With just two weeks to go before Heartless arrives bookstores, I thought I would share a curious little behind-the-scenes look into the creation of a novel.
Namely – the entirely bizarre things that we authors sometimes have to research.
The question comes up all the time when I’m talking about The Lunar Chronicles – “How much did you have to research?”
And the answer is always a predictable – “I have to research everything!”
I think it’s expected in a science-fiction book. There’s space travel, cybernetics, artificial intelligence, disease, genetic tampering, and moon colonization, just to name a few of the things I had to learn about in order to make that world and story seem as real as possible.
But it’s less obvious with a fantasy novel, especially one set in a world as quirky and nonsensical as Wonderland. After all, if there was ever a setting in which absolutely anything is possible, this is it. So it might be easy to assume that a fantasy novel like this requires very little research or forethought. Which simply isn’t the case. No matter what world you’re writing in, it’s always going to be important to include details that are accurate or interesting, to help build the authenticity of the book and truly let the reader feel that they’ve been swept up in a brand new world.
So, from the day I started planning this book, I kept a list of every single thing I had to research during the writing of it – partly for my own curiosity, and partly so I could eventually share it with you.
Some things were huge and took a long time to research – such as daily life in 19th-century England. Others were specific and required only a quick glance at Wikipedia, such as the size and weight of the largest pumpkin ever recorded.
And as with any book, much of my research never actually made it into the writing itself (to the point where there are a number of things on this list that I honestly don’t remember looking up and I’m not entirely sure why I was researching them in the first place). But one hopes that every little bit of gathered knowledge will add a tiny bit of depth that will ultimately make for a richer, more magical reading experience.
My Complete and Random List of Heartless Research Topics
Alice in Wonderland & Alice Through the Looking Glass (writing of; word play; Lewis Carroll, etc.)
History of playing cards
One-eyed Jacks and suicide kings
History of lemons
Mock turtle soup
Real turtle soup (recipes, preparation)
Victorian era fashion
Victorian era baking and baked goods
Daily life, customs, traditions – 19th Century England
Unique cobbler recipes
Largest recorded pumpkin
Pumpkin varietals – best for baking
How to make macarons
The legend of Sleepy Hollow – publication date and other details
Victorian hat styles
Victorian courtship etiquette and rituals
What do flamingos eat
History of chess
Victorian era undergarments
Knave/Jack of Hearts – head wear
Men’s hats of the Renaissance
The history of cheesecake
Traditional Scottish desserts
Vanilla bean cultivation/production
How to make rose water
Poe’s “The Raven”
History of bicycles
Card tricks / Magic tricks
Who is Pallas (Raven poem)
History of clowns
Victorian currency and the cost of clothing
Do turtles sweat?
Calling cards and etiquette
How does it feel to handle a hedgehog
What animals eat toads?
Lady’s favours and jousting tournaments
Victorian phrases and slang
shoe polish / blacking
rules of croquet; lingo
Can caterpillars taste/how?
Rook v. Crow v. Raven
Animal collective nouns
Tools used for hatting
Chess rules – pawn promotion / queening
Pieces in a traditional tea set
The history of lemons and adding lemon to tea
Tradition of placing coins on the eyes of the dead
Various lawn games
The history of the frisbee
How to sharpen an ax
And there you have it. Evidence that, no matter how fantastical the world, a little bit of research can never be entirely avoided.
Luckily, for many of us, getting to read about totally weird stuff is half the fun of this job!
Writers: What are some of the most peculiar things you have ever had to research?
The Countdown to Heartless is getting intense! We have just four more weeks before it arrives in a bookstore near you, and there is SO MUCH happening to help us all get in the mood for magic, monsters, and madness.
1. Murderer. Martyr. Monarch. Mad…
2. Win a Tea Party with Marissa Meyer
Fans in the US and Canada can enter this cool sweepstakes to be flown out to the Wires & Nerve launch party next January in Tacoma, WA, and enjoy a tea party with yours truly. Enter at HeartlessBook.com.
3. The 50 Day Heartless Countdown
Join in the fun by following the prompts on Twitter or Instagram, with the hashtags #HeartlessCountdown and #sweepstakes, and you could win awesome prizes, including an early copy of the book! See more details on FierceReads.com.
4. Don’t forget the Heartless pre-order offer!
Submit your receipt to receive a limited-edition Heartless magnetic bookmark, while supplies last.
5. My Heartless Tour Schedule
Just in case you missed it before, check out the complete list of upcoming events.
Your votes have been cast and tallied and a winner for the Heartless Mad Hatter Design Contest has been selected!
And the grand prize winner is……… Vanessa!
Vanessa’s design is absolutely stunning, and I have personally witnessed more than one jaw drop when people see it. So incredible and amazing and… yes, absolutely mad!!
Once again, big congratulations to our finalists and runners-up: Olivia and Raegyn! I am incredibly smitten with both of your designs and so grateful that you put your whole hearts (get it?) into this contest.
And because there were SO MANY exceptional entries, I wanted to keep up with my regular tradition of also highlighting some:
I fell in love with each of these, for a variety of reasons, and could have easily seen any of them among our finalists! For your hard work and originality, every one of our honorable mentions will be receiving a random pack of goodies and swag.
I will be in contact with the winners shortly!
Thank you again, a thousand times, to everyone who entered and voted and who is so willing to humor me and these crazy contests. The Mad Hatter would be so proud!
Now: dust off those teapots and start baking some scones, readers… Heartless will be out in just two more months!!!
*tips hat and disappears, Cheshire-style*
Have you pre-ordered Heartless?
Do you plan to?
Then submit your receipt to receive a limited-edition magnetic Heartless bookmark, while supplies last!
(As this promotion is being run by my US publisher, it’s open to US and Canada residents only. See http://fiercereads.com/heartlesspreorder for full rules and restrictions.)
I’m going on tour!
Actually, I’m going on TWO tours!
The Fall Fierce Reads Tour
October 4, 7:00pm
Pittsburgh Arts and Lectures
New York, NY
October 5, 7:00pm
Leonard Nimoy Thalia Theatre Symphony Space
St. Paul, MN
October 6, 6:00pm
R. H. Stafford Woodbury Public Library
St. Charles, MO
October 7, 7:00pm
St. Charles City-County Library District
(Hosted by Main Street Books)
(Visit http://fiercereads.com/events/ for full event details.)
The Heartless Tour
November 7, 6:00pm
Seattle Town Hall
The Heartless Launch / Mad Hatter Tea Party
November 9, 7:00pm
Provo City Library
New York, NY
November 10, 7:00pm
Barnes & Noble Union Square
Saratoga Springs, NY
November 11 (Time TBD)
November 12, 2:00pm
November 13 (Time TBD)
Cuyahoga County Public Library
November 14, 7:00pm
Little Shop of Stories
November 15 (Time TBD)
(See http://www.thelunarchronicles.com/author/ for full event details.)
I swear, you guys, I don’t know how it is that you manage to blow me away every single time. You’d think I’d be used to it. You’d think I’d just come to expect jaw-droppingly amazing, creative, brilliant work when I hold one of these contests, and yet every time I am made speechless all over again.
I can’t even fathom how most of these hats were made, and it is just astounding to me the amount of thought, love, and effort that went into each one.
If you haven’t yet gone to see the entries, posted here, DO IT. You won’t be sorry.
Limiting myself to just three finalists WAS SO HARD. But, with the help of my Alice-loving mother, I did manage to select my top three finalists for the Mad Hatter Design Contest.
And here they are…
I strongly recommend clicking to enlarge each entry, because the amount of detail in these will blow your mind.
For their brilliance, all three finalists are going to receive a Wires & Nerve sampler book, a Fierce Reads coloring book, and a $50 gift card to a bookseller of their choice… but only ONE will win an ARC of Heartless and the opportunity to have me wear their creation at the Mad Hatter Tea Party in Seattle.
Now it’s up to you to vote for the Grand Prize Winner. Cast your ballot below!
(If you don’t see the form, click here.)
Voting will end midnight September 12. The winner, along with some honorable mentions, will be announced on September 13. Good luck to all three finalists!
You are cordially invited to…
THE HEARTLESS MAD HATTER TEA PARTY
When: Monday, November 7, 7:00p.m. (Doors open at 6:00pm – arrive early for the best seats!)
Where: Town Hall Seattle, Seattle, WA
What: Books, Tea, Raffles, Games… and activities of the mad and curious sort
Details: Don your finest hat and come join #1 New York Times bestselling author Marissa Meyer for a Mad Hatter Tea Party to celebrate the launch of HEARTLESS, the stunning prequel to Alice in Wonderland about the Queen of Hearts. The event will include a presentation from Marissa, book signing, delicious treats, and plenty more.
Crazy hats or whimsical costumes are encouraged.
Ticketing: PURCHASE YOUR BOOK AND TICKET HERE.
This is a ticketed event. Tickets can be purchased in advance of the event online or at the door. The price of the ticket includes a copy of HEARTLESS and a ticket for a raffle at the event. Multiple ticketing options are available online. Call Elliott Bay Book Company with any questions at 206-624-6600 (or email email@example.com) if you have a special circumstance to discuss.
The Raffle and Charity: Every guest will receive one raffle ticket, for an assortment of amazing prizes. More tickets will be available to purchase during the event. All raffle tickets benefit the organization Save a Child’s Heart, which provides urgently needed pediatric heart surgery for children from developing countries.
The Signing: Doors will open at 6:00pm. Signing line letters will be distributed as guests arrive. Marissa will personalize all copies of HEARTLESS. She will sign, but not personalize, all books from the Lunar Chronicles series. Pre-signed copies of HEARTLESS will be made available for anyone who can not stay for the signing.
Getting There: There is very limited parking available at Town Hall Seattle, with overflow parking available at the nearby Seattle Convention Center. Please plan on leaving extra time to find parking. For directions and more information, visit the Town Hall Seattle website here.
Are you going? Let us know on the Facebook event page!
I’m SO EXCITED for this book to hit shelves and hope to see many of you at the party!
Break out those crayons and colored pencils, it’s time for a coloring-themed giveaway!
Last week my publisher released the cover of The Lunar Chronicles Coloring Book, coming out this December, along with an exclusive download-able coloring sheet of Artemisia Palace.
Well, I colored mine…
… and now it’s your turn!
TO ENTER THE GIVEAWAY:
2. Color, color, color!
3. Post your page to the social media of your choice with the hashtag #TLCColoringBook. (And yes, you must have access to a social media account in order to enter this giveaway.)
4. Enter the Rafflecopter form below.
5. Sit back and wait for the winner to be announced next week!
The prize: An Artemisia coloring sheet, colored and signed by me; a limited-edition Fierce Reads coloring book; and an audiobook of Stars Above