Christine and I were lucky enough to get to read Cinder by Marissa Meyer a little early…or a lot early in Christine’s case…and we both we really loved it and a million questions for Marissa, the author (…duh..) but we didn’t think asking her a million questions would be the best thing to do we only asked ten…or so. Whatever.
We talk about the book, the characters, the series, and everyone’s most favourite thing….Sailor Moon.
1. In your own words, what is Cinder about and why is it awesome?
Cinder is a futuristic take on Cinderella. My heroine, Cinder, is a 16-year-old mechanic who happens to be part-machine. When she agrees to fix a broken android for the handsome prince, she’s unwittingly pulled into a political battle of wills between Earth and the cruel Lunar queen who wants to rule it. As for why it’s awesome—gosh, that’s hard to answer about my own book! But it has everything I look for in my reading: a strong heroine, a swoon-worthy hero, good vs. evil, life-or-death stakes, and even hints of “magic.” Plus, I hope that each book in the series will be even more epic and awesome than the last! (It’s something for me to aim for, at least.)
2. I’m fascinated with the world you’ve created. Can you give us any history on how there are only 6 countries left? Also, how big is the Commonwealth? And why are they using a monarchy government? Basically give us all of your world-building secrets!…uh…please.
Boy – that would take a lot more than a simple interview answer! I have pages and pages of world-building and history notes. But essentially, there was a catastrophic world war 126 years prior to the start of Cinder. When the war ended, they determined that part of the problem was that there were simply too many countries and governments all vying for the same land and resources. So they decided to conglomerate down into only six Earthen nations. Two of those nations (the United Kingdom and the Eastern Commonwealth) became constitutional monarchies, as they deemed it was the best way to unite the peoples and cultures beneath them (though they do still have province representatives and cabinet members, etc.).
The Commonwealth is huge—it’s made up of our modern day Asia, from Japan to India, and a large part of Russia.
3. How long did it take for people on the moon to realize their genes were mutating and giving them powers?
Not long at all. The first Lunar with the mutation realized his power when he was still growing up, and used it to his advantage. It was so easy for him to brainwash his peers that he was elected as a leader at a young age, and changed Luna into a monarchy without any difficulty. The trait is genetic, so it’s taken many, many generations for the entire society to have this gift, but the evolution was sped along by a lot of promiscuity and the persecution of those without the gift.
4. How did the awesomeness of sci-fi fairy tales occur to you?
A few years ago, I entered a short story contest with a futuristic retelling of Puss in Boots, in which Puss was a robotic talking cat trying to convince a plain schoolgirl that she was really a lost princess (any fans of Sailor Moon will no doubt be seeing some similarities here!). I had so much fun writing it that I thought it would be fun to write an entire series of futuristic fairy tales. I started brainstorming different ways to combine my favorite tales with my favorite sci-fi tropes, and the Lunar Chronicles slowly began to take shape.
5. My experience with other authors that started writing with fanfiction is that they would rather it not be brought up in conversation, you seem to be willing and proud to talk about it, and still have your fanfiction readily available for people. What do you think about these two different opinions?
I completely understand why many ex-fanfiction authors don’t want their old stuff to be dredged up once they’ve moved on to novels and publication. (For me—if anyone brings up the poetry book I had self-published when I was 15, I want to crawl into a hole and die, and I think it’s a very similar thing.) When you’re writing fanfic, you’re still learning and growing as a writer, and it can be hard to look back on your old stuff without feeling like it’s awful and mortifying and should never have seen the light of day.
My experience with fanfiction, though, was fantastic. I owe a lot to the Sailor Moon fandom that supported and encouraged me for so many years. Even though I’ve grown a lot as a writer since then, I have enough “fans” of the works that I’m happy to keep them available online. That said, I did take down some of my super early stuff when I got the book deal, because I was no longer proud of it.
6. What is your favourite book? What is your favourite fanfiction (that you didn’t write) and are the two similar at all?
My favorite book is Pride and Prejudice, and my favorite fanfics, both mine and other authors’, were the first-season romances that focused on the love/hate aspect between Usagi (Sailor Moon) and Mamoru (Tuxedo Mask). And yes, they have lots in common! I have a weakness for love/hate romances.
Sailor Venus. She was always my favorite to write.
8. Did you mean to include so many nods to the Sailor Moon fandom in Cinder?
Nope, I think it was a natural side-effect of having spent so many years in the fandom! That said, the original Puss in Boots inspiration story was a fanfic, so that has a lot to do with how so many elements of the Sailor Moon storyline migrated into the Lunar Chronicles.
9. Who, in Cinder, was your favourite character to write?
Although I’m quite fond of all my characters, I think Iko (Cinder’s android sidekick) was the most fun to write. She’s always saying very unexpected things, and ended up having a much bigger personality than I’d originally thought she would.
10. Please tell me Iko makes another appearance. If not, she’ll be sorely missed.
Iko definitely makes another appearance! But that’s all I can say right now.
11. I know each book focuses on a different fairy tale, how did you choose each fairy tale to use and was it difficult to balance the plethora of characters that must get picked up along the way?
One of the first things I did when I started brainstorming this series was make a list of my favorite fairy tales and ways to futurize them. Maybe Rumpelstiltskin is an android. Maybe the frog prince had had genetic tampering done by a mad scientist. Etc. Etc. My plan at first had been for each story to be a stand-alone, with very little overlap. But the stories started to take on a life of their own, growing and intertwining, and four tales in particular started to merge into one epic storyline: Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel, and Snow White.
And yes—as I’ve worked on the later books (Book 4 in particular), it has definitely been a challenge to balance all the characters and keep the ongoing conflicts interesting and integral to the plot. However, it’s also the kind of writing challenge I thrive on, and I hope readers enjoy it!
12. Can you give us any tidbits about Scarlet? Will we see Kai? I need more Kai.
Yes, you will see more Kai! Though his role is relatively small in Book 2, he’ll become more central again in Book 3. That said, I can promise two new sexy guys that come on the scene in Scarlet, and I hope that will make up for the relative lack of Prince Kai-ness.
Thanks so much for the interview, Caitlin! [And Christine]
Thanks much to Marissa for answering our questions, and for writing such a great book! Christine and I wrote a joint review that will be posting tomorrow. Even if you don’t check that out you should definitely check out Cinder.