IMPORTANT NOTE: I am in the process of updating this page after my web site lost the previous information. Some information here may be outdated and/or no longer applicable.
– Marissa, June 30, 2014
How did you get the idea for The Lunar Chronicles?
I entered a writing contest a few years ago in which the host had listed about ten random prompts and writers had to choose two of them to include in their stories. My two prompts: set it in the future and include a fairy-tale character. My contest entry was a sci-fi version of Puss in Boots and I had so much fun writing it that I thought I would try to do an entire series of sci-fi fairy tales! (The best part of that story is that only two stories were submitted for the contest—and mine didn’t win!)
A couple months after that I was drifting off to sleep when the lightning bolt struck: Cinderella… as a cyborg! I crawled out of bed and spent about an hour brainstorming and jotting notes. Thus, The Lunar Chronicles was born.
Was Cinder really a NaNoWriMo novel?
Yes indeed. So were Scarlet and Cress. (Not familiar with NaNoWriMo? Check out their site: http://www.nanowrimo.org.)
How long did it take you to write Cinder?
Oh, the crazy NaNoWriMo that was November 2008. That year I decided to challenge myself and instead of writing the expected 50,000 words in 30 days, I wrote 150,000. (150,424 to be exact.) This included the entire first draft of Cinder, so essentially I wrote the first draft in two weeks. After that I set it aside for a few months, then would work on it a few months, then send it to beta readers and leave it alone for a few months, then work on it again for a while…
Between writing the first word and considering it ready to submit to literary agents took just under two years.
How long did it take you to get your agent and book deal?
I’m one of the very rare, lucky authors who had a relatively fast submissions process. I started querying agents on August 16, 2010. Two months later I had three offers of representation and ended up signing with Jill Grinberg, who happened to be the first agent I’d queried. After a couple weeks of minor tweaking to the manuscript, we went on submission on Friday, October 29, and had our first offer the following Monday, November 1—on the two-year anniversary from the day I’d started writing Cinder.
About a week later, the series went to auction between two publishing houses and we finally accepted the offer from Macmillan’s Feiwel and Friends on November 11, 2010, less than three months after I’d sent my first query.
It was a really dizzying three months!
What are you working on now?
Right now I’m working on revisions for the rest of The Lunar Chronicles and it will be a couple years before I can divert my attention to a new project. When that time comes, I have lots of ideas! Almost all YA, these include fantasy, contemporary, dystopian, and paranormal. I’ll have to wait and see which is calling to me most when the time comes.
What do TE and FF stand for?
Why did you choose to set Cinder in futuristic Asia?
The easy answer: it just popped into my head that way. It probably had something to do with my first inspiration for Cinder’s character being Japanese actress Mew Azama, who played Sailor Jupiter in the live-action Sailor Moon show.
That said, it’s actually quite fitting, as some scholars believe that the earliest Cinderella tale came from 9th-century China. Additionally, some believe that the iconic glass slipper (which was gold in the original Grimm version) came to us from China’s tradition of foot-binding and a culture in which women were praised for tiny feet. So having Cinder set in China kind of has a symbolic, cyclical quality to it.
(But really… it was mostly because of Sailor Jupiter.)
There’s a live-action Sailor Moon show?
Oh yes. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pretty_Guardian_Sailor_Moon
Have you ever been to China?
I went to China for 10 days when I was 13. It was an awesome experience and I’d love to go again someday! Sadly, I didn’t realize at the time that I would someday write a book set in futuristic China, so I didn’t take very helpful setting notes. All cultural and setting details for Cinder came from research and my own imagination. If I got anything wrong, I sincerely apologize.
Why are names in Cinder backwards, and what’s up with the weird suffixes?
In many Asian countries, it’s customary to say a person’s surname or family name before their given name. For example: Meyer Marissa. So where western countries would say Cinder Linh, in the Eastern Commonwealth she’s Linh Cinder.
The suffixes are called honorifics. Generally they denote respect and are similar to our usage of Mr., Mrs., Dr., etc. The Chinese languages have tons of these honorifics and they can get very specific. For my futuristic culture, I simplified it to the following five honorifics used in the Eastern Commonwealth:
-dàren: for a high-ranking official
-shìfu: for an older male
-jūn: for a younger male
-jiĕ: for an older female
-mèi: for a younger female
I hear Scarlet is set in France. Have you ever been there?
A large part of Scarlet IS set in France, but sadly I’ve never been there. I hope to change that as soon as possible.
Did you know that your androids aren’t technically androids?
So says you!
Okay, actually, you’re right. The dictionary defines androids as humanoid automatons. With their squat stature, single sensor “eyes,” and treads instead of legs and feet, most of the androids in The Lunar Chronicles wouldn’t be considered androids by modern-day standards (with the exception of escort-droids, which are life-like humanoid robots).
But here’s my linguistic explanation: scientists are currently working on creating androids and are actually doing a fine job of it (see my Real-World Technology page (LINK) for more information). Although robots come in all shapes and sizes, there is a fascination with making robots that look like us. True androids.
In the fake history of my fictional world, the first working robots available to the masses were true androids, with humanoid features. However, as the novelty wore off, robot manufacturers realized that the humanoid model was inefficient and not as useful as simpler, more compact body styles would be. So they started redesigning the robots and, over time, the common mass-produced robots became the robots you see in the books—treads and all. However, the term android was too ingrained in the language at that point, so the terminology stayed.
How much of the technology in The Lunar Chronicles could be real someday?
Almost all of it! Yes, even cyborgs! Check out the Real-World Technology page to learn about how close we are to this science-fiction future. (LINK)
Do you outline your books first or just start writing?
I’m big on the outlines. Like, maybe a little neurotically so. I like to write as detailed an outline as I can before I start writing, and adjust it frequently as I go along. However, things always change, and often in huge ways that I never saw coming. There’s still a lot of exploration and surprises, and no amount of outlining seems to change that.
If you’re wondering if you should outline your novel, I think it’s a good idea to try anything at least once and see what does and doesn’t work for you. Every writer is different and there’s no right or wrong way to write a novel—as long as you write it!
Do you use beta readers?
Yes! I have four phenomenal beta readers and I don’t know what I would do without them.
Do you write on a computer or longhand?
I brainstorm longhand, write via computer.
Is there going to be a Cinder movie?
I would love for there to be a Cinder movie, but this is sadly out of my control. At this time, the movie rights have been optioned and the studio is looking to attach a director. (Ally Carter has an awesome blog post on how books gets made into movies. Check it out here: http://allycarter.com/blog/how-movies-happen.)
What’s your favorite book?
My all-time favorite book is Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.
If you’re looking for book recommendations, some of my favorite YA books are listed on the Recommended Reading page. (LINK)
Do you have any siblings?
I have one older brother named Jeff.
Do you have any pets?
My husband and I have three cats: Calexandria Josephine, Blackland Rockwell III, and Stormus Enormous.
I’m writing a book! Will you read and critique my manuscript?
I’m sorry, but my schedule doesn’t allow for me to review other writers’ work. I encourage you to check with local and online writing groups to find a critique partner.
Did you really use to write fanfiction?
I did! I wrote fanfiction for the popular 1990s magic girl anime Sailor Moon for ten whole years, completing almost 40 fanfics in that time, 6 of which would be considered novel-length. I met a lot of great people through the fanfic community, received tons of encouragement, and was able to learn about the craft and discipline of being a writer. I know that my writing has benefitted from it immensely.
Can I write a fanfic based on your books?
Absolutely! I personally believe that fanfic benefits both the creator and fans of a work, and encourage anyone to do with my characters and world as they wish. That said, for both legal and personal reasons, I cannot read any fanfics based on my books.
What is cosplay and who have you dressed up as?
Cosplay is fandom terminology for wearing a costume, typically of a fictional character. It’s mostly seen at fandom (sci-fi, fantasy, anime, gaming, comic) conventions. I used to do lots of cosplay when I was a teenager, but sadly a lack of time means that I rarely get to anymore. Back in the day, I cosplayed as Sailor Moon (both scout and princess version), Princess Zelda, Alice in Wonderland and the Queen of Hearts, Aoshi from Rurouni Kenshin, and, a long long long time ago, Princess Leia.