Rising Up: Pierce Brown on Shaping Our World Through Stories

Posted by Hayley on January 10, 2018
Pierce Brown is the New York Times bestselling author of the Red Rising series, an epic trilogy about power and vengeance that won the Goodreads Choice Award for Best Science Fiction in 2015 and 2016. His new book, Iron Gold, is set a decade after the events of the Red Rising books and sees its former heroes grappling to mend a galaxy they helped break. Here Brown shares his insights on fighting for change and creating a better life and a better world with books.



Rate this book
Clear rating
They say: Write what you know. For those of you who have read my books, you might realize what a hilarious proposition that is on the surface. For those of who haven't, my publishing debut came in 2014 in the form of Red Rising, the first in a trilogy of novels. The novels tell a story about a young man fighting for a better future for his people, on Mars. There are spaceships, caste struggles, racial oppression, family feuds, political back dealing, and space knights falling from the sky in an iron rain.

Obviously I've yet to go to Mars. I've yet to betray a family member with a dagger in the back—that debacle of the soap in my sister's lactaid-free milk notwithstanding. And I've not yet fallen from orbit in a military assault. But I have felt the helplessness that comes with growing up without a defined purpose in a world that seems too big and too uncaring to notice me.

When I sat down to write Red Rising, I was twenty-two, out of college, living above my parents garage, dumped by my long-time girlfriend, shuffling back and forth between minimum wage jobs, and facing more than 100 rejections from literary agents who did not think my writing was up to snuff. I had no direction. I was disillusioned, and I feared I didn't have a place in the world.

So I wrote what I felt, and I wrote what I wanted be—a character that had a mission to make the world better for the people he loves.

That was the heart of Red Rising. And in the writing, I found my own agency galvanized. I left home for Los Angeles, with my car filled to the brim with my possessions and started a new chapter in my life. With the trilogy, I was able to carve out my own story.

But as I finished the trilogy, I found myself disillusioned yet again. Not by myself, but in the direction I saw the world moving. I once thought that the arc of history did indeed bend toward justice. But that thesis has been challenged of late.

Over the past years we've witnessed the revival of nationalism, the breaking down of international cooperation, the stoking of racial tension, the marginalization of already marginalized groups in our society, and the ascendance of reactive populism. I hardly think it is my place to presume to tell you what or how to think about the politics of our world. My experience is starkly different from each of yours. But I do believe it is the responsibility of authors to ask questions about their own times.

Red Rising ended on a triumphant note. Liberty prevailed over tyranny. I thought the story was done, wrapped up tidy with a little bow. I was wrong, because liberty is not permanent and unassailable. It is not our destined, final state of being. Liberty is a tenuous state that must be nurtured by constant care, defended by dogged struggle, and replenished by new generations. That is the thesis of my newest addition to the Red Rising series, Iron Gold.

Iron Gold is about the struggle to preserve liberty in a bleak landscape, where heroes of the past look suspiciously like villains and the inspiring dream of liberty has been hijacked by politicians, dirtied by social strife, and muddled by interest groups and competing factions.

How in such a world can good prevail? On the back of one man? Certainly not. It takes a village—a host of disparate people who, despite their conflicting views and disparate pasts, must band together to find their own purpose, to replenish the dream of liberty with their own sacrifices and come together for the common good.

That coming together, that unity, does not happen in a vacuum—and seldom does it happen as romantically as it does in a Hollywood movie. I believe it happens internally, in our own lives and stories before it can happen within society as a whole. In order for my characters to make change in the world around them, they must first find their own internal compasses. It is no easy task. Elements in their world want to hijack that internal search, and bend them against their will to become instruments of harm. In our own world, media, advertisements, politicians wish to stir our insecurities, our prejudices, our inner fears so that they can take our money, our votes, our voice. I encourage you, as I encourage my own characters, to resist the temptation to let others define you, to be shaped by the machinations of the world and instead find the books and voices that uplift your spirit and remind us all that we are all part of this great experiment of liberty. For if it fails, so do we all.


Pierce Brown's Iron Gold hits bookshelves on January 16. Add it to you Want to Read shelf here.



Comments Showing 1-50 of 63 (63 new)


message 1: by Alex (new)

Alex Givant He is coming for book signing to Toronto on Jan 25


message 2: by Pete (new)

Pete Labrozzi Can't wait to read the new book!


message 3: by Wendy (new)

Wendy Where will he be signing his new book?


message 4: by Ghaidaa (new)

Ghaidaa Naguib You are simply amazing ❤️


message 5: by Crystal (new)

Crystal Johnson Inspiring! I love getting to see the drive an author has to create such complex characters that evolve and grow within each book!


message 6: by book.to.frame (new)

book.to.frame Wendy, if you go to his author page, he has all of his tour locations and dates listed.


message 7: by Denise (new)

Denise Alcaraz See you at the LA Howlerfest! Very excited to start reading Iron Gold!


message 8: by Alex (new)

Alex Givant Wendy wrote: "Where will he be signing his new book?"

Check out here


message 10: by Kamal (new)

Kamal Syed I've listened to the entire series on Audible and really enjoyed it. I'm actually quite surprised that he managed to get all three out so quickly and quite a refreshing change from some others-not-to-be-named.

I'm really looking forward to this on audiobook again!


message 11: by Wilma (new)

Wilma I think Pierce Brown has a lot of insight for such a young man. Really enjoyed the trilogy and am looking forward to reading the new book


message 12: by Sarah (new)

Sarah I recently finished the trilogy, absolutely loved it - and coincidentally I’ve found myself adopting Sevro’s swearing style when thinking about certain politicians at home (UK) and abroad. Very excited to read Iron Gold!


message 13: by wild_abandon (new)

wild_abandon So much respect for this, it absolutely echoes my own sentiments in today's world. I'm utterly disenfranchised by this shit world we live in, and books like this make it a little more appealing to be in. Looking forward to the new book!


message 14: by Stacy (new)

Stacy I love the reasons Brown gives in this article for why he writes! No matter which side of the political spectrum an author is on, it is absolutely important (perhaps I’ll go so far as to say it’s necessary) for them to pose questions about the world we live in. And it is the reader’s right to examine those questions posed and then see if they agree or disagree with the answers the author offers. It’s great to see the world through others’ eyes to gain empathy and understanding.

On top of all of that—and on a lighter note—Brown is a master and I can’t wait to see what’s next for the characters I grew to love in his first trilogy. Iron Gold is easily my most anticipated read of 2018!!!


message 15: by Nevine (new)

Nevine Eltonbary All very true. It’s like everything we read or hear or watch is telling us to question ourselves and our version of the truth. While that’s a good exercise at times to broaden one’s perspective it can have the opposite effect. It can make us doubt ourselves and lose our trust and faith in people. But there is good in the world. You don’t have to be a fool or naive to genuinely believe that. Cynicism is what’s applauded in our world now. Sad but true really. Perhaps in a few years the scales will tip more towards hope and optimism again. All that being said I simply loved escaping into Brown’s literary world, and can’t wait to read Iron Gold :)


message 16: by Büşra D. (new)

Büşra D. I can't wait. I need to this book right now :')


message 17: by Gretchen (new)

Gretchen Thanks Pierce. :)


message 18: by Nathaniel John (new)

Nathaniel John Thank you for not giving up after all those times my goodman. Thank you for sharing your world with us. We're with you always!


message 19: by Jillian (new)

Jillian Brown Pierce... this is why you're my favorite author. Not just because of your exceptional talent for storytelling (although that's a huge factor). But also because of you as a person. This message touched me profoundly. I'm actually tearing up. I hope you know that you are doing so much good in the world, and are an inspiration for those still trying to find their place in it. Even though I might tease and crack jokes at you on social media, know that I have the utmost respect for you as an author, as a professional, and as a person. Thank you, my goodman.

But even with that heartfelt message... soap in the milk?? Poor Blair! Goddamnit Pierce. XD


message 20: by Victor (new)

Victor Nogueira Can't wait!


message 21: by Cody (new)

Cody I just thought the books were interesting i never knew the author had a storyline of his own haha


message 22: by Deno (new)

Deno Mantas Kamal wrote: "I've listened to the entire series on Audible and really enjoyed it. I'm actually quite surprised that he managed to get all three out so quickly and quite a refreshing change from some others-not-..."

I'm convinced that most Audiobooks are read to me much better than I could ever read to myself. The Red Rising trilogy production was especially well made. I can't wait for the new one!!!


message 23: by Logan (new)

Logan Can't wait Pierce!


message 24: by Loony (new)

Loony Moony this is really inspiring! cant wait for the Iron Gold!!


message 25: by Rubi (new)

Rubi I can't wait.
Like you, I think that freedom is not the final state but a constant struggle


message 26: by odedo1 (new)

odedo1 Listen to all 3, pre ordered number 4 which is coming out in 6 days from now and I can't wait.


message 27: by Olivia (new)

Olivia Boothe This simply confirms why a I admire Pierce Brown and his smart writing.


message 28: by Nick (new)

Nick Dear Pierce and the world,
I want you to know that your first three books played a big role in helping me find my purpose in life. I’m a millennial - I appreciate and completely agree with you on the state of our ‘searching’ world. This little write up also moved me in a profound way.

I believe the ‘liberty’ that you are speaking of is our freedom as humans from the bondage to sin. This freedom and liberty was purchased through the blood of Jesus Christ at the cross 2,018 years ago. I found my purpose and freedom when I accepted Christ and started a relationship with Him. I realized how much He loves us and wants to be in relationship with every one of us. (John 3:16)

I was reading your books throughout my faith journey over the past five years. They inspired me to do something with my life, take a bold step, and pursue my passion. So I quit my job and started a movement with my wife and brother in law. Here is our story if you want to check it out: BOLD3.org

You are a gifted writer. Keep doing it for Good and keep looking Up. Thank you for being bold and sharing your story. God bless you.

In Christ,
Nick


message 29: by Myriah (new)

Myriah Crane These books mean the world to me, and these words from the author mean just as much. Thank you.


message 30: by Nathaniel John (new)

Nathaniel John Nick wrote: "Dear Pierce and the world,
I want you to know that your first three books played a big role in helping me find my purpose in life. I’m a millennial - I appreciate and completely agree with you on t..."


I keep recommending this series to my Christian friends too :D


message 31: by Damien (new)

Damien Gilbert Pierce, I absolutely refuse to purchase this book. Well, not until you decide to come to the UK for a book tour!

Okay fine, you win, this time.
The books been preordered for ages and I am super excited!


message 32: by Tristan (new)

Tristan Alex wrote: "He is coming for book signing to Toronto on Jan 25"

Thanks for the post, thats like 40 minutes from where I live, going to request it off work, so I can meet, one of my fav authors.


message 33: by Michelle (new)

Michelle Chen I absolutely cannot wait to hold this book in my hands. The book signing can't come soon enough!


message 34: by Matt (new)

Matt I've had this pre-ordered for months. I cant wait.


Astral Zilfino That was beautifuly said like always Pierce Brown😁😁. I can't wait to read Iron Gold!!!!😆😆


message 36: by Thingsinherhead (new)

Thingsinherhead I can't wait for this!!!


message 37: by noelle (new)

noelle Ahhh I’m going to meet him on Jan 25th in Toronto and I’m SO excited!! Iron Gold sounds incredible!


message 38: by Corlag (last edited Jan 10, 2018 08:28PM) (new)

Corlag TheBard Defined by others,
Defeated by none,
He rose above,
And conquered all.

*Howl*


message 39: by Sarah (new)

Sarah Awesome!! so much reflection of todays' thoughts. The characters and plots of his books are always evolving.

I have already added Iron Gold to my " Want to Read " List a long time back.

Thank you for sharing your experiences, Mr Brown.

Loved the sentence - " I encourage you, as I encourage my own characters, to resist the temptation to let others define you, to be shaped by the machinations of the world and instead find the books and voices that uplift your spirit and remind us all that we are all part of this great experiment of liberty. For if it fails, so do we all."

So true!!


message 40: by Arindam (new)

Arindam Mitra Penned down the thoughts perfectly! Looking forward to reading the new book!


message 41: by Michael (new)

Michael Poeltl Well said, Pierce. I look forward to your new installment of the series!


message 42: by Alex (new)

Alex Givant Tristan wrote: "Alex wrote: "He is coming for book signing to Toronto on Jan 25"

Thanks for the post, thats like 40 minutes from where I live, going to request it off work, so I can meet, one of my fav authors."
Last time we went for Morning Star signing, it was like 100+ people, so this time it could be more. He started to sign it around 8pm last time, we were waiting for 2 hours, but it worth it.


message 43: by Tannaz (new)

Tannaz I do really thank you Sir! I love yr stories very much! Can't wait to read the new one!


message 44: by Brianna (new)

Brianna Pierce Brown is a very inspirational writer. I love how he puts in the struggle of the world today into his books as a way to show people what is happening in the world. I can't wait to read his new book!


message 45: by Keefer (new)

Keefer "But I have felt the helplessness that comes with growing up without a defined purpose in a world that seems too big and too uncaring to notice me. I had no direction. I was disillusioned, and I feared I didn't have a place in the world."
It's always such an empowering feeling when words are written of your personal feelings. As a graduate student trying to figure out how to go about social change in our current neo-liberal society, I look forward to your book in the next week.


message 46: by Matt (new)

Matt Ranlett I'm excited to get my hands on a copy of Iron Gold. I pre-ordered it back in January of 2017!


message 47: by Gary (new)

Gary Black Good Stuff!


message 48: by Dacton (new)

Dacton The only book(s) I have ever read twice! Reading the series again with my 13yrs son. Can’t wait to get to the final!


message 49: by Nur (new)

Nur I NEED THIS BOOK IN MY HANDS NOW!!!


message 50: by Yuri (new)

Yuri I’ve just started Iron Gold; I loved the sunrise ending of Morning Star, but kudos to Brown for making the grim realities of rebuilding a new world both resonant and relevant.


« previous 1
back to top