In the past few weeks I’ve given serious thought about guest starring a few published writers on my blog. As an avid reader and writer I often relate to other authors and their works motivate me to shoot for the stars. A few authors in particular have inspired me beyond words and so I thought ‘Hey, why not chat with them!”
Immediately I thought of a novelist who has achieved great success with her debut novel, Cinder, Book One of the Lunar Chronicles. The author, Marissa Meyer, is a talented young woman whose confidence and talent prompted me to reach out to her. Cinder is a story based on the classic fairytale “Cinderella” but with a futuristic spin that gives the reader so much more than the familiar ‘girl meets prince’ story. The book released on January 3, 2012 and will be followed by Scarlet (2013), Cress (2014), and Winter (2015). Stop by Marissa’s website and check out her biography, blogs and upcoming events. You’ll be happy you did!
After checking out her biography I noticed that Marissa and I have a lot in common. From a very young age, we both showed a true passion for writing. My eyes couldn’t help but light up when I learned that she has completed Sailor Moon fanfics, as this reminded me of my early teen years. For years I drew characters and created plots based on Sailor Moon, a manga series I absolutely adored. A writer within my age group, Marissa has encouraged me to believe in my dreams and to never give up. Achieving such a huge success before the age of thirty is nothing short of amazing, and her dedication and hard work is an inspiration to all.
Not only is Marissa a talented writer, but apparently a kind soul as well. She has agreed to answer some of my questions and I hope that her insight will be as inspirational to you as it is to me. So, let me get out of the way and let’s see what Marissa has to say.
1. Your recent blog interview with the Office of Letters and Light has inspired me beyond words. You explained that your books were created when participating in the National November Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) as a challenge to write a 50,000-word novel within one month. How did participating in NaNoWriMo help you write such a successful series?
The year that I wrote CINDER was the third year I’d participated in NaNoWriMo, and I think the program has a ton of benefits for writers, both aspiring and published. It encourages you to make writing a priority and proves that Yes, you really can write every day, even when you’re busy living your life. If you’re lucky, you’ll also finish the month with a completed first draft. Sure, it will be terrible as first drafts tend to be, but that’s okay because you can fix everything in revisions. The point is that you now have something to work with, and it only took you four weeks to make it! That sense of pride and accomplishment is huge and can go a long way in building up the momentum that one needs to finish and publish a novel. I do think that I would have written and sought publication for the Lunar Chronicles with or without NaNoWriMo, but I think it would have taken me a lot longer to do it, and I don’t know that I would have been as far along in the writing and planning stages of the series when I got the book deal.
2. Cinder, the first book of the Lunar Chronicles, is categorized under Fantasy and Science Fiction. What other books in this genre have inspired your novels?
Fantasy was my first love—which started all the way back when I read The Chronicles of Narnia (the first novels I ever read) and when my Uncle gave me The Hobbit when I was a kid, and continued on through breathless anticipation of each book in Terry Goodkind’s Sword of Truth series when I was a teenager. That said, Cinder definitely leans more toward the science-fiction end of the spectrum. Inspiration may have had some roots in books (Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies series comes to mind), but was probably more rooted in my love of Star Wars, Firefly, and an anime called Cowboy Bebop.
3. How do you relate to the character, Cinder?
Cinder and I share a similar sense of humor. After my mom read the book, the first thing she said to me was, “Well, I see where she gets her sarcasm from.” Touché! But beyond that, I relate to Cinder more because she’s what I wish I was like. She’s brave and resourceful and not afraid to stand up for herself or get dirty or crawl around in a junkyard teeming with creepy crawlies. That is so the opposite of me, and I find those qualities very admirable.
4. Inspiration is all around us. Some find it in nature or music. What boosts your imagination and inspires you to write?
So true—ideas can come from absolutely anywhere! I find that I’m frequently inspired by nature—taking a walk or staring empty-minded out a window are always good for the muse. I also have had many a lightbulb-moment on the treadmill or when I’m driving or in the shower or doing dishes. Anything that allows the mind to wander for a little while.
5. Self-editing is so detrimental, I believe. I try to edit my novel every three chapters or so. As much as this is necessary, I tend to get stuck in over-analyzing each paragraph and it leads to so much “nitpicking” that I end up getting stuck on what to write next. Can you share some suggestions or personal preference on how you’ve self-edited your own book?
DON’T EDIT UNTIL IT’S DONE. Okay, I realize that not every writer can work this way, and I think it’s important to find a method that works for you. But for me, personally, I won’t go back and read anything I’ve written until I reach the end of a draft. If I realize that something needs to be changed in an earlier chapter, I’ll jot myself a note (i.e., “In chapter 7, mention that the satellite has two docks”), and make the change in the next pass, but I never go back and edit until it’s time to do so. That way, I don’t lose momentum and I’m able to keep the bigger picture in mind. It also makes the book feel more fresh when I do go back to read through it, because oftentimes I’ve forgotten what happened in the first chapters!
Marissa, thank you for taking time to answer my questions. I feel honored to guest star a successful author such as yourself. I look forward to reading your future novels and wish you continued success on such a bright and promising career.