Marissa Meyer’s Scarlet (sequel to New York Times bestseller Cinder) hit stores yesterday, and to celebrate Lytherus is featuring the author all week long! Today we bring you an exclusive interview with Marissa. She talks about where she got the idea for the fantastic series, how she ties things together, romance, writing, and more!
Not sure what her books are about? Check out the Lytherus reviews of Cinder and Scarlet!
Without further ado, here’s Marissa!
1-Since you’re new to this blog, tell us a little bit about how you came up with the awesome idea of doing a futuristic take on classic fairy tale stories.
The idea began with a writing contest that I entered with a short story called “Luna v. 4.2.” The
story was a science-fiction retelling of one of my favorite fairy tales, “Puss in Boots,” featuring a
talking robotic cat, spaceships, and a kingdom of magical beings on the moon. I had so much fun
with the story that I decided to try writing an entire series of futurized fairy tales. I’d originally
wanted to expand and include that first Puss in Boots idea, but eventually had to cut it when it
was no longer fitting with my master plan. However, many elements (such as the Lunar society)
2-This is a 5- book series, right? How did you decide which fairy tales to use as inspiration?
Did you start with the ones you like, and then figure out a way to tie them together, or did
you pick one and let it grow from there?
Four books, actually: Cinder (Cinderella), Scarlet (Little Red Riding Hood), Cress (Rapunzel), and Winter (Snow White). Initially, I’d expected each book to be a stand-alone story, but all set in the same futuristic world. While I was brainstorming different ways to futurize some of my favorite tales, these four just kept rising to the top. And then – as a surprise to me – they started to connect to each other in interesting ways. Characters were stepping out of their own tales and showing up in others, etc. And at the center of a growing central plot was this ongoing conflict between two characters: Cinderella and the Evil Queen from Snow White. Once I realized this was going to be a continuous storyline, it was a lot of fun for me figuring out how to tie the fairy tales together.
3-What made you decide on the certain settings for your books? Cinder’s in Asia, Scarlet’s
mainly in France, etc. Did you work out the worldbuilding first, and then decide to spread
things out, or the other way around?
I knew from the start that I wanted to set different parts of the story in different parts of the
world, because some of the problems facing the characters are really global issues – a worldwide
plague and the threat of war from an intergalactic race. So I wanted that to come across using
a variety of locations. As for choosing the locations: I selected China to pay homage to what
some scholars believe is the original Cinderella tale, “Ye Xian,” which was recorded in 9th-
century China. France was inspired by the story of the Beast of Gévaudan, a “true” story of a
murderous werewolf in the 18th-century, which I thought tied in nicely with my own werewolf-
4-Let’s talk about the romance elements in these stories. Cinderella is a romance-based
story, and Red riding hood isn’t. Yet, in your books there’s a nice balance between the love angle and the adventure/suspense. How important was it for you to make sure these elements were all there, and yet keep it true to the original stories? Was it hard to balance between the romance angle and the adventure angle, because you do both so well!
Thank you! I think balancing romance with adventure comes fairly naturally to me, because
those are the types of stories I’m most interested in (both reading and writing). I also think that
both sides of the plot are strongest when they’re used together to further the suspense. High
stakes and dramatic situations can test a growing relationship, just like falling in love can raise
the stakes of a situation and change some of the decisions the characters are making. I try to tie
the two sides together as much as possible.
5- you have a lot of wonderfully unique, fully developed characters, and they all feel
so different from each other, and really flushed out. Does creating a fleshed-out, seemingly real
character come naturally to you? Take us through the process, if you can, of how you make
sure these different ‘people’ (including Iko, haha) are not one-sided? Were there some that
were difficult for you? Men vs women, for example?
Thank you again! I absolutely love these characters, so it’s wonderful to hear that – and maybe
that’s the biggest “secret” I have when it comes to characterization. I never stop tweaking or
thinking about a character until they’ve fully come to life to me and I adore them to pieces. Some
characters come very easily and some I won’t feel like I have “right” until the 5th or 6th draft.
Cinder, Iko, and Wolf’s personalities all popped into my head pretty fully-formed. Whereas
Scarlet and Kai caused me a lot more difficulties, I think because I was trying to force them to
behave in a certain way that didn’t really fit their true characters. Sometimes, as a writer, you
have to know when to step aside and let the story take over for you.
I start each day with the networking-carousel: check emails, Twitter, Facebook, read blogs, etc. Sometimes, if there’s a lot of promotion work happening, I’ll spend hours on that, but on the good days I can proceed straight to writing. I get comfortable – put on some cozy socks, get a glass of water or more coffee – then look at where I left off and what I’ll be working on next. I always work from an outline and I try to keep really good revision notes for each chapter, so I typically know just where I’m heading. But sometimes the writing is easy and sometimes not. I spend a lot of time staring at walls and daydreaming. In an average day I’ll write 2,500 words or so, but when I’m nearing the end of a project I’ll often increase that to 6,000 words or more, because I’m so excited to be done.
7-How much outlining do you do? Do you plan everything beforehand, or do you leave
some storylines to chance and see where they go as you write?
I always begin with an outline broken up by scene or chapter. Nothing too fancy – just a general
guideline that hits the major plot points and conveys how the main character changes over the
course of the story. I often don’t know until after the first draft is done which of the subplots are
actually important, so those tend to get fleshed out more in revisions.
8-What’s on your current reading shelf? Anything that you’ve read lately that you
absolutely loved and would recommend?
I think the last book that I fell in love with was THE NEAR WITCH by Victoria Schwab – it
was just so beautifully written, and it was one of those stories where the setting itself took on
its own life, and I love that. I have Victoria’s just-released THE ARCHIVED now sitting on my
nightstand and can’t wait to dive in! I’m also very excited to read GRAVE MERCY and CODE
NAME VERITY. I’ve heard so many amazing things about both of them.
9-How’s the next book coming along? Is there anything you can tell your fans about where the
story is going?
Book 3: CRESS is going very well – I’ve just received revision notes back from my editor and
I’m really happy with how the book is shaping up. CRESS is my Rapunzel retelling, in which
Rapunzel is a computer hacker trapped in a satellite orbiting Earth, as opposed to the usual
10-Anything else you want to say to your fans reading this?
Only that I sincerely hope they’ll have as much fun reading The Lunar Chronicles as I’m having
writing them! And if they’re inclined, I would encourage readers to check out the Scarlet Tour
schedule and, if I’ll be in their area, I hope they’ll come out for a reading and to get their books
Thank you so much for the interview and for hosting this Scarlet Week!