different person and a different narrator. When you grow up in a world where everybody does what you say and you know that you’re going to have a lot of power and you’re very, very rich, it makes you a different person. And she’s also just been very, very fearful of things. I was excited because that gave her tons and tons of room to grow, but I was like, “I think [The One]’s going to be a tough book to get through. You’re going to have to care about her enough to want to see the end for that to matter.” I wouldn’t be surprised if a couple people were like, “Nope, I can’t handle her. I don’t want to know how it all ends up.” But I felt like there was so much more for her to do. I think getting her to a place where she was very, very vulnerable gave her the room to finally [evolve]. Starting off the book with her brother gone, her mom out of commission, and you don’t really know what’s going to happen, that’s a very serious place for her.
This would’ve been a very different phone call if you’d killed America.
I understand. I admit I didn’t really think about the state that that would put people into. I was much more worried about Eadlyn, so I do apologize for the stress.
At the end of The One, Maxon eliminates the caste system in Illéa, but when we tune in for The Heir, it’s clear that didn’t solve all the issues between the people and the monarchy, and people still have their prejudices. This seemed really timely — was that your intent?
No, almost everything is like an “oops” on the page and I did not even think about it coinciding with what’s on the horizon right now. … What felt really honest to me, and I feel confident that I probably used this line in the book, is that you can’t govern people’s hearts. You think about all the laws that we have about discrimination and the way you’re supposed to treat people but that doesn’t change the way people act in their day-to-day lives to other people. That is a heart thing that you have to adjust to and agree that a certain way to act is either right or not right.
As a fan of this series from the beginning, the short and sweet acknowledgments in The Crown really got me. What made you decide to do it that way?
This is another “oops” in my life. The truth is I was told that they were due and I was on the way to gymnastics with my kids. I was like, oh, I’m going to have to write my acknowledgements on my phone and email them at the end of the day. … I was like, at this point, everybody knows everybody. I don’t need to go and list all those people again. Everybody knows. It was actually kind of a relief, in a way, to just be like, “Thanks.” There’s a bunch of people who made the books happen, there’s a bunch of people on the fandom side who made the books as popular as they are, so thank you. And we’re done now. It was a nice note to walk away on.
What’s the status of the movie adaptation?
I’ve gotten a second version of the script and I’ve read it. … It’s still in a really good place and I know that everybody who’s working on it behind the scenes, like my film agent and producer people, are just championing it and rooting the whole way. But it’s kind of on pause, it seems, at the moment. It has not been rejected or anything like that, but they’re still trying to make up their minds if it’s worth pursuing, I suppose.
Now that you’ve left Illéa, what’s next?
I am working on some new stuff. I don’t think I’m allowed to tell you what it is, but I’m super-excited about it. I went up to New York a couple of weeks ago with my mom to do some research. … It’s definitely a bit more complex than anything I’ve done so far. It’s a bit complicated, what I’m trying to do, but this girl has been in my head as long as America has and I’ve wanted to write this one for a very long time, so I’m really excited to finally get a crack at it. I’m just hoping that I do her justice, because I really, really love this story. My heart’s in it.