The Hunger Games (Series) | Study Guide

Suzanne Collins

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Suzanne Collins | Biography


Family Life

Born in Hartford, Connecticut, on August 10, 1962, Suzanne Collins was the youngest of four children. Because her father was an officer in the U.S. Air Force, Collins and her family lived in locations ranging from Brussels, Belgium, to New York and Alabama. Drawing from his experiences in both the Korean (1950–53) and Vietnam (1955–75) Wars, Collins's father took pains to help his children understand the causes and impact of war as they were growing up. "He would take us frequently to places like battlefields and war monuments," Collins said, and "would start back with whatever had precipitated the war and moved up through the battlefield." Most critically, Collins's father wanted his children to understand that two inevitable outcomes of war are death and destruction.

Education and Early Writing Experiences

After high school, Collins attended Indiana University, where she graduated with a double major in theater and telecommunications in 1985. She then attended New York University, where she obtained a master's degree in dramatic writing. She went on to become a successful writer for youth and children's television shows such as Nickelodeon's Clarissa Explains It All, PBS's Clifford's Puppy Days, and the WB Television Network's Generation O!

While still writing for television, Collins turned her talents to writing children's books. In 2003 she published Gregor the Overlander, the first book of what eventually became The Underland Chronicles. Written for the middle grades, it relates the adventures of a boy who discovers a subterranean world inhabited by pale humans and giant, intelligent versions of rats, bats, and cockroaches. It appeared on the New York Times Best Seller list and was praised for its imaginative story line and rich, detailed settings. Critics also commented on the author's willingness to address some very adult themes, including warfare, genocide, and military intelligence.

Creating The Hunger Games

Collins continued to explore these dark themes in The Hunger Games trilogy, the inspiration for which came to her while she was watching TV one evening. As she flipped through the channels, she moved from coverage of the Iraq War to a reality TV show where young people were competing for prizes. She said that as she watched, "the lines began to blur in this very unsettling way," and the idea for the story of The Hunger Games was born. She wanted to do something to alert her readers that they must not allow these lines to blur in real life.

The Hunger Games explores themes of war, power, and perceptions of reality, building on the discussions Collins had with her father about the nature of warfare and violence, and what might make a war necessary. The books also examine the ethical and moral implications of war, as Katniss moves from the violence of the Game arenas to the violence of actual battlefields in the streets of Panem. In 2012 Collins adapted the first book of the trilogy into a screenplay for the movie version of The Hunger Games. The movie grossed over $400 million in the United States, extending the reach of the author Time magazine had listed as one of the 100 most influential people of 2010.

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