One of the greatest perks about being an Inkie is that I have been incredibly fortunate enough to read advanced copies of amazing books and interview the genius authors behind them. So I pretty much was beside myself when Marissa Meyer agreed to let me interview her and I received my copy of Cinder. I literally devoured, inhaled, consumed that book like a starving person at a sumptuous feast. Yes, I absolutely, insanely, loved this book. It’s a sci fi retelling of Cinderella, mixed with some Terminator and Blade Runner. Here’s the blurb from Goodreads:
Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.
Just look at these amazing covers! The one on the left is the US cover and the one on the right is the Spain cover - both are incredible! I would gladly give my left foot for the ability to read the next books right now. Unfortunately, since that can’t happen, I’ll have to settle for grilling, I mean interviewing Marissa.
Ello – Marissa, usually I start interviews by saying thanks so much for being here, but today I want to start by saying thank you for writing this book which I absolutely adored. But the ironic thing is that Cinderella was never my favorite fairytale. It always bugged me that she was such a doormat and had to be “rescued.” I love your take on this classic fairytale. Can you tell us how you came up with the idea?
MM – Thank you, Ello! I had so much fun writing Cinder, and am having equally as much fun working on the rest of the series, so it’s wonderful to know that readers are enjoying it! I got the idea when I entered a short story contest a few years ago with a futuristic take on “Puss in Boots.” It was my first experience writing sci-fi and it was so much fun that I thought it would be great to write a whole series of futuristic fairy tale retellings. Though my initial plan had been to keep each story as a stand-alone with only minor overlap, as my ideas developed and grew, the storylines began to combine into one epic, continuing series, all revolving around one awesome heroine: a cyborg Cinderella.
Ello – OK, So what in the world were you thinking when you made Cinderella a cyborg?
MM – Ahahaha, that cyborgs are awesome? The idea came to me when I was half-asleep. I’d been brainstorming ways to futurize fairy tales for a few months, and then one night just as I was drifting off I saw her—robotic foot and hand, oppressed and despised (just like Cinderella), but slaving away over malfunctioning androids instead of mopping floors and doing the mending. It all started to click into place
Ello – That is so totally cool! I love that you made Cinder a mechanic and you had the Prince coming to her to help fix his android. It made for such a refreshing read. There’s so much high technology that you have in your world. Are you a techie yourself? What kind of research did you have to do make this all believable?
MM – Wow, being asked if I’m a techie is such a huge compliment, and the answer is a resounding No. Although I can find my way around basic computer stuff, I’m a slow adapter when it comes to all the newest gadgets and I’m pretty useless when it comes to fixing things. I had to do a lot of research on cyborgs, prosthetics, robots, artificial intelligence, magnetic levitation, and on and on. Thankfully, there are a lot of scientists out there who are much smarter than me and tons of information for a lost writer. I can honestly say that there isn’t a single element of technology in the book that isn’t already possible or being worked on by scientists at this very moment. Yes, even hover cars.
Ello – And then you put it all into New Beijing. What made you choose that setting?
MM - Having the book set in futuristic China was one of the first decisions I made, and one of the few things that didn’t change during revisions. The intellectual reason for it is that many scholars believe the earliest recorded versions of our “Cinderella” tale come from 9th-century China, so setting it there had this great cyclical quality to it. The less intellectual reason is that my original inspiration for Cinder’s character was the Japanese actress who played Sailor Jupiter in the live-action Sailor Moon show, so it just seemed natural to place the story in an Asian setting.
Ello – I loved that! For me, the changes that you made to the basic storyline, the relationship between Cinder and her 2 stepsisters and her stepmother, humanized the story. They were not completely unsympathetic, and I loved that. And I loved that the stepmother is not the central villain. What was your thinking behind such a radical change?
MM – Although I love fairy tales, I don’t think novels can get away with the same stereotyping and oversimplification that the original tales have. In “Cinderella,” it’s enough for the stepmother to be given the role of “wicked,” and we all take it at face value, but it’s not so easy in a book. How is she wicked? What made her that way? Although creating villains that are believable in their cruelty is one of my biggest challenges as a writer, I think it’s also one that can pay off. The same goes for my Evil Queen character, who like you say is the more central villain throughout the series. Although you don’t see much beyond her evilness in Book One, I hope to be able to expand on her character in later books so that readers will come to somewhat understand her, even if they still despise her.
Ello – I actually couldn’t despise her because I found her so fascinating! But my favorite part of the whole story is the end. Since I can’t give it away, all I want to say is Bravo for writing such a strong female empowerment story! In many ways, it is the antithesis of the original fairytale. Was that your intent?
MM – Thank you! Writing a female empowerment story wasn’t my intent, but I think it’s a natural side-effect of being a long-time fan of strong heroines who make their own destinies. My biggest goal as a writer is to entertain, but I’m delighted to think my stories could empower at the same time.
Ello – I am so excited to hear that there are three more books in the series – although I’m gonna go crazy waiting for them! I understand that they all will take a futuristic sci-fi twist on other fairy tales. Can you tell us about them?
MM – Yes, the next books in the series are Scarlet (Little Red Riding Hood), Cress (Rapunzel), and Winter (Snow White and the Seven Dwarves). Cinder will continue to be a main character as she learns more about her past and continues to defy the evil queen. Meanwhile, we’ll meet three new heroines (and more swoon-worthy guys, of course) who have their own problems to deal with. Throughout the series, their paths will intertwine as they join forces against their common enemy and attempt to save the world.
Ello – What was the reasoning behind choosing each of these iconic fairy tales?
MM – I considered lots of different tales for inclusion in the series, and spent a lot of time brainstorming different ways I could put them down in a futuristic setting. As I plotted and outlined, these four tales just started fitting together like puzzle pieces, with lots of great overlap between them. I hope that by the time the series is finished, combining these four tales will seem as entirely natural to readers as they now seem to me.
Ello – I also want to direct readers to the prequel to Cinder that is online, which is also awesome. I have to say that I would love to read more about the history of the Lunar royalty and how Queen Levana actually got into power. Is that something you might incorporate into the next books? If not, maybe a short story or another prequel? Pretty please?
MM – You are reading my mind! Although hints of Levana’s past will be scattered throughout the later books, I would absolutely love to give her a story of her own, and have actually mentioned the idea to my editor who seemed to like the idea. Although it’ll be awhile before I’m free to focus on anything other than the Lunar Chronicles, I do hope to expand into some of that back story in the future.
(Oh, and thank you for mentioning the prequel, “Glitches,” which can be read at Tor.com: http://www.tor.com/stories/2011/12/glitches.)
Ello – Thank you so much, Marissa, for being here with us today. I know Cinder is going to be an incredible success and I want to congratulate you for your amazing achievement with this fabulous book! PS – please write quickly! I’m dying to read the next books!!!
MM – Thank you so much, and everyone at the Inkpot, for having me. This was great fun, and I hope you’ll enjoy the rest of the series just as much!