Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Interview Week: Marrissa Meyer, author of CINDER

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:

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?
When I was in 4th grade, my class performed Shakespeare’s Macbeth (I was Hecate, the head witch). This began a period of a few years in which I thought I wanted to be a playwright and would force my cousin to act out skits with me in front of our parents. Good times.     

As a kid, what was your favorite book? Have your tastes changed since growing up?
I had plenty of favorites, but I probably read “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” more than any other. I was enchanted with the idea of an entire chocolate paradise. Of course, I’m still enchanted by that idea! I still love Charlie, but these days my reading list typically leans more into young adult, mostly because I’m a big fan of some romance in my reading material.

Your book, CINDER, is a futuristic take on the old classic fairy tale of Cinderella. Is Cinderella your favorite fairy tale? If not—which one is? Why?
Cinderella is definitely one of my favorite tales – largely because it’s a story that everyone, from every time and place and culture, can associate with. The desire to improve our station in life is definitely a universal one. That said, I don’t think it’s possible for me to choose an all-time favorite fairy tale. It seems to change by the hour!

It's the inevitable question: what inspired CINDER? 
I had the idea to write a series of science-fiction fairy tales after entering a writing contest with a futuristic retelling of Puss in Boots. Months later, as I was falling asleep, I had a vision of Cinderella running down the palace steps… but instead of losing a shoe, her whole foot fell off. Cyborg Cinderella! It was too good to ignore.

One of the great things about CINDER is the threat of the Lunars.  This is such a refreshing tale on the “evil queen” of fairy tales, and you did a great job in making her character both realistic and deliciously bad. Can you tell us how you developed the Lunars and where the idea came from?
Thank you! The Lunars developed over many drafts. In the earliest version, they had super crazy powers – like being able to shoot lightning bolts and fireballs out of their hands (no doubt harking back to my obsession with sword-and-sorcery as a teen… or maybe Sailor Moon). After awhile, though, their powers started to change into the more subtle (yet creepier) powers of mind-control and manipulation. Then at one point I thought that maybe I should have some sort of scientific explanation for the Lunar power, so I did some research on military experimentation for crowd control, which is how I stumbled on the idea of bioelectricity and how it could, potentially, be used to manipulate people’s thoughts. And bam! The Lunars were born.

Can you tell us a little bit about the process--particularly the timeline--of writing & publishing CINDER?
I wrote the first draft of CINDER in just two weeks – it was part of a contest, the prize for which was a walk-on role in Star Trek. (I didn’t win.) After that, it took me about two years to rewrite and revise, during which I also wrote the first drafts of Books 2 and 3. Once it came time to start submitting it, though, everything happened really fast. I signed with the first agent I queried. Two weeks later, she submitted the book on a Friday and we had our first offer the following Monday. It was insane. Fourteen months later, the book was published. So it took a little over three years from idea to bookshelves.

If your reader could only take away one emotion, theme, or idea from CINDER, what would you want it to be?
Anticipation for Book 2!

What's the most surprising thing you've learned since becoming a writer?
How hard it is to write when it’s your job! When I was working full time, I got very good at using up every spare moment to write, even if it was only recording thoughts at a red light or working feverishly during my lunch breaks. Now that I’m a full-time writer, though, I too often feel like I have all the time in the world! Which means I use that time very poorly. It can be quite detrimental, but I’m happy to say that sixteen months after quitting the day job, I think I’m finally starting to get a hang of this full-time writing gig.

What do you think are your strongest and weakest points in writing?
Stongest: I’m neurotically goal-oriented. If I say I’m going to write 150,000 words in a month, I’m darn well going to do it! I’m nothing if not determined.

Weakest: Balance. Which kind of goes hand-in-hand with that neurotically goal-oriented thing. When I have it in my head to do something, all the rest of my life tends to fall by the wayside. It seems that every time I finish up a project (say, the a draft on the novel), I have to spend a couple weeks just trying to get my life back in order. Trying to balance writing and promotion and socializing and healthy habits and upkeeping the house… I’m not so good at that.

Beyond the typical--never give up, believe in yourself--what would be the single best advice you'd like to give another writer?
I don’t believe in writer’s block, but I do believe that there are some days when our brains require extra goading. For that, I think it’s important to have some sort of mental trick that works for you, every time. For me, it’s bringing my laptop into bed with me, lighting a candle, and enjoying a glass of wine. Yes, it’s akin to mental bribery, but it always makes me relax and enjoy the writing process again. For some, it might be playing a mood-music playlist or putting on a special writing sweater or reading the acknowledgments pages of their favorite books. Whatever inspires you to get back to work is a trick worth having in your arsenal!

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