The Girls in Plaid Skirts were so thrilled to have the chance to interview Marissa Meyer, author of The Lunar Chronicles, at the Austin Teen Book Festival this year. We actually met her at the festival last year and went to her panel where she talked about her awesome-sounding book Cinder, and we couldn’t help ourselves.
We bought it. We fell in love. Scarlet came out. We fell more in love. And now that we’ve read Cress (ohmygoodness you guys, it’s spectacular), we don’t know what to do with ourselves until Winter comes out. In 2015.
In the meantime, here’s our interview with Marissa Meyer. She’s incredibly awesome and cool and dorky and we love her and want to be her best friends.
Rachel: Did you have a sidekick best friend like Iko?
MM: Um, well, I don’t know which of us would be the superhero and which would be the sidekick, but I do have a best friend. We met in sixth grade and are still best friends, so partners in crime would be more fitting, I think. She’s the one who introduced me to Sailor Moon, which was kind of the jumpstart for writing and I wrote fan fiction for ages and we were both in anime clubs in college. I always kind of felt different and I was always kind of geeky, you know, imaginative and blah blah blah, and I didn’t really think that that was okay until I met her and then I’m like, “Okay, let’s be geeky and awesome together.”
JB: If you had to coauthor a book with any author, who would be your author of choice?
MM: Honestly, I don’t think I could coauthor a book. I am such a neurotic control freak. Every once in a while you’ll get invited to do—what do they call it? The stories where like one author writes a chapter and then it jumps off, and there’s a word for it—round robin stories. I can’t do that because as soon as I get invested in it and someone else tries to take it a different direction I want to be like, “No! You’re doing it wrong! I have a plan!” So I really think that I would be a horrible cowriter.
Julianne: Well, we’ll just go ahead and throw this one out there. If you were a cupcake, what kind would you be?
MM: If I was a cupcake? Oooh. That is an interesting question. I would be chocolate with peanut butter filling.
MM: And it would be important to me to have some sort of adorable decoration on top. I don’t know what that would be, but it would have to be classy and ladylike and adorable.
Juju: I guess this kind of relates back to the Lunar series. What books did you read growing up and how did those influence your writing style and your subjects and settings and that kind of thing?
MM: I read a lot of the classics growing up. Anne of Green Gables was a huge influence because I felt like I was Anne. When I got a little bit older I kind of got into Lord of the Rings and that kind of launched this whole, like…
JB: *interrupts* Are you and Rachel like, sisters or something? [Since they both like Anne of Green Gables and LOTR and the combination of peanut butter and chocolate.]
MM: *laughs* Kindreds! And I was really into sword and sorcery for the longest time. I really thought for sure that I would write sword and sorcery and that would be my first novel, so the sci-fi thing was kind of a surprise, honestly. I’m trying to think of what else I’ve read—I feel like there were so many. The Giver was kind of one of the life-changing books for me. I read it in fifth grade and I remember reading that book and there’s that moment halfway through—spoiler alert—where he realizes he’s seeing red for the first time and that completely changed my perspective of the entire book, and it changes everything you’ve read up until that point when you realize that he can’t see color! And I feel like as a writer that was a moment to realize that you can do that with a single word; you can completely change everything the reader knows about the story. And that felt really huge to me. I’d never really had a moment like that. So I’d say that kind of inspired me as a writer.
As far as things that specifically inspire the lunar chronicles, though, I mean I grew up loving fairy tales and fairy tales retellings, but I think that really more than anything, my TV and movie influence was bigger in these books. So Star Wars, Firefly—huge inspiration in these books—and Sailor Moon. I loved Sailor Moon. People mention how what they love about these books is that you have this group of strong female characters where there’s a focus on friendship and how girls can bond together, and it’s not always about two girls fighting over a guy or whatever, and I got that from Sailor Moon. I loved that Sailor Moon had such a strong focus on the female friendships in it even more so than the romance or any of that, so I think that was really huge.
JB: Whenever you finish a book or you do something that’s worth celebrating, what do you do? What’s your indulgence?
MM: There’s a place that sells almond-infused champagne and I always keep a few bottles on hand, so when I know that I’m like this close to finishing something, I’ll put a bottle in the fridge and then it’s ready to go.
JUJU: And it’s sitting there teasing you
MM: Yeah, and sometimes when I’m on the last chapter I’ll pop it open and drink it while I’m writing, like “just keep going, just keep going!”
JB: A lot of authors have stories that they’re like, I have to write this, but is there any story that you wouldn’t want to write?
MM: I don’t think I could do a true mystery, like a classic murder mystery story. I just don’t think that I have the mind for clues and red herrings, and I think it takes a specific kind of imagination to be able to build the layers into that sort of story that you need and I don’t think that I think that way.
Juju: I appreciate a good Sherlock but I don’t think that I could make all the layers of the cake. I like to eat it.
MM: Exactly. I don’t watch a whole lot of murder mystery shows, but every once in a while I’ll watch an episode of Castle or something. I’m always just so impressed that these writers can come up with these week after week. It would take me, like, two years to come up with that plot.
Rachel: How do you—or do you—incorporate people into your stories? Like your friends—do they ever inspire you?
Juju: Like a really mean girl in middle school?
MM: I’ve never done a revenge character. I don’t intentionally put people that I know into the characters. I think that sometimes quirks and personality traits will crop up naturally. And sometimes it will occur to me afterwards that—oh!—I realized that’s directly from this person that I know and I didn’t even know that I was doing that. But once it occurs to you then it’s so obvious. I think to write an authentic character I have to be able to relate to them, so every character I feel like has something that I can relate to very strongly, and that’s for the good characters and the bad ones. Levana is very vain and I know what it feels like to be very vain. So there’s always something about each character that I relate to.
JB: Okay, last one. Have you every read the Gallagher Girl books?
MM: Yes! Are you crazy?!
JB: Which character would you say you’re the most like?
MM: That’s so funny! We were at a Barnes and Noble event a couple days ago—me and the rest of the Fierce Reads authors—and there was this magazine sitting on the table in the green room—I think it was Girls’ Life—and there was a “Which Gallagher Girl Are You?” quiz. So we all sat there and took the quiz and I think I was even between Cammie or Liz. Though I totally want to be Bex, but I know that I’m not actually.
JB: And which one would you say Cinder is most like?
MM: Hmmm… Macey, I think.
Rachel: Really? I would have had her as Cammie.
MM: You know, you might be right. I guess Scarlet would be like—no Scarlet would be like Bex.
Rachel: But I can see Macey [in Cinder].
MM: Yeah, a little bit of both. I think that she starts like Cammie, but becomes more like Macey.
Juju: She has that Macey down on the inside.
JB: Well, thank you so much for meeting with us! Here’s a little something to say thank you. *Pulls out Reese’s*
MM: Oh my gosh. My favorite! Did you read—like did you—were you stalking me?
Us: Um, yes. Yes we were.
MM: Oh, that’s so sweet!
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We’re glad she thinks it’s sweet that we’re stalkers. Thank you Marissa for the interview!
So, have you read The Lunar Chronicles yet? And are you anxiously awaiting Cress? And are you now in love with Marissa Meyer as much as we are?
Don’t forget to check out our reviews for Cinder and Scarlet!
UPDATE: We had the incredible chance to interview Marissa again! Read our second interview with her here.