Interview with Marissa Meyer and Cress Teaser

Marissa Meyer the author of Cinder and Scarlet from the Lunar Chronicles, one of my very favorite series, is here on the blog today.  In the Lunar Chronicles Marissa melds a classic fairy tale with a futuristic world. The second book in the series, Scarlet released last month (February 5th).

Marissa MeyerScarlet by Marissa Meyer

Hi Marissa, thank you for answering my questions.
Thank you for having me!

What encouraged your interest in fairy tales and old myths?
It probably started when I was taken to see “The Little Mermaid” in theaters when I was five years old. I absolutely loved it! Not too long after that, I was given a little book of fairy tales. The first story in that book was “The Little Mermaid” by Hans Christian Andersen, which I read eagerly, only to discover it was nothing at all like the movie! It’s an incredibly sad and tragic tale, and my little five-year-old heart was devastated. But it also started this fascination with all things fairy tales and this idea that Disney was hiding something from us. I wanted to learn more and more about the lesser-known tales, and that curiosity continues to this day.

What inspired you to place the settings of Cinder and Scarlet in New Beijing and France? 
I chose China for Cinder because many scholars believe the original Cinderella story comes to us from 9th-century China and that first story, called “Ye Xian,” eventually made its way to Europe through some of the trade routes. Also, there’s a theory that the idea of the slipper fitting the smallest foot was a direct result of the Chinese tradition of foot binding. So I chose that setting for my futuristic retelling as a means of paying homage to that original tale.

When trying to choose a setting for Scarlet, I wanted a place that had a history of werewolves and werewolf stories—although the people in my futuristic world aren’t superstitious about such monsters, I liked the idea of a very old fear being replaced by a new, very real fear. So when I saw a documentary about a series of killings that happened in 18th-century France, and at the time were believed to be the act of a real werewolf, I felt that worked perfectly for a way to tie the mythology together with my own werewolf-like characters.

The Lunar Chronicles will be four books total, Cress and Winter being the last two. Can you give us details of each?
The books are being released a year apart, so Cress will be out early 2014 and Winter in early 2015. Cress is based on Rapunzel, but instead of being stuck in a tower, Cress is a computer hacker stuck in a satellite orbiting Earth, being forced to spy on the Earthen leaders for Queen Levana. Winter is based on Snow White, and Princess Winter is Queen Levana’s stepdaughter. But Winter, not wanting to be like the cruel queen, has made the decision to never use her glamour—which means her sanity is slowly dissolving.

At the Scarlet signing event I attended when asked how the title Cress corresponds to Rapunzel you said that Rapunzel and Cress are both types of lettuce but you didn’t have time to elaborate…can you now?
Cress I took from “watercress,” and yes, rapunzel and watercress are both types of lettuce. The story of Rapunzel begins when a poor man’s pregnant wife is having mad pregnancy cravings for rapunzel, but it only grows in the witch’s garden. The husband sneaks into the garden to steal some but the witch catches him and they strike a deal—he can have the rapunzel for his wife, but he must give her the child when she’s born. So when he has a little baby girl, he gives her to the witch and the witch names her Rapunzel after the lettuce she was traded for.

For my giveaway for Scarlet on the blog, I asked people to share which fairy tale they would love to see take place in the future. People submitted great suggestions; the two most common were Beauty and the Beast and Peter Pan. I can totally see the Beast being one of Queen Levana’s army. I was curious have you ever added other fairy tale characters in as side characters? 
I love the story of Beauty and the Beast and actually feel that Scarlet shares a lot of similarities with that tale (in addition to Little Red Riding Hood, naturally). It’s a great archetype! I’ve also heard from readers who feel that Cinder makes use of some elements of Pinocchio, too. In my original plans for the series, I’d wanted to use “Puss in Boots,” and had planned for it to be the fifth and final book of the Chronicles. But as I began figuring out how to tie all the tales together, that story no longer fit with where I was taking the series, so I eventually had to cut it. I think there might still be a mention of a “robotic talking cat” somewhere in the books though…

Do you have any plans for novellas, possibly one from Queen Levana’s POV?
Actually—yes! I would love to one day tell Levana’s story, how she became queen and why she’s so vain and wicked. There are no official plans for writing it, but I hope it’ll happen someday.

When writing a villain like Levana do you find aspects of her you like even though she’s evil? 
Absolutely. Because I know Levana’s history, I actually have a great deal of sympathy for her. All of her cruelty and ambition really stems from a desire to be loved and accepted by people who never did love or accept her, and eventually she was driven to control people the way she does in order to get that sort of companionship. It’s a tragic story.

If you could pick to be any one of your characters which would you choose? Why?
Probably Cress. I have a strange envy for Rapunzel characters in general. I sometimes daydream about being stuck in a tower (or satellite!) with nothing but my laptop and an enormous stack of books. Oh, all the reading time!

Is there a book you wish you had written or character you created?
I adore the Gallagher Girls books by Ally Carter. I’m a sucker for spy stories like James Bond and Jason Bourne and I wish I’d had the idea for write about a school for spies first. But I’m glad she’s written them so I can read and enjoy them!

You’ve said that you are inspired by the show Firefly by Joss Whedon; who is your favorite character in the series? 
Argh, I really couldn’t choose! That’s the great thing about Firefly—all of the characters are phenomenal. They’re each unique and three-dimensional, with their own strengths and weaknesses, motivations and flaws. I love them all, and I really love how they interact with each other throughout the series. I hope people will say the same thing about my crew of misfits as the series goes on.

I’ve got to give a shout out to Firefly—it’s one of the best shows ever created! It has the feel of the old animes Cowboy Bebop and Outlaw Star to me.  
Cheers to that! I loved both those animes too. <3 

If you’re not eager for the next installment of the Lunar Chronicles (even after reading that the next character is based on Rapunzel)  here’s a teaser for CRESS:

She bit her tongue against a reminder of all she’d done for Her Majesty during her imprisonment. Designing countless spy systems for keeping watch on the Earthen Union and its leaders, jamming satellite signals so that countless soldiers and operatives could slip down to Earth undetected… it made no difference. Sybil cared only about Cress’s failures, and not finding Linh Cinder was Cress’s biggest failure to date.

Read more:
Cinder Review
Scarlet Review
Marissa Meyer signing event

Marissa Meyer Signing

  Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

Marissa Meyer the author of the Lunar Chronicles, Cinder and Scarlet came to Blue Willow Bookshop last night to speak and sign books. Marissa is an excellent speaker and I loved hearing her talk about how she became inspired to write the Lunar Chronicles. She said she was in that in-between stage of wakefulness and sleep; she got this vision of Cinderella running down the stairs at midnight and tripping. As she lay sprawled at the bottom of the stairs instead of a glass slipper laying on the steps she saw a metal foot. She had previously written a fairy tale set in the future for a writing contest so taking Cinderella to the future and making her a cyborg just felt right. This idea blossomed and Cinder was created.

 

It is apparent that Marissa Meyer has done a lot of research into fairy tales and how they originated and changed over the years. If you’ve not looked into the original Grimm Fairy Tales you really should, its as intriguing as it is disturbing. We also got to hear a small amount about the next two books in the Lunar Chronicles: Cress and Winter. Cress will introduce a new character based on the Rapunzel fairytale and Winter will be Snow White. The new characters will join the cast we are already familiar with and love. I can’t wait to see where this series is going because Scarlet was even better than Cinder to me. The more characters Marissa creates and adds the main story arc the more you can really see her skills as a writer and story teller.

Some of the questions asked by the audience included how the cover art was picked and what role Marissa had in it. As with almost all of published writers she didn’t get to have any influence into the cover art but she loves it and can’t wait to see the next two covers. She also explained where the names for her main characters originated, Cinder–obvious from Cinderella, Scarlet- scarlet meaning red, Cress-she said this is an interesting aspect of the older telling of Rapunzel. She didn’t get to explain it fully because of time constraints but she did say that Rapunzel and Cress are both types of lettuce and this is part of the original fairy tale. My interest is piqued, I will be researching this today. Winter- Snow White, winter and snow.

The last little tidbit we were left with was a teaser…a magician may or may not be part of the next character cast for her next series.

 

Check out my reviews for Cinder and Scarlet

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Cinder by Marissa Meyer Review

Cinder (in paperback)
By: Marissa Meyer
Release Date: January 3rd 2012
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

My rating:
star

This review is spoiler free

Summary (via jacket copy):
Sixteen-year-old Cinder is considered a technological mistake by most of society and a burden by her stepmother. Being cyborg does have its benefits, though:  Cinder’s brain interface has given her an uncanny ability to fix things (robots, hovers, her own malfunctioning parts), making her the best mechanic in New Beijing. This reputation brings Prince Kai himself to her weekly market booth. Needing her to repair a broken android before the annual ball. He jokingly calls it “a matter of national security,” but Cinder suspects it’s more serious than he’s letting on.

Although eager to impress the prince, Cinder’s intentions are derailed when her younger stepsister, and only human friend, is infected with the fatal plague that’s been devastating  Earth for a decade. Blaming Cinder for her daughter’s illness, Cinder’s stepmother volunteers her body for plague research, an “honor” that no one has survived.

But it doesn’t take long for the scientists to discover something unusual about their new guinea pig. Something others would kill for.

The Story:
Cinderella was never a fairy tale I gravitated to, but Marissa Meyer created a version that I adore– by creating a sci-fi Cinderella. Cinder isn’t an exact futuristic replica of the classic but it takes some of the most known aspects (unloved stepdaughter, handsome prince, and a ball) and presents them in an unique way. Meyer gives enough background about the state of Earth and its interactions with the Lunar that you know what is going on but you are never bogged down. Though a lot of the subject matter is unhappy (prejudice, inequality, sickness) the story doesn’t have a dark tone but has a hint of hope throughout. With New Beijing as the stunning backdrop, a future where relations with the Lunar (moon inhabitants) are stressed and cyborgs and androids walk the streets…what’s not to love? I’ll take a dash of Blade Runner with my fairy tale any day. The entire book moves at a fast pace and never failed to keep my attention. I’d set it down for a bit and always end up picking it up even if I didn’t have time to read I was carrying it around everywhere I went, just in case. I have to say I knew where the story was headed but that didn’t stop me from being captivated. As I got closer to the end I found myself anxious and reading faster and faster the fewer pages I had left. I can only imagine Scarlet is going to be even better.

The Characters:
Meyer creates a great cast of characters from Cinder to Iko. Cinder is strong willed and has a great sense of right and wrong. She’s brave even when she’s scared. I found myself getting a tad peeved at her at parts wishing she’d just fess up about certain things but since I had a good understanding of her life situation I could understand her reasoning. That brings us to our Prince, Kai is well rounded and like-able. He’s young and has some lessons to learn but you have faith in who he is as a person and the decisions he’ll make.

Final Thoughts:
I had really high expectations for Cinder because of all the great reviews and buzz I’ve heard and I wasn’t disappointed at all.

Cinder: Book One of the Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer (official book trailer) from Marissa Meyer on Vimeo.

Get a free sample Cinder: Chapters 1-5

A short prequel  to Cinder called Glitches which you can check out  here.

To buy Cinder (Lunar Chronicles 1) in paperback:
Amazon

To buy Cinder (Lunar Chronicles 1) in audiobook:
Amazon
You can listen here to the first chapter.

To pre-order Scarlet (Lunar Chronicles 2):
Amazon