“Sometimes I feel like part of my job is to make sure she survives this with her health intact,” said Louise Fury, Yarros’s literary agent.
In “Fourth Wing,” Yarros wrote about her condition for the first time, giving her protagonist, Violet Sorrengail, many of the afflictions she suffers from, like dizziness, brittle bones and joints that easily dislocate. Violet’s mother, the commanding general, pushes her to join the elite dragon rider forces like her older siblings, but Violet struggles at the war college. Her condition, which is never named, leaves Violet so weak that she can’t stay on her dragon, nearly plummeting to her death before she grudgingly accepts a saddle that locks her into place. Other dragon riders belittle her as small and fragile, but Violet’s ruthless antagonist and love interest, Xaden, is won over by her determination.
“I read fantasy growing up and I never saw that, I saw these powerful heroines,” she said. “I wanted to tell a story about a girl who should not succeed, and who should not be able to endure an overly brutal environment.”
Yarros grew up as the youngest of four in a military family — her grandfather was a general, and both her mother and father are retired lieutenant colonels. Her family bounced around Washington, D.C., Oklahoma, Kansas, Pennsylvania, Germany and Colorado.
She took up writing poetry and fiction early, and wrote a novel for a high school English project. When she was a college student at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs, she met her husband, Jason Yarros, a young private in the Army, at a karaoke bar one night. They got married and quickly had a child, and Yarros dropped out of college.