WashU students don’t necessarily wait until they finish school to make their mark in the world, and the story of author Victoria “VE” Schwab’s undergraduate experience is a tremendous example. Schwab, BFA ’09, arrived on campus in August 2005 determined to become an astrophysicist, but fell in love with WashU’s variety of courses, from set design and art history to of course literature. . Based on this insatiable love for learning, Schwab then set herself a challenge. “I wrote my first novel in second year at WashU, mainly because I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to write one and wanted to prove that I was wrong,” she says. “The writing was strong enough to make me my first agent, but never sold.”
Undeterred, Schwab began his second novel as a senior WashU. “I set aside two hours each night, went to a nearby cafe and wrote from 9 pm until the place closed. I finished the book a week before graduation, and it sold out in September. What WashU did, every step of the way, was to encourage curiosity and embrace ambition.
Schwab is today one of the most prolific writers today. At 33, she has already published 20 novels, spanning fantasy, science fiction and horror genres. Her adult novels (published under “VE Schwab”) and her young adult novels (under “Victoria Schwab”) have left readers spellbound, catapulting her into the world. New York Times bestseller list, even at No. 1. Part of the reason for this success is how Schwab’s otherworldly stories are grounded in everyday life, making their magical elements palpable, and his explorations of the world. personal identity.
In his latest novel, The invisible life of Addie LaRue, a young villager, Addie, escapes her provincial destiny by making a deal with a dark spirit to live forever, allowing her to explore the outside world and its cultural riches. The devil, however, includes this trap: that no one – her parents, friends or lovers – will remember Addie the second she leaves their sight. From 18eFrom the France of the century to the New York City of today, Addie must reinvent her interactions with others every moment, as lasting love and friendship continue to elude her.
Schwab admits there’s a part of herself in Addie’s character: “I’m hungry when it comes to reading, art, experimenting. Anything that can open up my world a little wider. This desire is reflected in Addie.
The idea for Addie LaRue came to Schwab ten years ago when she was living abroad, but it was today’s social environment that forced her to achieve it. “A major theme of the book is autonomy and the way it is hidden from bodies that present women. I wanted to tell a Faustian tale, but these still focus on men. They trade for immortality and then get bored, ”says Schwab. “A woman would never have the same ease and the same freedom to move through the centuries. Addie survives so long because she cares more about the experience than the fame.
“My favorite kind of fantasy is one where magic and reality are inextricably linked, where you, as the reader, are invited to believe, not in words on a page, but in the presence of the extraordinary, of the strange and fantastic in your own world. – a door that you simply haven’t found yet, a threshold that you haven’t crossed. But the one you could.
– VE Schwab
From the start, Schwab incorporated gender identity into her novels, albeit subtly. “From an LGBTQ + perspective, I desperately wanted to write some laid back queerness,” Schwab explains. “As a gay person who came out in their twenties, I didn’t need a coming out story. I needed to see characters like me simply take the place we do in life, always informed by our gender and sexuality, but not always defined by them, and never reduced to that.
And like Addie LaRue, Schwab is desperate to make the most of his time. “Even as a freshman at WashU, I was painfully aware of the time – its brevity, its restriction, and the fact that in choosing one path we are choosing not to follow a hundred others,” she says. “This fear is directly related to a fear of irrelevance and the desire to remember, to build something that feels less inconstant and fleeting than the time allotted to us.” With a show on Netflix, her next novel and a new story arc for her Shades of magic series planned for the future, Schwab will certainly continue to give readers something to remember.