We met at a Barnes and Noble author event in October where I picked up a copy of Cinder. I became an instant fan! With the launch of her sequel Scarlet due out next month, I was able to get Marissa to sit down for a few moments before her next book tour to share her thoughts.
What first inspired you to write Cinder?
I’d been trying to write a novel since I was sixteen, but had never found an idea that I could stick with to the end—I always got bored of the stories I was working on. Then at one point I wrote a short story that was a futuristic retelling of the fairy tale “Puss in Boots” – it was so much fun that I wanted to try to write a longer futuristic fairy tale retelling, maybe even a whole series of them! A few months after I had that idea, the vision of a cyborg Cinderella popped into my head and immediately began to fill me with ideas for her world and story. I knew as soon as I started writing it that it would be the first novel I finished.
Why fairy tales?
I’ve always loved fairy tales—since those first Disney movies when I was a kid. There’s something very universal about them. We all know the stories, we can all relate to their underlying themes, and yet they still offer so much potential for twisting and re-imagining them. I don’t think we, as a species, will ever grow tired of fairy tales.
Tell us how you came to create your world of New Beijing.
I chose to set Cinder in futuristic China because I wanted to pay homage to the original Cinderella story, which was written by a 9th-century Chinese scholar. But as I wasn’t able to travel to the real Beijing for research, it allowed me more flexibility to create a made-up city, so I decided that our current Beijing was destroyed in a horrific war, and New Beijing was built to replace it. I had a lot of fun envisioning what that new city would be like—full of high-technology, towering skyscrapers, and lots of flashing advertisements and experimental architecture. But at the same time, I figured the people of the new Eastern Commonwealth would want to embrace their history, so there are also traditional zen gardens, sculptures, and art everywhere.
Are your characters molded after particular individuals? If so, who?
Nope—they’re all straight from my imagination.
Tell us a little about Cinder and what her conflicts are.
16-year-old Cinder is part-human and part-machine, making her a cyborg. Unfortunately, she lives in a society in which cyborgs aren’t largely trusted or understood, so she’s considered a second-class citizen and a piece of property to her adoptive stepmother. This obviously creates a lot of problems for her in general—questions of her worth and freedom—but it’s further complicated when she meets and begins to fall in love with Prince Kai, who has no idea she’s cyborg.
Your next book, Scarlet, is a twist on the fairy tale Little Red Riding Hood right? What’s next after that? How many books in this series?
That’s right! There will be four books in total. Book 3: Cress will be based on Rapunzel and Book 4: Winter will be based on Snow White, but Cinder will continue to be a main character throughout all four books.
Your writing is extremely tight with no slow moments or extraneous passages. Tell us about your editing team and how they molded your revisions to come up with this beautifully written book.
Thank you! While I did have a copyeditor who graciously caught a number of typos and consistency issues, I don’t really have a team that focuses on the writing like you’re talking about. That’s just my voice, I guess. Although I do at least one editing round, when a manuscript is almost completely final, where I’m only looking for unnecessary words or phrases. I often cut anywhere from 10,000 to 15,000 words during this round, and don’t lose a single bit of the plot.
Could you share with other aspiring writers your story of how you navigated your journey from concept to publication?
The first step, of course, was to write the best book I could. Cinder took almost two full years to write, revise, and edit. After that, though, my path to publication went very quickly. I queried about a dozen literary agents and two months later signed with the first agent I’d queried. She and I worked together for a couple weeks to compile the submission package, including summaries for all four books in The Lunar Chronicles. She then sent it to editors on a Friday and we had our first offer the following Monday. It was all very dizzying! But again—the important part of this story is all that time I spent upfront trying to craft a strong, engaging story.
Who are your personal heroes? Why do they inspire you?
J.K. Rowling—because she’s J.K. Rowling! Her story of hardship and persistence is so encouraging, and I admire her so much for how well she knows the world she created. She is an absolute genius.
What’s next for Marissa Meyer? Please plug any of your upcoming events or marketing here so that we can get the word out! Please also give me the website and facebook (and twitter) address that you want me to plug for you.
Scarlet: Book Two of the Lunar Chronicles will hit bookstores on February 5 (and I’m so excited!!). I’ll be going on book tour (the schedule can be seen at http://www.marissameyer.com/blogtype/the-scarlet-tour-schedule-other-upcoming-events/) so I hope some of your readers can come out and see me! Besides that, I’ll be diligently plugging away on Books 3 and 4.
I can be followed at:
Blog & newsletter: http://www.marissameyer.com/blog
Thank you so much for inviting me onto your blog, Mikko!