“I Don’t Remember Ever Not Loving Books”: An Interview with Visiting Bestselling Author Marissa Meyer

 

Transcribed by: Akriti K, 10th Grade

PANAMA CITY – September 14, 2018

How are you enjoying Panama so far?

So far, it has been great! I haven’t seen very so much of it, but we did go out and had dinner on one of the islands, yesterday. So that was nice. And we are gonna try to go and see the canal today…because you have to see the canal!

What is your overall impression of ISP?

It’s been really great! I have had a really fun time, loved getting lunch with the book club. The presentation earlier was wonderful and I really hope that everyone enjoyed it.

What inspired you to become a writer, when did that idea start?

Oh gosh! I don’t remember ever not loving books. Obviously, as a child, my parents would read to me and I loved that and then, you know, learned to read myself at a fairly young age and just always loved it. Always loved stories and books! And from the time I was three or four, I started making up stories in my head, and kind of always had that and always wanted to become a writer.

Who were some of the writers or authors that inspired you the most to pursue this career for yourself?

A lot of times, I feel like every writer that I have ever read had inspired me. Just to know that there are people out there who were able to get published, that itself is huge. Like if someone else can do it, maybe I can do it too! But I think some of the ones that really influenced me when I was young, was like Roald Dahl, one of my favorites, and Anne of Green Gables, lot of the classics that I read as a kid.

You began writing with fanfiction for Sailor Moon, what did you take away from that experience?

Well, like writing fanfictions for me, it was really how I learnt how to write. I wrote it for so many years and that’s how I learned the craft of writing, you know—how to tell a story from beginning to middle to end, and make it suspenseful and interesting, and how do you write good romance, and how do you write interesting characters and all of those things I learned from writing fanfictions. Then, when I had to switch over to writing original stories, all those craft things stick, like still you are using all of that; it’s just now that it’s coming up with things that are fully my imagination, rather than based on someone’s else existing world.

How does it feel to go from writing fanfiction to having fanfiction written for your own novels?

(Laughs) I know! How crazy is that?!... I love it! I love that it exists! That’s one of the craziest things that I think has happened to me in my writing career, to know that there is now fanfiction of my novels. But it’s the best! Like, as someone who came from writing fanfiction, I know that people only do it because they love the source material… you do it because you want to stay in that world, you want to stay with those characters, and so to me there is no bigger compliment than knowing that people are out there writing fanfiction for it. So, it makes me really happy.

During NaNoWriMo, how do you organize your time to write for an entire month?

Well, these days, this is my job. I almost feel like every month is NaNoWriMo. But back when I was first starting and would do NaNoWriMo while I was working full time and while I was going to school for a few years, you know, it’s just about making it a priority. So, for me, I would often get up at like five o’clock in the morning to write for like an hour before I had to go to work. I commuted by bus, so I would write on the bus; I would write during my lunch breaks, write on the weekends… you know, if you have other things going on in your life, and everybody does, but if this is a dream of yours, then you just have to decide like—I am going to take it seriously and I am going to prioritize this and do it!

What is your fascination with fairy tales, and their incorporation in your novels?

So, I have loved fairy tales since I was a little girl and so for me, writing a retelling was something that I had thought about doing for a long time. And that was one of the most fun challenges for me, writing fairy tales but setting them in the science fiction universe, was figuring out—ok—what are the most iconic elements of this story and how do I turn that into science fiction? And I really enjoyed that process of figuring out—ok—Cinderella, we have to have the evil stepmother, we have to have the glass slipper, we have to have the fairy godmother, but what does that look like if you don’t have fantasy, you don’t have a historical place? How does it look like in a very high-tech futuristic setting? And sometimes, the answers would come to me and be very obvious, and, for example, in Scarlet, which is my little red riding hood retelling, I had the idea, very early on, to make the big bad wolf as a bio-engineered super soldier and I loved that idea… I thought it was so cool! Sometimes something would come to me and I’ll be like, “I have to go with that”, and then other times, it was a big challenge, with one of the things that took me forever to figure out was how I was going to do the poisoned apple from Snow White, and how do you make that “sciency”? So, there were a lot of things that were complicated.

Is Renegades based on a fairy tale?

It is not. Renegades is inspired by superheroes, so kind of classic comic books and movies. So, it definitely, like, I took a lot of influence from Marvel and DC, and I hope that readers who loved those worlds would feel that Renegades fits very naturally into that genre. But it’s all in my own original creation, so it’s not based on existing superheroes.

Are any of your personal life experiences incorporated into your novels?

Not really. As a writer, I think we go through life looking at the world in a different way. We’re always trying to find inspiration; we’re always trying to draw on little things that you see here, in this world and think—oh, how would I use that in the story? Or what if it was like this, would that be an interesting twist? So, reality definitely influences the stories and the fiction. But by large, I am in no means basing my books on real life, like, it’s fiction.  

What is your personal advice for future writers? How do they begin?

Pick a story that you’re really excited about and just go for it! There are some people that are able to sit down with a blank piece of paper and just start writing. If that’s you, then do it. If that’s not you, take some time. Brainstorm the idea, figure out where the beginning is, figure out some other plot points, and then sit down and let your imagination take over!

It was such a delightful opportunity to be able to meet Marissa Meyer and to get to know her. We would like to especially thank the author for her time and the LMC for organizing this wonderful event!