Thursday, May 10, 2012

Interview Week: Marie Lu, author of LEGEND

Welcome to Interview Week!
All this week, I'm interviewing awesome authors--and giving away a copy of their book! Come back each day this week for another author and another chance to win an awesome book.

Quick Stats on Today's Author:
  • Marie Lu is the debut author of LEGEND
  • The sequel, PRODIGY, will come out later this year, and I cannot wait!!
  • I was lucky enough to tour with Marie, and I totally kept trying to steal her computer so I could get a sneak peek of PRODIGY
  • Marie's hero, Day, originally had three sisters and first appeared in novel Marie was writing in high school. You can learn more about it herehttp://marielu.org/story1.html
  • Marie also has excellent taste in tights. Just saying.
YOU
We can read all about your life from your bio in the jacket flap of your book. So, what's a completely random fact about you that most people don't know?

I was bitten by a rat when I was three. On my eyelid. I know. I like to think of it as my Spiderman moment, though, and that someday my superpowers will manifest. Especially since I was born in the year of the Rat. That’s got to be some sort of good luck, right?

As a kid, what was your favorite book? Have your tastes changed since growing up? 

My absolute favorite book as a kid was Mattimeo, part of Brian Jacques’s Redwall series. It was my first introduction into the world of fantasy and sci-fi, and I have to say that my reading tastes haven’t changed all that much!

In your book, LEGEND, there’s dystopian government that rules with an iron fist. Because I had the pleasure of touring with you, I happen to know that you have a little experience with controlling governments. Can you tell us about this?

(Beth's note: I totally devised this question on purpose because I think Marie has a cool story that goes with this! Advantage to touring: accumulating insider info, lol!)

Beth knows all sorts of random secrets about me…. :) Anyway, yes—I’ve definitely experience some dystopian things when growing up, although my mom was the one who actually lived through the Cultural Revolution in China (a true, full-blown dystopia). I was born in China and left for the States in 1989, when I was five years old. At the time, I lived in Beijing with my aunt, and our home was a few blocks away from Tiananmen Square. The students in the square protested for a couple of months leading up to the actual massacre, and for us locals, it was something of a sightseeing event. My aunt would take me out to the square every weekend or so to see what the students were up to. I have vague recollections of the white statue of liberty they erected in the square. I was actually at the square on the day of the massacre, although I think the shooting didn’t happen until later that night. I distinctly remember seeing the tanks out in the streets, and that kindergarten was canceled the following day. Of course, I didn’t understand the full magnitude of this event until I was older, but a Tiananmen Square-inspired scene does appear in Legend.

YOUR BOOK

It's the inevitable question: what inspired LEGEND? 
One day in 2009, I was sprawled on the carpet in my living room and lazily watching TV (this is how I daydream), and the movie version of Les Miserables was on. As I watched the criminal Jean Valjean face off against police detective Javert, I started thinking about how fun it would be to write a teenage version of this premise: a sharp young criminal versus an equally formidable teen detective. The thing that inspired Legend’s dystopian setting was when I saw a map online of what the world would look like if all of our freshwater ice melted and our oceans rose 100 meters. It was a fascinating, terrifying map, and since I live in Los Angeles, I immediately thought about what a half-flooded LA would be like.

One of the things that stood out to me in LEGEND was the strong theme of love—and not just romantic love. Both June and Day have strong ties to their families. Is love in varied forms a theme you intended to bring in, or was it a happy accident while writing.
I think a lot of the love themes came into the story by accident, although I can totally see why they snuck onto the page. I’m an only child (a product of China’s One Child policy!), and I’ve always wondered what it would be like to have siblings. As a result, almost everything I write involves strong sibling friendships, rivalries, and/or dark pasts.

Can you tell us a little bit about the process--particularly the timeline--of writing & publishing LEGEND?
Oh man—Beth knows my looooong road to publication. Legend was my fifth manuscript. At the time, I had another (unpublished) story that my agent was pitching, and while we slowly received rejections back on it, I distracted myself by writing Legend. Legend came relatively quickly to me—the first draft took about 5 months, and then my agent and I did two big revisions on it. I’d say the whole writing process took about 9 months. We sent it out in late summer of 2010 and it sold at auction a couple of weeks later. Considering that I pitched my very first manuscript when I was fifteen, I’d say it only took two weeks and twelve years!

If your reader could only take away one emotion, theme, or idea from LEGEND, what would you want it to be?
Day’s motto in the book is: ‘Walk in the light’. I suppose this is the takeaway idea from the story—to Day, ‘walking in the light’ means seeking out the truth and refusing to take the world around you at face value. Not everything is as it seems in the real world, either, and I hope people always seek to find out how their everyday decisions really impact their society. ‘Walking in the light’ also symbolizes doing the right thing and being a moral person, even when you’re surrounded by darkness.

YOUR WRITING

What's the most surprising thing you've learned since becoming a writer?
I’ve learned that there are so many more elements to a writer’s job than just writing, something I never really considered until Legend sold. There’s the marketing and promotion, chatting with readers, touring, meeting people, traveling….all wonderful and fun things, but definitely unexpected!

Beyond the typical--never give up, believe in yourself--what would be the single best advice you'd like to give another writer?
Don’t be afraid to write a bad book. Sometimes you have to squeeze all the bad stuff out before you can get to the good stuff, and don’t be intimidated by the idea that you have to set aside something that just isn’t working and begin on an entirely new story. Staring at a blank page is one of the most terrifying sights a writer can see, but you have to be able to let go of bad writing.

What do you think are your strongest and weakest points in writing?
I think my strongest point might be character creation, only because I’m borderline obsessive-compulsive about it. My character profile sheets are ridiculously long and I have to know as much as I possibly can about all of my characters before I can start writing. I know silly things like their blood types and hexadecimal color codes for their skin/hair/eye colors. I have no idea why. My weakest point? Outlining. I suck so hard at outlining. Every time I attempt one, I veer off by the fourth chapter because my characters have wandered off onto their own path, leaving me to scramble after them. It makes for some very haphazard first drafts.


 And now for a giveaway! Leave a comment with your email address below to be entered to win a ARC copy of LEGEND--and it's SIGNED! One winner will be picked next Monday; sorry, but this needs to be North America only. 

74 comments:

Christine Tyler said...

Bit by a rat when you were three? I'm sure a super writing-power snuck in there somewhere.

Great interview, and wow, interesting history having a childhood in China.

Thanks Beth and Marie!
mrs.christinetyler@gmail.com

Anonymous said...

I loved Legend! It's going to be an agonizing wait for Prodigy!! And it was really cool to hear about the background from Marie about China and how it inspired the book and certain scenes in it.
linnyloohope@gmail.com

Debz said...

Marie definitely sounds like an interesting person! I'd love to read Legend! Thanks for the giveaway!
debzbookshelf AT gmail DOT com

Kat said...

I've heard that this was a great book, and I've been dying to read it. :) thanks for the giveaway!

katherineb06 {at} gmail {dot} com

Alison said...

I loved this book! 2013 is going to be a very long wait.

alisonmhume(at)gmail.com

Shadowrose96 said...

Wow, being bitten by a rat is one thing...but on your eyelid?! Ouch! Great interview and great advice.

Kiltgirl1@yahoo.com

~Courtney said...

Awesome interview, I loved all the stories behind the book. Now I am putting it on my list of must read. c.walton23(at)comcast.net

ashley said...

Bit by a rat? That is a total Spiderman moment. Awesome interview!

ehhduncan@gmail.com

Jillian Schmidt said...

I'm so excited about this giveaway! Legend was already on my to-read list, but this interview and especially the stories about its dystopian inspirations make me want to read it even more. Thanks!

writingonalimb [at] gmail

Natalie Aguirre said...

Loved the interview Beth & Marie. I enjoyed learning more about Marie's experiences in China and her challenges in writing. (She's such an awesome writer, it's hard to remember she has any weaknesses.)

I'd love to win an ARC since I gave my copy of Legend away on my blog.

Veronica Huang said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Veronica Huang said...

maybe your super powers are here already ;) just saying
LEGEND was EPIC! i cannot wait for prodigy any longer!!!!!
Thanks for the giveaway!!!!!!!!!!!!
huangxp01@gmail.com

Maidenveil said...

I remembered my English professor gave us an advice too same as yours to just write and don't be afraid to write badly. you can always edit later. the important thing is to let your thoughts out.

can't wait for prodigy. Legend was extraordinary!

Len
maidenveil(at)gmail(dot)com

sarabara081 said...

Bitten by a rat?! And on your eyelid of all places?! Eek! Thanks for the interview! I always love hearing how an author comes up with the concept of their books. Cannot wait for Prodigy! :)

sarabara081(at)aol(dot)com

Jill Kaplan said...

I love Legend! That was a great book. I actually read it around when I read both ATU and AMS. I hope you guys go on tour again. And please! Come to Boston :)

booklovingal@gmail.com

Susan Light said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Susan Light said...

I too was born in the year of the rat but we aren't the same age. I am planning on reading Legend this summer while off from job as a high school librarian.

Susan Light
books4susie@aol.com

Anonymous said...

This makes me miss the Breathless Reads days! As I'm sure you know Beth, I was a big fan of Marie during my preteen years when she was an artist for video games and fun. Getting to meet her in person after all these years was amazing. I know how long she worked on writing and knowing she made her dreams come true is wonderful and inspiring.


kate_reads(at)yahoo.com

Amyrica said...

Loved this book on my Kindle but I would adore having my own signed copy to reread!

Vivien said...

I really loved Legend! The characters were one of my favorite parts. So well thought out and they really resonated with me.

Vivien
deadtossedwaves at gmail dot com

hatice said...

I loved this interview! ~ best part - BITTEN ON THE EYELID BY A RAT!!!!!


me wants this signed copy ~ i think i just mewed

Leigh Smith said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sarah said...

Love Legend
csogden9078@charter.net

Leigh Smith said...

I looooved Legend! It was so good and definitely one of the top three dystopians out there! Loved the interview, I especially like to hear when pubbed authors had to write a few not-so-great novels before selling a book. (I know Beth wrote ten!) Very encouraging and really helps to give a more realistic view of publishing.
Thanks, Ladies!
I would love to win a copy of Legend for my very own for future dissection.
blackeyedsue21(at) gmail(dot)com

Ashley R said...

This is a fantastic interview! Being bitten on the eye by a rat sounds like no fun (but I'll hope it is a luck thing in the end!), and that's incredibly interesting to hear about her own personal dystopia.

Thank you for doing the giveaway!
ashleylovesbooksblog [at] gmail[dot]com

Christine said...

Amazing interview! I absolutely adored this book when I read it, and waiting for Prodigy has been such an agonizing wait, but reading this has made it a little more bearable. It's amazing to hear Marie Lu's back story and I always love hearing about different writers' processes and struggles to publish. As an aspiring writer myself, it's nice to get that kind of inside scoop!
So thank you both for this amazing interview!

teenysez@gmail.com

Cate said...

I cannot wait for prodigy.

Cate
razzberripop@aim.com

Alyssa Susanna said...

OMG! This is one of my favorite dystopias of YA!!!!!!! Thank you so much for giving us a chance o win it!!! I am so excited :D

Alyssa Susanna
lilleetleet(at)verizon(dot)net

Melissa said...

Excellent interview. I'm glad you veered 'off the beaten track' as it were and asked some new questions. :)

I'm eagerly awaiting the release of Prodigy (though a tad disappointed, I like the name Patriot better, but anyway...) and have forced many of my friends to read Legend, with nothing but positive reviews.

Looking forward to the movie.

melissa@inessencecreations.com

Emily said...

Great interview and I LOVED Legend! Thanks for the giveaway!

emilyroundy(at)gmail(dot)com

Drina said...

I can't wait for Prodigy!

schmetterlinge85 at gmail dot com

Anonymous said...

Loved the book and loved getting to meet you at the LA Book Festival!

Michelle

mbsmith1@cox.net

Lily Sooklal said...

LEGEND! WOOHOO! Loved this book :D
Thanks for the giveaway!!!!

Lily Sooklal
lilypi[at]verizon[dot]net

Anonymous said...

I've heard so much about this book!

sajobe at gmail dot com

Broken Angel said...

I love Marie Lu! I've read Legend at least five times, convinced a few of my friends to buy it, and fangirl after Marie Lu like a tween over her favorite celebrity. She's so awesome! I can't wait for Prodigy.

Julia Christy said...

Getting bit by a rat on the eyelid sounds terribly painful! I would certainly be wishing for spidermanesque powers (only the rat version of course) to manifest themself too. Though I have to wonder what those powers would look like....

a_hobbit_of_the_shire(at)yahoo(dot)com

Meg S said...

What a great interview! Can't wait to read this.

mysecretagentloverman at gmail dot com

Kayla Beck said...

I'm listening to the Legend audiobook (hooray for libraries!), and it is brilliant! The deep character development Marie Lu does is very obvious in the book, and definitely helps me connect to the characters.

Thanks for the interview and giveaway!
pherlaithiel (at) gmail (dot) com

Gabic said...

Can't wait to read Prodigy. I loved Legend

gabicbahr@yahoo.com

L Parker said...

This sounds like an amazing story!

lauraparker1124@gmail.com

Esther Cotton said...

Bit by a rat, and she was born in the year of the rat? Definitely super powers will manifest themselves someday. :P Although, maybe the super power was awesome writing skills & imagination? ;)

Can't wait to read this!

- Esther
http://roseywinterrose.blogspot.com

email: inkypaper1 (at) gmail (dot) com

Julia K said...

I think that the superpowers are just waiting to show when you least expect it. Legend is an awesome book that has a great backstory to it. I can't wait to read it!

clydetcat@gmail.com

Rachel Strolle said...

Sooooooo so cool! Hahahahha. I don't think I've laughed while reading an interview before. Nice going. :)
rstrolle@gmail.com

Megan said...

I adore Marie. One of my role models.

mswwrites@gmail.com

megaavidreader said...

Marie, you seem to be a wonderful person that I'd love to meet someday. Thanks for the giveaway!
megaavidreader at g mail dot com

Anonymous said...

Legend was awesome!
nym1997@aol.com

starryeyedjen said...

Such a long wait for the 2nd book but I know it will be worth it!

mrsjbruce@gmail.com

lisseth said...

This book has gotten some great reviews & I would love to read it(finally!). The interview was good,especially the "spiderman moment". Really cool that she was born the year of the rat & was bitten by one. The advice she gave was really helpful to me b/c I often feel I can't write that well.
thanks 4 the giveaway!

lizzy9rule@gmail.com

Sarbee said...

I love Marie Lu! I initially started Legend so that I would have something to say to her when my sister and I went to the Breathless Reads Tour and all I can say is I'm glad I did. I REALLY loved it and I've been kicking myself in the butt ever since then because I didn't get a signed copy. So, I guess now is my chance. :) Thanks for the giveaway!

sbrown2991(at)gmail(dot)com

Jessi (Geo) said...

I want to read this so bad!! Thanks for the giveaway :)

geobobspinelli[at]gmail[dot]com

Katja said...

Thanks for the interviews and giveaways, they're awesome! :D
Bookcat16@yahoo.com

Brandon Scott said...

I haven't yet read Legend, but I've wanted to for a while, and winning this would give me the chance to finally hop on the bandwagon. I would love to review this on my blog! My e-mail address is:
brandon(underscore)t(underscore)scott(at)yahoo(dot)com

Celeste said...

This has been on my reading list for a while.

celesteondich(at)gmail(dot)com

Emily R. King said...

I so can't wait to read this book! Thanks for the great giveaway.

erittelking at gmail dot com

shialo said...

Thanks for the give away.
shialoc@gmail.com

blanshire said...

Thank you for the interview and for the giveaway!

yuyurawr@yahoo.com

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the giveaway!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the giveaway!
hopenoellewalker@gmail.com

Amanda said...

Great interview and thanks for the giveaway!

ajtse@hotmail.com

Lena said...

This one looks really cool!!
lmarste at yahoo dot com

Anonymous said...

I've heard only good things about this book!! I can't wait to read it!! *crosses fingers* :P
Thanks for the Giveaway

lisa(dot)x0x(at)hotmail(dot)com

Stacy (Urban Fantasy Investigations) said...

I really enjoyed Legend. Thank you for the giveaway

Chllybrd(at)gmail.com

barmybex said...

awesome, i've wanted to read this book for ages!

becca9(at)gmail(dot)com

Christina said...

Bitten by a rat? Ouch! I don't know how that could be good luck especially if you were born in the year of the rat :P Thank you for the giveaway!

caymanian_girl(at)earthlink(dot)net

Marie O. said...

Eew, I hate rats. I would be so grossed out if I was bitten by one.

Thanks for the giveaway!

ako4eggs (AT) comcast (DOT) net

Pam Vickers said...

Can't wait to read this! Loved Legend!

pjv2001@att.net

Vrainwater said...

I've only heard amazing things about your writing! vfrainh20@gmail.com

Stephsco said...

I don't need to be included in the drawing since I own and have read Legend (and saw the author!) But wanted to comment that I didn't connect the scene in Legend to Tiananmen Square, but it's chilling to think of it that way. What an amazing - and terrifying - inspiration. Also, loved the inspiration based on the maps. I love these details!

Inky said...

Ack! I need Prodigy!!! Eeep! Fab interview! Always fun to see authors interviewing other authors! You rock Beth! You go Marie!

hannahsue10 at gmail dot com

Anonymous said...

i havent read legend yet but i really want to it looks like a fantastic book you are a really inspireing writer marie lu - Flylikeabird44@hotmail.com

LEdge said...

I loved the interview and enjoyed the book very much. I am leading a discussion on Legend with some high school students this week. Can you or another reader help me out with symbolism in the book, besides "light", of course.

Anonymous said...

Hello. And Bye.

Anonymous said...

Hello. And Bye.

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