Discuss Suzanne Collins's life and her inspiration or reasons for writing The Hunger Games, including criticism, reflection, or explanation of her major works and any film productions based on her...

Discuss Suzanne Collins's life and her inspiration or reasons for writing The Hunger Games, including criticism, reflection, or explanation of her major works and any film productions based on her works.

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Lori Steinbach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Suzanne Collins was born in Connecticut in 1962, though she spent most of her life on the move (mostly still on the east coast) because her father was a military man. He was an Air Force officer who served during the Vietnam War. 

She attended the Alabama School of Fine Arts, graduating in 1980 with her degree in Theatre Arts. She attended Indiana University, graduating with a degree in both theatre and telecommunications. She also earned her Master's in Fine Arts in 1989 from the New York University Tisch School of the Arts. Her Master's degree was in dramatic writing. All of these educational experiences prepared her well, it seems, for the career path she followed.

Collins began her professional career writing for children's television, both for series television and for television specials. She received critical acclaim for her work in this field, but a chance work relationship changed the trajectory of her career. When she met a children's author and illustrator named James Proimos her life took a different turn. He convinced her to try writing children's books, and she did. 

Her first series was a war story/fantasy tale written in five parts called The Underland Chronicles. This series became a New York Times best-seller, and Collins's course was set. 

Her next series is much more familiar to mist people: The Hunger Games Trilogy. This series has attracted international attention both as a books series and as a movie trilogy. 

In an interview with the School Library Journal, Collins explains the inspiration for these novels. She says:

It’s very much based on the myth of Theseus and the Minotaur, which I read when I was eight years old. I was a huge fan of Greek and Roman mythology. As punishment for displeasing Crete, Athens periodically had to send seven youths and seven maidens to Crete, where they were thrown into the labyrinth and devoured by the Minotaur, which is a monster that’s half man and half bull. Even when I was a little kid, the story took my breath away, because it was so cruel, and Crete was so ruthless.

In essence, then, she wrote a modern version of the cruel and ruthless gladiator games so familiar to us from Roman times. 

She tells about lying in bed one night, flipping channels from reality television programs featuring young people to the news coverage of the war, full of death and violence. The line between fighting to win a challenge on the reality show to the young men and women fighting in an actual war began to blur for her, and that is when she conceived the idea for Kaitness and the Games

One of the primary criticisms of the series is that it depicts young people in violent situations; in fact, they have the sole goal of killing everyone who is pitted against them. As the daughter of a soldier who fought in a horrible war, Collins understands the real-life consequences of war and violence. 

Though such things are difficult to read, Collins claims they are even more difficult to write. From the moment she wrote the first word on a page, she knew that most of her characters were going to die. This is not an easy thing for a writer to know and to do, especially with young people she came to love as she gave them life in the pages of her books. 

Collins has not spoken much about the film adaptations of her works, though she did comment on her Facebook page that she was amazed that in The Hunger Games things that were merely suggested in the book were "so brilliantly realized through the artistry of the designers."