Upcoming Agent Spotlight Interviews & Guest Posts

  • Rebecca Williamson Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 7/8/2024
  • Sheila Fernley Agent Spotlight Interview, Critique Giveaway, and One-Hour Zoom Call on 7/29/2024
  • Erica McGrath Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 8/12/2024

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.


Today I’m excited to interview Marissa Burt about her new book, STORY’S END, which was released April 2, 2013. One of the things I really enjoyed about this series is that it is a totally different take on fairy tales and Marissa takes us into the world of Story where the fairytale characters live. It’s such a creative idea. And the plot moves quickly and escalates with more and more problems for Una, Peter, Indy, and Snow, the main characters.

For a fantastic interview I did with Marissa when her first book, STORYBOUND, was released, go HERE.

Here’s a description from Goodreads:

Long ago, a King ruled the land of Story. . . .

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
discovered Terry Brooks’ fantasies in middle school, and I loved how switching perspectives propelled the plot and suspense forward. Writing-wise, I found it necessary to organize POV switches during the planning stage. This helped me combine plot events with character switches and enabled me to switch things around if needed. For example, originally, Peter stumbled across the leprechauns, but, in the end, it worked so much better to have Snow and her mother in the Enchanted Swamp. Similarly, when I was first drafting STORY’S END, I had thought to include some chapters from Indy’s POV. That became too complicated, and I sadly let many of Indy’s chapters go, but the end result was much better. I think flexibility and persistence is key.

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!


Beth said...

This book sounds absolutely charming!
And Natalie, it sounds like you have some great summer plans. How wonderful that you're going to your nephew's wedding.

Stina said...

I love the premise for the books!

Scrivener is great for color coding your scenes according to the character's pov. It makes things easier to do it this way when dealing with multiple characters. Great suggestion, Marissa.

Kim Van Sickler said...

I just love fairy tale retellings! And I was interested to read about Marissa's strategy of tracking her characters on poster board with colored sticky notes to make sure their POVs gell. That's an idea I think I'll try after the rough draft of my WIP to make sure it's told equally through three different POVs.

Have a wonderful summer Natalie! Enjoy the big family wedding!

Mel@Thedailyprophecy said...

There was a crooked man already sounds like a great story! I'm a huge fan of fairy tales, so this book sounds great. Thanks for sharing the interview!

Donna K. Weaver said...

I was caught as soon as I read "Story". Fun idea. Love the cover.

I've used post-its but usually only the color to differentiate scene. I like the idea of doing it by character. Thanks for the tip.

Unknown said...

Both books sound delightful! I also like to read/write books with a number of POV characters. I've almost always written in 3rd, but I'm going to be brave and try 1st in my new WIP. (Wish me luck!) I hope Marissa has great success with her books! :-)

Martina Boone said...

Thanks for another fabulous interview, Natalie. Both books sound wonderful--I'm a myth and folktale fanatic. And the whole plot board idea is so intriguing. I do all this on computer, but I'm thinking I need to find some wall space -- it would be great to see it all visually like that!

Nathalie T said...

It was interesting to hear about the sticky notes. I love them and use them for everything and wouldn't be able to pass a single exam without them. The book sounds interesting since I enjoy retelling. I use the name Nat to follow your blog.

Dianne K. Salerni said...

Hello Marissa, from a fellow Project Mayhem-er! (waves!)

Thanks for the interview, Natalie. I am forwarding this on to my daughter, because this sounds a lot like something she might like!

Vivien said...

I haven't had a chance to read the first book yet but everyone I know that has really enjoyed it! I really do love re-tellings. They can add a whole new perspective to a tale that you've learned inside and out!
GFC: Vivien

deadtossedwaves at gmail dot com

Dianne K. Salerni said...

I had to come back and say: SOLD! Storybound is heading to my daughter's Kindle through the airwaves as I type this!

Crystal Collier said...

Cool beans. This sounds like a series my middle graders would devour.

Stephanie Garber said...

Great interview, thanks for sharing Marissa. I hadn't heard of Storybound, or Story's End, but it sounds like a great series!

nutschell said...

lovely interview! Nice to get to know more about Marissa and how she came up with her story idea. Never heard of Storybound til now but the book cover alone is enough to get me intrigued!

Carina Olsen said...

Thank you for the AMAZING interview. <3 I love it! Loved the first book so much, and I cannot wait to read the sequel :D Really hoping to get to do it soon. <3 Thank you both for sharing and for the awesome giveaway :)

Eisen said...

Thanks for such a great interview! I like her way of using different colored sticky notes for each character. Good idea :) I also tweeted about the giveaway:

jpetroroy said...

I loved her first book--and going Internet-less is such a great idea.

Jpetroroy at gmail dot com

Brenda said...

I so enjoyed Storybound. I love the idea of color sticky notes representing the characters and the many suggestions. I also tweeted https://mobile.twitter.com/LogCabinLibrary/status/344977840728576000 Thanks for another wonderful interview.

Christina Lee said...

Timely for me because I just had to arrange POV for my current book--can be tricky! Great advice and interview!

Patchi said...

I love the twist on fairytale characters. I need to put Storybound on my wish list.

And thanks for the great POV tips, Marissa!

Nicole said...

It's going on the TBR list for me! Looks like my kind of adventure.

Rachna Chhabria said...

This book sounds amazing. I am putting it in my TBR pile.

Anonymous said...

That cover is absolutely stunning and it sounds like an amazing read.

PK HREZO said...

Love the sound of There Was a Crooked Man!
And it's so gratifying sharing the pub experience with other writers! :)

Lynda R Young as Elle Cardy said...

Sounds like a wonderful story and I LOVE that cover!

Jocelyn Rish said...

Wow, I can't imagine cutting off the internet at my house. I'd end up curled up in a ball with the shakes - probably the very reason I SHOULD go on an internet break. Thanks for another great interview!

Cass said...

I love the Story Bound books! I am also a major fan of Ms. Marissa. She's been a huge help and a huge inspiration to me. Thank you guys for interviewing her! It's awesome!
I also tweeted about it and spoke of it on Facebook! I can't really put the links up here, because both of my accounts are set to private!

Nas said...

Hi Casey, Natalie and Marissa, fairy tales are ever popular and modern takes on them make interesting reading in any age.

I was also bewitched by mythology at a young age.

Cherie Reich said...

Congrats, Marissa! Your books sound awesome!

bfav said...

You know this is why I love book blogging. These books sound amazing.

Kiera Paul said...

Marissa how creative! I love the conecpt of these books. Thank you for the interview and the giveaway :-) I too storyboard my WIPs with color coding - got keep everything straight right?

Anonymous said...

I have StoryBound waiting on me. I can't wait to add this one too.
Thank you for the interview.


HeatherCRaglin said...

Storybound and Story's End have been added to my TBR list. They sound amazing. And the crooked man story sounds fascinating too. Great ideas.

Julia said...

This book sounds so interesting and different!