Suzanne Collins: Facts and Trivia

Here are some facts about the author of The Hunger Games trilogy, Suzanne Collins.

Suzanne Collins comes from a military family. Her father served in Vietnam when she was a child and he went on to make lieutenant colonel, her grandfather was gassed in World War I and her uncle was injured in World War II.

She lives with her family in Connecticut.

She is married to an actor called Cap Pryor, and they have two children.

Collins completed a MFA in dramatic writing at New York University.

She worked for Nickleodeon on several shows, including: Clarissa Explains It All and The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo.

When Charlie McButton Lost Power is the name of the picture book she wrote in 2007.

She was named by Time Magazine as one of the most influential people of 2010

Underland Chronicles

From 2003 to 2007 Suzanne Collins wrote the five books which form the Underland Chronicles:

  • Gregor the Overlander
  • Gregor and the Prophecy of Bane
  • Gregor and the Curse of the Warmbloods
  • Gregor and the Marks of Secret
  • Gregor and the Code of Claw

Suzanne Collins was 38 when she started to write Gregor the Overlander.

As a result of her screenwriting background, she finds dialogue easier to write than descriptive passages.

Her father consulted with her on the military strategy and alliances in the books.

The Hunger Games

The three books which make up The Hunger Games trilogy are:

  • The Hunger Games
  • Catching Fire
  • Mockingjay

The Hunger Games was pitched to publishers as a trilogy and the main story arc (gladiator game – revolution – war) was planned from the beginning.

The Hunger Games is partly influenced by the Theseus and the Minotaur story, and by the historical figure of Spartacus.

As part of her research Collins read numerous books on wilderness survival and books about Roman gladiators, such as: The Life of Crassus by Plutarch.

When writing The Hunger Games Collins knew from the beginning that she was going to have to kill characters. She says this is a horrible thing to have to do and she hates writing death scenes.

Writing and Reading

Although Suzanne Collins does plan her stories before she starts the first draft, she leaves space and room for her characters to develop. She has said that she is willing to adapt her plan during the writing process.

She usually writes for between three and five hours a day, stopping work in the early afternoon.

When she was a teenager her favourite novels were:

  • A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
  • The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers
  • 1984 by George Orwell
  • Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
  • Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
  • A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
  • Lord of the Flies by William Golding
  • Germinal by Emile Zola
  • Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury

She has also spoken about how much she admires The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky.

Further reading:

Johnny Depp: Booklover

I’m a massive fan of the actor Johnny Depp. I think this is partly due to the fact that he has a close connection with books. Johnny is an avid reader, a keen book collector and he often stars in movies which have strong ties to literature.

This post will explore some of the links between Johnny Depp and books in more detail.

Johnny Depp: Book Collector

It is thought that Johnny Depp started collecting books in a serious way after making a trip to Jack Kerouac’s hometown of Massachusetts in 1991. Whilst there, Johnny met John Sampas, Jack Kerouac’s brother-in-law. Sampas took Johnny to some of Kerouac’s local haunts and showed him some of Jack’s personal possessions (including his handwritten and illustrated Book of Dreams).

The bulk of Johnny Depp’s book collection is made up of modern-first editions. He owns numerous Kerouac firsts and he has purchased important works by the other beat poets. Johnny has also spoken about owning first-editions by Edgar Allen Poe, and the poets Dylan Thomas and Arthur Rimbaud.

In addition to first-editions, Johnny’s Kerouac collection includes letters written by Kerouac, Kerouac’s last typewriter, two of his jackets, a raincoat, one of his suitcases and books from his library bearing doodles and marginalia.

Johnny Depp and Hunter S. Thompson

Johnny Depp met the gonzo journalist and novelist, Hunter S. Thompson in preparation for playing Raoul Duke, Thompson’s alter ego, in the movie Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. They soon became close friends. Hunter used to call Johnny, Colonel Depp, and following Hunter’s suicide on 20th February 2005, Johnny Depp paid for Thompson’s ashes to be scattered, in accordance to the writer’s wishes, by firing them from a tower-mounted rocket.

The following Johnny Depp movies have connections with Hunter S. Thompson:

  • Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (dir. Terry Gilliam, 1998). In this movie, based on the novel by Hunter S. Thompson, Depp plays Hunter’s alter ego, Raoul Duke.
  • Rango (dir. Gore Verbinski, 2011). Depp provides the voice for the chameleon, Rango, in this animated movie which contains numerous references to the work of Hunter S. Thompson. At one point, Rango actually encounters Raoul Duke and Dr Gonzo.
  • The Rum Diary (dir. Bruce Robinson, 2011). Depp plays Paul Kemp in the movie based on the Hunter S. Thompson novel of the same name.

Johnny Depp and Daniel Depp

Johnny’s older half-brother, Daniel (Danny), is a screenwriter and published author. His debut novel was called Loser’s Town and featured the private investigator, David Spandau. He has since written a follow up called Babylon Nights. Before he was published, Daniel Depp used to own a bookstore.

Playing Writers

In addition to playing the role of a writer in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and The Rum Diary (see above), Johnny Depp has played the part of a writer on several other occasions.

In Secret Window (dir. David Koepp, 2004), a movie adapted from the Stephen King novella, Secret Window, Secret Garden,  Depp plays Mort Rainey, a novelist with a split personality. In Finding Neverland (dir. Marc Forster, 2004) Johnny takes on the role of J.M. Barrie, the creator of Peter Pan, and in The Libertine (dir. Laurence Dunmore, 2004), he plays the part of the debauched poet, John Wilmot.

In The Ninth Gate (dir. Roman Polanski, 1999), based on the novel The Club Dumas by Arturo Perez-Revertes, Depp doesn’t play the part of a writer, but his character, Dean Corso, is a dealer of antique books, and in Dead Man (dir. Jim Jarmusch, 1995) Depp plays the part of William Blake, a character who shares his name with the famous poet and is often mistaken for him in the movie.

Johnny Depp Movies Adapted from Books

Lots of Johnny Depp movies have been adapted from books.

In addition to the movies already mentioned above, they include:

  • What’s Eating Gilbert Grape (dir. Lasse Hallstrom, 1993) adapted from the novel What’s Eating Gilbert Grape by Peter Hedges.
  • Sleepy Hollow (dir. Tim Burton, 1999) based on The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irivine.
  • Chocolat (dir. Lasse Hallstrom, 2000) adapted from the novel Chocolat by Joanne Harris.
  • From Hell (dir. Albert Hughes & Allen Hughes, 2001) adapted from the graphic novel From Hell by Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell.
  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (dir. Tim Burton, 2005) based on the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl.
  • Alice in Wonderland (dir. Tim Burton, 2010) adapted from Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

Books Optioned by Infinitum Nihil (Johnny Depp’s Production Company)

Through Infinitum Nihil, Johnny Depp has purchased the movie rights to the following books:

  • The Invention of Hugo Caberet by Brian Selznick
  • Attica by Gary Kilworth
  • The Articles of War by Nick Arvin
  • Ballad of the Whiskey Robber by Julian Rubinstein
  • Caliber by Sam Sarkar & Garrie Gastonny
  • The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters by Gordon Dahlquist
  • The Hand of Dante by Nick Tosches
  • Happy Days by Laurent Graff
  • I, Fatty by Jerry Stahl
  • Inamorata by Joseph Gangemi
  • Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts

Other Literary Links

Johnny Depp has been spotted reading the following books:

  • The Bounty by Caroline Alexander
  • Fierce Invalids Home From Hot Climates by Tom Robbins
  • Life by Keith Richards

In 1997 he contributed to the spoken word tribute album Kerouac: Kicks Joy Darkness.

In 2000 Johnny Depp started to film The Man Who Killed Don Quixote. Terry Gilliam was the director and Johnny was due to play Sancho Panza. Unfortunately, due to a whole host of problems during production, the movie was abandoned. Luckily, a documentary, Lost in La Mancha, was made about the failed attempts to film the movie, and this provides some tantalising glimpses of what the film would have looked like had it ever been completed.

This post is far from exhaustive and I’m planning on updating it when I come across more information.  If you have spotted any more links between Johnny Depp and books, I’d really love to hear about them in the comments.