I met Marie Lu for the first time at the Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore in Redondo Beach. Two author friends, who knew Marie, invited me to her book launch for Legend. It was a great launch, and Marie was a generous host. She provided her guests with refreshments and giveaways. (I actually won a UK Arc of the book )
With YA Author Marie Lu at her Legend Book Launch, December 2011
Marie talked about how she got into writing. I was amazed when I found out that she’d started writing stories when she was in High School. Like everyone else, however, she put in 10 years of hard work before she reaped the rewards with the Legend trilogy.
I thought Marie was the coolest person ever, after hearing her talk. I was always so happy to see her at the various book tours and panels I attended, and I’m definitely looking forward to Prodigy!
If you haven’t heard of Marie Lu and her awesome book, Legend, check out my review.
Without further ado, I present the beautiful Marie Lu.
Author’s Bio from her website marielu.org
I write young adult novels, and have a special love for dystopian books. Ironically, I was born in 1984. I like food, fighter jets, afternoon tea, happy people, electronics, the interwebz, cupcakes, pianos, bright colors, rain, Christmas lights, sketches, animation, dogs, farmers’ markets, video games, and of course, books. I suck at working out. I also get lost very easily, but am a halfway decent driver. At least, I like to think so.
I left Beijing for the States in 1989 and went off to college at the University of Southern California. California weather sweet-talked me into sticking around, so I’m currently in Pasadena with my boyfriend, two Pembroke Welsh Corgis, and a chihuahua mix. In my past life, I was an art director in the video game industry, but now I write full-time.
The Beautiful Marie Lu, photo by Paul Gregory
1. Tell us three random, unique, or weird facts about yourself.
I was bitten by a rat when I was three. On my eyelid. I know.
I’m slightly ambidextrous; for some reason, I’m left-handed when I eat, throw things, and ride bicycles.
I witnessed the Tiananmen Square student protests when I was five years old.
2. What books and movies inspired your love for Sci-Fi or Fantasy?
My first introduction to the Fantasy genre was Mattimeo, by Brian Jacques. That book still has a very special place in my heart. I loved a lot of 80s fantasy movies, too—The Dark Crystal, Legend (ha!), Labyrinth, The Neverending Story, etc. I can’t remember what my first introduction to Sci-Fi was, but I love Ender’s Game and Ender’s Shadow by Orson Scott Card, as well as 1984 (George Orwell) and The Giver (Lois Lowry). Blade Runner and The Matrix are two Sci-Fi film favorites from my youth.
3. What day jobs did you have before you became a full time author?
Before I became a full-time writer, I worked in the video game industry as an artist and art director. I went to work for Disney Interactive Studios right out of college. It was extremely fun—I still dabble in making games (we’re making a Facebook game for Legend called Cities of Legend) and still play a bunch. Assassin’s Creed is my current favorite game franchise.
4. Does your skill as an artist or video game designer ever come in handy when you’re writing? How?
It definitely helps me out of writer’s block! Before I start writing any story, I have to sketch out my characters first. Otherwise, I can’t really get a handle on who they are. I also like putting in game-esque elements into parts of my stories, such as the Skiz fights in Legend.
5. When did you know you were going to be a writer? What prompted you to take your writing seriously?
I always wrote for fun ever since I was five or six years old, but I started writing seriously when I was fourteen, when I saw a newspaper article about a young author named Amelia Atwater-Rhodes who had gotten her first book published when she was only fifteen. That was when I realized real people wrote books!
6. Why do you think YA is so popular? Would you ever consider writing a book in another genre—a middle grade book, or picture book for instance?
YA is pure fun to me; I think most YA is very accessible, and the characters are at a very interesting age where they experience so much change. I’ve definitely thought about venturing into picture books, although I think writing picture books is extremely challenging—it might be the hardest category in the world to write for.
Legend Author Marie Lu, photo by Paul Gregory
7. What inspired you to write Legend?
One day in 2009, I was lying on the carpet in my living room (this is how I daydream), and the movie version of Les Miserables was on. The Jean Valjean vs. Javert concept started me thinking, and the central idea for Legend came almost right away: a teenage version of Les Miserables, with a famous teen criminal vs. a teen prodigy detective.
8. Day and June are both prodigies and have some really cool skills and abilities. What skill/abilitiy would you love to have? (Ninja-esque abilities? Computer-like math skills?)
I pretty much created June to have all of the skills and abilities that I wish I could have! I really wish I was excellent at math and programming; if I were, I’m pretty sure I would have gone into astronomy (a field I really love). I also wouldn’t mind having Day’s parkour skills.
9. You’ve sold the film rights for your book. (Hurray!) Which scene from the book are you most interested in seeing live on the big screen?
This is a hard one to answer—but I’d really love to see the Skiz fight between June and Kaede!
10. Tell us about your path to publication. What is the coolest thing about being a published author?
I wrote four unpublished manuscripts before I wrote Legend, so it was a long road for me! The coolest thing is being able to write full-time. It’s mind-boggling to me that I get paid to make up stuff. It really is a dream job. I still can’t believe it! I also love hearing from readers. Their emails absolutely make my day, every day.
11. What’s your typical day as a writer like? Do you have any writing-related rituals or quirks?
I’m very much a morning person, and I like to get my writing done before about 1pm. Any writing I do in the afternoons tends to be absolute crap. I also need to listen to music while I write—but only music without lyrics. Lyrics distract me.
12. What do you like to do when you’re not writing? Any hobbies, sports, crafts you like to spend time on?
I love reading and drawing, of course, and both making and playing games. My boyfriend and I occasionally fight over our PS3. I need my Assassin’s Creed fix, dang it—he can play Battlefield 3 . . . but only after I’m done.
13. Are you currently working on any other projects?
Yes, I’m working on a new story idea that I’m hoping to tackle fully after the Legend trilogy is finished. This one will probably be fantasy.
14. What advice would you like to give to writers on the road to publication?
Be brave. Don’t be afraid to write (and toss) a bad/unpublishable book, or even 4. Or 10. Have faith that you can get published someday, but be brave enough to learn how to write better each time you try. When agents and editors reject your manuscript, 98% of the time the fault can be found in your manuscript. Don’t blame the market or the publishers. Just be brave enough to write a better manuscript.
15. What would you like to say to your young readers? Is there any advice that you would like to give them?
YOLO! Seriously. You only live once, so don’t be afraid to pursue what you really want to do with your life. Live without regrets.
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