August 10, 1962
Hartford, Connecticut, USA
Pitting children against children in a merciless game of survival on live television was the compelling plot behind Suzanne Collins' meteoric rise as an author. After launching her career writing for children's television programs, Collins mesmerized millions of readers all over the world with her groundbreaking sci-fi book trilogy The Hunger Games (2008), a gripping story of children forced to compete in an annual televised game. The novel is told through the eyes of its intrepid heroine, Katniss Everdeen, a skilled hunter who is desperate to make it out alive from the Games to save her family. Collins continued Katniss' story in the popular sequels Catching Fire (The Second Book of the Hunger Games) (2009) and Mockingjay (The Hunger Games, Book 3) (2010). Aside from the critical praise she received for all three novels, their film versions were touted to be the most widely anticipated and biggest releases of all time. Production and casting of "The Hunger Games" (2012) ignited major Hollywood buzz and cemented Collins' place as one of the most successful and groundbreaking figures in contemporary literature.
Born in 1962 in Connecticut, Suzanne Collins was the daughter of an Air Force officer who moved the family to live all over the world - from New York City to Brussels, Belgium. A voracious reader from an early age, Collins remained passionate about the arts all through college, where she majored in theater and telecommunications. Collins went on to earn a master's degree in dramatic writing from New York University. In 1991, she began writing on several children's programs for the Nickelodeon network including "Clarissa Explains It All" (1991-94), a family comedy starring Melissa Joan Hart, and "The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo" (1996-99), about a young girl who works at a police station to solve youth crimes. Collins also wrote for the preschooler set; on the animated series "Little Bear" (Nickelodeon, 1995-2000) and "Wow! Wow! Wubbzy!" (Nick Jr., 2006- ). Aside from her regular TV work, she also took on a few film projects, co-writing the critically acclaimed holiday film "Santa, Baby!" (2001), featuring the voices of Gregory Hines, Patti LaBelle and Vanessa Williams.
Collins was writing for the animated series "Generation O!" (The WB, 2000) when the idea of writing children's books first came to her. Encouraged by the show's creator and author James Proimos, she delved into what became her first book series, the five-part Underland Chronicles (2003), about a young boy named Gregor and his adventures in Underland, a place hidden underneath New York City. Inspired by the classic story Alice in Wonderland, Collins explored the idea of what happens when someone falls down a manhole instead of a rabbit hole. In late 2000, while channel-surfing late at night, Collins found herself switching between a reality TV program and news footage of the Iraq war. The images of young people competing for some type of prize on the reality show and of actual soldiers fighting began to blur in her mind, and triggered the story of what later became The Hunger Games book trilogy. The author, who loved to read Greek mythology when she was a child, also found inspiration from the myth of Theseus and the Minotaur, in which seven boys and seven girls are sacrificed to pay for Athens' past sins.
Released in 2008, The Hunger Games was set in a dystopian future where children were forced to battle each other to the death in a televised match. In a ritual called the Reaping, two adolescents from 12 oppressed districts were chosen at random to participate in the games. Its rebel-heroine, Katniss Everdeen, volunteered herself to fight in the gladiator-like event to spare her younger sister's life. The story also explored a love triangle among Everdeen, her best friend and hunting partner Gale Hawthorne, and Peeta Mellark, Everdeen's male counterpart in the games. After its debut, The Hunger Games took the No. 1 spot on the New York Times Bestseller list and made its author an overnight sensation. Collins' sequels - Catching Fire (The Second Book of the Hunger Games and Mockingjay (The Hunger Games, Book 3) - were also bestsellers. In fact, when Mockingjay was released at midnight, some bookstores reportedly kept their doors open for readers who could not wait to discover the fate of their beloved characters.
By 2010, Collins had no doubt earned her place alongside two of contemporary literature's most successful young adult novelists, J.K. Rowling of the Harry Potter series and Stephenie Meyer's Twilight. TIME magazine even named Collins one of the most influential people of 2010. With the immense popularity of the book trilogy, news about film versions was met with much excitement, particularly among Hollywood's rising stars who seemingly all vied for a role in the highly anticipated film. In 2011, Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen led the pack of actors chosen to star in "The Hunger Games" (2012), alongside Josh Hutcherson as Peeta Mellark, and Liam Hemsworth as Gale Hawthorne. Not surprisingly, Collins was asked to work on the film's screenplay. That same year, Collins became the subject of a new comic book, Fame: Suzanne Collins, which chronicled her story from the time she broke out as a children's television program writer through when she released The Hunger Games.