I love Melissa Marr. I love her imagination and her writing style. I’ve had the opportunity to hear her speak on a couple of panels at conferences and meet her in person during autographing sessions. She is amazing!
I am so excited to be the host of Day 7 of the HarperTeen 28 Days of Winter Escapes. It is my pleasure to share with you an exclusive Q & A with Melissa Marr. After reading what Melissa has to say, be sure to go to the website and answer the poll question to be entered to win the book-of-the-day. In addition to giving away a book everyday, HarperTeen is also giving away 1 iPod Touch every week! Answer the poll everyday because you never know what day they’ll choose to give away the iPod Touch.
Now on to the interview:
1. Which of the relationships between your characters surprised you the most?
Oddly perhaps, most of the unexpected ones aren’t in the text. They show up as I write (and then they end up on the cutting room floor). They are real to me, though. Sorcha and Irial have history; Siobhan and Niall were friends, maybe more, in the past; Irial and Miach (Keenan’s father) were friends. I never intended to backstitch the world, but as I wrote forward, it became apparent that creatures with centuries of living would have pasts, too. Not all of their pasts are relevant to the texts, but as I write, those pasts become clearer to me. I enjoy that aspect of it: there’s something unexpected about building a world to the point that all of these things that only exist for me are there. It’s not work; it’s not to throw in plot points; and I have no intention of writing novels set in the past. It’s merely the world becoming very real to me. I like that part a lot.
2. Niall and Leslie are my faves—are they coming back?
Niall, of course, is in Fragile Eternity, and he will be in Radiant Shadows, too. However, Leslie won’t be a featured POV in the rest of the Wicked Lovely novels. She made her choices at the end of Ink Exchange, and those choices necessitate the role she has in the novel is one of absence. It’s odd to me sometimes when people ask about her because in my head, I know where she is, how she is, and what’s happening in her life. Readers ask about her often enough at events and in email that I thought I’d share that info with you all, so I wrote a short story (“Stopping Time”). It will go live in March, and it will be in the back of theFragile Eternity paperback as well.
3. What gave you the idea for Gabriel’s car?
That one is probably my father’s fault. When I was a little girl, my father and I went to a few car shows. He loves a beautiful fast car (and in high school he used to drag race), so I grew up appreciating sweet cars and motorcycles. I don’t have the under-the-hood knowledge of cars, but I’m a big fan of speed and manual transmissions. (I am in lust with a number of utterly impractical cars, and one very weak moment, I dated a man simply to get permission to drive his car.)
The Wild Hunt, in traditional lore, rode horses. As much as I appreciate animals, the images of a herd of horses racing through streets these days seemed . . . problematic. However, if those horses were able to represent themselves as sleek machines with growling engines, well, we have an updated version of the same essential lore element.
4. What book would you read on a winter’s day?
I’m not a winter fan. I hate being cold. No, it’s not that I dislike it. I hate it, so being curled up with a book, a blanket, some tea, and a roaring fire is pretty much a state of being as often as possible during Those Months. *shudder* Of course, what that means is that I need a stack of books. Odds are that there will be some folklore, some romance, a bit of mainstream fiction, and some lit in the stack. At no point, however, do I pick books because of the season. I’m a whim person. I keep at least a good 30 or 40 books on my “to be read shelves” (which are actual shelves in my office). I gather a half dozen or so each time I feel the urge to read, and then I go nestle in to enjoy them.
5. Do you really believe in happily ever after?
Without even a second of hesitation, I can say that I do. I don’t think happily ever after can be a blanket definition. My HEA isn’t likely to match the next person’s HEA, but they are both valid. For me, that HEA means . . . well, the life I have right this moment. It’s just after midnight as I’m answering this. My two children are sleeping in their rooms (across from my office), and my spouse is sleeping in our room. Two of our dogs are in there with him. The cat is sleeping in my window. Yesterday I came home from almost a week with my parents and my niece. While there, I saw several of my closest friends. The weekend before, I saw my dearest friend. When I finish answering these questions, I will write for a few hours. I haven’t had surgery in a full decade. Honestly? Family, health, a career I love? That’s my HEA. It could vanish, and there were other times in my life when it was very much the opposite: when I was working in rough places, when I had nowhere to sleep because I’d left an abusive partner and had no money to pay rent, and years where I was in and out of surgery. It was easy to believe things wouldn’t get better. I stood in a window as Leslie does in Ink Exchange, and I’ve done exceedingly stupid things. I made choices, though (not always bright ones, of course, but a few that led to the present life I’m in). Every day it’s a choice to pursue the HEA we seek or give up. If I didn’t believe HEAs were possible, I wouldn’t be here in this moment.
6. What kind of people do you love?
Passionate ones : ) Whether it’s falling in love or being in love (which are two different things, IMHO), passion is the lure for me. Kerouac said it best, “The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time . . .” (On the Road). I’ve had falling-in-love-for-now adventures with bikers, IT guys, musicians, a physicist, bartenders, a botanist, a tattooist, and a couple of bodybuilders. I’ve loved a carpenter, a marine, and a reproductive rights activist. In every case, it was that spark, that wow over the passion that they had inside that did it for me. I don’t have a physical “type,” religious type, gender, political party, anything that unifies my in-loves and loves except for passion.
7. Do you write romance based mostly on your own experiences or what you wish happened, or is it unconnected to your own life?
I’ll go with not consciously connected. I have exactly zero regrets in my romantic life. I’ve had a very full range of experiences, so I have no desire to rescript the past. Do my experiences influence the text? I suspect they have to. I’ve known what it feels like to love someone enough that it felt like being apart was a physical pain, yet still have to admit that sometimes love really isn’t enough. I’ve loved two people who made me a better person, who enriched my life in the past and in the moment when I am answering this. Experiences surely mix into the “what we know” and thereby into the books. Do I consciously call on it? Do my characters resemble my loves? Nope, never on purpose. Accidentally? Sure. Tavish’s tattoo, Seth’s species of snake, Niall’s attitude on being a survivor, and Irial’s stance on setting love free are all echoed in people I’ve cared for. Of course, most of those character’s traits are not shared with my exes.
8. What qualities make a place or setting “romantic”?
For me, it’s all about the person I’m with. The best are about a person who can make a moment freeze, not the place where it happened. A man reciting poetry in the graveyard, a night of microwave meals and talking till dawn, swing dancing at a concert, a mud fight at a particularly splooshy riverbank—the places are memorable because of what happened, not the other way around.
9. Have you ever crushed on fictional characters?
Definitely. Raistlin Majere (in Dragonlance), Eustacia and Wildeve (in Hardy’s Return of the Native), Lucifer (in the graphic novel Lucifer), Heathcliff (Wuthering Heights—I was foolish, but I’m over it now), and Cordelia (in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the TV program). I like the layered characters who are a bit of a Byronic Hero/Heroine or in some way other than what they seem at first glance. In real life, I tend to be fond of the unexpected and layered people, too.
10. Do you believe in happily ever after?
Completely. Totally. I think being in love, loving, and being loved are some of the greatest experiences in life. I don’t buy the notion that we have one single person in all the world that will complete us. I think there are many people who can fit into our lives in beautiful ways (and, of course, that we need to be whole and healthy before we find those perfect melds). I think they exist though, and I don’t think they are always transitory. They can be, and that’s still incredible. I’ve been crazy in love and drifted apart. That doesn’t make those loves any less valuable, just different. It can last too. I love my spouse more today than I did over a decade ago when we wed—and I still get that jittery feeling.