Los Angeles, California
Company: Penguin Random House
AT A GLANCE:
Seaver College Class of 2010
BA, Political Science
What does being one of Pepperdine's 40 under 40 honorees mean to you?
It's an honor, though I feel a bit silly. There are so many people in the Pepperdine community who make real, tangible differences in people's lives. I just make up things for a living. But hey, maybe in the future I can help other Pepperdine students realize that life in the creative arts can have just as real an impact as other more tangible professions.
Describe your success:
In 2014 I released a novel with Random House called Red Rising. It managed to sneak onto the New York Times Bestsellers list at number sixteen. In 2015 its sequel, Golden Son, landed at number six. This year, the final book in the trilogy, Morning Star, debuted at number one. My novels have been translated into 33 languages and a film is in development with Universal Studios. I also have graphic novels and several television programs and films in development.
How does Pepperdine play into your success?
The real triumph of Pepperdine, as far as I'm concerned, belongs to the Great Books Colloquium, particularly to Dr. Don Marshall—one of the giants who shaped my brain back when it was just a lumpy, arrogant, SAT-obsessed ball of clay. He never tried to teach me what to think, but he always endeavored to teach me how to think. Pepperdine created a foundation for me, one where I was afforded independence through things like the Heidelberg study abroad program but, at the same time, had a generous and warm community to fall back on.
Who inspires you and why?
My mother and father because they never preach, always teach, and after 36 years of marriage have found success in the world without compromising themselves in the process.
What's next for you? What's your five year outlook? What's your ten year plan?
It's the engineers, scientists, businessmen, humanitarians who really change this world. But each of their journeys begins with a dream. I want to make them dream of worlds better and worse and different than this one. Whether it's through books, TV, film, or comics, that's what I want my life to be about—waking the wild imagination in others.
What's your secret sauce?
Bob Dylan and whiskey
What is one of your hobbies?
What is your favorite quote?
Do. Or do not. There is no try. –Yoda
What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?