Five writers and their big breaks

Released in theaters March 2012, The Hunger Games is the remarkable story of Katniss Everdeen, a teenage rebel who fights against a corrupt futuristic government. The film is based off of the book by the same name by author Suzanne Collins. Her rise to fame echoes in the literary world as many writers found success with one great idea. Read the real life stories of the authors behind The Hunger Games, Twilight, Harry Potter and more.

Suzanne Collins, The Hunger Games
While not many knew the name of Suzanne Collins outside of the literary world, she was popular with kids and teens because of her series The Underland Chronicles, of which the first novel was published in 2003. She’d also seen success as a television writer working on such shows as Clarissa Explains It All on Nickelodeon. But nothing prepared her for the runaway hit that The Hunger Games became. The first book was wildly popular in 2008 topping the New York Times bestseller list. The tale of brave Katniss was released in March 2012 starring Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson.

Stephenie Meyer, Twilight
It started out as just a stay-at-home mom’s dream about a the love between a human girl and a blood-thirsty vampire. Stephenie Meyer was completely unknown when she wrote the chapters that would become the first book of the Twilight series. She shopped it around to different literary agencies and, after some rejections, it was finally picked up. The book was sold in 2003 and published in 2005, and Meyer’s life would never be the same. The books not only caught on like wildfire in the teen market, but they were also made into a multi-movie saga that put the careers of Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner on the map.

J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter
The story of J.K. Rowling’s success is an author’s fairy tale. When Harry Potter walked onto her pages, she was a divorced single mother who battled depression and poverty. Everything was falling apart when she poured all her energy into writing the story about a young wizard. She found a literary agent, and the first book, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was picked up by a British publisher. It was also published in America under the title Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Today there are seven books in the Harry Potter series that have sold 450 million copies in more than 60 languages. Rowlings who once considered herself a failure is now a billionaire and one of the most successful writers of all time.

Sapphire, Push
You may not recognize the title Push but you know the movie that was based off of it — Precious. It took the Sundance and Cannes film festivals by storm in 2009 as the brutally painful, gritty, yet triumphant story of a teenage single mother who survives incest and sexual abuse. The original novel Push was written by Romona Lofton also known as “Sapphire” who was at the time already a successful poet. Push was eventually discovered by a literary agent who pushed it into a publishing house bidding war. The novel launched to critical acclaim in 1996 and was made into a movie produced by powerhouses Oprah Winfrey and Tyler Perry 13 years later.

Anne Rice, Interview with the Vampire
Not many people know that when Interview with the Vampire hit the big screen in 1994 that it was a miracle for an author 18 years in the making. Anne Rice wrote the novel in 1976 and sold the movie rights to a film studio who did nothing with it for 10 years. The rights were sold again and by 1988, it was in the hands of Warner Brothers. Six years later, she finally got to see her novel on the big screen in a film starring Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt.

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