9:15 am EDT, January 29, 2013

Hypable Exclusive Author Interview: Marissa Meyer

Marissa Meyer is the author of The Lunar Chronicles, a young adult sci-fi quartet beginning with Cinder and continuing with Scarlet, which will hit bookstores in February. Marissa lives in Washington with her husband and three cats, and enjoys Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and wearing awesome costumes.

Could you tell us five random facts about yourself?

1. The first book I can remember having read to me was Black Beauty.

2. I won a state speaking competition in fifth grade; my speech was on illiteracy.

3. When I was growing up, I wanted to be a writer, a Broadway actress, and a fashion designer.

4. I come from a family of costumers. When I was growing up, I remember my dad winning multiple costume competitions as Marvin the Martian.

5. The first movie I remember seeing in the theater was The Little Mermaid. And the obsession with fairy tales began. :)

Tell us about your journey to becoming a writer.

I began writing “seriously” when I was introduced to fanfiction when I was fourteen years old. I wrote close to 50 fanfics for an anime called Sailor Moon all through high school and college — it not only helped me develop my voice and learn about the craft of writing, but the online community was so supportive and encouraging that it gave me the confidence to pursue publication. Cinder was the first original novel I ever finished (though I have multiple unfinished novels lying around). It took me about two years to write, from conception through seven or eight drafts and polishing rounds.

Once I thought the book was ready to be sent into the world, though, the journey started moving along much faster! I was on the agent hunt for two months and signed with the first agent I’d queried. Two weeks later she took Cinder and The Lunar Chronicles on submission. That was a Friday, we had our first offer the following Monday. After feeling like the writing process took forever, that all happened dizzyingly fast!

What has surprised you about writing and publishing?

I’d worked in a small publishing house for five years, and I also have a Master’s degree in publishing, so I haven’t been surprised by too much in the publishing business. What has surprised me, though, is how often I find out things through Twitter or Facebook — say, that my book’s on a best of the year list, or that it’s available for pre-order, or whatever. I always thought these things would come lickety-split from my publisher, but the Internet is so on top of things it seems they’re always the first to let me know!

Why do you feel drawn to the stories you write?

I’ve always loved fairy tales and the idea of “happily ever afters,” but I get bored with stories about simpering princesses who are waiting to be rescued. That’s part of what I loved so much about Sailor Moon — the main characters are teenage girls, and they’re also superheroes. What teen girl wouldn’t love that? So that’s inspired me a lot — I’m drawn to protagonists (both the girls and the boys) who are strong and courageous and capable, but still flawed.

Where’s your favorite place to write?

For a long time I was a café writer, but just in the past month we’ve bought all new living room furniture, including a super comfy chair and ottoman. I’ve been spending a lot of time there recently!

What is one thing you wish you’d known when you sat down to write your novel?

That it would get published and there would be readers who love it. It’s so tough when you’re writing something and you don’t know if anyone will ever read it, or if you’re just wasting your time. I had my share of doubts and fears. Of course, I guess that’s the testament to writing the story that you love — you write it whether you know it will succeed or not.

How do you approach writing villains or antagonists?

These are my problem characters, for sure. It’s so tempting for me to make a villain that is 100% evil — but that’s very unrealistic. Most people who do horrible, cruel things have reasons for doing them. They may not be good reasons, but they’re there. So I have to spend a lot of time considering my villain’s backgrounds, desires, and motivations in order to figure out how they became this horrible person, and then try to make sure that comes out in the subtext of the story, even if it’s never fully explained.

Which is easier to write: The first line or the last line?

The first line, for sure! Although my first sentences and paragraphs do often change during revisions, it’s usually because I have lots of options for what I think would make a good opener. On the other hand, I’ve been known to stare at that last page for hours and hours trying to think up a suitable last line. It’s painful. People think the first page is the most important, but I’m not sure. The last page brings it all together. The last page should have that resonance that feels inevitable and solid and perfect. That’s not an easy thing to pull off.

What is your favorite chapter or scene you’ve written recently?

I spent November and December working on a new project that I can’t offer too much information about right now, but my favorite chapter from it includes a rose tree, a ball gown, and a raven.

Do you have things you need in order to write (i.e. coffee, cupcakes, music)?

Socks. Only socks. There are things I like to have — a latte, a scented candle, chocolate, the scene already playing out in my head. But the only necessary thing is socks. I can’t focus if I have cold feet.

Bonus Question! Would you rather be a book or a computer?

Good heavens — a book, I suppose. Computers know too much. I think I would always get distracted and frenzied. But a good book lives one good, solid story. That sounds like a pretty decent life.

About ‘Cinder’ and ‘The Lunar Chronicles’:

Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl.

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.

For more about Marissa Meyer:

You can follow Marissa on Twitter at @Marissa_Meyer and keep in touch with her on Facebook. You can find more about Marissa and contact her through her website, MarissaMeyer.com. Cinder is available for purchase from Barnes & Noble, Amazon.com, and other booksellers. Scarlet will be released on Feb 15.

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