Have you read Cinder? If you have then you know how great it is. And if you haven’t … WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?? Cinder is the first in a trilogy, and is a modern retelling of the classic, Cinderella. And if that weren’t enough to interest you, Cinder … is cyborg. IKR? Don’t have a copy? Stick around and you could have the chance to win one of your very own. Win/Win.
Lo & C: Hi Marissa! Thanks so much for joining us here at Swoontini!!
MM: My pleasure!
Lo & C: Ma’am! You are immediately a winner in our world because you used to write fanfiction! This is how Lo & PQ met! So, we’re always so happy to meet others who have dabbled, and are actually surprised just how many authors play in those worlds. What’s fascinating to us is just how different writing fic is from writing a novel. What are some things you think helped you become a better writer, and what are some habits you had to get rid of when you began writing original novels?
MM: Fanfiction FTW! I learned so much from writing fanfic—how to strike a balance between details and action, how to jump right into the heart of the story rather than muck around with a bunch of boring backstory, how to take criticism, and perhaps most important, how to write often and FINISH stuff (because fanfic readers get very annoyed, very fast, if you don’t update regularly or leave a story unfinished for an extended period of time).
Lo & C: THEY DO INDEED, MARISSA.
MM: One thing that’s changed over the years, though, is my willingness to revise. When I started writing fanfic, I would finish a chapter or story and slap it up on the internet with barely a read-through. Now I recognize the importance of stepping back and evaluating the story on everything from overall suspense to miniscule word choices, and I’ve completely deleted and rewritten many a-chapter in my efforts to make them publication-worthy.
Lo & C: We lovvvvvve that you said this. The amount of revising that goes into our work now versus our fic. . . it’s unbelievable. Speaking of revising, your publication journey is interesting because it was two years between starting CINDER and querying an agent. And then, you were picked up by the first agent you queried and sold within a week of submission. (This is rare, brave Swoonies. Don’t compare yourself to this.) Even given this path, what was the best writing advice you received before you were published?
MM: I know, I’m one of THOSE authors, but I do feel that spending all that time making the book as good as I could before querying was the reason I had such a fast sale. And that directly ties into what I think is the best advice I’d heard pre-pub: Take your time and write the best book you can. It can be SO HARD to be patient when you feel like everyone around you is getting a book deal and agents are closing to queries for the summer and bookstores are closing and if you don’t get published right now then you’ll never get published at all, argh! But you’ll only be doing a disservice to yourself by querying prematurely, and you only get that one chance to make a great first impression. Rewrite, revise, have some trusted readers look at your book, and revise some more. When you’ve done the best you can, that’s the time to start hunting for an agent.
Lo & C: This is such good advice. We remember how hard it was to be patient. We wrote “THE END” and then wanted to send it out that day. BUT – wait, revise, wait, revise. It’s the best advice. Tell us a little bit about teenage Marissa. What books would she devour today? What boy characters would have had her fanning herself, and what girl characters would have her jumping up and down cheering?
MM: I feel like Teenage Marissa was simply a less-confident version of Modern-Day Marissa. My tastes haven’t changed that much. I was super into fantasy (particularly the Sword of Truth series by Terry Goodkind), and I still love fantasy, though ironically I read much more YA now (such as Kristin Cashore’s books or Leigh Bardugo’s Shadow and Bone – LOVE). I also watched a ton of anime, and while I’m so out of the anime loop these days, I’m still in love with the same sorts of stories (teenagers being awesome and saving the world and falling in love). Teen Me would have been smitten with mysterious-yet-sweet heroes (then: Tuxedo Mask; now: Four from Divergent or Cas from Anna Dressed in Blood). And Teen Me was always a fan of any girl who could kick butt and stay true to herself.
Lo & C: We each bring our own unique voice and experiences to what we write. What teen experiences influence your writing in YA?
MM: I feel like the “experiences” that have most influenced my writing were all those ones that happened inside my own head. When I was a teen, I fantasized about being a superhero, a rock star, a hero, a sorceress, an assassin, a spy… (okay, I still dream about all these things). But those dreams have become the seeds for every one of my stories, and continue to inspire the types of characters and adventures I want to write about.
Lo & C: Tell us some of your favorite websites to visit when you need writing inspiration and/or a good laugh.
MM: Pinterest! So many people post hilarious photos or geeky jokes, and I love all the images of mystical castles and devious-looking characters. (Not to mention all the inspiration for food, décor, and fashion… it’s an all-around inspiring web site. Oh, and my Pinterest page, including a Lunar Chronicles board!
You are currently reading: Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
A movie you’ve seen a thousand times: Clueless (don’t judge me)
No judging here, girlfriend. That movie can play in a constant loop in our homes and we’d be happy campers. Favorite season: Autumn
A guilty pleasure: Prosecco – I’ll pop open a bottle at any time, no celebratory excuse necessary.
You’re just like our bestie Masenvixen! And, the critical question: popcorn jelly bellys are awesome or disgusting? EW. I loathe all jelly beans with a great burning passion.
A HUGE thank you to Marissa for stopping by. Isn’t she adorable??? Ngl, we’re smitten. You can order a copy of Cinder here (go on, we’ll wait…), orrrrrrr leave Marissa some love and we could be sending you one of your very own.