Upcoming Agent Spotlight Interviews & Guest Posts

  • Caroline Trussell Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 5/20/2024
  • Jenna Satterthwaite Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 6/10/2024
  • Bethany Weaver Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 6/26/2024

Agent Spotlight & Agent Spotlight Updates

  • Agent Spotlights & Interviews have been updated through the letter "K" as of 3/28/2024 and many have been reviewed by the agents. Look for more information as I find the time to update more agent spotlights.


Happy New Year! I hope you all had a happy holiday season. I had a great time in Texas visiting with family and a few friends. I was pretty offline for a little over a week while we were there. My in-laws have no Internet so I only had my phone. It felt good to take a break and spend more time with my family. But it’s good to be back.

Here’s hoping everyone has lots of good news to share. We’ve got an awesome couple of months already planned for you.

I want mention a blogger friend, Candace at The Misadventures of Candyland, who is going through a really hard time right now. A number of bloggers are reaching out to help her. It's great how supportive our writing community is. If you want to offer moral or other support, go here.

So I have a lot of winners to announce. Yea! I love giving away books.

The winner of WILDEFIRE is:


The winner of UNTRACEABLE is:


The winner of WISHLESS is:


And finally the winner of RADIANCE is:


Congrats everyone! E-mail me your addresses so I can send you your books.

Today I am SO excited to start the New Year by interviewing Marie Lu about her debut book, LEGEND. I’ve heard such great things about LEGEND for a long time so I was super happy when Marie agreed to be interviewed. I loved everything about LEGEND—the writing, the main characters, June and Day, the dystopian world set in Los Angeles that Marie created. It was such a fantastic, never boring read. My only problem was that I had to share reading it with my daughter, so I couldn’t take it to read on my lunch hour. She really enjoyed it too.

Here’s a blurb from Goodreads:

What was once the western United States is now home to the Republic, a nation perpetually at war with its neighbors. Born into an elite family in one of the Republic's wealthiest districts, fifteen-year-old June is a prodigy being groomed for success in the Republic's highest military circles. Born into the slums, fifteen-year-old Day is the country's most wanted criminal. But his motives may not be as malicious as they seem. From very different worlds, June and Day have no reason to cross paths - until the day June's brother, Metias, is murdered and Day becomes the prime suspect. Caught in the ultimate game of cat and mouse, Day is in a race for his family's survival, while June seeks to avenge Metias' death. But in a shocking turn of events, the two uncover the truth of what has really brought them together, and the sinister lengths their country will go to keep its secrets. Full of nonstop action, suspense, and romance, this novel is sure to move readers as much as it thrills.

Welcome Marie. Thanks for joining us. And congrats on having LEGEND named one of the top 100 books by Publishers Weekly.

1. Tell us a little about yourself, especially your early life in China, and how you became a writer.

Thank you so much for having me here, Natalie! Well, I’ve been writing since I was about five years old, which is around the same time I came over to the States from China. I think I started writing as a way to teach myself English, and quickly I learned that I enjoyed it as a hobby as well. I remember stapling together little short stories and booklets when I was a kid.

2. That’s an interesting way to get into writing, but I bet a good way to learn a language. I’ve read that you came up with the idea for LEGEND while watching Les Miserables. How cool! How did you take that idea and develop it into your own unique story?

The initial idea came very suddenly, and it was just a quick: Teenage versions of Valjean and Javert, playing a cat and mouse game with each other. I stewed around with this early idea for a couple of weeks before I stumbled across a map online that simulated what the world would look like if all our freshwater ice melted and the oceans rose 100 meters. That was such a compelling map that I thought it’d be fun to take my seed of an idea and set it in this world.

3. I think it’s a compelling coincidence how the idea for the story and the map happened so soon after each other. Sort of like the book was destined to be written. I loved June and Day and read that Day was an easier character for you to develop Tell us how you developed June and Day and why you chose to create them the way you did. Do you have any tips on creating the voices for two POV characters?

Yeah, Day has been in my head since I was a teenager, so I feel like he’s an old friend whose voice comes pretty naturally to me. I’d always wanted to write about a teen criminal—I just couldn’t find the perfect story for him to be in. It wasn’t until that day when I watched Les Mis on TV that I realized a great foil for him would be an equally clever young detective agent. So that became June. June was initially a boy, too, because I was modeling her and Day off of Javert and Valjean’s relationship in Les Mis. But my boyfriend said to me, “Why don’t you make the detective a girl?” And right away I knew that’d be a better fit, because now the story had a female character who really rounded out the whole cast well.

As far as tips, I’d say the first thing to do is try to find a unique personality trait for each protagonist that can help distinguish their voices. This is still something I’m working on, but I tried to give June a very unique personality (i.e. she’s analytical to a fault, in a Sherlock Holmes way) so that when her POV was talking, you could tell it was her for the most part. Day, meanwhile, is a street boy who uses slang and more casual language than June does.

4. That’s a great tip. And awesome how your boyfriend helped you decide to make the detective June. What research did you do in creating the futurist United States with the Republic and the Colonies and what influences from your own life did you draw on?

When I was five, I lived really close to Tiananmen Square in Beijing. That was 1989, the year the massacre happened, and I can still remember going out to the square with my aunt to see the crowds of student protesters as well as the tanks in the streets. I think that left a permanent impression on me, and definitely influenced how I created the Republic in Legend. I also drew from what I see as real-life examples of dystopia—ancient Sparta, the eugenics movement in the United States during the early 1900s, Nazi Germany, China’s Cultural Revolution, North Korea, etc. I wanted to create a dystopian society that felt like it could really exist. Finally, I also drew from our current state of American politics. The sort of extremism we’ve seen lately on both sides is something that inspired the civil war atmosphere of Legend’s United States.

5. Sad you had to experience Tiananmen Square but I’m sure it helped you, with your research, to develop your amazing world. And that’s interesting how you used the current situation here at home.

Your book has gotten such hype and until I read your journey to publication, I thought your journey was a dream one. Especially since Kristen Nelson is your agent. I’d so love to work with her or Sara Megibow. But you had bumps along the way to getting an agent and a book deal. Can you share your experiences with us?

I love Kristin so much! She’s amazing, as is Sara. But you’re right—I definitely had my share of setbacks…I started submitting my first novel back when I was fifteen, and I think I accumulated over a hundred rejections on my query when I realized I just had to write a better book. I ended up writing three more that went nowhere, although two of them got me agents. I went on submission twice before Legend, and both of those times we would get slow rejections from publishers over the course of years before my agent and I would finally agree to shelve the novel. It was certainly disheartening at times, but I think it made the sale of Legend that much more of a happy moment.

6. Wow! Hearing about your road to publication is even more inspiring because of those difficult times. It really tells the rest of us the importance of continuing to write and of querying. You were interviewed by Tavis Smiley on PBS on November 18th. (Guys, here’s the link.) Tell us how that came about and what it was like being on TV.

Oh my God, I was SO nervous! My Penguin publicist put it together. I still can’t remember a thing of what I said while I was up there. Afterward, when I watched the playback, I was like, “Did I say that?” It was a really cool experience. Getting my makeup done before the show was especially fun!

7. I’d be petrified, even with the makeup. I read that CBS Films is making a movie of LEGEND and it sounds like the process is moving right along. When did you sell the movie rights in relation to your book publication and tell us about the process so far.

CBS Films bought the rights for Legend back in early February of 2011, a few months after Legend’s book sale happened. Right now the director, Jonathan Levine, and producer, Wyck Godfrey, are working with the screenwriters on revisions of the screenplay. The process has been amazing! CBS Films is very forward-thinking and passionate about the project, so they’ve been fabulous about keeping me updated and included in all parts of the process.

8. That’s great how far along it is. And that you’re being updated because some authors don’t seem to be in the loop for much of the movie development. How have you been marketing your book? What advice would you give to us aspiring authors for when we hopefully become debut authors?

Penguin has been doing an unbelievable marketing job for Legend, and I’m so grateful that they’ve let me participate in a great deal of online promotion. Before the book sold, I’d created a little Facebook game for the story, and afterward I became fairly active on Facebook and Twitter to promote the book. Before I became a full-time writer, I was an artist for video games—so occasionally I’ll also draw pictures of how I envision scenes or characters from Legend.

For aspiring authors, I’d say it’s worth it to get familiar with social media as that has turned out to be a powerful promotion tool. Twitter has a fantastic writers’ and readers/bloggers’ community, and Facebook is a great way for people to find you and see what new things are happening with your book. Embracing technology is vital, I think. And it’s pretty fun, too. 

9. I read about your background in video games. That’s cool you put your expertise to use. And you’re making me want to get on Twitter. What are you working on now?

Right now I’m working on a last round of line edits for Legend 2, and starting on Legend 3. I also have begun working on a new idea that’s been incubating in my head for several months. I’m very excited to dig into this one.

Yea for book 2 in your series. I can’t wait. Thanks so much Marie for all your advice.

Thank you so much again for having me! This has been a blast. Here are a couple of places I can be found:

Twitter: @Marie_Lu
Legend’s official Facebook page (run by Penguin) 
My personal site
My deviantArt 

I’m giving away my copy of LEGEND to one lucky winner. All you need to do is be a follower (just click the follow button if you’re not a follower) and leave a comment by midnight on January 21st. I’ll announce the winner on January 23rd. If your e-mail is not on Blogger, please list it in your comment. International entries are welcome.

If you mention this contest on your blog, Twitter, or Facebook, please let me know in the comments and I’ll give you an extra entry.

Here’s what’s coming up the next few weeks. Next Monday I’m interviewing Caroline Starr Rose and giving away an ARC of May B.

Then the next Wednesday, January 18th, we’re having our 2000 FOLLOWER GIVEAWAY. Casey and I are planning it out. It’s going to be awesome! I really hope you’ll all come back for this.

The following week I’ll be interviewing a panel of 7th graders whose teacher had a fabulous blog and who follows here. I can’t wait to hear their answers.

Hope to see you next Monday!


Anonymous said...

Sounds like a great book! Thanks for the interview Marie and Natalie.


Juliana said...

Wow, the books sounds amazing and Marie Lu looks so pretty! lol

I tweeted and posted on facebook.


primrose said...

Wow, great interview you guys! And it must be harrowing for Marie to experience the aftermath of Tiananmen square. Legend has been on my wishlist for some time now and would love to read it.

Tweet: https://twitter.com/#!/Primrose_musing/status/156338042255327232

Dani said...

This is on my to-read list! This book sounds awesome!


A. K. Fotinos-Hoyer said...

I'd love to read Legend too :)


Rachel Stark said...

Love this interview! I keep waiting for this book to come in from the library, but it's taking forever and I'm dying to read it!

My email's rachel[dot]stark[at]hotmail[dot]com

Andrea Mack said...

Thanks for the interesting interview - and the contest! I think Legend was one of the best books I read in 2011 and I'd love to win my own copy.

Natalie Aguirre said...

Thanks Marie for agreeing to an interview. I'm so excited to start 2012 by interviewing you.

And I'm glad everyone is excited about the giveaway.

picyadri said...

This book is on my to-read pile awhile and I can't wait to get started!
Thank you for the interview and the giveaway!
My tweet: https://twitter.com/#!/picyadri/status/156360867590582272

Khanada said...

I'm a little jealous that you got to do this interview, Natalie! ;-) Thanks for bringing it to us.

I read LEGEND (I think in just 2 sittings; I can never get through in 1 anymore!) before Christmas and REALLY enjoyed it. I remember downloading a sample chapter, and the end of the first chapter just blew me away - I was so thoroughly sucked into that world that I almost bought the ebook right then & there! (I still prefer paper, so I did end up waiting a little to get that.) That was the first time in a very long time a first chapter hooked me so intensely.

-- Amy

Rosalyn said...

Great interview! I tweeted and posted the contest on facebook.

S.A. Larsenッ said...

Congrats to all the winners!

The world Marie has created sounds so intriguing. Thanks for doing the interview and for offer up a copy!!

Kim Van Sickler said...

I've been hearing so much about Marie Lu and Legend, so obviously her and her publicist's and publishers efforts are paying off. This book is on my Goodreads to-read list. Can't wait! Thanks for the interview!

Kristin Lenz said...

Such an interesting interview. What a journey for Marie - the different influences that shaped this novel and the many attempts at publishing that came before. Congrats and thanks for sharing!

Marta Szemik said...

Great Interview and sounds like an awesome giveaway next week!

Julia Maranan said...

Great interview! I also cannot wait to read this book, and I tweeted about the giveaway.

julia_maranan AT hotmail.com

Kris @Imaginary Reads said...

Great interview. I loved learning about how Marie Lu got into writing and the world building of Legend!

Tweeted: https://twitter.com/#!/SummersKris/status/156389906959175681


Lydia Kang said...

I already own Legend and I loved it! Thanks Marie for the interview. You're an inspiration. :)

Lori M. Lee said...

Great interview. I always love reading Marie's interviews b/c she has such awesome and insightful things to say :)

As I usually do with books I love, I passed on my copy to my niece so I'd love to win this (if not, I'm going to buy it again lol).

I follow the blog, and I tweeted: https://twitter.com/#!/LoriMLee/status/156396563999096832

Thanks so much!

Jeff Chen said...

Great interview! Please count me in for the drawing!

Llehn said...

Thanks so much for the interview! I'd love to play please.

GFC follower.


out of the wordwork said...

Great interview! I'm definitely getting this book even if I don't win the contest. :)

Carina Olsen said...

Great interview :D I loved Legend. <3 And I would love love love to win a copy of it :D Thank you for the chance. <3
Love, Carina ~ carina-olsen@hotmail.com

Myrna Foster said...

This is the most fascinating interview I've read from you. I especially liked how she modeled her main characters on Javert and Valjean from Les Miserables. I'll have to read this one. Thank you!

Suze said...

I've heard so many great things about Legend, can't wait to read it! Lovely interview.

Laura Pauling said...

I have my own copy and I can't wait to read it. I love hearing about her submission process. So inspiring!

Kelly Polark said...

Excellent interview with Marie. An interesting life, and Legend's story sounds like a page turner!

Also, THANK YOU for Wildefire!! Woot!! :)

jpetroroy said...

I've heard great things about this one.

Shannon O'Donnell said...

Awesome, awesome, and more awesome! Another great interview, Natalie. Legend has been on my wish list for what feels like forever!! I SO hope I win. :-)

Jamie Canosa said...

Awesome interview! Can't wait to read Legend! Thanks for the giveaway

Twitter link:https://twitter.com/#!/YAReadersEscape/status/156449323385761793


Jessie Humphries said...

I devoured this book! And suggested it for my book club. Great interview girls.

Suz said...

Thanks for this amazing giveaway! I am a new follower on GFC as Suz and I would love to win!
- tweeted: https://twitter.com/#!/SuzReads/status/156456393229086720

susanw28 (at) mindspring (dot) com

Ciara said...

What a great sounding book. I'll tweet this.

Barbara Watson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joanne R. Fritz said...

I read this in one sitting, it was so exciting. But I had no idea she'd modeled June and Day after characters from Les Miserables. How fascinating! Terrific interview, Natalie. And Marie, I admire your perseverance. It paid off beautifully.

Natalie, I already have two copies, so please give this one to someone else.

Angela Solano said...

I am excited for your success and look forward to reading your book. Congrats!

Heather said...

Congrats to the winners, and to Marie Lu on her novel Legend. It looks and sounds amazing!

h mccorkle (at) wildblue (dot) net

Sharon K. Mayhew said...

I'll have to tell my daughter about Legends...she is a huge Les Mis fan.

Congratulations to all the winners.

If you can help Candace in any way I know she will appreciate it.

Diane T said...

This book has been on my radar for a while ... interesting interview to see how she developed the story. Thanks!

Angela Brown said...

Legend is on my TBR. I'm excited to give it a read.

Marie and Natalie, the questions and answers here were thought-provoking. Marie's description to publication is certainly one that lots of people should be aware of. Even being agented, publication is not a guarantee. I'm glad it all worked out.

I wish you the best of success, Marie.

Anonymous said...

Want. This. Book. So. Bad.
Hope I win!

C D Meetens said...

"Legend" sounds wonderful, and I'm intrigued by the inspiration of "Les Mis". Valjean and Javert's relationship is certainly an interesting one.

Thanks very much for the giveaway.


Stina said...

My 12 yo loved that the book was partly from a guy's pov. When I told him that it's been made for a movie, he said no [insert swear word] way.

Both of us can't wait for the sequel.

Kiki Hamilton said...

Great interview Natalie and Marie! I've heard so many great things about LEGEND - can't wait to read!

Beth said...

Thanks for the giveaway! I'll be in touch.

Nicole Zoltack said...

Congrats to all the winners!

Awesome interview! I've heard so many great thinks about this book. I have to get my hands on a copy.

Matthew MacNish said...

Wow. I wish I still had as much time to swing through here as I used to, because you guys are clearly still rockin it hard.

Steve MC said...

I first heard about LEGEND a year ago, and here it's made the Top 100 PW List. Very cool. Didn't know about the Les Mis connection, either - definitely got me interested.

And thanks for the help for Candace!

The Writer Librarian said...

Marie Lu is also getting buzz among librarians! I can't wait to read her book. cloudhime@gmail.com

TayteH said...

I find it funny that were both from China. I always thought Marie was from Japan. But China's better! :D
Thanks you! Can't wait to read the book.

Anonymous said...

Great interview, and inspirational for all writers... Heard many good things about Legend...

Mary Preston said...

I loved the interview & thank you for the great giveaway. I am looking forward to reading LEGEND, it looks amazing.


Sophia Chang said...

Oh THIS is an amazing giveaway!! I keep crossing paths with Marie like two ships...


sophiathewriter at gmail

LadyVampire2u said...

This book sounds more and more awesome every time I read a post about it. Hopefully I will have a chance to read it soon.
+1 Tweet: https://twitter.com/#!/LadyVampire2u/status/156663111703732224

LadyVampire2u AT gmail DOT com

Jeanne said...

Great interview - thanks for sharing it! LEGEND has moved from my "I heard about this and want to read it" to my "Need to read ASAP" pile.

Samantha Jean said...

I love hearing about other writer's experiences in getting published. It's discouraging...but encouraging at the same times. Marie Lu, do you think your initial 3/4 stories will ever see publication? Thanks for the giveaway and congrats to all the previous winners. Here's hoping to join your ranks!

K said...

Great interview! I'd love to read the book.

Victoria Dixon said...

Wow! I LOVE Les Mis - my favorite musical and one of my favorite classical reads - so this just became a must read. I've seen it all over the internet, but this is the first time I've seen the concept written out. Thanks for the awesome interview, Marie and Natalie!

Coleen Patrick said...

It sounds great--count me in! I'm a follower and I'm off to tweet this post!
coleen AT coleenpatrick DOT com

Barbara Watson said...

I was signed in to the wrong blogger acct yesterday when I commented, so it led to the wrong link, etc--I deleted that comment and am trying again. Sheesh. Sorry.

Hearing author's to-publication stories is always an amazing thing for someone who is on that road. Thank you, both of you, for this insightful interview. And the book sounds fantastic!

Reading Mind / The Loyal Book said...

First of all, congrats to all winners (and I got a book, too!).
Then, I was really looking forward this interview. I like the whole idea of Legend, and the author's story is absolutely great!I used to read books in English to teach myself the language so I totally get how she started writing!

aliasgirl at libero dot it

Unknown said...

I keep hearing about this book and each time I am more intrigued. Great to hear from the author.

cathe @ simplynaturalbooks.com

lauralascarso said...

LEGEND was fantastic. And that jacket Marie is wearing in the photo is pretty sic too!

Kemendraugh said...

I'm so excited to read this book! Thanks for this giveaway opportunity, and the great interview!

Casey McCormick said...

Really fantastic interview, Natalie and Marie. I loved reading about Marie's influences and LEDGEND'S backstory. I really loved this book and can't wait for book two and the movie! Congrats on all your success, Marie. I'm so happy you persevered.

Anonymous said...

Wow...now I want to read this one even more! Thanks for the interview and giveaway!

heather said...

I can't wait to get the book. Thanks for a great interview.

IdentitySeeker said...

Wow! It's amazing how your experience of Tiananmen Square influenced the events in this book. I think writing was an excellent idea to practice your English. Congratulations on the book being made into a movie. I can't wait to view it on the big screen!

+1 Tweeted: https://twitter.com/#!/SweetNSensible/status/156976070246146050

Happy New Year! Best wishes for 2012 to you, Marie, as well as Natalie and Casey!:)



Natasha Areena said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Natasha Areena said...

If my boyfriend said to me, “Why don’t you make the detective a girl?” , I would say " WHY! No, I'm afraid that you would have a major crush on her!" :( Kidding! I'm just kidding Hahah :D


Ruth Schiffmann said...

Great giveaway! I'm in =)

ruthschiffmann (at) hotmail [dot] com

Natalie said...

I'm glad you enjoyed your break, Natalie! Sometimes I think we all need a few days away from the Internet every now and then, though I'm always ready to come back!

This makes me so excited to read Legend! Marie's story with querying and rejection is an inspiring one...definitely one to consider for aspiring writers!

Bonni Goldberg said...

It's fantastic when successful writers are so honest about what it took to get published; in this case multiple novels.
I look forward to reading and seeing Legend.

For the giveaway geobonni(at)aol[dot]com

Christina Farley said...

What an interesting interview! I enjoyed hearing how LEGEND came to be. What a story. I can't wait to read the book.

Christina Lee said...

Oh how awesome-- I am so excited to read this book! Heard great things and WOW, what an interview (and life experience)!

gael lynch said...

Thanks for the interview! Best of luck with all your work, Marie. I'd love to throw my hat into the mix. Tweeted this for sure! Always happy to spread the word!

A'lina said...

Great interview! Really enjoyed knowing more about Marie and Legend and some of her experiences. I can't wait to read Legend, it sounds awesome! Thanks for the interview and giveaway!

Jen R. said...

I'm so excited to read this one! Seriously sounds amazing! :D

I tweeted! https://twitter.com/#!/NightBookThief/status/158095728634368000

jayjay said...

Thanks for this awesome chance of winning this amazing book! I really love the interviewer :)

GFC: Jayjay

fallendream03 AT gmail DOT com




Anonymous said...

I look forward to reading the book. With Marie Lu's cross cultural perspective, her take on interpersonal relationships and the possible future of our nation will be enlightening.

Veronika said...

I'm dying to read this book =) Amazing interview, thank you!
Following on GFC:Veronika
and also suscribed via email :D

verusbognar (at) gmail (dot) com

Melanie McCullough said...

Thanks for the giveaway! Legend sounds incredible.
GFC follower Melanie McCullough
Melanie.M.McCullough @ gmail.com

Lea Christine said...

Yay! Thanks so much for the awesome giveaway, I am definitely looking forward to reading this one :)

GFC Follower

Lea @ LC's Adventures in Libraryland
lcrowe555 (at) gmail (dot) com

SStokes said...

Sounds like a great book - I've added it to my to read list. Thanks for the great interview!

Anonymous said...

I adored Legend (June knows how to be a bad-ass heroine) and would adore a copy. Thanks for the giveaway!

justinexorable (at) gmail (dot) com

Unknown said...

Marie Lu looks like such a nice person! I've heard so many good things about this book! :) thank you for the chance.

I'm an old gfc follower.

kah_cherub at hotmail dot com

Anonymous said...

Wow how awesome this book is being made into a film. I sadly haven't read Legend yet( I know I'm slacking lol) but I already know I will love it so the film part is just so cool. I'm also very excited that there are three books in this series. I love reading but hate when there done so the more the merrier lol. I so want to read this book and thank you for the interview I like how Day and June came to be, especially since June is a girl and I heard she can kick butt. I love girl power lol.
I tweeted the giveaway: https://mobile.twitter.com/a_cattie/status/160033791652544516


Unknown said...

What a fun giveaway! And thanks so much for the chance of winning a copy of Legend. I've been dying to read it in so long.

sauvadeavelle @ yahoo dot com

Unknown said...

What a fun giveaway! And thanks so much for the chance of winning a copy of Legend. I've been dying to read it in so long.

sauvadeavelle @ yahoo dot com

Unknown said...

Thank you for making it international!! :)
twitter: https://twitter.com/Jujnovic/status/290938583592886272