How Divergent Author Veronica Roth Learns From Criticism

And how Kate Winslet helped her write more nuanced villains.


Episode Notes

Welcome to the revamped Working. We’re pivoting to creativity! New hosts Rumaan Alam, Isaac Butler, and June Thomas will be talking to writers, musicians, designers, YouTubers, and other people with creative jobs about how they spend their days.

This week, June talks with author Veronica Roth, who wrote the first draft of her novel Divergent when she was a senior at Northwestern University. She had sold more than 32 million books by the time she was 26, and next week, at the ripe old age of 31, she’ll publish her seventh novel, Chosen Ones.

They talked about identifying your natural writing style, how to find the perfect person to offer feedback on your work, and making the switch from writing YA fiction. You’ll also hear how Kate Winslet helped her create more believable villains.

Afterward, Rumaan and Isaac talk about their own experiences with the workshopping process and the readers whose feedback they trust most—for Rumaan that’s Lynn Steger Strong, author of Hold Still; for Isaac that’s Sally Franson, author of A Lady’s Guide to Selling Out, and Catherine Nichols.)

Send your questions about creativity and any other feedback to

Podcast production by Morgan Flannery.


About the Show

Slate interviews creative people about their work.

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  • June Thomas is the co-host of Slate's Working podcast. She is writing a book about archetypical lesbian spaces.