The Lunar Chronicles is one of my favorite Sci-Fi/Fantasy YA series, so I was thrilled when I saw Marissa Meyer at one of the book signings I attended last year. She was in the audience supporting her fellow authors who were on tour. I was too shy to approach her so I didn’t (plus there were tons of people and I could barely move without tripping over someone).
I emailed Marissa, not really expecting her to respond back to my request for an interview. I was pleasantly surprised when she replied that she’d love to do an interview for my blog. She even sent me her answers months ahead of schedule! I was totally fangirling when we were emailing back and forth.
I have to say Marissa Meyer is one of the nicest and most encouraging authors out there. I’m an even bigger fan now than I was before.
Without futher ado, I present the wonderful Marissa Meyer.
Author’s Bio from her website www.marissameyer.com
One of my first spoken words was “story” (right along with “bath” and “cookie”), my favorite toy as an infant was a soft, squishable book, and I’ve wanted to be a writer since I first realized such a job existed.
When I was fourteen my best friend introduced me to anime and fanfiction—over the years I would complete over forty Sailor Moon fanfics under the penname Alicia Blade. Those so inclined can still find my first stories at fanfiction.net. Writing fanfic turned out to be awesome fun and brought me in contact with an amazing group of fanfiction readers and writers. As Alicia Blade, I also had a novelette, “The Phantom of Linkshire Manor,” published in the gothic romance anthology Bound in Skin (CatsCurious Press, 2007).
When I was sixteen I worked at The Old Spaghetti Factory in Tacoma, Washington, affectionately termed “The Spag.” (Random factoid: This is also the restaurant where my parents met some 25 years before.) I attended Pacific Lutheran University where I sorted mail that came to the dorm, carted tables and chairs around campus, and took writing classes, eventually earning a Bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing and Children’s Literature. Knowing I wanted a career in books, I would also go on to receive a Master’s degree in Publishing from Pace University (which you can learn more about here). After graduation, I worked as an editor in Seattle for a while before becoming a freelance typesetter and proofreader.
Then, day of days, someone thought it would be a good idea to give me a book deal, so I became a full-time writer. CINDER is my first novel, though I have an adorable collection of unfinished ones lying around too.
I now live with my husband and our three cats (Calexandria Josephine, Stormus Enormous, and Blackland Rockwell III), who go in and out, in and out, about eight hundred times a day. My favorite non-bookish things include Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, re-watching episodes of Firefly, and playing all manners of dress-up.
The wonderful Marissa Meyer, Author of CINDER & SCARLET
1. Tell us three random, unique, or weird facts about yourself.
I drive an orange VW Beetle named “Rampion,” after Captain Thorne’s spaceship.
When I was in sixth grade I tried to make a real love potion for my crush, but then I couldn’t figure out a way to actually get him to drink it.
The first movie I saw in theaters (that I remember) was The Little Mermaid, and I’ve loved fairy tales ever since.
2. What books and movies inspired your love for Sci-Fi/Fantasy? Would you ever consider writing in another genre?
Although I was an avid reader growing up, I don’t think it was until I read The Lord of the Rings in fifth grade that I fell completely in love with fantasy. Those books made me realize for the first time that authors didn’t have to relegate their imaginations to the real world – they could construct entire universes of their own! It was kind of a mind-blowing realization, and I’ve loved high fantasy ever since. As for sci-fi – Star Wars was definitely the catalyst there. Han Solo was my first fictional crush. *swoon*
That said, I would absolutely write in other genres. I have ideas for stories in just about every genre imaginable, and I hope readers will follow me as I tell different stories and introduce them to different worlds and time-periods.
3. What’s the most unusual job you had before you became a full time writer? What prompted you to take your writing seriously?
In college I was the person that moved chairs and tables around and set them up for events. Not super weird, but that’s about all I’ve got. I became an editorial assistant and, later, an editor right out of college, so I always knew I wanted to work with books. But my dream was always to be a writer, ever since I was a little kid. I started trying to write a novel for publication when I was sixteen, and though it took ten years to finish and sell my first novel, I was always very focused on making that dream a reality.
4. What inspired you to write CINDER? Did you always know it would be part of a series?
I first had the idea for writing a series of sci-fi fairy tales when I wrote a short story for a writing contest that was a futuristic retelling of Puss in Boots. I had a lot of fun with it and couldn’t find that combining these two very different genres had really been done before, so then I started brainstorming different ways I could combine my favorite fairy tales with my favorite sci-fi tropes, which eventually turned into The Lunar Chronicles. Although I did always intend for it to be a series, my original thought was that each book would be a stand-alone, and it wasn’t until I started outlining the books that it became clear to me that they were going to tell one continuous story, with this battle between Cinderella and an evil queen at its center.
5. The world you paint THE LUNAR CHRONICLES is full of fascinating landscapes. In Luna (the moon), people have developed psychic abilities, and Earth itself has been reconfigured into places like New Beijing and the Commonwealth. What inspired these settings, and how did you go about building this story world?
Wow, that’s a very complicated question! I wanted this series to have a very global feel to it, as many of the issues facing the characters (a deadly plague, a war…), are things that would impact every person on Earth, so I chose to vary the settings throughout the series. I also liked the idea of combining many different cultures and nationalities into one country, which is why I chose to condense all of Earth down into just six countries. The Eastern Commownealth, where Cinder takes place, therefore has symbolism and traditions associated with China, Japan, Korea, India, and many other Asian countries. It gave me the freedom to play around with language, clothing, etc., while still giving the reader something that was vaguely familiar.
6. THE LUNAR CHRONICLES is an amazing retelling of popular fairytale stories. Book 1: CINDER is your version of Cinderella, and Book 2: SCARLET is Red Riding Hood. What other fairytale characters will your next two books be based on?
Book 3: CRESS, which will be out in February, is based on Rapunzel, in which Rapunzel is a computer hacker stuck in a satellite, instead of the typical tower. Book 4: WINTER will be my Snow White retelling, in which the queen’s stepdaughter is attempting to rally the people of Luna against her stepmother.
7. All of your stories feature very strong female leads. If you could be a fairytale character for one day, who would you be?
This is rather sad, but I have true envy over Rapunzel and being stuck in that tower. Let’s assume it’s a cozy tower filled with books – how much reading time there would be! Plus, I bet it would have an amazing view. I could just sit by the window and write all day. I would love that. Until I went totally stir crazy, at least.
8. Unlike most YA books, your novels are written in the third person POV. Why did you choose this POV?
I knew early on that I was going to have many characters with many subplots happening simultaneously throughout this story, and that to write them in first person would confused the reader. Pretty much every major character – including the evil queen! – will get some POV chapters throughout the series, which is fun for me to write, and I hope readers enjoy getting these different perspectives as well.
The wonderful Marissa Meyer, Author of CINDER & SCARLET
9. If your books were to be made into a movie, which scene would you be most interested in seeing live on the big screen?
Oh gosh, I can’t give specifics because that would be a huge spoiler – but there’s one scene in Book 4 that in my head is super epic and climactic and awesome, and I can envision it with such clarity in my mind. I would love to see it adapted to the big screen. (Hint: the scene is pretty much a face-off between Cinder and Levana, in which Cinder makes a decision that has some pretty dire consequences. Dun dun dun.)
10. Tell us about your path to publication. What is the coolest thing about being a published author?
Ha! For me, my favorite part is getting to write in my pajamas! I know that’s silly, but it really is such a job perk. I feel lucky every day that I get to do this for a living. I also love meeting readers at book signings and getting to hang out with other authors and “talk shop” at festivals or writing retreat. This job is pretty awesome.
My path to publication wasn’t as fraught with rejection and hardship as a lot of authors face. Though it took me ten years of working on my craft, followed by two years of writing and revising Cinder, once I sent it to agents I ended up signing with the first agent I’d queried. Two weeks later she sent it to publishers. That was a Friday and we had our first offer the following Monday. It was very dizzying!
11. What’s your typical day as a writer like? Do you have any writing-related rituals or quirks?
It varies widely depending on what stage of the process I’m in. When I’m working on a first draft, I can spend 8+ hours writing. During revisions it’s closer to 3 or 4 hours. Then when it’s promotion crunch-time, in the month leading up to a book release, I may not get any writing done, as I’m so focused on publicity and marketing.
These days, I’m just starting in on the revisions for Book 4: WINTER, so I’m spending a few hours every day going over my notes and fiddling with the story arcs. Then I probably spend a couple hours answering emails and making the social network rounds, and a couple hours doing promo stuff (like answering this interview!). In the evenings I try to just relax and read or watch TV with my husband.
I’m not much for writing quirks, though. I feel like I can pretty much write anywhere, anytime, when I put my mind to it.
12. What do you like to do when you’re not writing? Any hobbies, sports, or crafts you like to spend time on?
I enjoy cooking and going antique shopping, and my husband and I like to go on roadtrips in the summer. I think we’re going to Yellowstone later this year – I’ve never been there, and I’m really looking forward to it!
13. Are you currently working on any other projects?
We’ve sold two new books to my publisher that will follow the Lunar Chronicles. The first will be a YA fantasy stand-alone. I’m not entirely sure what the second will be yet, but the idea I’m most excited for would be an action/adventure story, with some magic elements.
14. What advice would you give to writers on the road to publication?
Write as much as you can. Write the story you can’t get out of your head. Read craft guides. Have fun with it. Don’t worry about getting published until you’ve done all you can to write the best book you’re capable of, then research the heck out of the publishing world. Find smart critique partners who will both encourage you and offer good feedback. Read a lot.
15. What would you like to say to your young readers? Is there any advice that you would like to give them?
I can’t think of anything that doesn’t sound super cheesy (Be true to yourself! Follow your dreams!), but if I could go back and give myself advice when I was younger, I would say, “Your life is going to be awesome, so stop freaking out so much about it.”
Thank you for that wonderful interview, Marissa!
Tune in again on Friday. I’ll be giving away a SIGNED copy of Marissa Meyer’s CINDER!
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