Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Interview With RITA finalist Melissa Marr

BIO: Prior to writing, Melissa taught college lit. After a decade of teaching, she applied her fascination with folklore to writing. Wicked Lovely, the first novel, was simultaneously released in the US and UK by HarperCollins in 2007 (with translation rights also sold in seven countries). It debuted as a NY Times Bestseller. Critical responses both here and abroad have been positive. Ink Exchange, the second novel, released in Summer 2008 to similar responses. Currently, Melissa lives in the DC area with her family and writes full time.

KP: How did you get the inspiration for your Rita-nominated book?
MM: I keep thinking I'll get better at this question, but I still don't quite know how to answer. I knew there was this girl who had to deal with the King of Summer & the Queen of Winter. I knew her name (Aislinn). In the original version (a short story), he loved her, and she was having to choose between love and duty. She could be with him as one of his summer girls, or she could be the next Queen of Winter and only have two days a year with him. It evolved over time, but those ideas were the core ideas that led to the novel.

KP: What authors do you read?
MM: In which genre? :) I read everything but inspirational fiction, erotica, or self-help texts. In romance, I like Lynn Kurland, Eloisa James, Sherilyn Kenyon, Nora Roberts (and JD Robb) . . . I don't do genre divisions or sub-genre divisions. I like historical, paranormal, contemporary, sexy, sweet in my romance. I like classic lit (that's what I taught before I wrote). I like Young Adult, Middle-Grade, picturebooks . . . fantasy, mystery, women's studies, folklore, military history, literary theory, philosophy, poetry. I like books.

KP: Favorite character:

MM: Chaucer's Wife of Bath, Milton's Satan, Faulkner's Temple Drake. . . There are too many.

KP: 5 things always in your purse:

MM: ID, money, cell phone, pen, lip gloss

One item of makeup you can't live without:

MM: Nail polish
KP: Music currently listening to:

MM: Right this minute, I'm listening to a mix of Damien Rice, Paolo Nutini, and Poe.

KP: Tell us about your pets:

MM: Junior (lab/rott) is my oldest; he's 12 now. Jezebel (tabby) is 5. Bronwyn (turtle) is 3. Drusilla (rottweiler) turns one in August. Junior moved from the bed a couple years ago, so Jez sleeps with us now. Jez & Junior stay in the office while I work. Dru assures that I take plenty of breaks to play.
KP: First thing you drink in the morning:

MM: Water. Then tea, typically Irish Breakfast Tea, Assam, or Ceylon.

KP: Best/worst prom/high school memory:

MM: I'm lousy at worst/best/favourite questions. One of my top picks would be art class when we sat outside to sketch trees. . . or maybe being picked up by friends and tearing out of the lot too fast with the music too loud. The worst actually AT school was being told I wasn't entered into consideration for a scholarship (despite having straight As) because "girls like [me] don't amount to anything" and that it was better for the scholarship to go to someone who'd do something with their life. It was pretty heart-breaking.

KP: If you could go back in time and talk to the teenage you, what would you tell her?

MM: Not a single thing. Even with the unpleasant parts I experiences, I think who I am now results from the journey it took to get here. I don't regret a moment, wouldn't tamper with anything. We are who we are bc of where we were and the choices we made. I like who
I am today.

KP: What are you working on next?

MM: I'm contracted for 3 more YA novels and an adult anthology (with Kim Harrison, Jeaniene Frost, Vicki Pettersson, & Jocelyn Drake) so depending on the day and the way the words are flowing I'm working on one of those. I don't usually work on just one project at a time.


  1. Fantastic interview, Melissa. Thanks for being here.

    was being told I wasn't entered into consideration for a scholarship (despite having straight As) because "girls like [me] don't amount to anything" and that it was better for the scholarship to go to someone who'd do something with their life.

    reading this broke my heart. Especially realizing this awful tripe was uttered by a person of authority. It makes me sick to my stomach.

    Looks like you got the last laugh though...congrats on such an amazing series.

  2. Great interview. And Mel's right...that is absolutely horrible to be told that. You definitely proved them wrong.

  3. OMG, I'm totally with Mel and Amanda. That anyone would tell a kid that, that they would even think that, burns me royally.

    Okay, enough burning... Not to gush or anything, but my daughter loves loves loves your books. She was reminding me she wanted Ink Exchange for months (and she got her wish). Thanks for being one of her favorite authors.

    And as an aside, how wonderful are lab/rott mixes? I had one and she was the best dog. (We called her a Rott-n-Lab, but she was great.)

    Thanks for the interview. Now I'm going to have to go wrestle your books away from the kid and read them myself. ;o)

  4. I have to agree, this was a fantastic interview. It's always so interesting to get a glimpse into the author's mind, find out what motivates them to write, not just in general, but a particular book, as well. I also read whatever looks good, despite the genre or age distinction. So what if it's labeled YA? A good story is a good story no matter who it's aimed at. As a matter of fact, I have Wicked Lovely near the top of my tbr list - along with several other YA books.

  5. Thanks for visiting, Melissa. Good on you for not believing them.

  6. Interesting interview...and I applaud you not wanting to change a thing about your teen years!

  7. I agree, it's a great interview. What I want to know is why Melissa isn't a member of the WRW (Washington Romance Writers) if she lives in the DC area -- we've got a few YA authors and would love to have you join!

    Also, I borrowed Wicked Lovely from a friend and LOVED it -- and behind my back, my daughter (12) picked it up and read it twice through, back to back. We're buying the next one, I'm sure it'll be a keeper!

  8. Wicked Lovely totally blew me away. Totally.

    Love the interview, and I agree with the others about the yazoo who told you weren't good enough for the scholarship.

    Mel's right, you got the last laugh indeed!!!

    Looking forward to saying hello to you sometime at the conference....

  9. Merry...I was thinking the same thing. Please come join us, Melissa!!!! WRW is awesome.

  10. I loved Wicked Lovely. Great interview, ladies!!

  11. Yay! Melissa Marr rocks the house!!

  12. Great interview.

    I keep repeating the phrase "wouldn't amount to anything" in my head.

    I think it is important to remember that you "amounted to something" long before Wicked Lovely.

    I may be one of the few people who truly believes this but "amounting to something" has nothing to do with the amount you make.

  13. Your scholarship story is a great bit to repeat to teens who find they don't necessarily conform to the adults around them, but are still wonderful and creative. I encountered so many like the younger you when I taught high school, and their impressions on me lasted well beyond their years in my classes.

  14. Shannon Caster1:01 PM

    Loved the interview. It's great to hear other writers share about their journey. Congrats on both books, Melissa. I can't wait to see the other three.

  15. The worst actually AT school was being told I wasn't entered into consideration for a scholarship (despite having straight As) because "girls like [me] don't amount to anything" and that it was better for the scholarship to go to someone who'd do something with their life. It was pretty heart-breaking.

    That struck me just like it did most of the others. That's a terrible thing to tell someone and a to even do in the first place.

    Congrats on your success!

  16. A wonderful interview. And congratulations, Melissa, for proving them wrong.


  17. Great interview! I had the pleasure of meeting Melissa twice at her book signings in Northern VA, and she is so sweet and fun to listen to. I loved her two books, and can't wait to read more!

  18. I interviewed Melissa once and she is so down-to-earth and real. I love the 5 things you keep in your purse question!

  19. great interview...and i hear you on the nail polish...

  20. Great interview! I agree with the others, no one should EVER be told that! You've definitely made them eat their words:)

  21. Oh my god! You know Poe! I didn't think anyone but my brother and me knew them.

    ahem. Great interview. I think it sucks that they said you would never amount to anything - it is such a horrible thing to say to anyone.

  22. Great interview, Melissa. I'm so sorry you had that experience. How awful--yes, indeed.

    Totally agree on the nail polish and lip gloss. ;)

  23. Debbie3:48 PM

    I agree with everyone about the "won't amount to anything" comment. What a cruel thing to say. I'm glad you didn't let it stop you.

  24. Congratulations on your success, and thanks for doing the interview!

  25. Kim Harrison? Duuude, score!

    Awesome interview. My TBR list is getting gigantic!

  26. Awesome interview.
    You have a turtle! That's so cool.

  27. Great interview - thanks! :)

  28. Melissa~

    I cannot believe that they actually told you they did not enter you because there were more deserving pepole for the scholarship.

    I, also, believe that our experiences help to form the people we are today...so, if you changed something you could be a completely different person.

    Your upcoming projects sound great and you are paired up with quite a great group for your adult anothology.

    I am looking forward to reading Wicked Lovely and Ink Exchange. Great interview!!

  29. I love author interviews! Fab!

  30. Nice interview. I agree with you that we are who we're supposed to be. If we changed who we were back then, we'd be different people now. I'm so glad you like who you've become. Sounds like you deserve it. Best of luck with the RITA's.

  31. "Chaucer's Wife of Bath, Milton's Satan, Faulkner's Temple Drake. . . "

    No... there is no way I can tell that you taught college lit... :D

  32. Great Interview... inspiring!! Good thing you didn't listen to whoever told you that! Congratulations on your success!!!

  33. Awesome interview! So jealous not to be at RWA but I appreciate you bringing a piece of it to us at home!

  34. Great interview! I'm with you on the wife of bath and temple drake! quite memorable.

  35. Hi Melissa. Great interview. Wicked Lovely sounds wonderful.

  36. Sorry to be so slow in saying thanks . . . I went from the first con-within-a-con for my paranormal/UF community (Fangs, Fur, & Fey) at a SFF convention to a couple days of events with Kelley Armstrong here in San Francisco to the start of RWA . . . so being online has been rare.

    Kristen & co were sweet enough to say hello last evening & let me know the interview was live, so I wanted to stop by and say thank for all the lovely responses here--esp the kind notes on WL & the replies re: the high school thing.

    MM, you are totally right abt what it means to "amount to something." I pursued my own path--to college, to teaching, to motherhood, to happiness & THAT's what it's all abt, imho. Happiness=success It's really that simple.

    Deanna, I DO tell my readers that bc I think it's good to remind them that it's what we choose to do with our lives that matters. I made choices that let me be a teacher and (more importantly to me) a mother--which is really the coolest thing I've ever done. But whatever choices we make, I think it's good to remind our sons & daughters (or nieces/nephews or students or whatever) that we have choices.

    b.e., I totally hear you on the lab/rott. He's was my first "baby" :) My full-bred rott is a sweetie, too. There's lots of wonderful animals out there, but I'm pretty much a hardcore rott devotee. They're such adoring, protective, playful-- . . . umm, I should stop before my kitty gets jealous ;)

    Merry & Amanda, please do email me. I'm lousy at actually attending anything faithfully, but I would love to meet my local chapter.

    Thanks to everyone for the sweet replies to the interview, and thx to the Fictionistas for chatting with me :)

  37. Wicked Lovely sounds like a great book!

  38. Congratulations on your win!!

  39. Congrats on your win!

  40. Anonymous5:50 AM

    "I don't work usually work on just one project at a time."

    Oh, wow. I'm so happy to hear that. I have two projects that I love both begging to be written. I've been ignoring one for the past three months and concentrating on only the other because I feel that, if I want to ever be a professional writer, I need to get serious (not that I'm not serious) about one thing and ignore all the other ideas spinning around in my head. Big sigh of relief over here to hear that it doesn't have to be that way. I can go back and forth as long as I make progress (and make my Aug 31 self-imposed deadline on at least one of the WIPs).

    Thanks Melissa!