The second part of Cinder Day!
I had the pleasure of reading an ARC of Cinder, a 2012 debut by Marissa Meyer, and then being gifted a signed copy by Anna at Literary Exploration. Then I got an envelope in the mail from said author with awesome swag. And finally, to show my love for this amazing book, I interviewed Marissa herself. And without further ado...
A little background:
1. How did you come up with the idea for Cinder?
The idea started when I entered a writing contest with a short story that was a futuristic version of Puss in Boots, one of my favorite fairy tales. I had so much fun writing it that I started brainstorming other ways to futurize fairy tales. Then, a few months later, I was falling asleep one night when I had that lightning-bolt idea of Cinderella as a cyborg. It all started coming together very quickly in my imagination after that.
2. Did you have any particular issues or road blocks with writing Cinder?
Oh, plenty! The plot took a few drafts to get right, and the story is really unrecognizable from the very first draft. Both Kai’s and Peony’s characters were initially a struggle for me, as well as Queen Levana. Villains in general are a weakness of mine, so I’ve spent lots of time planning out her back story to figure out why she’s so determined to rule the Commonwealth.
3. Did you always plan for Cinder to be a four-book series?
Yes, almost from the very start. As I was figuring out which tales to “futurize,” four fairy tales just started to rise above the rest: Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel, and Snow White. A single villain became the villain of all the tales (Queen Levana), and characters started to overlap and meet each other in ways that I hadn’t expected. I’ve known the overall arc of the series since before I even started writing page one.
4. What made you decide on Beijing in the future as the setting for the story?
Fairy tale scholars have traced the origins of our Cinderella story as far back as 9th-century China, so setting it there felt like it had a really great cyclical quality to it. I also wanted the series as a whole to have a very international feel to it, because I see the future countries on my imagined Earth as being very tightly woven together. All of Earth has formed an alliance that’s lasted 126 years at the start of the book, after all. So setting it in America, I feel, would have gone against that goal.
5. Was it easier or harder for you to work a fairytale retelling into a post-apocalyptic/dystopian world?
I think there are challenges with every setting and time period. For me, the difficulty was in bringing the technology aspects to life in a way that felt real and natural, while not pummeling the reader with sci-fi jargon. But as far as reimagining the fairy tale aspect goes, that part was actually pretty easy for me, and I think that’s because the story and themes of Cinderella are so universal that it really could take place anytime, anywhere.
6. What kind of research did you have to do for Cinder? Were you already knowledgeable in machine mechanics?
Not at all! I had to do a fair amount of research on theoretical technology, like cyborgs and hovercars, to see what’s being done today and what scientists are hoping to make a reality in the future. I also studied Star Wars encyclopedias to see how another great world-creator had made the spaceships and planets so believable. For the junkyard scene, my husband and I crawled under a car together so he could explain to me the parts of the engine and what they do. And then there was also real-world setting research to be done, particularly with the Asian setting. I looked at travel guides and read up on traditional Chinese symbolism, food, architecture, etc.
7. Why make Cinderella a cyborg?
Why not? :)
Seriously, though, it works in the context of the story world, as cyborgs are oppressed and seen as second-class citizens, just like Cinderella was in her stepmother’s home.
8. What is your experience with getting your novel published? (i.e. how much time it took for each stage, how many rejection letters you received)
The writing portion was definitely the longest—it took about two years to finish the manuscript. But all the time I spent neurotically perfecting it worked in my favor, as everything happened very quickly after that. It took about two months to sign with an agent (I received 11 rejections and 3 offers of representation). After that, my agent and I spent two weeks preparing the submission materials. She went on submission with it on a Friday and we had out first offer the following Monday. Two weeks later, the series went to auction between two publishers before we accepted the offer from Feiwel & Friends. It was a crazy few months!
9. Do you have any leeway over the titles and covers? Was Cinder originally titled differently?
The titles of all four books (Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, and Winter) and even the series title (The Lunar Chronicles) have been the same almost since I started writing them, and my publisher accepted them all without hesitation. And though I didn’t really have much input on the cover, I’ve been delighted with it from the start, so didn’t feel there was any need to give my two cents!
10. What are you working on right now?
My editor and I are currently working on revisions for Book Two: Scarlet, then I’ll be diving into revisions on Book Three: Cress. (I have first drafts completed for both Cress and Winter, so I’ll be stuck in revision land for some time.)
11. What were your favorite books of 2011 and what books are you most looking forward to in 2012?
2011 had so many amazing books!! But definitely some highlights for me were Divergent by Veronica Roth, The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater, and Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake. For 2012, I’m psyched for Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore, Harbinger by Sara Wilson Etienne (I have huge cover lust for that book), and of course Insurgent (Veronica Roth again).
12. Do you have any advice for writers (especially teens) that aspire to be published authors?
The most important thing, especially when you’re just getting started, is just to write. Writing is the only way you’ll learn about the craft and technique and your own voice and style, as well as the types of stories you’re drawn to. Write what you love, and write as often as you can.
13. Love triangles or one true love?
One true love. (I don’t mind a well-written love triangle, but I think it’s difficult to pull off.)
14. Finally how amazing is it being a YA debut author?
Seriously amazing! This is a dream come true and I couldn’t be more ecstatic to be at this point in my life.
Thank you so much for the great interview, Nicole!
And thank you Marissa! I loved every one of these answers :) Also, take a gander at a short prequel story to Cinder called Glitches.
Now, onto the swag giveaway.
Marissa sent me some extra Cinder swag (for kicks and giggles only, I'm sure), and so that means I'm giving them away! I'm going to make this giveaway simple. Comment below with your name and your e-mail (or Twitter handle if you'd rather keep your e-mail anonymous), and tell me what the name of the second book is going to be, just to give you a little challenge. Also, if you'd like to Tweet the giveaway, Tweet the link of this giveaway and put in your comment the Twitter status where I can find it (+2). This giveaway ends February 12th, midnight western time. Good luck!