Pierce Brown Talks Dark Age, The TV Show Status And Red Rising Tattoos At NYCC

We’ve got the full video and the highlights from the conversation!

Howlers who were able to get to New York City for Pierce Brown’s New York Comic-Con event were treated to a panel featuring the Red Rising author, conducted by Demon Cycle author Peter V. Brett. Fortunately for those of us who weren’t able to be there, Penguin Random House filmed the whole thing. You can check out the full video below, and further down, I grabbed some of the highlights from the conversation, which includes talk about Lyria, some non-spoilery tidbits on the themes of Dark Age, the Red Rising TV show status and what Pierce Brown thinks of Red Rising tattoos…

Eo’s dream…

Pierce Brown discussed this new trilogy being about whether or not Eo’s dream lives up to scrutiny. And that raised the question of what Eo would think of the current state of things in the republic…

“It’s interesting. I think, actually, she would be on the side of the vox populi. In the Red Rising world, obviously, socialism has sprung up amongst the disenfranchised low colors because they have been freed from their mines and then disenfranchised from their mines and given small stipends when their ancestral home have been purchased by other outside entities and then they’re given basically universal income that isn’t nearly reflectant of how much money the mines make. Look at that problem in and of itself. I think Eo would take great strides to correct that injustice. But I think she was built much more differently than Darrow — Or actually, she was built in many ways like Darrow in terms of being so strident and forward, but I think she would definitely have a problem with the way Mustang has governed things.”

He goes on to explain that it’s not that Mustang’s way of things is wrong, but her perspective on things is different based on her experiences, which is really something that applies to all of the main characters. He adds the interesting point that he thinks everyone is right and wrong in the new series.

Lyria…

Lyria was a big topic of discussion during the panel, specifically on how hard she was to write and why.  Based on what Brown says, it almost sounds like she’s on her own version of Darrow’s path. Or at the very least, that — much like Darrow — self-discovery is a big part of what’s playing out for her in these books…

“It’s very difficult to find something that is interesting in a bottle that’s just being swept away by the flood waters. She’s just getting carried and taken away wherever anyone else pushes her. But because of that, we get to see the influences that do push and pull within the society. And I think it’s interesting because there’s a line ‘When giants fight, everyone gets crushed underneath,’ and it’s basically, what do you do in that situation? How do you not have resentment? How do you not have anger toward these people who you looked up to through the propaganda of rising, as heroes who would alleviate your problems?

But Lyria’s journey — and I’m not going to give too much away here — is about realizing that she has no agency. Because she’s been waiting for someone else to give her agency, which so often happens in our own lives. We’re waiting for someone to give us permission.  And with Lyria and her evolution throughout the series, it’s about her coming to grips with that and understanding, as everyone in the republic will have to understand to save the republic, is that these few heroes that you lifted up can’t lift everyone up with them. You lifted them up, they didn’t lifted themselves up. And then you can only lift yourself up.

So I think it’s really coming to the understanding that the power of Darrow isn’t necessarily in him being the alpha male at everything, it’s the righteous wrath that he carries. It’s in the things that made him be able to survive against people who were equal to him in many respects. And so it’s about the journey of self discovery for her, and her journey is more on the interior than the other ones are.”

The theme of fear…

Lyria’s name comes up again a bit later when Brown is talking about the theme of Dark Age, which apparently centers on fear…

“Dark Age is a book that focuses around the theme of fear. If you look at almost any of the successes of the characters in the series, all of it comes down to them just having guts. In Darrow’s case a lot of times because he doesn’t think about the consequences so he doesn’t know to be rightfully afraid. For Lyria, who’s lived her entire life in fear, how does she then develop guts all of a sudden?… If you have something to lose. No experience with success, no experience with victory, how do you take that leap?”

Red Rising Tattoos…

Moving on to the fandom, they spent some time talking about fans getting Red Rising tattoos:

“I think it’s amazing because to get something tattooed on your body means that it means something to you. It means it meant something so much that it woke up a part of you. I think that’s all I want to do as a writer is wake up a part of you. Some of you may have already been there, something that resonates for some reason I won’t ever know…

The comments I get when a part of a book or a book helped someone through something. Either a loved one has passed, I’ve had some stories about that or chemotherapy or just general tough times in life. And I think that sometimes tattoos are a symbol of that, it’s a symbol of that passage in their life. And I think that’s why it’s so significant that we mark ourselves to remember that. That’s what tattoos are, traditionally they started as markers of achievement. Markers of achieving a certain status in society. And so I think it’s great to see that internal representation exists for people…”

“When we write something, we’re borrowing language, language we didn’t create, and then we tap into something that existed before we were there. Because we’re not creating themes, we’re not creating much of anything really. Even characters are a representation of combined ideas. What we’re essentially doing is borrowing from the common human consciousness. When you can find a phrase of words that you can string together to wake something up in someone, that’s really cool.”

The Red Rising TV Show…

As for what’s going on with the TV show, for those of us who’ve been hanging on every update about that, it doesn’t sound like there’s much of an update beyond “announcement coming soon,” but Brown did share some fun info about the writing process, which apparently sometimes involves movie-night at his place…

“We’re developing it for television right now. I have all the pieces attached, the director, the showrunner and everything. We will be doing an announcement pretty soon, we’re just putting everything together right now and we don’t want to embarrass ourselves by being premature… A lot of it is basically I don’t want to just jump the gun and put the cart before the horses. It’s making sure that it’s good, quality and I’m involved in every step of the process.

It’s easy because I’m in L.A. and we’re having weekly meetings on it. It’s also cool because everyone just comes to my house and it’s way more fun that way. Last time we just watched Blade Runner and then worked on Red Rising. So that’s just really fun because it makes it a community and that makes it way better than the average experience.”

He also made sort of an aside-comment later during the panel about how he was talking to his film agent and that “We recently just sold it again to a studio. More on that later.” He never goes back to that remark or clarifies on what he meant. Is Red Rising or something connected to the books being developed for a movie in addition to the TV show? Need more info!

Dark Age and a Higher Power…

Moving back to Dark Age, one of the last things Pierce Brown discussed was perhaps one of the most intriguing. When asked about the themes of free will vs. the belief in destiny or a higher power, Pierce Brown said:

“It’s a great question because each character believes something different innately. I find my own belief in that mutating over my own life. I think that a lot of Dark Age and then the next book will be them wrestling with that, they’re wrestling with the idea of a higher power. Certain characters find salvation in that or find it to be their opiate, and others find excuses for violence or horror from that higher power. And others believe in complete free will and believe that there is no moral consequences and so that in-built nihilism excuses everything in their life because if they have the power and power in the physical world is all that matters then why shouldn’t they let it manifest in them destroying everything else that’s less powerful than them.

And so I think that that question is the core motivation or core explanation for everyone’s actions. I think you can see it well represented in their actions and actually talked about quite a lot in the next book. With Darrow, I think he’s lost faith in the veil. He’s lost faith in the higher power. He’s lost faith in everything except the mean existence of this world. So the question is, will he embrace that nihilism or seek to find the higher power of his friends or in spirituality?”

The full panel had some other great moments. Among them, Pierce Brown commenting on the various covers of the international prints of his books. He also revealed that he once literally walked a day in his mother’s shoes and spoke of his dashed dream of narrating the audiobook for Red Rising once upon a time. My favorite moment from that story was when he talked about how he made a sample of his own narration and how good he thought it came out…

Pierce Brown pretty damn good

“I’m pretty damn good.”

Dark Age hits shelves February 12, 2019. Information on that and everything else that’s coming up for Red Rising can be found here.

  1. […] York Comic-Con for multiple autograph signings and a ticketed event.  You can read all about the panel here. We’re hoping there will be a book tour and/or a release event ahead of Dark Age similar to […]

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  2. Has there been any mention of a release tour with dark age?

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    1. Not that I’ve heard, but I’m really hoping there will be!

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  3. […] Update: Here’s what Pierce Brown had to say about the Red Rising TV show in development in May 2018. And here’s an even more recent update from NYCC. […]

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  4. […] with a director to get it off the ground. He also recently stated that we’d be hearing an update on it soon, and that the budget is expected to be big. Beyond that, we’re still waiting for […]

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  5. […] during the Iron Gold press tour. We don’t have a lot of details about it yet, but it’s apparently aimed for a streaming network. Here’s hoping there’s new news on that sometime in the […]

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