For a fantastic interview I did with Marissa when her first book, STORYBOUND, was released, go HERE.
Here’s a description from Goodreads:
During his reign, Heroes, Villains, and characters of all kinds lived out new Tales filled with daring quests and epic struggles.
Then the King disappeared, and over the years, nearly everyone forgot that he had ever existed. Now an evil Enemy has emerged, determined to write a new future for Story that he will control. And an ordinary girl named Una Fairchild is inextricably tangled up in his deadly plan.
Una and her friends Peter and Indy are desperate to find a way to defeat the Enemy. But Una soon discovers that the real key may lie in her own mysterious ties to Story's past--and to the long-forgotten King, who could be Story's only hope for survival.
Hi Marissa. Thanks so much for joining us.
1. For those of us who haven’t read STORYBOUND, tell us a bit about it.
STORYBOUND introduces us to Una Fairchild, a shy misfit, who finds herself magically transported to the Land of Story where kids go to school to learn to be characters in Tales. But all in Story is not as happily-ever-after as it first appears. Along with her new friend Peter, a Hero-in-training, and a talking cat named Sam, Una sets out to find the true Backstory of the realm and discover who has written her in and why.
2. One of the things I was curious about in reading STORY’S END was the whole mythology of the creation of the world of Story. Did you draw on any myths or was this all from your imagination?
I first discovered the ancient Greek and Roman myths in 7th grade and promptly went on a library binge devouring all that I could find. Given that, I don’t doubt that mythology has influence my imagination! As far as I know, though, I wasn’t drawing on any specific myths for the origins of Story. But I did specifically choose a phoenix, griffin, and dragon, because these creatures feature in my three sons’ middle names.
3. Fun how you chose your animals. And you did some fantastic world building without research. How much of the plot of STORY’S END did you know while writing STORY’S END? What do you wish you’d done differently in planning the story, if at all?
Great question! Initially, the Story books were pitched as a trilogy, so I had written STORYBOUND and a very vague outline for the second and third, which eventually meshed into STORY’S END. When I was writing STORY’S END, I often re-read parts of STORYBOUND to make sure things were connecting and I was picking up dangling threads. Looking back, I wish I would have had a more detailed outline from the get-go, so that there wouldn’t have been the endless revising and reworking to make things fit! STORYBOUND is my first novel; I definitely learned so much throughout the process!
4. I don’t outline so it’s good to know that it can be done without outlining. But good advice to have the story more set when you’re writing book 1. I enjoyed in STORY’S END that you wrote from Una’s and Snow’s points of view and that they both had mother issues. And you also wrote from Peter’s point of view. Was it challenging writing from multiple points of views and do you have any advice for those of us wanting to write from multiple points of view?
I’ve always loved reading books in multiple POVs! I think I probably first stumbled across them when I
5. I’d never heard of organizing the POV switches before you start writing, but that’s a great tip. Because your main characters aren’t together, at least for parts of the story, there are a lot of parallel actions and plots going on. And it is a very fast paced plot. Share any tips on how to plot out a story like this so well.
I wish I had some smart tips for this, but, alas! I ended up reworking a lot of things over and over to make the plotlines fit. One thing I’ve found helpful comes after I have a fairly solid outline. Then I get a big piece of poster-board and a stack of colored sticky notes. I use a different color for each character and write out the basic plot points – what they are going to see, hear, and do – and what time of day it is. Doing this helps me see if POVs are spaced out well and if events are happening sequentially, and each post-it note eventually becomes a chapter in the finished book.
6. I love the idea of different color sticky notes for each character. What was your year as a debut author like and was there anything about it that surprised you?
My debut author year was a wonderful experience! Because of the long periods of waiting in publishing, there is a lot of pent-up excitement leading up to release day! I was surprised at the stress that came along with that and definitely had to make space to decompress and focus on other things besides the long debut author to-do list. One of the best components for me was connecting with The Apocalypsies, a group of MG/YA debut authors. Not only did we collaborate on marketing opportunities, but we offered each other a great support group. Writing can be a solitary activity, so finding writers going through a similar experience was very encouraging.
7. Yes, I’ve heard it’s a great idea to join a group like The Apocalyspsies. What ways did you find worked the best in marketing your first book and creating your writer’s platform? Are you marketing this book any differently? Why?
I found the most helpful thing was to maximize my efforts by teaming up with others. Coordinating with local authors for group signings, jumping in on Apocalypsies blog-hop contests, and group-blogging at Project Mayhem expanded the reach of what I was doing as an individual author. The difficult thing with marketing is you hear so many ideas about how to get your book in front of readers, and it can be easy to get overwhelmed feeling that there is so much to do. I’ve heard it said that something worth doing is worth doing poorly, but I don’t think this holds true to online marketing activity. I quickly learned that it was better to focus in on the things that were gaining traction and let the rest go.
8. So true you can’t do it all. And doing marketing with other debut authors sounds like a great idea. You posted a blog post recently about how you’ve cut off the Internet at your house and are going offline more. Share what that experience has been like and how you’re doing it with the demands of promoting your book through online social media avenues.
On the whole, unplugging has been an incredibly good thing for me. When the option to multitask is available, I find it difficult to focus in on a single thing. This used to look like me hopping from facebook to twitter to emails to my blog-reader and back to my open word document, all while trying to get dinner on the table and mediate toddler tantrums. My anxiety level goes up just typing that!
Having no internet at home has required me to be fully present in individual activities, something that has eliminated a lot of personal internal chaos and helped me to prioritize what I’m doing professionally. I jot down things I need to take care of online as they come to me, and when I make the trek to the nearest public wifi hotspot, I work my way through the list. In that sense, unplugging has helped me choose what I really want to do online (and in other areas of my life) instead of accidentally doing a million things poorly.
I find that little has changed with my online promotion. Email, Facebook, and Twitter all have settings that enable me to filter information and so prioritize what I’m doing. I love the gmail offline feature, which allows me to read and respond to emails at home and then sync up when I’m near wifi. Since I still try and go online once every 24 hours or so on weekdays, I’m usually able to respond to things in a timely, though not instantaneous, manner. There have been a few hiccups along the way, but it’s been well worth it.
9. Glad you found it hasn’t impacted on your online presence. I doubt I could be so brave to cut off Internet at my house. What are you working on now?
I’m working on a new project, tentatively titled THERE WAS A CROOKED MAN, due out from HarperCollins Children’s in early 2015. It tells the story of eleven-year-old Wren Matthews, who has always known she’s weird. Unschooled, happily solitary, and obsessed with astronomy, the only place Wren fits in is the regional homeschool conference. When a mysterious visitor appears and invites Wren and her long-time science-rival Simon Barker to join the ancient guild of magicians known as the Fiddlers, things get a whole lot weirder. As apprentice Fiddlers, Wren and Simon have a lot to learn, but their ordinary alchemy lessons are soon overshadowed by tainted legends of Mother Goose, battling alchemists, and dreams of the dangerous otherworld, the Land of Nod.
Ooh, that sounds great. Thanks for sharing all your advice, Marissa. You can find Marissa at
Marissa and her publisher, Harper Collins, has generously offered a signed book for a giveaway. To enter, 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 July 6th. I’ll announce the winner on July 8th.
If you mention this contest on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog, mention this in the comments and I'll give you an extra entry. You must be 13 or older to enter. International entries are welcome.
Here’s what’s coming up:
On Monday, I’ll be interviewing Elana Johnson about her new book, ABANDON, the final book in her series. Elana totally blew me away by telling this story from Jag’s and Zenn’s point of view. I can’t believe I love it as much as SURRENDER, the second book in the series, which is one of the best sequels I’ve read. Elana is going to share her reflections on her first three years as a published author. And her publisher, Simon Pulse, has donated a copy of POSSESSION, SURRENDER, and ABANDON for a giveaway.
Next Tuesday, I have a Tuesday tip from Rosanne Perry and giveaway of her new book, WRITTEN IN STONE, a story about the Native American tribes in the Pacific Northwest in the 1920’s. She’ll be sharing tips on how to write a multicultural story.
Then I’m on a vacation and blog break until July 8th. I’m excited to go to my nephew’s wedding. I’ve known him since he was a baby. I’ll be blogging a little bit less over the summer. I know it gets quieter in the blog world during the summer as people spend more time with their families and go on vacations. I’m looking forward to slowing down a bit too and hopefully writing more.
But I have a lot of good things planned for the summer, starting with an interview on July 8th with debut author Melanie Crowder and ARC giveaway of PARCHED, a middle grade apocalyptic novel about a world with hardly any water with a touch of magical realism. I found the whole idea of such a world fascinating.
And don't forget our Tuesday Tips and Casey's Thursday agent spotlights.
Hope to see you on Monday!