Kiera Cass talks her YA debut 'The Selection'
New addictive YA novel alert! The Selection, the first in a planned trilogy, hit shelves last week. In the book, the Selection is a lottery in which girls from all castes are picked to compete for a chance to marry Prince Maxon. Enter 17-year-old America Singer who has no interest in entering the Selection, particularly because she’s already in love with her secret boyfriend, Aspen.
Aspen insists she enter for the chance at a better life, and in a whirlwind of events, she gets chosen and winds up at the castle competing for the prince’s heart. It’s The Bachelor meets Cinderella, and I couldn’t put it down. Nor could pick sides in the quintessential YA love triangle. Team Maxon or Team Aspen? I don’t know!
The second book is slated for next spring, and while author Kiera Cass was tight-lipped about what’s coming in book two, she did confirm that Maxon, America, and Aspen will make clear choices. Unfortunately, those love-triangle decisions won’t be revealed until the third, and final, book.
Cass talked with us about her inspiration for the book and the already-in-the-works television adaptation for the CW. Announced stars include Aimee Teegarden (Friday Night Lights) as America, Ethan Peck (In Time) as Prince Maxon, and William Moseley (The Chronicles of Narnia) as Aspen.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Where did you get the idea for The Selection?
KIERA CASS: The Selection was born out of wondering about the “what ifs” of other stories, mainly Esther (from the Bible) and Cinderella. I just wondered if Esther, before she was shipped off to the palace to compete for this king, maybe liked the boy next door. Even if she lost, she was never coming home. Did she maybe care about someone else and have to let that love die? I was just curious about her heart. And Cinderella never asked for a prince. She asked for a night off and a dress. We assume that she lived happily ever after because she got a man, but what if that wasn’t the case? What if this was way more than she was prepared to deal with?
Those two thoughts merged in my head, and I knew I wanted to write a story about a girl who would come from a humble background and would gain the attention of a prince, but she wouldn’t want him because she was already in love. And I knew that she would go through something (which ends up being the Selection) that shows her more of the world than she was ever prepared to see.
The story is a kind of modern-day Bachelor. Are you a fan of the show?
Actually, I only ever watched one season of The Bachelor, and it was after I wrote The Selection. So, no, not a big fan. But I confess to loving Flavor of Love back in the day.
NEXT: That CW TV adaptation and what’s in store for book two…
Tell me about The Selection television adaptation with the CW.
Let me say I’m giddy about this possibility! We won’t know until May 17 if it’s going to be picked up, but even watching the process of shooting the pilot from my Twitter feed was pretty amazing. I’m cool either way, but it would be awesome, right?
How exactly did that come about before The Selection was even published?
Warner Bros. offered to option The Selection last summer. We talked on the phone, and I felt really good about the television format and the possibilities we could use with that. The contracts went into work, and I didn’t hear anything for a long time and just assumed that was the end of it. Almost 99 percent of the time, things get optioned but never see the light of day. But when the contracts were done in January, I was encouraged to sign quickly because there was interest in shooting a pilot. After that, it was a whirlwind.
How much involvement, if any, do you have with the show?
I was hired on as a creative consultant for the show, so I got to look at the script and talk to the producers. That’s been wonderful! While I’m completely aware that it’s going to be its own thing, I’ve been happy to contribute in little ways. Like I have a Pinterest board for The Selection, and I passed it along, and I was told it was very helpful in set design.
And what are your thoughts about the casting? Is that how you imagined the characters to be?
I feel like there was a great effort made to get really great performers. I’m really pleased with the actors chosen. That said, Ethan looks more like Aspen, and William looks more like Maxon. That makes me giggle. But the way they’re built and express themselves, I think they’re right for the parts they were cast for. I haven’t been able to see any of the pilot yet, but I’m dying to! I have a lot of faith in the people both on and off screen.
What can you tell readers about book two?
I feel like The Selection series is more of a fairy tale than a dystopia. It’s not nearly as dark or intense as a lot of the others out there in the same category. That said, the second book does get a bit darker. There were scenes I just plain hated writing.