Marissa Meyer is the author of The Lunar Chronicles. She was born and raised in Tacoma, Washington, home of Almond Roca and Stadium High School, which was made famous when Heath Ledger danced down the stadium steps in 10 Things I Hate About You. Meyer attended Pacific Lutheran University where she earned her Bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing. She still lives in Tacoma, now with her husband and her adopted twin girls. Cinder is her Young Adult debut. Meyer plans on writing more novels aside from the Lunar Chronicles. Most of her inspiration comes from the anime Sailor Moon. You can find her at her website.
Q & A on The Lunar ChroniclesEdit
Q: Which of your characters is most like you?
A: I wish I could say that I'm clever and mechanically-minded like Cinder, but no—I can't fix anything. I'm much more like Cress, who makes a brief cameo in Cinder and then takes a more starring role in the third book. She's a romantic and a daydreamer and maybe a little on the naïve side, she also sings very high—things that could be said about me too—although she does find courage when it's needed most. I think we'd all like to believe we'd have that same inner strength if we ever needed it.
Q: Where do you write?
A: I have a home office that I've decorated with vintage fairy tale treasures that I've collected (my favorite is a Cinderella cookie jar from the forties) and NaNoWriMo posters, but sometimes writing there starts to feel too much like work. On those days I'll write in bed or take my laptop out for coffee or lunch.
Q: If you were stranded on a desert island, which character from Cinder would you want with you?
A: Cinder, definitely! She has an internet connection in her brain, complete with the ability to send and receive comms (which are similar to e-mails). We'd just have enough time to enjoy some fresh coconut before we were rescued.
Q: The next book in the Lunar Chronicles is called Scarlet, and is about Little Red Riding Hood. What is appealing to you most about this character as you work on the book?
A: Scarlet is awesome—she's very independent, a bit temperamental, and has an outspokenness that tends to get her in trouble sometimes. She was raised by her grandmother, an ex-military pilot who now owns a small farm in Southern France, who not only taught Scarlet how to fly a spaceship and shoot a gun, but also to have a healthy respect and appreciation for nature. I guess that's a lot of things that appeal to me about her, but she's been a really fun character to write! (The two leading men in Scarlet, Wolf and Thorne, aren't half bad either.)
Interview by Teenreads
Q: The first book in the Lunar Chronicles, Cinder, was based on the fairy tale, Cinderella. What made you choose Red Riding Hood as the next fairy tale in the series?
A: When I was first plotting out the series, I’d had a list of ten or so of my favorite fairy tales, and I spent a lot of time brainstorming different ways that I could tweak the stories to give them a science-fiction spin. Little Red Riding Hood kept popping to the surface, and I knew it was familiar enough that readers would have an instant connection to it, while also having a lot of wiggle room for me to re-envision the story in my futuristic, high-tech world. I was particularly excited to see what could be done with the character of the Big Bad Wolf.
Q: We also travel to a new part of the world in Scarlet. Cinder was set in China. What prompted you to have Scarlet and her grandmother live a small town in southern France?
A: Because I knew that Scarlet would feature “werewolves” (although not quite how we normally see them in YA fiction), I wanted to set it someplace that already had a rich history of werewolves or werewolf mythology. Of course, wolf stories are prevalent in cultures all over the world, so that didn’t exactly narrow it down. Then one day I saw a TV documentary about “The Beast of Gévaudan,” which was a creature that supposedly roamed the French countryside in the 18th-century. There was a slew of killings in a few rural towns and the townspeople attributed it to this beast, which they believed was a werewolf. This legend was also where the idea of werewolves being vulnerable to silver bullets comes from. So that old tale of werewolves, murders and terror inspired the rural French setting for Scarlet.
Q: How is living on a farm in the future different than now? What innovations did you create for Scarlet and her grandmother?
A: Probably the biggest difference is that they have androids and machines that take care of the majority of the work, such as tilling the fields and harvesting the crops. I don’t think this is too far a jump from the machinery that farmers are already using to lessen the physical labor farming requires --- it’s just taking it one step further. However, Scarlet and her grandmother are old-fashioned in that they still enjoy doing some of the smaller tasks themselves, such as tending to her vegetable garden, feeding the chickens, gathering the eggs, milking the cow, etc. There are androids in this future world that could be programmed to do that, but Scarlet’s grandmother thinks you get a better product when you put hands-on attention and love into it, and she’s instilled those beliefs in Scarlet as well. I think, no matter how good our technology gets, there will always be a place in the world for that personal touch.
Q: Scarlet's grandmother isn't a helpless old lady and Scarlet isn't a naive girl like in the fairy tale. What prompted you to make these changes?
A: I didn’t want to rely on the stereotypes of popular fairy tale characters, and so I try to avoid them wherever possible. That started with Cinderella --- Cinder isn’t a pushover and Prince Kai isn’t a dandy --- and I hope that will continue through the entire series. For me, it wouldn’t be any fun to write about those characters. I like heroes who are courageous, who stand up for what they believe in and who take steps to right the injustices they see. Of course, they all have their faults, too (both Scarlet and her grandmother are horribly stubborn.)
Q: What did you have the most fun with while adapting this fairy tale to fit in the world of the Lunar Chronicles?
A: I really enjoyed exploring Wolf and the “gang” he belonged to --- “The Order of the Pack.” I did a lot of research on wolves, their hierarchy, social structure, communication, and hunting skills in order to give these characters as many wolf-like tendencies as I could, while also making sure that I had scientific explanations for how they’ve come to be the way they are. The Pack developed into a small society all on its own, which was really fun to develop and write about.
Q: Scarlet isn't the only main character in the second book in the series: Cinder returns with the challenge of getting out of jail and Kai adjusts to life as a leader. Why did you choose to have a character return in the second book and will we see this throughout the series?
A: It was my plan fairly early on to have all four books in the series add up to one continuous story, and as I brainstormed the plot, it became clear that the story was going to revolve around two main characters: Cinder and evil Queen Levana. But part of the fun for me is mixing all of the fairy tales together and having these characters cross paths with each other as they move in and out of their own stories. As the story goes on, we get to see how Cinderella’s prince might react to the Big Bad Wolf or how Rapunzel might get along with Snow White’s hunter, etc. So yes, Cinder and Kai will be in all four books, and the cast of characters will continue to grow as we move throughout the different tales.
Q: Did you love fairy tales when you were growing up? If so, which were your favorites?
A: Absolutely --- I was raised on Disney movies, like most of my generation! But I was still really young when I was given a book of fairy tales that had Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Little Mermaid” in it, and I remember being shocked at how different it was from the Disney movie. It really made me question how other popular fairy tales might be different from the movies I was familiar with, and that kicked off a fascination that I have to this day. It’s impossible for me to choose a favorite, but obviously the four that I’ve chosen to rewrite in The Lunar Chronicles (Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel, and Snow White) rank highly!
Q: As you read fairy tales as an adult, do you see different things in them than you did when you were a child?
Oh yes. I took a “fairy tale and fantasy literature” course in college, in which we talked a lot about the psychology and symbolism behind fairy tales. How certain elements are like a “code,” hinting at things like social unrest, sexual maturation, religion and morals, etc. Though I can still read and appreciate a fairy tale as a children’s story without trying to pick it apart, I’ll never be able to read them exactly the same way again.
Q: What has been your favorite reaction from your fans to this series?
A: I love seeing fanart! It’s been one of the greatest honors to know that readers have been inspired to create something of their own, and I really enjoy seeing how readers interpret what the characters look like or how some scenes might have played out differently. That tells me that readers want to continue to spend time in the world of the Lunar Chronicles, and there’s no greater compliment than that.
Q: What are you hoping fans will get out of this second book in the series?
A: I hope they fall in love with the new characters --- Scarlet, Wolf and Captain Thorne --- just as much as they fell in love with Cinder and Kai!
Q: There are two more novels in the series. Can you share with us what fairy tale characters they will be based on or is this a secret?
A: No secret at all! Book Three: Cress is inspired by Rapunzel, but rather than being trapped in a tower, Cress is stuck in a satellite orbiting Earth. She also happens to be a computer hacker forced to work for Queen Levana. Book Four: Winter is based on Snow White, where we will finally get to see the world of the Lunars.
Interview by USA Today
Q: Welcome to HEA, Marissa! Your latest release, Cress, book three in your Lunar Chronicles series, is out this week. What can readers expect from Cress?
A: Cress if my science-fiction retelling of Rapunzel, and it includes plenty of humor, romance, and thrilling heroics, in true Lunar Chronicles fashion. It continues the story that began with Cinder and Scarlet, but now readers are introduced to Cress, who has been imprisoned in a satellite since she was a child. She also happens to be an amazing computer hacker, and that skill is being exploited by the Lunar Queen who is using Cress to spy on the people of Earth. When Cress seeks out the help of Cinder and her companions, they decide to make a rescue attempt — but things quickly go awry.
Q: How did you and audio book narrator Rebecca Soler collaborate on the audio version of Cress and the other two books in the Lunar Chronicles series?
A: There is surprisingly little collaboration — I write the books and she turns them into audio magic! I do often think about her when I'm working on the novels, especially when I'm writing a scene that has a lot of characters in it, because I know she's going to have to switch back and forth between all those voices — sometimes even using different accents. Then I feel guilty for putting her through all that. But she has yet to complain, and she makes it look (sound?) so easy!
Q: What do you love most about Rebecca's narration of the series? (Readers seem to be pretty in love with Rebecca's narration, too!)
A: Rebecca is amazing — I'm completely blown away by her talent. She puts so much effort into crafting unique voices for the characters and bringing them to life. When she learned that much of Cress is set in northern Africa, she even did some research on accents and dialects from that region! It's super impressive.
Q: You and Rebecca are doing an event together in D.C. to celebrate the release of Cress. Please tell us about that and where D.C.-area readers can find out more about it.
A: The event will be at Politics & Prose on Feb. 12 at 7 p.m. Full details are posted on www.politics-prose.com. Rebecca and I will be discussing the book, and I believe she's even going to give a reading for us, which I'm very excited for. A signing will follow.
Q: Your Amazon bio says you'll "take any excuse to put on a costume." So, what costume would that be and then where would you go?
A: Yes, I come from a long history of costuming. My parents used to go to sci-fi conventions and Renaissance faires when I was growing up, so I have lots of pictures of me dressed up as Maid Marian and Princess Leia and even an 8-year-old Klingon, that had nothing to do with Halloween! My costume wish list right now is anything that involves a ball gown. Cinderella, Glenda the Good Witch, maybe even the Queen of Hearts? We're already making plans for the big launch party of Winter, book four of the Lunar Chronicles, and I think that will be the perfect opportunity to break out something big and poofy.
Q: What can readers expect to see from you next?
A: Winter, my retelling of Snow White and the epic conclusion of the Lunar Chronicles, will be released in early 2015. My first non-Lunar Chronicles novel, Heartless, will follow in the fall of 2015. It's a prequel to Alice in Wonderland that will focus on the rise of the Queen of Hearts.
Interview by USA Today
Author Marissa Meyer's sci-fi take on fairy-tale characters, only one is the fairest of them all — at least in her antagonistic eyes.
The back story of Queen Levana, the villain of Meyer's The Lunar Chronicles young-adult fantasy series, is finally revealed in the novel Fairest(Macmillan, out Jan. 27). It's a surprise prequel chapter of sorts being added to the five-book series that began with Cinder two years ago and will end in November 2015 with Winter.
"I'm thinking of this book almost as a gift to the readers who have become so involved in the world and the characters: 'Here's this thing you weren't expecting!' " Meyer says of Fairest, which she'll be discussing during a live Google video chat for fans on Wednesday at 9 p.m. ET/6 PT.
For her Lunar Chronicle books, Meyer first created cyborg mechanic Linh Cinder out of the Cinderella legend. She then tweaked Red Riding Hood to be a French farm girl and sleuth Scarlet Benoit for Scarlet, took Rapunzel to the moon with Cress' outer-space hacker Crescent Darnel, and introduced Levana's stepdaughter Princess Winter as the Snow White-esque protagonist of the series' final novel.
And for Fairest, Meyer is putting a spin on the Evil Queen from Snow White fame to show how Levana became the kind of woman who would rule the moon colony of Luna and want to take over Earth, too.
"In the fairy tale, she has the mirror, and I did a lot with mirrors and played with that element and that concept of what could make a woman so vain that she would commit unspeakable evil to remain the most beautiful woman in her country?" Meyer says.
"I took all of that from that fairy tale and twisted it to match the world of The Lunar Chronicles."
Fairest begins when Levana is 15 years old and covers about 10 years of her life, ending about a decade before Cinder is set.
For years, Meyer has been telling readers that Levana is psychotic but for good reasons, and the book promises to reveal those as well as delve into her psyche and the factors in her life that led her to want to rule Earth.
When fans first meet her, the author says, "she's showing signs of crazy, but in large part that's because she's grown up in a really poisonous household and she has a very cruel older sister who's been mentally and physically abusive to her her whole life.
"By the time she's 15, she's already having a lot of issues, but it's really at that point in her life that's the first big moments of the book that start her true downward spiral to becoming truly evil."
The origins of Fairest began before Cinder even came out. Macmillan asked Meyer to write a companion story to the series that the publisher could use for promotional purposes, and she was excited about penning Levana's story. But it was only supposed to be 7,000 words, and Meyer felt like her queen deserved more.
Last November during National Novel Writing Month she decided to finally just write it, with no expectation of it ever being published. A month later, her agent took Fairest to Macmillan and she received "a huge reaction from them," Meyer says.
She blew past the NaNoWriMo 50,000 word-count minimum, too — between Fairest and her revisions of Winter, Meyer wrote a total of 130,000 words in November. "I actually was hosting a contest that if anybody wrote more words than me that month, they could win a prize," she says. "I ended up having 20 people who beat me."
Fairest involves early versions of characters who have been introduced in The Lunar Chronicles, including Cinder and Winter as little children who were born on the moon, plus provides the back story on fugitive scientist Dr. Erland.
One major event also occurs in Fairest that will play a huge role in some of the turning points in the upcoming Winter novel — one reason why Macmillan wanted to release Fairest first.
Fans have thus far been in the dark about who she is and why she's doing the things she's doing. But will they like her more or less after Fairest?
So far, it's been a very polarizing story for the select few who've read it, Meyer says. "Some people are very sympathetic toward her and feel like they really have come to understand and pity her. Other readers are like, 'No, she's frickin' crazy.'
"I personally have always had a great deal of sympathy for her knowing the things she's gone through."
- She loves Harry Potter.
- She likes the movie Tangled.
- She likes coffee over tea.
- Her favorite color is orange.
- She thinks "Shake it Off" by Taylor Swift is catchy.
- She has watched the first season of "Once Upon a Time" and thinks Captain Hook is gorgeous.