I have a phone call with Veronica Roth scheduled for 4pm that I have been looking forward to for weeks. Predictably, at 3:50, I discover that the room that has a phone with a proper speaker is being used for a meeting. Gahhh. I manically download Skype, put some money on my account and plant myself in a corridor, glaring at anyone who dares come in my direction.

When technology finally starts cooperating and I get through to Veronica, I immediately relax. She’s not the incredibly intimidating person I imagined in my head, instead she talks to me as though we’re friends, rather than strangers chatting to each other through a kind of crappy Skype connection. She’s incredibly friendly and quick to laugh, the polar opposite of the female characters she writes about.

Veronica Roth is the author of the New York Times best selling Divergent trilogy. At 28, she’s sold millions of copies of her books, seen her work turned into a successful film franchise starring Shailene Woodley and Kate Winslet, and has now gone ahead and written a new, highly addictive book, Carve the Mark.

Also, totally NBD or anything, but she wrote Divergent during her final year at University and sold the publishing rights before she graduated. So that’s cool.

Did she ever struggle with people underestimating her because she was so young? “Not in book publishing. I’m not the youngest author to publish a book and they mainly just care about the story, so they’re not all that concerned about your age. Your work has to speak for itself. The only time I encountered it was when the book became a movie.”

Roth sold the rights to Summit Entertainment in 2011, when she was a year out of university. “People would talk down to me… and I couldn’t tell why; is it because I’m young, is it because I’m a woman or because of my demeanour? …At the end of the day, you just keep doing the best work you can and not paying too much attention to people who don’t respect that,” she says.

I ask her about how it felt getting her story made into a film and she laughs, “I didn’t believe it was actually going to happen… it wasn’t until they cast Kate Winslet that I was like ‘Oh! This is really happening!’ I totally lost my mind.” I mean, to be fair, it’s Kate Winslet, who wouldn’t lose their mind? “The idea that so many people have taken something you’ve imagined and they’ve made it their work for however many days or weeks? There’s something really amazing and flattering about that.” she continues. “There were all these grown men building this fake train car? It’s amazing!”

To me, the thing about Roth that makes her talent so unique is that she’s not just creating stories about regular, everyday things, she’s creating entire societies. In her new book, Carve the Mark, she took it one step further and created a whole frickin’ galaxy.

Carve The Mark is set in a galaxy that has a current running through it which gives everyone a unique ‘currentgift’. The two main characters, Akos and Cyra, come from two different countries; Akos’ home is one of peace, while Cyra’s is full of violence. When Akos is taken from his family home on Cyra’s brother’s orders, the two of them form a special bond, discovering they can either survive together or destroy one another.

Cyra is a powerhouse of a character. Her currentgift forces her to live in constant pain, but also means she causes agony to those who touch her. She has spent most of her life in isolation until her brother decides to use her as a weapon against his enemies.

“What’s important is for readers to see characters that feel real and interesting and complicated too,” Roth explains. “One of the most important things to me is to make sure the characters are flawed. There’s a lot of pressure on young women to be perfect and so when you read about a character who makes mistakes and has to deal with the repercussions of them and feels normal and feels human, I think that’s important for young women.”

It takes everything in me to not just openly start applauding at this point. Even down the Skype line, I’m nodding my head so much that I think I crick my neck a bit. But the thing I really want to talk to Roth about, the thought I just couldn’t get out of my head while reading Carve The Mark, is how does one person have such a vivid imagination? “I try to cultivate curiosity as much as possible,” she says. “My mum has this quality, where anyone she talks to, she is interested in knowing more about them and I would love to become more like that.”

Well, now I also want to be more like Veronica Roth’s mum. She sounds awesome.

Roth thinks exercising your imagination is incredibly important for young people: “I think you have to have a vision of what your own life can become, what your world can become. There’s this huge imaginative element to that and you have to be able to see possibilities.”

When she was a 21-year-old writing a book in her winter holidays, she ever imagine her life would lead her here? “I don’t think escapism has to be bad,” she tells me, “I think we talk about it like an ‘Oh, you’re just trying to get away from reality, you should be engaging with reality!’ and that’s true, but you can learn a lot from genre fiction, even if it is helping you to escape a little bit.”

At this point, we get completely side-tracked and start talking about how Harry Potter helped define so much of our moral compasses. We’ve been on the phone for almost half an hour, and I know that my time’s almost up so I ask her the question we ask all the people we interview: if you could give your 13-year-old self one piece of advice, what would it be?

“I think I needed to hear two things. One, is that you should be kind to the people around you. I was kinda mean as a young person and I definitely grew out of that as I got older. But I wasn’t always kind, especially to my female friends. I kinda fell into that trap of being really competitive with other women and not appreciating how great it can be to have a genuine connection with my female friends. Appreciate the ladies in your life. But then, I sometimes needed to hear that it’s okay to let people go if they’re making you feel bad about yourself. You don’t have to be friends with them anymore. Basically, be kind, but you don’t have to let other people make you feel bad.”

Well, s**t. This woman is my new hero.

Carve the Mark by Veronica Roth is out now. Buy your copy here.

It’s time you started celebrating your period, guys. Sign up to bettybox RN and get all your tampons and pads, beauty products, sweet treats and loads more cool stuff delivered to your door, every single month. We know. It’s totally awesome. 

Author Alwyn Hamilton came in to the betty bedroom to talk to us about her first novel, Rebel of the Sands. We talk about her main character, Amani, and how a 16-year-old sharp shooter becomes a rebel and survives in a dessert with no one but herself and a strange boy for company.

The sequel, Traitor to the Throne, is about to come out, so this is a great way to catch up on the first book before reading the new one.

It’s time you started celebrating your period, guys. Sign up to bettybox RN and get all your tampons and pads, beauty products, sweet treats and loads more cool stuff delivered to your door, every single month. We know. It’s totally awesome. 

We’ve all read a YA novel and thought to ourselves, ‘this is really nice and all but it would never really happen in real life’.

Well it turns out, we were wrong. All of us. Because it DOES happen in real life. In fact, it happened to Claudia and Ben.

Um, who are Claudia and Ben?

Right, Claudia is a fan who commented on author Rainbow Rowell’s Facebook page after reading her novel Eleanor & Park. Published in 2013 and named by The New York Times as one of the best young adult fiction books that year, Eleanor & Park is a book about music and falling in love and second chances and… oh, you should probably just read it.

Claudia posted on Rainbow’s wall, explaining:

…Reading your words was like tearing away an old scab. I still remember the desperate need, the feeling of drowning and the overwhelming experience of my first love. I broke poor, sweet Ben’s heart when I broke up with him before leaving for college, and then never answered any of the letters or emails he sent me afterwards.

Claudia grew up in Indianapolis as the only Korean kid in her school. But it wasn’t just that she looked different from her classmates, she felt different too. While they were all dressed in clothes from the mall, she dressed in army surplus jackets. While they were listening to John Mellencamp, she was listening to The Cure.

And then she met Ben.

We spent long nights on the phone and snuck out to see each other whenever we could.

But they’re young and they have lives to live. She goes off to college, he stays in their Midwestern town. They get married to other people. Then they get divorced. They Google each other every so often, just to check on what the other one is doing. In 2007, they become Facebook friends.

And then, in 2010…

They meet at a coffee shop. They hold hands, and it was as if they had never spent the last 19 years apart.

(That weeping sound you hear right now? That would be me).

Everyday, I look into Ben’s eyes and marvel at my good fortune. We laugh and talk about how lucky we are to have found each other again. But sometimes I don’t think it’s luck. It feels more like destiny. When we were 15, I told him that it was a one in a million chance that we, as high school sweethearts, would get married. And he looked at me with his sweet face and said “it’s one in a million, but we could be the one!”

Turns out, Ben was right. They were the one in a million.

Meanwhile, Facebook tells me that my first boyfriend just got back from a caravanning trip around central Australia with his girlfriend and they just bought a puppy together. So there’s that.

It’s time you started celebrating your period, guys. Sign up to bettybox RN and get all your tampons and pads, beauty products, sweet treats and loads more cool stuff delivered to your door, every single month. We know. It’s totally awesome. 

The Leaving is the creepy page-turner your rainy weekend has been waiting for…

Genre: Thriller

Absorbency Rating: Super Plus

“No, I mean, how do you form and maintain your identity if you have no memories?”

“You have the whole rest of your life ahead of you to make memories.”

“But how do I know how to be?”

“How does anybody? Most people only come into adulthood with a handful of vivid memories of their childhood anyway. There’s a forgetting curve that has been researched and documented. The longer you live, the less you remember. Don’t overvalue what you’ve lost.”

Warning: do not start this book when you’re busy or you’ve only got a few minutes between classes. This is a book that needs an entire day carved out for it – for because once you start, you won’t want to do anything else. It’s a story about six five-year-olds who were taken one day after school. Eleven years later, five of them return with no idea where they’ve been or what happened to Max, the sixth child who went missing. Curl up and dive in… but maybe keep the lights on.

The Leaving by Tara Altebrando, £7.99, Amazon

It’s time you started celebrating your period, guys. Sign up to bettybox RN and get all your tampons and pads, beauty products, sweet treats and loads more cool stuff delivered to your door, every single month. We know. It’s totally awesome.