So here it is, Avery and my interview with Marissa Meyer, from the Indigo Yorkdale Green Room on Saturday, March 9, 2013. You can listen to the audio, read the transcript, or do both.
Warning for minor Cinder spoilers.
Ashley: I was thinking, a lot of us bloggers fangirl over your books & the characters, so what kinds of things do you fangirl over?
Marissa: [laughs] I'm a big Firefly fangirl...
Ashley: Me too.
Marissa: Yes! Actually, my biggest fantasy that I keep having right now. I'm going to Comic-Con in San Diego this year and I keep dreaming of, like, I pass Nathan Fillion in the halls and I can stop him and charm him, and be like 'You should read my book!', and then he does and gives it to Joss Whedon. That's like my dream at the moment, [laughing] so I definitely fangirl over Nathan Fillion, and he's great.
Ashley: Canadian, too.
Marissa: Oh, is he?
Avery: I only know him from Twitter; all the authors re-tweeting stuff about him. [all laugh]
Ashley: We're all like nerdy with Firefly.
Marissa: Yeah, he's awesome. He's so nerdy. Um, what else? I don't know. For a long time I was a Sailor Moon fangirl and I still kind of have that in my roots.
Avery: Dubbed or subtitles? 'Cause Ashley and I were discussing this on the way here.
Marissa: [laughs] Well, I've seen both, and I definitely prefer subtitles, because in the American version they made Darien out to be such a jerk, and he wasn't that big of a jerk in the Japanese one.
Ashley: Oh, okay.
Marissa: Actually, have you seen the live action?
Ashley: No, just pictures!
Marissa: It's kind of amazing, and like as campy and cheesy as you can imagine, but it was hilarious, so I really loved that.
Avery: Since you're one of our favourite authors, who are your favourite authors or your all-time favourite book?
Marissa: Well, my all-time favourite book is Pride and Prejudice. By Jane Austen, of course. Otherwise, favourite authors... I mean, J.K. Rowling is amazing. Who else? I really like Kristin Cashore and Leigh Bardugo. Marcus Zusak is brilliant. John Green, of course, is brilliant. Scott Westerfeld, I really admire him.
Avery: What about as a teenager, were they all your favourite books as a teenager too?
Marissa: As a teenager I read a lot of high fantasy, so I read... I was really into the Sword of Truth series by Terry Goodkind. I remember reading a lot of classics, but I feel like those were more forced on me, than anything else.
Ashley: For school...
Marissa: Yeah. So the Sword of Truth ones are the only ones that I can remember being super excited about when I was a teenager.
Ashley: Which literary location, either a real one or imagined, would you most like to visit?
Marissa: [squeeing] Pemberley! [laughs] Definitely Pemberley!
Ashley: Have you read the Shannon Hale book with the...
Marissa: You know, I have not. It's been on my list for ages.
Ashley: I thought that was kind of cool how they had, like, a place where people could go and act like they were back in that time.
Marissa: Yeah, I need to read that, for sure. But have you been watching the Lizzie Bennet Diaries?
Marissa: Yeah, I love how they've done that and Pemberley was the business and I thought it was very clever.
Ashley: Yeah, I liked all the connections, like 'Bing Lee'.
Marissa: Yeah! Uh huh.
Avery: This conversation actually makes me so happy, because I re-watched Pride & Prejudice the other day, with Keira Knightly, because it's my all-time favourite movie.
Marissa: I love that movie.
Avery: Because it's just as good as the book, I find.
Marissa: I don't know that I would quite say that, but I absolutely love it, and I've probably watched it 8 million times.
Avery: Yes! What interests do you have when you're not writing? Or hobbies that you pursue.
Marissa: I like to eat, a great deal. [laughs]
Ashley: That's a good one.
Marissa: I mean, I cook, not as much as I would like to, but I do cook fairly regularly, and I like to be adventurous with my cooking, like I'm always like 'I have no idea what this vegetable is, let's buy it and see what it does' ... but then also road trips. Jesse and I go on a lot of road trips together, and we love antiquing, so we'll go and do a road trip to one of those big outdoor flea market antique show things. So we do a lot of that.
Ashley: Bloggers often talk about their 'book boyfriends', so we're wondering who your book boyfriends are, or even like a book friend -- those characters that you wish were real.
Marissa: Oh heavens. Mr. Darcy, but this interview is going to be so overwhelmed with Pride & Prejudice stuff. [laughs] Who else? I love pretty much all the guys in the Graceling series, so Po and Brigand. Who was the guy in Bitterblue? I don't know, but he was also fabulous. She writes male characters very, very well, I think. And also all of the guys in Leigh Bardugo's series. I don't know if you guys have gotten Siege and Storm yet?
Ashley: I haven't, but I've read the first one.
Marissa: Yeah, and, you know, even the Darkling was hot. How does she do that?? And then there's a guy in Siege and Storm who's become like my favourite character ever, and I... want him. [laughs]
Avery: Do you have any future books in mind or are you solely focused on finishing the Lunar Chronicles before you start anything new? And are you going to go outside of the genre?
Marissa: We have actually just sold a new book to my publisher.
Marissa: And that one will be YA Fantasy. So it's obviously still YA, but different in that there's no technology at all. I'm doing everything I can do avoid technology in that book. So that one's, you know, under way. And then I have lots and lots of ideas and I think that I will be staying in YA for the foreseeable future. I love this genre, but within YA, I mean I have ideas for historicals, and action adventures, and horrors, and pretty much everything.
Ashley: I think there should be... there's like kind of a lack of the kind-of action adventure thing, like I'd love to see sort of like an Indiana Jones type of treasure hunt story.
Marissa: Yeah! That would be fun. Everyone loves treasure hunts. And archaeology? Like it's so fascinating.
Avery: That's my B.A.!
Marissa: Is it? Yeah!
Ashley: So how much of the overarching plot for the series did you have worked out when you started Cinder? Has any of that changed a lot since the inception?
Avery: You already have the third and fourth written, don't you? -Ish?
Marissa: Um, the third one's pretty much done, and I'm working on the second draft of the fourth one right now. Yeah, and I had them all planned out pretty much from the start. I had outlined all four books before I started writing. But yes, things definitely change a lot while you're writing, and particularly because I wrote Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress... I wrote the first drafts back to back, but then I went back and revised Cinder and so much changed in Cinder, that then I had to re-write books two and three to work with everything that had changed in the first book. But I would say that the overall trajectory of the plot has pretty much stayed the same.
Avery: What has been your most rewarding experience since becoming a published author?
Marissa: It's all so rewarding! Definitely just meeting fans is amazing and kind of boggling and strange at the same time. [laughs] But then also I'll get, once in a while I'll get a fan mail from somebody, usually a young person, who claims they never liked reading, they don't like books, but then they picked up Cinder for whatever reason and loved it, and now they're, you know, getting more into books and looking for other things they enjoy. That is so cool and special, 'cause obviously I love books and I know how important they were to me, so it's neat to think that mine could introduce someone else to that.
Ashley: Mmhmm! So sort of along those lines, what's been your favourite reader reaction to either your book as a whole, or like particular scenes?
Marissa: Well, it was fun being proposed to.* [all laugh] I don't know, I love all the squealing and the giddiness, 'cause I'm like 'I know how that feels!' and it's neat to have people feel it for my books. You know what? My favourite thing is probably the fan art and the fan fiction, which I don't actually read the fan fiction for my books, but just knowing that it's there makes me so happy. I think it's really cool to know that people have enjoyed the world and the characters so much that they want to take that and make their own stuff with it. I think that's a really big honour.
Avery: And gifs make me happy.
Marissa: Gifs, yeah.
Avery: Even when I read reviews with other people's gifs. 'You're expressing what I feel'...
Marissa: [laughs] I agree. I think it's such a talent to find the right gifs.
Marissa: I don't think I could do it.
Avery: Is there any one aspect you find particularly challenging when writing?
Marissa: There's lots of parts that are challenging. I think for these books in particular, beginning with Scarlet, it's been a real challenge to combine the two story lines in a way that they balance each other and they work off each other in that you're not like reading one and then it moves to the other story line and you're like 'man I wish I knew what was happening with Scarlet right now' or whatever. So making sure that the readers are intrigued and excited about books, story lines, and that they kind of merge in interesting ways has been a challenge. But it's also fun, 'cause I kind of look at each book like a puzzle, and so it's like 'I have all these pieces, let's see how we can fit them together'.
Avery: I think that's... that what we both said. We thought they were like seamless, 'cause like I was really concerned about it. [Marissa laughs] Like I'm not going to lie to you, I was like 'How are these girls going to meet up?' And it was so natural.
Marissa: Oh, thank you!
Ashley: Yeah, like I sort of have a question about it, because that was one thing that I was like 'Okay I'm looking forward to it, but I love Cinder and what's going to happen?' And I think like, I felt like within a few pages you did really well introducing Scarlet.
Marissa: Oh, thank you!
Ashley: And making her really likable, and I thought a lot of books that go back and forth you have that kind of thing where you go 'Oh I just want to read about this character and I don't want to go back'. But I thought you did it really, really well balancing it out.
Marissa: Right. Well, thank you!
Ashley: So I guess... I'm going to skip to that one then since we're talking about it. What made you decide to go with the different perspectives, like continuing on with Cinder, but introducing those other ones.
Marissa: Well, when I first started brain storming the series I did think that each book would be a standalone, so like all of them in the same world, but not tied together. But then as I started figuring out the world and figuring out that there were these Lunars, and this evil Queen who wanted to take over, and this lost Moon Princess.. you know, the more I kind of brainstormed about it, the more this evil queen character started like tyrannizing all of the main characters in all of the books, and pretty soon it was just becoming this whole story that really revolves mostly around Cinder and the Evil Queen more than anything else. But I, of course, still had these other main characters, and I could see them kind of forming into a group as the stories went on, and banding together to fight the Evil Queen. So once I kind of knew that that's where we were heading with stuff, then I had to think 'Okay, well how? How are the characters related to each other and how do they come to meet up?' and so it's been fun!
Ashley: So whose points of view can readers expect to read about in Cress?
Marissa: Uh, all of them pretty much. I mean, you'll still be seeing Cinder and Kai, and Wolf and Scarlet, and then you'll also meet Cress, and then Captain Thorne also has a much larger part in Cress.
Ashley: Which is great.
Ashley: We love him.
Marissa: Thank you! I do too. He's so much fun to write.
Avery: He's so... in real life he'd be a douchebag, but you love him.
Marissa: [laughs] I know, right? [all laugh]
Avery: Books make it okay. [pause] Kill, Kiss, or marry.
Marissa: Oh gosh, I hate this question!
Avery: Kai, Wolf and Thorne edition.
Ashley: This is Avery's evil question. [all laugh]
Marissa: I've actually... have been asked this before, and I'm going to stick with what I said then, and that's that I would kiss Kai because I think it would be excellent publicity. [all laugh] And marry Wolf, because I think if given the chance to settle down and lead a normal life, he would actually be a really great husband. And kill Thorne, because even though I love Thorne -- and he's probably actually my favourite of the three -- he would drive me crazy. [laughs]
Ashley: [laughs] Yes. [pause] What's the best writing advice you've ever been given?
Marissa: [laughs] Ignore writing advice. [all laugh] I think that there... I do actually kind of mean that. I mean, there's a lot of rules and I'll be the first person to give advice if somebody asks for it, but there's a lot of rules that writers take too seriously, and it's... you know, you need to find out what works for you and what works for the book, and do that, and try to ignore all of these other voices that are in your head.
Avery: Do first drafts suck for you?
Avery: Yes, okay.
Marissa: Horrifically. [laughs] No, there's not ... I'm hoping that Winter I won't have to entirely re-write, but Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress I had to rewrite pretty much from page one.
Avery: If you could do it all over again, would you change anything in Scarlet?
Marissa: In Scarlet specifically?
Avery: Or ... just in general.
Marissa: In any of them?
Avery: You know, introducing Thorne earlier.
Marissa: [laughs] [pause] Uh yeah, I guess I would ... probably the biggest criticism that Cinder receives is that people thought the big twist that she's the princess -- I don't know if you can put that, it's a spoiler -- but that the big twist at the end was too predictable, but like as the writer I expected readers to figure it out, so I knew that a lot of people were going to see it coming. So I think if I were to do it again I would make it more obvious that 'YES, you are actually supposed to figure it out!' It's not supposed to be this big surprise at the end.
Ashley: No, I thought that was pretty well done, because, you know, you can figure that out at the end, but I still thought the way that you brought it about was super interesting, and made it a great layer.
Marissa: Well, thank you.
Ashley: Okay. So what has your research process been like in writing the series, and have you got to visit any cool places... or what kinds of factoid have you found out that you thought were interesting?
Marissa: Oh my gosh, so many cool factoids! Um, I have not gotten to go, like to Paris or China, as much as I wish I could. But I do a lot of research for the settings, you know, online... Google Maps is fantastic, I look at a lot of tourist sites, read guide books - that sort of thing. I think probably the most interesting research that I've done were for the cyborg parts of Cinder, because really, everything that Cinder has, turned out to be completely plausible and it's all based on true scientific fact, and there are things that scientists are doing right now that are mind blowing. They actually just had a news story here a few weeks ago about how they had implanted a ... I think it's like a really, really thin sheet of electrodes into a guy's eye, that connects directly into his brain, and the guy was blind and now he can see. And, it's you know, it's like mostly shapes and colours, it's not like he can see 20/20, but it's getting there.
Ashley: Pretty incredible.
Marissa: And it's amazing, it's like, that's very similar to what Cinder has. So lots of very cool cyborg things.
Avery: What drew you into YA over any other genre?
Marissa: You know, it's just kind of where I landed, it wasn't really a intentional decision, at least not at first, because when I started writing - trying to write a novel - I was 16 at the time, and so of course all my characters were 16, and then I grew up, and went to college and got a job and blah blah blah, but I would always just keep writing about teenage characters. And so then when, of course, Harry Potter happened and Twilight and everything, and it was like 'Hey, that's my genre! That's where I fit!' So it was cool to make that connection and be like 'That's what I'm writing!' Because, really, YA as a genre, is very, very new ... it didn't exist until maybe 10 or 15 years ago, so it was nice that all the sudden there's this genre, and it's doing really well, and that's what I want to write.
Ashley: Yeah, it's definitely exploded over the last like 5 or 6 years, because I know even compared to when I was in high school, there definitely wasn't as much as there is now.
Ashley: So I know we talked a little bit about NaNoWriMo**, so what's your favourite part about that process and what do you think the advantages are for participating in that?
Marissa: Well, I think what's so great about it is that it gives you a goal and it gives you a deadline, and I think that's where a lot of aspiring writers get tripped up. You know, they have this idea that they want to write a book, but there's always other things getting in the way. You know, life is always in the way. So I think if you can set a goal and set a deadline and take it really seriously that's, you know, you've accomplished half the battle right there. And so I think that's what's so great about NaNo, is that it encourages people to do that and to prioritize their writing and have fun with it too. As far as advantages, I mean obviously it's great that after 30 days you have a first draft. And yes it's messy and it's terrible, but at least then you have something to work with, and I think that's great. But at the same time I know a lot of writers who have tried it, and it didn't work for them, and they prefer a slower process, and I think that's fine too, you know, as long as you're working toward it.
Avery: Do you have any author friends? Because when I read the acknowledgements of books, like everyone's crediting other people, like people who are very random. Like Beth Revis and Lauren DeStefano: BFFs.
Marissa: Yeah! Um, I'm... I have more now. I have a group in Washington, the Apocalypsies, there were 6 of us in Washington, so we meet up once in a while. And then I've been on a couple group tours, and so it's been really fun meeting those authors. I mean... I guess, who would I think are my closest writer friends?
Avery: Do you ever text anyone, like 'oh my god...'
Marissa: Um... [laughs] only like if we're getting together, somewhere like 'hey I'm here' or whatever. Um, but like Lish McBride, she lives in Seattle, so we've gone out a couple times. And... Leigh Bardugo and Anna Banks, we were all on a group tour together, and we've gone out for drinks when we were at the same conferences, and they're so much fun. [pauses] [laughs] I could just start listing people, but then I know I'll miss somebody, and they'll be like 'Why didn't you list me?!' so...
Avery: It's kind of like when you're writing acknowledgements.
Ashley: Okay, so... what are 3 random facts about yourself that people might be surprised to know?
Ashley: Or anything you can think of, really.
Marissa: Random... um... I don't know, that's hard!
Ashley: I put you on the spot.
Marissa: Yeah... we might have to come back to that one.
Avery: You... try vegetables you don't know.
Marissa: I do, I do.
Avery: That's random.
Marissa: Yeah. I've recently developed a great love for brussels sprouts. Like, who knew? Brussels sprouts, they're delicious. [all laugh]
Ashley: Okay, I think we're at 20 minutes. [to Avery] Unless you want to finish something up?
Ashley: Okay. [to Marissa] Well thank you very much!
Marissa: Yeah, thank you guys!
* When we first came in and were introducing ourselves Avery goes "I actually proposed to you on twitter a while ago" & Marissa was like "Oh that was you?! When's the date?"
** Err, we didn't actually mention it by name, but that's when Marissa wrote the first drafts of Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress.
So as you can tell, Marissa is a very fun and lovely person, and it was such a joy to interview her. Thank you so much to Marissa, to Raincoast Books for making it possible, and to Indigo Yorkdale for use of their Green Room.
You can see pictures and
find a full event recap HERE.