Suzanne Collins
Photo: AP Photo/Matt Peyton

Suzanne Collins Biography

(1962–)
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American writer Suzanne Collins is the author of the best-selling 'The Hunger Games' series and 'The Underland Chronicles.'

Who Is Suzanne Collins?

Suzanne Collins is an American author who published her debut book, Gregor the Overlander, the first of the five-part The Underland Chronicles, in 2003. In 2008, her first book of The Hunger Games series was published. The best-selling trilogy was adapted into a blockbuster film series starring Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen.

Early Years

The youngest of four children, Collins was born on August 10, 1962, in Hartford, Connecticut. The daughter of an Air Force officer, Collins moved a considerable amount during her childhood, living in places like New York City and Brussels.

For the Collins family, history was an immensely important topic. Much of that was driven by Collins' father, who taught history at the college level and was open with his kids about his military experience, including his deployment to Vietnam.

"I believe he felt a great responsibility and urgency about educating his children about war," Collins says. "He would take us frequently to places like battlefields and war monuments. It would start back with whatever had precipitated the war and moved up through the battlefield you were standing in and through that and after that. It was a very comprehensive tour guide experience. So throughout our lives we basically heard about war."

Eventually, Collins and her family ended up in the South, where she graduated high school from the Alabama School of Fine Arts in 1980. Collins then enrolled at Indiana University, where she graduated in 1985 as a double major in theater and telecommunications. She then went on to earn a master's degree in dramatic writing from New York University.

TV Writing

Following graduate school, Collins moved into television, writing for several children's television programs, including Clarissa Explains It All and Little Bear. Her work for those shows soon caught the notice of James Proimos, creator of the WB children's program Generation O!, who hired Collins as his head writer. A big fan of her writing, it was Proimos who urged Collins to try writing books.

'The Underland Chronicles'

In 2003, Collins published Gregor the Overlander, the first book of The Underland Chronicles. The book tells the tale of a boy and his discovery of a vast new world he discovers when he accidentally falls through the grate of the laundry room in his New York City apartment building.

Gregor received critical success and become a New York Times best seller. The Underland Chronicles series was composed of four additional books: Gregor and the Prophecy Bane, Gregor and the Curse of the Warmbloods, Gregor and the Marks of Secret and Gregor and the Code of Claw.

'The Hunger Games'

While The Underland Chronicles made Collins a well-known author, it was her next series that ratcheted up her celebrity status. As Collins later recalled, The Hunger Games trilogy was born while she was watching television late one night. Flipping through the channels, Collins was suddenly struck by the lack of distinction between reality TV and coverage of the Iraq war: "We have so much programming coming at us all the time," she says. "Is it too much? Are we becoming desensitized to the entire experience? ... I can't believe a certain amount of that isn't happening."

The Hunger Games revolves around the series' rebel heroine, Katniss Everdeen, who lives in the post-apocalyptic nation of Panem, formerly known as North America. In Panem, the Hunger Games are an annual event in which young boys and girls fight to the death in a televised battle.

For Collins, The Hunger Games and her other books touch on the very subjects—necessary and unnecessary wars—that her own father often discussed with her. "If we introduce kids to these ideas earlier, we could get a dialogue about war going earlier and possibly it would lead to more solutions," she says. "I just feel it isn't discussed, not the way it should be. ... I know from my experience that we are quite capable of understanding things and processing them at an early age."

The series' first book, The Hunger Games, was released in 2008. Its two sequels, Catching Fire and Mockingjay, were published in 2009 and 2010, respectively. The series became a huge success, selling more than 100 million copies around the world.

Movies

A film version of The Hunger Games, with a screenplay written by Collins, was released in 2012. Starring Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss, Josh Hutcherson as Peeta Mellark and Liam Hemsworth as Gale Hawthorne, the film grossed just under $700 million globally, paving the way for Catching Fire and the two-part Mockingjay over each of the next three years.  

Prequel: 'The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes'

May 2020 brought the highly anticipated release of The Hunger Games' prequel, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes. The book follows the rise of the series' villain, Coriolanus Snow, his ambitions fueling the expansion of the Games from a minor curiosity into an all-consuming media spectacle.

More Books: 'Charlie McButton,' 'The Year of the Jungle' 

Just before the massive success of The Hunger Games, Collins wrote a children's book about a computer-game-obsessed boy, When Charlie McButton Lost Power (2007). She followed with When Charlie McButton Gained Power (2009).

In 2013, Collins penned the autobiographical picture book Year of The Jungle. The book, aimed at children, talks about a parent leaving for war and how a young girl struggles to cope with his absence.

Personal Life

Collins married Charles "Cap" Pryor in 1992. The couple has two children, Charlie and Isabel.

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