I am super duper stoked to be bringing you all an exclusive interview with Marissa Meyer today, courtesy of Fierce Reads! This is in celebration of her upcoming release for Instant Karma (this Tuesday!), which is her contemporary romcom with a fantastical twist for young adult readers everywhere! For anyone who may not know, Marissa Meyer is the bestselling author of The Lunar Chronicles, Heartless, and the Renegades Trilogy. If you haven’t already picked up any of those, you absolutely should!
Keep scrolling for Marissa Meyer’s answers to questions about Instant Karma, writing, being an author, and her UPCOMING BOOKS!!
I’ll also drop the synopsis for Instant Karma at the very bottom for your convenience, in case anyone here hasn’t already preordered (which you should!) and doesn’t know what it’s about 😉 As a reminder, if you’re located in the US & CANADA and preorder before 11:59pm ET on Monday November 2, you can submit your receipt to receive an exclusive ENAMEL PIN 😍 Follow the link to submit your receipt!
Now, without further ado… let’s get into the Q&A!
What was your favourite part of writing Instant Karma? Do you have a favourite character? Favourite scene?
Definitely the romance! I always enjoy writing the romance storylines in my books, and it was so much fun for me to write a book in which the romance really took center stage. I loved watching Prudence and Quint overcome their differences and come to care for and appreciate each other. So I’d have to say that my favorite scenes are any that involve kissing and/or romantic declarations! Luckily, there are a couple in this book.
As an author, you’ve written across quite a few genres and formats now; sci-fi, fantasy, retellings, graphic novels… Was writing a contemporary romance (with a twist!) something you’ve always wanted to do? Are there any other genres you’d like to try?
I’ve always loved contemporary romances as a reader, and I wrote a ton of contemporary love stories when I used to write fanfiction, so for me, this felt more like a return to a beloved genre, rather than a deviation from my norm. I’m enamored with so many different genres and story types, and I never know what’s going to inspire me next! I definitely have more ideas for fantasy novels and retellings and contemporaries and graphic novels, but I also have ideas for historical and horror and adventure, and ideas for different age groups, too. We’ll see how many of them I get to!
What’s next after Instant Karma?
I’m currently working on another fantasy fairy tale retelling. I can’t say which one yet, but I think we’ll be announcing it soon. Hopefully! It gets really hard keeping secrets from readers.
Has COVID had any effect on your creativity and focus? And is releasing a book amidst a pandemic vastly different from how it was before?
Yes, definitely. I’ve struggled more this year with staying focused and inspired on my current work-in-progress. There’s just been so many other things on my mind, and the structure of day-to-day life has changed too, taking away a lot of regular habits that I had developed over the years. I think we’re all adapting as well as we can, and I think it’s really important to take care of ourselves emotionally and creatively, so I’ve been trying to give myself more breaks and take time off when I needed to. At the same time, I’ve been really inspired for a couple of side projects, so I’ve been using those to fuel my creativity and keep moving forward on various writing goals.
As far as launching a book—some things have stayed the same, such as blogger tours and interviews (hello!) and a lot of social media. But some things are drastically different, the most obvious being the cancellation of book tours and writing festivals. It’s been bittersweet for me. I love traveling and meeting readers, and I often find my time on book tour to be incredibly productive since I don’t have to worry about things like laundry and grocery shopping and taking care of my kids. So I’ve missed it a lot this year. On the other hand, having two young kids who are growing so fast, I’ve been really happy to not have to say goodbye to them so much this year, and spending so much quality family time has been incredible.
NaNoWriMo is coming up! And I know you’ve previously mentioned that a lot of your books were NaNoWriMo books, so do you have any advice for people wanting to partake in it?
Yes, and I’ll be participating this year! It’s been a while, so I’m really looking forward to doing it again. I would advise NaNo writers to rethink how much time they really need to get things done. You might be amazed at how many words you can get written in a few short but focused bursts. I’m a huge fan of the “writing sprint”—setting a timer for just ten or fifteen minutes and writing until the timer goes off. It takes off some of the pressure of having to find two or more hours of writing time, and allows you to fit writing into those moments that might otherwise be wasted doom scrolling or waiting for a pot of water to boil, etc.
There’s a character in The Lunar Chronicles who has the same name as me! (Hi, another Maha over here! 🙊) So I’m curious; how do you pick names for your characters?
Oh, I love that! (But also feel like I should apologize??) There are lots of different ways that characters get their names. Sometimes I’ll go to a baby naming web site and search for names that have a meaning relevant to the character. It could be a personality trait, like strong or stubborn, or something more literal, such as wolf or moon. (There are a lot of moon-themed names in The Lunar Chronicles.) I also keep a list of names that I like on my computer that I’ll refer to it if I’m struggling to name a new character—a lot of those names come from readers in my signing lines! For surnames, I’ll often look at movie credits. Sometimes you land on a name and feels right, and other times I’ll have to “audition” a name, writing a few chapters, or even an entire draft, to see if it feels right. It’s not uncommon for a character’s name to change half a dozen times during the writing process!
You’re basically known as the Queen of Retellings (following the masterpieces that were The Lunar Chronicles and Heartless), so I have to ask… Can we expect more retellings from you down the line?
Aww, thanks! (Though I can think of a number of authors that might deserve that title more than I do…) But yes, there will definitely be more retellings! I have a number in mind, and am working on one now, as I mentioned above. I hope readers will love them!
What’s your favourite part of being an author?
There are a lot of things that I love about being an author, so it’s hard to pick just one overall favorite. But just yesterday I was working on my current work-in-progress, and there was a sticky plot problem that’s been giving me trouble for weeks, and while I was doing some research I stumbled onto the perfect solution to the problem, and so many things in the story clicked together all at once. I love that feeling! Sometimes writing a novel feels like you’re putting together a huge jigsaw puzzle, and I relish those moments when the pieces start to fit and the big picture starts to reveal itself.
What book of yours are you the most proud of, and why?
Oh gosh—good question! This is hard, because I’m so proud of all of my books, and not always for the same reasons. I think it might be Heartless that I’m most proud of, because I really pushed myself when it came to trying to write something that would fit the world that Lewis Carroll had created, and match the same sort of word play and nonsense that we see in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. It was a different style of writing for me, and I loved the challenge, and was really happy with how the story came together.
If you could go back in time and visit your past self at any age, what age would it be and what would you say to yourself?
I’d love to go back and offer a bit of comfort and encouragement to seventeen-year-old Marissa. I wanted things so badly—to be a published writer, to find love, to have a family—and at that age I was terrified that none of my dreams would come true. I wish I could tell her that everything would turn out just fine and her life ends up being pretty awesome. (At the same time, maybe the desperate need I felt to have those things is what I needed to put myself out there and take risks at times, so I don’t know… it’s probably best not to mess with the past.) I do like to think of teenage Marissa sometimes, and give her a mental high-five. 😀
Synopsis for INSTANT KARMA:
In this young adult contemporary romance, a girl is suddenly gifted with the ability to cast instant karma on those around her—both good and bad.
Chronic overachiever Prudence Daniels is always quick to cast judgment on the lazy, rude, and irritating residents of her coastal town. She dreams of a world in which people might actually get what they deserve… Pru’s dreams of karmic justice are fulfilled after a night out with her friends, when she wakes up with the sudden, wondrous ability to cast instant karma on those around her. Though it seems almost too good to be true, Pru is not one to ignore such obvious signs from the universe. She giddily starts to make use of the power, but there is one person on whom her powers consistently backfire: Quint Erickson, her slacker of a lab partner.
Quint is annoyingly cute and unexpectedly noble, especially when it comes to his work at a rescue center for local sea animals. When Pru resigns herself to volunteering at the rescue center for extra credit, she begins to uncover truths about baby otters, environmental upheaval, and what the universe might really be trying to tell her about Quint—not necessarily in that order. Her newfound karmic insights reveal how thin the line is between virtue and vanity, generosity and greed… love and hate.