Cress Tour Recap

When Macmillan announced Marissa Meyer's Cress tour, I was excited to see that she was visiting Texas, but disappointed that it seemed she was going to hit stops in Austin and Houston, but not Dallas. I made up my mind to go to the Austin stop. Then, when I was wandering around her website, I noticed she was indeed going to be stopping by Dallas, at a B&N in nearby Lewisville. I added that to the list, and since I'm good friends with many of the Austin folks, I decided to go to both!

This is a full recap of two events and honestly is pretty long so it's going under the cut.

Lewisville stop, Friday, February 14

I took video of the first part, when Marissa was talking about her story of being published, and I'm still working on getting it uploaded so you can see it, but I'll hit the highlights.

"This was back in 2008, and I had already done NaNoWriMo twice and succeeded both times. I was feeling really good about it. Plus, I had this Cinderella-cyborg story I was really excited about. Then there was another contest I heard about. It was run by the director of the Seattle group of NaNo, and the Seattle writer who wrote the most words would win a walk-on role for an episode of Star Trek. When I heard that, I thought, 'OH. This must happen!' This was in August so I had a few months to prepare myself. If I was going to have a chance, I would have to write not 50,000 words but 150,000 words. I did everything I could to prepare myself. I outlined every book in the series. I created character profiles and setting profiles. I did research and gathered inspiration photos. November 1 arrived, and I wrote in every spare minute I had. I should add I was working full-time and taking two classes toward a master's, which in hindsight was a really bad idea. I wrote before work, on my bus commutes, on my lunch break, in the evenings, on the weekends. By the end of November, I had written a first draft of Cinder, a first draft of Scarlet, and about a third of Cress."

At this point, my video cut out, but Marissa submitted, I think, around 9 PM that night, and it turned out she did not end up winning the Star Trek contest. Someone had just a couple thousand more words than she did, and she feels that if she had waited to submit, she could have won. But the winner never got their role anyway and she got a publishing contract so it's okay. The rest of my notes I typed instead of recording.

"It took me two years to go back, but I wrote the first draft from scratch and went through five revisions and then I finally thought it could be published. I sent the manuscript to agents, and it took two weeks before I signed with the first agent I sent it to. We submitted it on a Friday and had an offer to buy from the publisher on Monday, Nov 1, 2010, two years after I started writing."

On her inspiration: "When I was five years old, I was taken to see my first movie in theaters: The Little Mermaid. Afterward, my grandmother gave me book of fairy tales. First story in book was "The Little Mermaid" by Hans Christian Anderson. I read it and thought, "WHAT IS THIS?!"  It wasn't the right story, the one from the movie. Then I thought there was more to the fairy tales."

Q1. What color are Scarlet's eyes? We looked, but I don't think you ever said.
MM: Brown. I created her so I can tell you they are brown.

Q2. Are there any side characters you want to explore further, do more novellas?
MM: I've written six novellas, and five are prequels.

Q3. Will the novellas ever be in a book?
MM: I hope so! I'd like to see when all four novels are out, a series box set and I hope they'll include a fifth book with the short stories.

Q4. [So sorry! I don't remember the question!]
MM: I felt compelled to.

Q5. I know there's a Lunar Chronicles movie in the works, but would you ever consider doing other kinds of adaptations like a graphic novel?
MM: For those of you who don't know, as for the Cinder movie, there is a studio and a script right now, and we are hoping for a director to be hired soon. As for graphic novel, I'm thinking about it. I've been talking with my agent, wondering if I should do it myself or sell the rights. I kind of want to do it myself, but I don't have time right now.

Q6. Any advice for writers?
MM: Take time to develop your craft. Submit the best work you can. Use critique groups!

Q7. What was your favorite book?
MM: Pride and Prejudice. My friend has a gaming app about regency love that I'm addicted to. It's an rpg, and you get to dance with the guy or reject him, practice needlepoint for your husband.

Q8. Are you sad when you kill off characters?
MM: if it's a character I liked, I cry. I've made myself cry on several occasions. Killing characters is necessary. I don't, like, do it with glee...

Q9. Are any of the characters modeled after anyone?
MM: Not intentionally. I put pieces of myself in every character, even the bad ones because I need to have an emotional attachment with each of them. But...quirks do make their way into the characters.

Q10. Which characters do you have the most fun writing?
MM: Iko and Captain Thorne!

Q11. Did you mean for them [Iko & Thorne] to have such a great relationship/friendship/chemistry?
MM: It just came about that way. They're both flirts. There's actually a Twitter campaign shipping them.
[I didn't know that, but DANG I'm totally jumping onto that ship!]

Q12. How do you like your covers?
MM: When I first saw Cinder, I thought, "Wow! It's beautiful... but there are no red shoes..." But I'm glad they had the forethought to go with the red theme.

Q13. What inspired you to create this world?
MM: Firefly was huge for me and obviously the fairy tales. I had the skeleton of the plot. I added to that, built around it. The first step was breaking down tales, taking out what I didn't need and then adding sci-fi to it. I read craft books to create the plot.

Q14. [Honestly, I don't remember this question! I think I thought it would be obvious from the answer, but I have no clue what it was! Sorry!]
MM: I don't read a lot of sci-fi, but Hunger Games. Divergent was awesome. I don't like hard sci fi; I prefer character driven stories.

Q15. Do you have any other novels coming out?
MM: Yes. I have a non Lunar Chronicles novel coming fall 2015 called Heartless. It's a prequel to Alice in Wonderland. It's a standalone. Then I have ideas for a new series that will be an action adventure.

Q16. Do you have a movie dream cast?
MM: Not really. There's some fancasts online that are great. I like Emma Stone for Scarlet, very spunky. I don't have favorites, but pretty much...anyone but Kristen Stewart.

Q17. Why do you think your books are so popular with LGBT readers?
MM: There are themes of prejudice, tolerance, acceptance. If they read and want to be more open, that's great. I want to tell good story and entertain.

Q18. Do you read TLC fanfic?
MM: I read one and thought it was adorable, then thought, "I shouldn't be reading this!" I don't want it to influence the story I'm telling.

Q19. Do you know when we'll have the cover for Winter?
MM: Probably in the summer. They're not working on it yet.

Q20. Have you ever wanted to give up?
MM: Um...yesterday? I don't think so. Sometimes I doubt it, because it's crazy, but when I was seven, I was so in love that I always wanted to write them and get them published

Q21. Who is your favorite character?
MM: I don't have a favorite character. My favorite to write are Iko and Thorne, but I love them all. They are all my best friends. Other than my real best friends!

Q22. Who is your favorite Star Trek character?
MM: Kirk, I think. Although I was always a Star Wars girl.

Q23. So who is your favorite Star Wars character?
MM: Han Solo, definitely!

Q24. Would you survive in the TLC world?
MM: Not on luna! Honestly, the whole thing is not that bad. If you catch the plague, obviously it's not good. Wouldn't want to be a cyborg, but tech is really good

Q25. What have you recently read and loved?
MM: Star Cursed by Jessica Spotswood. SO good. The end! Oh my gosh!

I went with my friends Matt & Alex of Two and a Half Fangirls
Q26. Is Thorne based on anyone in particular?
MM: Yes! Thorne is a mashup of Han [Solo, from Star Wars] and Mal [Capt. Malcolm Reynolds from Firefly and Serenity]

Q27. You liked Divergent, right? What did you think about Allegiant?
[Since I haven't read Allegiant yet, I was freaking out about spoilers. But luckily, Marissa responded in the best way.]
MM: I'm not going to comment on that...

Q28. Will you ever do Beauty and the Beast?
MM: Since The Little Android [which is The Little Mermaid] it's the most requested, but I'm not a fan of the story. I think it's Stockholm Syndrome. I have no interest, but a year ago, that's what I said about The Little Mermaid.

Q29. Any tips for writers block?
MM: Yeah, lots of different tactics. Music. I have a TLC playlist. Taking walks. Basically, anything that will switch my mind into idle mode. Sometimes I just need a refresher, to get my mind on a more creative level. If you can make forward progress and keep pushing, that's the best thing. Five goals. Today, I am going to write a sentence. That turns into two sentences, then a paragraph, then a page.

Q30. What are your favorite ya books?
MM: I have a list of recommendations on website. Texas Gothic. The Book Thief. Ella Enchanted. Anything by Shannon Hale.

Q31. Have you ever thought about remodeling Shakespeare?
MM: I have in fact thought of retelling Shakespeare. No plan, but if the right one came to me, maybe.

Q32. What fairy tale world would you live in?
MM: Rapunzel's tower. Assuming the witch would let her have books, it would be endless reading time! I'm sure it's not nearly as fun as in my mind, but I do have that fantasy!

Austin stop, Monday, February 17

[note: some of the questions are the same because there were different people in attendance, but a lot had the same questions.]

Yes. Yes, I am wearing a Cress wig.
Q1. Will you write any non-Lunar Chronicles books?
MM: I do have one. It's called Heartless and will be out fall 2015. It's an Alice in Wonderland prequel. that tells how the queen becomes queen and develops taste for beheadings.

Q2. Where did you get the idea for Dr. Erland?
MM: He was one of the very first ideas I had in the dream. I was inspired by Ever After, the da Vinci character, the kooky, crazy mentor. It started as more fantasy, and he started as Erland.

Q3. Why did you choose Asian culture?
MM: Being obsessed with fairy tales, I studied them in college. What we think as Cinderella first originated in 9th century China. I wanted to pay homage to the story's origins.

Q4. Will there be a movie?
MM: Movie rights have been sold. What I want even more than the movie, though, is action figures!

Q5. Is there a connection between the chip in Cinder and Cress?
MM: Yes, the girl cinder contacts using the chip is Cress.

Q6. I haven't read your books.
MM: Slacker!
Q: Well, they sound interesting. I was just wondering if you have an idea who you want to play your characters in the movie?
MM: Not really.

Q7. Is Heartless a series or just one book?
MM: Just one, but I'm working on a new series to pitch agent. It's a contemporary action adventure.

Q8. Will there be more short stories?
MM: Yes. At least six shorts. Maybe more if I get more ideas.

Aside: This picture <--- is the moment Marissa discovered the creator of Sailor Moon has publicly said she's read Cinder. She fangirled pretty hard, and it was adorable!

Q9.What are the shorts?
MM: Two are already out, and others will be Thorne [!!!!!!], Levana, Princess Selene, and Winter or her love interest. I'm doing a novella for a nonprofit anthology, and I'm thinking I will look for a local Native American tale.

Q10. Are Cress and Rapunzel connected?
MM: Yes! Both are salad greens. I'm so clever!

Q11.Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
MM: Write as much as you can, and read as much as you can. Like any skill, the more you do it, the better you'll get. Be writing, be writing stories you're excited about. Be patient with it. Take your time. Learn the craft. Put your best material out there. A lot of people send their work out before it's ready. Don't do that. Create the best thing you can before you send it out.

Q12. How do you work through writer's block?
MM: What is this writing block you speak of? I do believe people get stuck, that it is something people struggle with, but I believe it's very psychological. Don't ever say you have it. My favorite tactic is to set a very small goal. I'll say, I will write one sentence because I know no matter how stuck I am, I can write one sentence.

Q13. Which fairy tale is Winter based on?
MM: "Snow White and the Seven Dwarves." Winter is Levana's stepdaughter. She was raised in the courts so she has witnessed how screwed up Lunar society is. She has made the goal to never use her lunar gift. But...there is a consequence for not using it so we see a decline into insanity.

Q14. Your male characters are...awesome. They're every woman's fantasy. What is your inspiration for wonderfully balanced men who sometimes struggle with their maleness.
MM: Sure! Have you all met my husband? [everybody laughs] At my heart, I want to create authentic characters. I want to show their strengths but also their weaknesses. It gives them depth. I add what makes me swoon. And I work in archetypes. Kai is the honorable good guy, Wolf is bad boy, Thorne is swoony ship captain. They're more than just the alpha, just prince charming.

Q15. Read Lunar Chronicles fanfiction?
MM: No. I don't want it to influence my writing. I don't want fanfic writers to feel like they can't do what they want with my characters because they're worried I'll read it.

picture courtesy of Katie of Mundie Moms
Q16. Who are the authors you've really enjoyed meeting?
MM: Veronica Roth. I haven't met any of my personal idols. I've seen Lois Lowry from afar. Oh, I did meet Holly Black.

Q17. [I don't remember this question, but the answer kind of speaks for itself.]
MM: I never wrote Firefly fanfiction.

Q18. Who is the first person who reads your book?
MM: My critique partners, my editor, and my agent.

Q19. What will be on Winter's cover?
MM: The designer is not working on Winter's cover yet, but I suspect it will be an apple. She also has scars on her cheek, that could be cool, but it might not fit with the first three books.

Marissa gamely signed stacks (as in plural) of books for me at each of these signings. Some of these books were for me, friends, and the winner of my Cress giveaway in February, but, being me, I also got took a few additional books for extra giveaways! Pretty sure the stores' employees were giving me the stink eye, but Marissa thought it was cool that I had so many book so forget the stores! Since I attended two stops, I also picked up an extra Lunar Chronicles swag pack to give away. SO I'm picking three winners for this giveaway: 1st place gets signed copies of BOTH Cinder and Scarlet plus the swag pack (includes Rampion schematic, Scarlet lip gloss, Cress comb, and TLC pin). 2nd place will receive signed copies of BOTH Cinder and Scarlet plus a TLC pin. 3rd place will get a signed copy of Cinder OR Scarlet plus a TLC pin. This giveaway is open to the US only (sorry INT friends! I'll do another INT giveaway soon!) and ends 12 AM cst April 15th. All entries will be verified so please read my giveaway policies in the Site Policites tab and double check before you submit. Good luck!

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  1. Thank you SO MUCH for posting this recap! I wasn't able to go to a Cress tour stop so I really enjoyed reading this :-)
    My favorite book in the Lunar Chronicles is the one I read most recently....(Which changes all the time)

  2. My favorite character is Prince Kai! :) My favorite book is Cress!

  3. I really liked Iko. I'm not sure if it counts as a fairy tale, but I love Alice in Wonderland. The world intrigues me quite a bit, and the characters are very interesting. I personally love Cheshire and the Hatter. So sad that you Marissa didn't come to Houston this year though.

  4. That was AWWWWAOME!!!!! I absolutely LOVE this series! The questions were awesome. She has become one of my favorite authors! Her re-telling has been my FAVORITE of all re-telling I've read. Seriously, this post is the BEST!!!!

  5. I'm dying to meet Marissa Meyer someday! The Lunar Chronicles have easily become one of my top 5 favorite series, and I can't wait for the upcoming short stories/novellas.

    Thanks for the giveaway!

  6. Great post... HOW do you hear about these events?

  7. The Lunar Chronicles are some of the best retelling I have ever read. They're just so imaginative.

  8. I'm really behind on reading these books-- I read Cinder and really enjoyed it, but still have to read Scarlet before I can get my hands on Cress! :-) Great post, and loved hearing about the recap (and was green with jealousy!)

  9. (This is Darith L)

    Favorite fairytale is Red Riding Hood! :D What a lovely event! I need to somehow get to one when the last book comes out!

  10. Favorite book is Scarlet and favorite character is definitely an I say Yum!!!

  11. I yet have to read Scarlett , Hopefully i'll like in more then Cinder

  12. I absolutely loved the ballroom scene, especially when Cinder starts to realize/accept who she is. The scene afterwards with the doctor is also awesome.

  13. Ohh I want to meet Marissa so bad! I've yet to read Scarlet and Cress, but I'm sure I'll love them. And movie rights have been sold! So excited!

  14. I love these Q&A's with the author. They're so fun to read.

  15. I lovvvve these books. I'd say my favorite characters are Wolf and Scarlet. I can't decide who I love more though. Thanks for the giveaway, Mary!

  16. I haven't read any of the books and really would love to. Such a great giveaway!

  17. I LOVE TLC! Marissa Meyer rocks!

  18. I love this series! I've only read Cinder and Scarlet so far, but I already have a copy of Cress. I can't wait to start it! I heard a lot about Thorne ;)

  19. Hey mama Pandora! I like the book scarlet the best and my favorite characters are Thorne and Wolf

  20. I LOVE this! It is so awesome! I really want a Rampion poster! (It is currently my screen background). I really want TLC action figures too. I would get them and play with them with my girls. (I am looking forward for them getting older so I can share this series with them). Wonderful interview! I love all the books and the characters, but I think right now my favorites are Cinder, Thorne and Cress!

  21. I've just started on Scarlet. I loved Cinder! The twist of fairy tales is amazing!

  22. Thank you so much for this amazing giveaway, Miss Mary. This is one of my absolute favourite series. But my favourite book (so far) is Scarlet. Hands down. I simply adore her and Wolf.