Comic-Con 2013: ‘Divergent’ author Veronica Roth’s Day 1 diary

July 19, 2013 | 2:16 p.m.
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"Divergent" author Veronica Roth at Comic-Con 2013 in San Diego, CA. (Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

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Author Veronica Roth and actors Theo James and Shailene Woodley at the "Divergent" panel during Comic-Con 2013. (Joe Scarnici/Getty Images)

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Author Veronica Roth, actors Theo James and Shailene Woodley, and director Neil Burger at Comic-Con 2013. (Joe Scarnici/Getty Images)

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Director Neil Burger with actors Jai Courtney and Theo James on the set of "Divergent" (Summit Entertainment)

As part of our Comic-Con coverage this year, Hero Complex reached out to a select group of actors and writers, asking them to document their experiences in San Diego. Next up is Veronica Roth, author of the novel “Divergent,” which is being adapted into a film starring Shailene Woodley and directed by Neil Burger.

Two years ago, a few months after I sold “Divergent” movie rights to Summit Entertainment, I went to Comic-Con for the first time. I was mostly just an observer — I had a short press conference in which I explained my book, I people-watched Harry Potter cosplayers to my heart’s content, and that was about it. This year, however, with the “Divergent” movie being released on March 21, 2014, I embarked on a day packed with interviews, a press conference, a panel and a party in the midst of this fantastic nerd wonderland known as San Diego Comic-Con.

FULL COVERAGE: San Diego Comic-Con 2013

7 a.m. The nerves hit me in my sleep. For someone who spends most of her time in front of a computer screen, alone, the idea of speaking in front of 6,500 people in Hall H on a “Divergent” movie panel is … a little bit daunting, to say the least. I can’t go back to sleep. I hate my brain.

9 a.m. I am hungry but too nervous to eat. I still hate my brain.

9:30 a.m. In an attempt to physically prepare me for a day of being on camera, a makeup artist attaches false eyelashes to my eyelids.

9:45 a.m. I meet Neil Burger, Shailene Woodley and Theo James for a photo shoot and interview with Entertainment Weekly. During the interview, Theo jokes about his next project being art-house porn. He comes up with an entire plot on the spot, and I can’t stop laughing, which is an effective antidote to my nerves.

10:15-11 a.m. I don’t have the right words for listening to really talented people talk about my book in such a thoughtful way. Surreal? Flattering? Amazing? Spoiler alert: I will say the word “amazing” at least 100 times today.

11:15 a.m. Neil Burger is the best interview buddy ever.

"Divergent" author Veronica Roth at Comic-Con 2013 ((Photo by Joe Scarnici/Getty Images)

“Divergent” author Veronica Roth at Comic-Con 2013 ((Photo by Joe Scarnici/Getty Images)

1:30 p.m. Time for my first press line. I’m still seeing camera flashes from the photo portion of the extravaganza when I reach my first interviewer. I bounce from person to person, and I get into a groove. My answers get better as I go. It helps that when people ask me if I’m happy with the movie and its cast, I don’t have to lie. Yes, I’m happy. Yes, this extremely wide smile is sincere. Yes, this is freaking amazing.

3 p.m. During nerd trivia in a live MTV interview, I make my first successful wookie sound. Victory!

3:50 p.m. The panel is about to start. I stand backstage waiting for my name to be called, bouncing up and down like I’m at a boxing match.

3:51 p.m. There are so many people in here.

3:52 p.m. No, really. There are SO MANY PEOPLE IN HERE.

3:54 p.m. I get to announce that “Allegiant” (Oct. 22) is written in two points of view to the Comic-Con crowd. As I get closer and closer to the book’s release, I am shedding all my secrets one by one. Just a few left!

3:57ish p.m. The footage from the “Divergent” movie plays, and I can feel my heartbeat in my face. These moments account for at least 50 of the 100 uses of the word “amazing” today, because I am saying that word in my head over and over again as I watch.

4:30 p.m. I’m signing posters with the others in a room upstairs. My brain is still on another planet, but this is something I’m used to: meeting the readers (or in this case, a blend of readers and moviegoers). Someone asks me to write a particular quote from the book (“You look good, Tris”) on their poster, and it is the best.

7 p.m. STEAK. I try not to use it as a pillow. I am mostly successful.

8:30 p.m. I say “screw it,” and remove my fake eyelashes. I put on a dress. Time to get fancy.

8:50 p.m. I walk the press line on the red carpet. I am swimming in camera flashes and running on adrenaline.

10 p.m. Impromptu “Divergent” cast dance-off at the Summit Entertainment party. I don’t dance, but I also don’t walk red carpets, or do on-camera interviews, or speak in front of 6,500 people. Today is a day full of impossible things, so I give up on looking cool and mouth all the words to a Macklemore song as I get funky.

— Veronica Roth

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