Marissa Meyer is the bestselling author of Cinder, Scarlet and the latest, Cress. She worked as an editor in Seattle for a while before becoming a full time writer. She lives in Tacoma, Washington. Visit her here.
NAW- Please give me your bio in brief elaborating on how and why you decided to write?
I knew that I wanted to be a writer since I was a child—I always loved books, and I think as soon as I realized that every one of those books I loved so much had been written by a real person, and that this was a job you could do and get paid for, I knew that’s what I wanted to do for a living. So I grew up with that in mind—I was constantly writing stories and plays and poems, and when I was a teenager I was introduced to the anime Sailor Moon and I started a ten-year stint of intense fanfiction writing. This was the first time I’d shared my writing, and the fandom was hugely supportive and encouraging. I learned so much from them. I also have a BA in Creative Writing and an MS in Publishing.
I’m now a full-time writer and living my dream, with three published books under my belt and three more scheduled to publish within the next year and a half. I pinch myself every day!
NAW- Just to refresh our readers memory, tell us about your book series, ‘The Lunar Chronicles and the latest book in the series- Cress.’ How did you get the idea for the book series? Without giving away spoilers, can you tell us what fans can expect next?
The Lunar Chronicles, my first novels, are science-fiction retellings of classic fairy tales. The series begins with Cinder, which retells Cinderella from the point of view of a teenage cyborg—a girl who is part human and part-machine. As the series continues, Cinder meets other fairy-tale inspired characters (Scarlet, or Little Red Riding Hood, who is now a spaceship pilot, and Cress, or Rapunzel, who is now a computer hacker, etc.), and together they must join forces to defeat an evil queen who is set on ruling Earth.
I’ll have two books out in 2015—in January readers will learn the history of the evil queen in Fairest and the series will conclude with Winter, based on Snow White, in November.
I got the idea for these books many years ago when I entered a writing contest in which the host had listed about ten random prompts and writers had to choose two of them to include in their stories. My two prompts: set it in the future and include a fairy-tale character. My contest entry was a sci-fi version of Puss in Boots and I had so much fun writing it that I thought I would try to do an entire series of sci-fi fairy tales!
NAW- Are names of characters important for you? How do you decide names, at random or through a careful process?
Oh yes, I agonize over finding just the right name for characters. I’ve been known to literally give myself hives because I couldn’t decide on a perfect name! When I’m lucky, a name will pop into my head and just feel right. And I also keep a list of cool names that I see or hear for future characters. But when neither of those options are working, I resort to babynamesworld.com – it’s a great resource that is as effective for authors as it is for expecting parents. You can search for parameters like “I want a girl’s name from India that has something to do with the moon,” and it will give you a list to choose from. It’s been really helpful.
NAW- Tell us about yourself. What do you do when you are not writing?
I read! Ha! (Most boring/predictable answer, ever?) But really, I would rather curl up with a good book than do just about anything else. Other than that, my husband and I go on a lot of road trips together, attend many baseball games, love going to antique stores and estate sales… and eating. I’m a really big fan of food.
NAW- What is your favourite fairy tale book.
I don’t really have a favorite original fairy tale—it tends to change based on my moods—but one of my all-time favorite retellings is Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine. It was one of the first retellings I read and I loved how quirky and romantic it was, and how it took a well-known character like Cinderella and gave her this smart and sassy personality. Levine’s books have been a big influence on me.
NAW- What do you prefer when you are reading, an ebook or traditional paperback?
I frequently buy both. If I’m at home on my couch, with a glass of wine and a cat on my lap, I prefer a physical hardcover. I like to “measure” how far I’ve come in the book and how far I have still to go, and I’m always flipping back to look at the front cover when the art is beautiful. But I also travel a lot, and for that, e-books can’t be beat. I can never just pack one book in my suitcase, and my Nook allows me to pack as many as I want!
NAW- How difficult (or easy) was it getting published?
My publishing story is one that seems ridiculously fast and easy—I’m that author that people want to throw rotten tomatoes at! CINDER was the first novel that I queried, and after I started querying agents it took about two months before I signed with the first agent I’d queried—my “dream” agent. She and I worked on a submission package for two weeks. She then sent it to publishers on a Friday and we had an offer for all four books the following Monday. It was crazy and dizzying!
However, it’s easy to focus on that part of the story—the fun part—and ignore the years and years and years of writing I’d been doing before that. My bachelor’s degree in children’s literature, my master’s degree in publishing, my years spent reading craft guides and writer magazines and writing thousands and thousands of words of fiction. So while it was “easy” for me to get published—I first had to learn how to write.
NAW- What are your upcoming projects?
My next book, FAIREST, will be out in January 2015—it’s a prequel to the Lunar Chronicles telling the story of the wicked queen and how she became so determined to rule Earth. This book will be followed by WINTER in November 2015, the conclusion to the series, which is based on Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Then in February 2016 my first non-TLC title will come out: HEARTLESS, a prequel to Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland focused on the infamous Queen of Hearts.