Book Interviews, Interviews, podcast

Ink Feather Podcast Throwback: Interview with Leigh Bardugo and Marissa Meyer!

images-2-300x196I’m excited to kick off my Ink Feather Podcast, something I have literally wanted to do for almost 3 years now. I have a lot of cool interviews in the works, but I wanted to get it off the ground, so I’m starting by re-visiting one of my all-time favorite interviews!

Leigh Bardugo. Marissa Meyer. What more is there to say? Two powerhouses of YA fantasy right now! They are incredible storytellers, both of them, and it was really fun to interview them back in 2013 when their first series were still in the creation stages (at the time of the interview, Leigh had her second Grisha book out, and Marissa had her second Lunar Chronicles book out).

Here’s a link to the throwback episode, and scroll further down if you want to read my original post that went with the interview.

 

Enjoy!

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In the past year or two there have been a few book series that have really stood out in YA fantasy. Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles (‘Cinder,’ ‘Scarlet’ and upcoming ‘Cress’) and Leigh Bardugo’s Grisha Series (‘Shadow and Bone’ and ‘Siege and Storm’) were at the top of that list.

We have been fortunate enough to feature both ladies on Lytherus previously (Click here and here for Leigh, and here for Marissa). However, we wanted more from these amazing New York Times bestselling authors, so we arranged a dual audio interview at San Diego Comic Con. The theme of the interview was similarities between their series, including older fables and fantasy influencing their worlds, strong female characters, and of course rakish boys! And, not surprisingly, they are fans of each other’s series, so they both enjoyed singing the praises of the other.

Book Editorial, Books, Editorials

Lytherus Book Club: Emmy Laybourne talks genrebusting books in YA!

june header

We wanted to feature Emmy this month in more than just her amazing book SWEET. She was awesome enough to write up a cool guest post, dissecting genre-bending YA books and what she loves about them. Enjoy genre mash-ups? Read on!

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My favorite YA Genrebusters

I’m so honored that Lytherus is featuring my new book Sweet this month. As you may have already learned, Sweet tells the story of a luxury cruise to promote a new diet sweetener that makes you lose weight. When the sweetener turns out to be highly addictive, things go from comic, to tragic to terrifying – all on a seven day cruise! At the center of the book are two teens who, for different reasons, each decide not to take the sweetener. They also happen to fall in love and, they’re pretty funny about it, so at the center of this dark tale of rising addiction and horror is… a romantic comedy!

Why did I do this? Well, I love a good genre mash up, I really do. As soon as I hand in the first draft of my current work-in-progress to my editors at Macmillan, I’m going to work on a synopsis of Sweet to pitch to movie producers. I think I’m going to really amp up the romantic-comedy/horror paradigm – aiming for a tone in the realm of “Shaun of The Dead” (everyone’s favorite buddy comedy/horror film).

Have I whet your appetite for some mash-ups? Hope so, ‘cause here are four of my very favorite genre-bending novels:

PPZGenre: Regency/Undead  Title: Pride And Prejudice And Zombies

Seth Grahame-Smith took Jane Austen’s venerated novel and made it absolutely delicious. It’s filled with lines that match Austen’s wittiness and see her one. Here’s one of my favorites, “Upon entering Meryton… the eyes of the younger ones were immediately wandering up in the street in quest of the officers, and nothing less than a very smart bonnet indeed, or the wail of the undead, could recall them.” Ha! This book has made plenty Regency fans squirm – in delight or disgust or maybe a bit of both. I think it just gets better and better. The moment when Darcy and Elizabeth confess their love for each other is a beloved scene. But when afterwards, they join hands and dismiss a pack of the “sorry stricken” together, it really makes you appreciate the depth of their love in a new way.

cinderGenre: Fairy Tale/Cyborg  Title: Cinder

Cinder is the first book in Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles. Each of the four books has a heroine based on the classic Grimm’s fairy tales – but they live in a fabulously-built future world that’s filled with androids, spaceships, people with unearthly powers and, yes, cyborgs. (Hint: it isn’t her slipper that Cinder leaves behind on the steps of the palace – it’s her whole dang foot.) With each new book in the series, I kept wondering how Meyer was going to keep it fresh and exciting – but she does it beautifully. If you like your fairy tales with a side of axle grease and nanochips, Cinder is for you.

nogginGenre: Coming Of Age/Cryogenic Sci-Fi Title: Noggin’

This is a sensitive and finely-told account of a teenage boy coming back to school after a difficult illness – with his head on a different body than he was born with. Travis Ray Coates’ body was riddled with cancer and so he allowed his head to be removed and cryogenically frozen. Five years later his head is attached to a donor’s body and he is reanimated, only to find that a lot has happened since he was put to sleep. This book is realistic and touching and, in the tradition of many of our best sci-fi novels, also brings up questions about morality and mortality.

beauty queensGenre: Satire/Survival Title: Beauty Queens

Oh, Libba Bray, you make me laugh so hard. This brilliant send up of the beauty industry features a planeful of teen pageant contestants getting stranded on an island that’s home to a secret military operation. Away from civilization the girls go from manicured and beauty-brainwashed to powered-up and fierce in record time. You. Must. Read. If only to familiarize yourself with “Lady ‘Stache Off,” my favorite fictional beauty product ever.

There you go – four genre-bending reads to get your mind spinning. Many thanks to Lytherus for having me over today. I’m so excited that Sweet is being featured here in June! You can find me on twitter and instagram @EmmyLaybourne if you want to tell me what you think about these books – or anything!

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Thanks Emmy! Be sure to let us know your favorite genre-bending books in the comments below, and check out part 1 of our review of SWEET. 

Book Editorial, Book Events, Books, Editorials, Events

SDCC14: Mega-authors talk fantasy and ‘Fairy Tale Remix’ in one of the best book panels to date!

From L to R: Hale, Funke, Meyer, Tripp, Page, DiTerlizzi and Harbour
From L to R: Hale, Funke, Meyer, Tripp, Page, DiTerlizzi and Harbour

The first panel to kick of Lytherus’s book coverage of San Diego Comic Con 2014 was the Fairy Tale panel. MC’ed by Shannon Hale (Ever After High series) it featured Cornelia Funke (Mirrorworld series), Marissa Meyer (The Lunar Chronicles series), Ben Tripp (The Accidental Highwayman), John Peck (Charming series), Danielle Page (Dorothy Must Die), Tony DiTerlizzi (WondLa), and Katherine Harbour (Thorn Jack).

First off, let me say that Shannon Hale is an absolute riot. This was my first time experiencing her, and wow, she’s a character. Hilarious, witty, and goofy, she made this one of the most animated and engaging panels I’ve ever seen. There wasn’t a single lull and the panel authors really fed off of both her and each other.

First question asked if the authors read fairy tales in their youth and their thoughts on them. Ben grew up on them, and said he discovered at a young age the idea of metaphor and how everything is a metaphor in these stories. Marissa started on Disney’s The Little Mermaid movie, which she loved, and so her family bought her the Hans Christian Anderson version, which is a lot darker. This made her wonder what else Disney wasn’t telling us (ha!). John thought the Grimm stories were boring, but he loved how creepy the Anderson ones are. But what brought the biggest laugh during this question was definitely Cornelia’s reply: “I’m German. Enough said.” She actually hated fairy tales, but they got stuck in her head. This lead Shannon right into commenting that hate is a powerful motivator, and she then regaled the audience in a hilarious description of why Rapunzel is dumb. Danielle followed this up, saying that her frustration with stories is also what motivated her. “Why does Dorothy have to remain in Kansas?” Tony agreed, saying that’s the exact same idea with his WondLa series.

andersenThe next question reflected on the fact that these tales are old, and Hale asked what the authors add to make it feel new. John immediately said character, and that old stories lack the depth of character that readers connect to. They want to know who these people are and what their motivations are. Marissa agreed, saying that the characters are often flat in the old tales, and that we take things for granted; that’s what they’re there for. But why? Ben likes to view it from a different angle: what do they do the rest of the time? These characters have to go home after the tales. Danielle added that it’s fun to take those characters and see where the story goes beyond the original tale. Cornelia said that authors bring their own sensitivity, and things like adding (back) in strong women (“Women weren’t always lame!”). Tony added to that idea, talking about that sensitivity regarding tropes. For example, a classic trope is that a kid’s an orphan. He said he couldn’t even imagine what that’s like, and what that does to people. Ben finished up the idea, commenting that in the 18th century being an orphan was no big deal, vs. our time where it’s become a big thing.

The third question wondered if authors have the right to re-tell. John paraphrased a quote (I can’t remember from whom), saying that no story is beautiful unless you add something new to it, and that the writers are doing that. Cornelia threw in that they’re adding heart to the stories. Shannon observed that they can also flip the stories, or can add to them, or can use satire to re-tell it. Katherine said that she loves bringing the modern into these stories. Danielle picked right up with that thought, adding that she wondered how a girl of our sensibilities would take on Oz and add in sarcasm, and also what she would feel because of today. Marissa said that the passive princess annoys her. She takes the stories and gives them heroines she can be proud of. Cornelia wants to travel the world with her stories, featuring not only Germany but Russia, China, Africa and others. She actually reads fairy tales from these places and they read like a travel guide, with all of the local details and references. Ben added that Hindu fairy tales are often the same as religious texts, which is fun because you can actually go to the places the stories take place.

For the next question Shannon asked if they are all essentially writing fan fiction. Marissa said that the characters make it different, because they have more freedom than a fan-fiction character restrained to the boundaries of the tale might. Ben added though that they are still sort of the same, and that essentially the authors need to stand the stories up and see.

At this point Shannon opened the floor up for some questions, and they were all great ones. At one point someone asked how the panelists actually define a fairy tale. Ben said intrusion of magic into someone’s problems, Tony said otherworldliness, and Cornelia said a journey, which I thought were great answers.

This was one of the best panels I’ve ever seen thanks to the humor of Shannon, the constant pace, and the thoughtful answers of the panelists. Lots of fun was had, and it was great to get some insight into the inner workings of the modern fairy tale retellings that have become so loved.

Book Editorial, Book Reviews, Books, Editorials, Reviews

The best YA science fiction and fantasy books of 2013

2013 was an incredible year in YA. There were so many amazing books that came out this past year that this list could be insanely long. But we took into account popularity of series, authors, and of course our own personal tastes after reading, and the list we’ve compiled won’t steer you wrong. If you haven’t read the series that some of these books are in, now’s a great time to start. And  the series beginners and stand-alones are also well worth your time. I’m sure we’re going to get some stunning YA in 2014, but to hold you over be sure to exhaust this list! So without further ado, to honor 2013, here are our 13 favorite YA books of this past year:

Siege and Storm, by Leigh Bardugo

siege and stormDarkness never dies.

Hunted across the True Sea, haunted by the lives she took on the Fold, Alina must try to make a life with Mal in an unfamiliar land, all while keeping her identity as the Sun Summoner a secret. But she can’t outrun her past or her destiny for long.

The Darkling has emerged from the Shadow Fold with a terrifying new power and a dangerous plan that will test the very boundaries of the natural world. With the help of a notorious privateer, Alina returns to the country she abandoned, determined to fight the forces gathering against Ravka. But as her power grows, Alina slips deeper into the Darkling’s game of forbidden magic, and farther away from Mal. Somehow, she will have to choose between her country, her power, and the love she always thought would guide her–or risk losing everything to the oncoming storm.

Scarlet, by Marissa Meyer

scarletCinder, the cyborg mechanic, returns in the second thrilling installment of the bestselling Lunar Chronicles. She’s trying to break out of prison–even though if she succeeds, she’ll be the Commonwealth’s most wanted fugitive.Halfway around the world, Scarlet Benoit’s grandmother is missing. It turns out there are many things Scarlet doesn’t know about her grandmother or the grave danger she has lived in her whole life. When Scarlet encounters Wolf, a street fighter who may have information as to her grandmother’s whereabouts, she is loath to trust this stranger, but is inexplicably drawn to him, and he to her. As Scarlet and Wolf unravel one mystery, they encounter another when they meet Cinder. Now, all of them must stay one step ahead of the vicious Lunar Queen Levana, who will do anything for the handsome Prince Kai to become her husband, her king, her prisoner.

An NPR Best Book of 2013

Teardrop, by Lauren Kate

teardropAn epic saga of heart-stopping romance, devastating secrets, and dark magic . . . a world where everything you love can be washed away. The first book in the new series from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Fallen series

Never, ever cry. . . . Eureka Boudreaux’s mother drilled that rule into her daughter years ago. But now her mother is gone, and everywhere Eureka goes he is there: Ander, the tall, pale blond boy who seems to know things he shouldn’t, who tells Eureka she is in grave danger, who comes closer to making her cry than anyone has before.

But Ander doesn’t know Eureka’s darkest secret: ever since her mother drowned in a freak accident, Eureka wishes she were dead, too. She has little left that she cares about, just her oldest friend, Brooks, and a strange inheritance—a locket, a letter, a mysterious stone, and an ancient book no one understands. The book contains a haunting tale about a girl who got her heart broken and cried an entire continent into the sea. Eureka is about to discover that the ancient tale is more than a story, that Ander might be telling the truth . . . and that her life has far darker undercurrents than she ever imagined.

Steelheart, by Brandon Sanderson

Steelheart#1 New York Times bestselling author Brandon Sanderson, coauthor of Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series and creator of the internationally bestselling Mistborn Trilogy, presents Steelheart, the first book in the Reckoners series, an action-packed thrill ride that will leave readers breathless.

Ten years ago, Calamity came. It was a burst in the sky that gave ordinary men and women extraordinary powers. The awed public started calling them Epics.

But Epics are no friend of man. With incredible gifts came the desire to rule. And to rule man you must crush his will.

Nobody fights the Epics . . . nobody but the Reckoners. A shadowy group of ordinary humans, they spend their lives studying Epics, finding their weaknesses, and then assassinating them.

And David wants in. He wants Steelheart—the Epic who is said to be invincible. The Epic who killed David’s father. For years, like the Reckoners, David’s been studying, and planning—and he has something they need. Not an object, but an experience.

He’s seen Steelheart bleed. And he wants revenge.

The Eye of Minds, by James Dashner

the eye of mindsFrom James Dashner, the author of the New York Times bestselling Maze Runner series, comes an all-new, edge-of-your seat adventure. The Eye of Minds is the first book in The Mortality Doctrine, a series set in a world of hyperadvanced technology, cyberterrorists, and gaming beyond your wildest dreams . . . and your worst nightmares.
Michael is a gamer. And like most gamers, he almost spends more time on the VirtNet than in the actual world. The VirtNet offers total mind and body immersion, and it’s addictive. Thanks to technology, anyone with enough money can experience fantasy worlds, risk their life without the chance of death, or just hang around with Virt-friends. And the more hacking skills you have, the more fun. Why bother following the rules when most of them are dumb, anyway?

But some rules were made for a reason. Some technology is too dangerous to fool with. And recent reports claim that one gamer is going beyond what any gamer has done before: he’s holding players hostage inside the VirtNet. The effects are horrific—the hostages have all been declared brain-dead. Yet the gamer’s motives are a mystery.

The government knows that to catch a hacker, you need a hacker. And they’ve been watching Michael. They want him on their team. But the risk is enormous. If he accepts their challenge, Michael will need to go off the VirtNet grid. There are back alleys and corners in the system human eyes have never seen and predators he can’t even fathom—and there’s the possibility that the line between game and reality will be blurred forever.

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, by Holly Black

the coldest girlTana lives in a world where walled cities called Coldtowns exist. In them, quarantined monsters and humans mingle in a decadently bloody mix of predator and prey. The only problem is, once you pass through Coldtown’s gates, you can never leave.

One morning, after a perfectly ordinary party, Tana wakes up surrounded by corpses. The only other survivors of this massacre are her exasperatingly endearing ex-boyfriend, infected and on the edge, and a mysterious boy burdened with a terrible secret. Shaken and determined, Tana enters a race against the clock to save the three of them the only way she knows how: by going straight to the wicked, opulent heart of Coldtown itself.
The Coldest Girl in Coldtown is a wholly original story of rage and revenge, of guilt and horror, and of love and loathing from bestselling and acclaimed author Holly Black.

Allegiant, by Veronica Roth

allegiantWhat if your whole world was a lie?
What if a single revelation—like a single choice—changed everything?
What if love and loyalty made you do things you never expected?
The explosive conclusion to Veronica Roth’s #1 New York Times bestselling Divergent trilogy reveals the secrets of the dystopian world that has captivated millions of readers in Divergent and Insurgent.

 

 

 

Requiem, by Lauren Oliver

requiemNew York TimesUSA Today, and Publishers Weekly bestseller, this exciting finale to Lauren Oliver’s acclaimed Delirium trilogy is a riveting blend of nonstop action and forbidden romance in a dystopian United States. With lyrical writing, Lauren Oliver seamlessly interweaves the peril that Lena faces with the inner tumult she experiences after the reappearance of her first love, Alex, the boy she thought was dead. Named an Amazon Best Book of the Year, this sophisticated and wide-ranging novel brings the New York Times bestselling Delirium trilogy to a thrilling conclusion.

Now an active member of the resistance, Lena has transformed. The nascent rebellion that was underway in Pandemonium has ignited into an all-out revolution in Requiem, and Lena is at the center of the fight. After rescuing Julian from a death sentence, Lena and her friends fled to the Wilds. But the Wilds are no longer a safe haven. Pockets of rebellion have opened throughout the country, and the government cannot deny the existence of Invalids. Regulators infiltrate the borderlands to stamp out the rebels.

As Lena navigates the increasingly dangerous terrain of the Wilds, her best friend, Hana, lives a safe, loveless life in Portland as the fiancée of the young mayor. Requiem is told from both Lena and Hana’s points of view. They live side by side in a world that divides them until, at last, their stories converge.

The Bitter Kingdom, by Rae Carson

the bitter kingdomThe third book in Rae Carson’s award-winning The Girl of Fire and Thorns fantasy trilogy. Elisa, the seventeen-year-old sorcerer-queen, will travel into an unknown enemy’s realm to win back her true love, save her kingdom, and uncover the final secrets of her destiny. Veronica Roth called The Girl of Fire and Thorns “intense, unique . . . definitely recommended.”

Perfect for fans of Tamora Pierce and George R. R. Martin’s style of sweeping and deeply satisfying epic fantasy, the third and final book in the trilogy takes the young queen on a journey more dangerous than any she has faced before. Elisa will stand before the gate of the enemy. And she must rise up as champion—even to those who have hated her—or her kingdom will fall. Full of sorcery, adventure, sizzling romance, and secrets that challenge everything she believes, this is a bold and powerful conclusion to an extraordinary trilogy. As USAToday.com proclaimed, “Rae Carson has proved she’s a master and has shaken up the YA genre.”

The 5th Wave, by Rick Yancey

9780399162411B.JPGThe Passage meets Ender’s Game in an epic new series from award-winning author Rick Yancey.

After the 1st wave, only darkness remains. After the 2nd, only the lucky escape. And after the 3rd, only the unlucky survive. After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one.

Now, it’s the dawn of the 5th wave, and on a lonely stretch of highway, Cassie runs from Them. The beings who only look human, who roam the countryside killing anyone they see. Who have scattered Earth’s last survivors. To stay alone is to stay alive, Cassie believes, until she meets Evan Walker. Beguiling and mysterious, Evan Walker may be Cassie’s only hope for rescuing her brother–or even saving herself. But Cassie must choose: between trust and despair, between defiance and surrender, between life and death. To give up or to get up.

Clockwork Princess, by Cassandra Clare

clockwork princessDanger intensifies for the Shadowhunters as the New York Times bestselling Infernal Devices trilogy comes to a close.

If the only way to save the world was to destroy what you loved most, would you do it?

The clock is ticking. Everyone must choose.

Passion. Power. Secrets. Enchantment.

Danger closes in around the Shadowhunters in the final installment of the bestselling Infernal Devices trilogy.

 

The Dream Thieves, by Maggie Stiefvater

the dream thievesThe second installment in the all-new series from the masterful, #1 NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author Maggie Stiefvater!

Now that the ley lines around Cabeswater have been woken, nothing for Ronan, Gansey, Blue, and Adam will be the same. Ronan, for one, is falling more and more deeply into his dreams, and his dreams are intruding more and more into waking life. Meanwhile, some very sinister people are looking for some of the same pieces of the Cabeswater puzzle that Gansey is after….

 

 

Champion, by Marie Lu

championThe explosive finale to Marie Lu’s New York Times bestselling LEGEND trilogy—perfect for fans of THE HUNGER GAMES and DIVERGENT!

He is a Legend.
She is a Prodigy.
Who will be Champion?

June and Day have sacrificed so much for the people of the Republic—and each other—and now their country is on the brink of a new existence. June is back in the good graces of the Republic, working within the government’s elite circles as Princeps Elect while Day has been assigned a high level military position. But neither could have predicted the circumstances that will reunite them once again. Just when a peace treaty is imminent, a plague outbreak causes panic in the Colonies, and war threatens the Republic’s border cities. This new strain of plague is deadlier than ever, and June is the only one who knows the key to her country’s defense. But saving the lives of thousands will mean asking the one she loves to give up everything he has. With heart-pounding action and suspense, Marie Lu’s bestselling trilogy draws to a stunning conclusion.

Be sure to check out our list of favorite adult SF/F from 2013. 

Book Events, Book Interviews, Books, Events, Interviews

SDCC13: Exclusive dual interview with Leigh Bardugo (‘Shadow and Bone’) and Marissa Meyer (‘Cinder’)

images (2)

In the past year or two there have been a few book series that have really stood out in YA fantasy. Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles (‘Cinder,’ ‘Scarlet’ and upcoming ‘Cress’) and Leigh Bardugo’s Grisha Series (‘Shadow and Bone’ and ‘Siege and Storm’) were at the top of that list.

We have been fortunate enough to feature both ladies on Lytherus previously (Click here and here for Leigh, and here for Marissa). However, we wanted more from these amazing New York Times bestselling authors, so we arranged a dual audio interview at San Diego Comic Con. The theme of the interview was similarities between their series, including older fables and fantasy influencing their worlds, strong female characters, and of course rakish boys! And, not surprisingly, they are fans of each other’s series, so they both enjoyed singing the praises of the other.

Click on the sound link below to listen to this fun, unique interview.

Book Events, Books, Events

Lytherus exclusive guest post- Marissa Meyer muses: what is her genre anyway?

For this week’s guest post Marissa Meyer talks about the genre-bending series she wrote, and how, at the end of the day, a good story trumps all.

Take it away Marissa!

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What Genre Is This, Anyway?
By Marissa Meyer

cinderThere have been a lot of descriptors applied to The Lunar Chronicles, my first series of YA novels. Some of them are buzz words attached to seemingly every YA book these days: dystopian, post-apocalyptic, steampunk, cyberpunk. Some are obvious and safe: science-fiction, futuristic, fairy-tale re-telling / re-envisioning / re-imagining. The series is often referred to as a mash-up of sci-fi and fantasy, or sometimes a science-fiction book for readers who don’t actually like science-fiction.

I get the confusion.

When I was first writing the series, I was worried that this muddle of genres would hinder my ability to sell the book. Was there even a market for this much genre-blending? Was I writing something that would appeal to lovers of many genres… or turn them off? Would publishers be too concerned over issues of bookstore placement and library keywords that they wouldn’t even bother?

But, while these doubts and fears were impossible to silence entirely, there was always one thing that gave me the confidence to continue.

I knew I was writing a book that *I* would want to read. I knew that if someone told me there was a book about a cyborg-Cinderella, *I* would rush to the store to pick it up.

Though I was never much for hard science-fiction, with its fancy spaceship engines and
complicated scientific explanations, I loved Star Wars with its focus on unusual planets, alien
species living in almost-harmony, vivid character relationships, good vs. evil, and the Force – an
elusive power that seemed to encompass its own variety of magic.

This love continued as I got older and discovered the anime “Cowboy Bebop” and the
prematurely cancelled show “Firefly” (and, of course, Serenity). There is technology, yes. Space
travel and robots and plenty of high-tech gadgetry. But there are also fascinating characters
moving through fascinating worlds, while overcoming trials we can all relate to: from finding
love to facing off against an evil government, from the necessity of friendships to the struggles
of discovering where, in this vast universe, do we belong?

These are the things that ultimately inspired The Lunar Chronicles – and all its dystopian,
fantasy, cyberpunk, fairy-tale undercurrents.

So, what genre do I consider The Lunar Chronicles?

If forced to choose one, I call them “space opera” – because I enjoy the epic, dramatic ring it has.
But I’m happy to let readers call it whatever appeals to them. Because while I wrote the books
that I wanted to read, I of course hope that lots of readers will feel they were written just for
them, too.

Book Events, Books, Events

Marissa Meyer week giveaway: Win ‘Cinder’ and ‘Scarlet’!

ScarletAs a part of the Marissa Meyer feature week we’re giving away one paperback of Cinder and three copies of Scarlet! The paperback version of Cinder came out last month, and for Scarlet we have two ARCs (which are the pre-published version and are cool because they’re limited), and one hardback! Sorry, no option of choice on the Scarlet books, when I randomly select the winners I’ll also be randomly selecting who gets what from that. You can enter for both books below!

Our giveaway is simple. Unfortunately, it’s open to residents of North America only (sorry, international fans!). If you’re under 18, please make sure to get your parents’ permission to enter the giveaway. You can earn a total of six entries in the giveaway:

  • ONE entry for simply entering the giveaway
  • TWO entries for following us on Twitter
  • TWO entries for “liking” us on Facebook
  • ONE entry for talking about the giveaway on Twitter

The giveaway will stay open until January 29th, 2013 at 12:01 am. Winners will automatically be chosen at random via Rafflecopter. The first name of each winner will be announced on this post and winners will be contacted by a member of our staff to begin the process of shipping out your prize!

Want a copy of Scarlet? Enter the first contest:

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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Want to get started on the series? Enter below for a copy of Cinder!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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Book Interviews, Books, Interviews

Lytherus exclusive interview with Marissa Meyer, author of SCARLET!

Marissa Meyer’s Scarlet (sequel to New York Times bestseller Cinder) hit stores yesterday, and to celebrate Lytherus is featuring the author all week long! Today we bring you an exclusive interview with Marissa. She talks about where she got the idea for the fantastic series, how she ties things together, romance, writing, and more!

Not sure what her books are about? Check out the Lytherus reviews of Cinder and Scarlet!

Without further ado, here’s Marissa!

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1-Since you’re new to this blog, tell us a little bit about how you came up with the awesome idea of doing a futuristic take on classic fairy tale stories.

The idea began with a writing contest that I entered with a short story called “Luna v. 4.2.” The
story was a science-fiction retelling of one of my favorite fairy tales, “Puss in Boots,” featuring a
talking robotic cat, spaceships, and a kingdom of magical beings on the moon. I had so much fun
with the story that I decided to try writing an entire series of futurized fairy tales. I’d originally
wanted to expand and include that first Puss in Boots idea, but eventually had to cut it when it
was no longer fitting with my master plan. However, many elements (such as the Lunar society)
have remained.

Scarlet2-This is a 5- book series, right? How did you decide which fairy tales to use as inspiration?
Did you start with the ones you like, and then figure out a way to tie them together, or did
you pick one and let it grow from there? 

Four books, actually: Cinder (Cinderella), Scarlet (Little Red Riding Hood), Cress (Rapunzel), and Winter (Snow White). Initially, I’d expected each book to be a stand-alone story, but all set in the same futuristic world. While I was brainstorming different ways to futurize some of my favorite tales, these four just kept rising to the top. And then – as a surprise to me – they started to connect to each other in interesting ways. Characters were stepping out of their own tales and showing up in others, etc. And at the center of a growing central plot was this ongoing conflict between two characters: Cinderella and the Evil Queen from Snow White. Once I realized this was going to be a continuous storyline, it was a lot of fun for me figuring out how to tie the fairy tales together.

3-What made you decide on the certain settings for your books? Cinder’s in Asia, Scarlet’s
mainly in France, etc. Did you work out the worldbuilding first, and then decide to spread
things out, or the other way around?

I knew from the start that I wanted to set different parts of the story in different parts of the
world, because some of the problems facing the characters are really global issues – a worldwide
plague and the threat of war from an intergalactic race. So I wanted that to come across using
a variety of locations. As for choosing the locations: I selected China to pay homage to what
some scholars believe is the original Cinderella tale, “Ye Xian,” which was recorded in 9th-
century China. France was inspired by the story of the Beast of Gévaudan, a “true” story of a
murderous werewolf in the 18th-century, which I thought tied in nicely with my own werewolf-
like creations.

4-Let’s talk about the romance elements in these stories. Cinderella is a romance-based
story, and Red riding hood isn’t. Yet, in your books there’s a nice balance between the love angle and the adventure/suspense. How important was it for you to make sure these elements were all there, and yet keep it true to the original stories? Was it hard to balance between the romance angle and the adventure angle, because you do both so well!

Thank you! I think balancing romance with adventure comes fairly naturally to me, because
those are the types of stories I’m most interested in (both reading and writing). I also think that
both sides of the plot are strongest when they’re used together to further the suspense. High
stakes and dramatic situations can test a growing relationship, just like falling in love can raise
the stakes of a situation and change some of the decisions the characters are making. I try to tie
the two sides together as much as possible.

5- you have a lot of wonderfully unique, fully developed characters, and they all feel
so different from each other, and really flushed out. Does creating a fleshed-out, seemingly real
character come naturally to you? Take us through the process, if you can, of how you make
sure these different ‘people’ (including Iko, haha) are not one-sided? Were there some that
were difficult for you? Men vs women, for example?

Thank you again! I absolutely love these characters, so it’s wonderful to hear that – and maybe
that’s the biggest “secret” I have when it comes to characterization. I never stop tweaking or
thinking about a character until they’ve fully come to life to me and I adore them to pieces. Some
characters come very easily and some I won’t feel like I have “right” until the 5th or 6th draft.
Cinder, Iko, and Wolf’s personalities all popped into my head pretty fully-formed. Whereas
Scarlet and Kai caused me a lot more difficulties, I think because I was trying to force them to
behave in a certain way that didn’t really fit their true characters. Sometimes, as a writer, you
have to know when to step aside and let the story take over for you.

13418083096-Take us through your writing day. How do you get the words on the page — any little
tricks or habits?

I start each day with the networking-carousel: check emails, Twitter, Facebook, read blogs, etc. Sometimes, if there’s a lot of promotion work happening, I’ll spend hours on that, but on the good days I can proceed straight to writing. I get comfortable – put on some cozy socks, get a glass of water or more coffee – then look at where I left off and what I’ll be working on next. I always work from an outline and I try to keep really good revision notes for each chapter, so I typically know just where I’m heading. But sometimes the writing is easy and sometimes not. I spend a lot of time staring at walls and daydreaming. In an average day I’ll write 2,500 words or so, but when I’m nearing the end of a project I’ll often increase that to 6,000 words or more, because I’m so excited to be done.

7-How much outlining do you do? Do you plan everything beforehand, or do you leave
some storylines to chance and see where they go as you write?

I always begin with an outline broken up by scene or chapter. Nothing too fancy – just a general
guideline that hits the major plot points and conveys how the main character changes over the
course of the story. I often don’t know until after the first draft is done which of the subplots are
actually important, so those tend to get fleshed out more in revisions.

8-What’s on your current reading shelf? Anything that you’ve read lately that you
absolutely loved and would recommend?

I think the last book that I fell in love with was THE NEAR WITCH by Victoria Schwab – it
was just so beautifully written, and it was one of those stories where the setting itself took on
its own life, and I love that. I have Victoria’s just-released THE ARCHIVED now sitting on my
nightstand and can’t wait to dive in! I’m also very excited to read GRAVE MERCY and CODE
NAME VERITY. I’ve heard so many amazing things about both of them.

9-How’s the next book coming along? Is there anything you can tell your fans about where the
story is going?

Book 3: CRESS is going very well – I’ve just received revision notes back from my editor and
I’m really happy with how the book is shaping up. CRESS is my Rapunzel retelling, in which
Rapunzel is a computer hacker trapped in a satellite orbiting Earth, as opposed to the usual
tower.

10-Anything else you want to say to your fans reading this?

Only that I sincerely hope they’ll have as much fun reading The Lunar Chronicles as I’m having
writing them! And if they’re inclined, I would encourage readers to check out the Scarlet Tour
schedule and, if I’ll be in their area, I hope they’ll come out for a reading and to get their books
signed: http://www.marissameyer.com/blogtype/revised-scarlet-tour-event-schedule/.

Thank you so much for the interview and for hosting this Scarlet Week!

****

Thanks Marissa! Curious about Marissa and her amazing stories? You can find her at marissameyer.com and on twitter @marissa_meyer.

Book Reviews, Books, Reviews

Review Double-Feature: CINDER & SCARLET are rich with vibrant characters and a top-notch futuristic tale

cinderIn Cinder, a futuristic world where cyborgs walk the earth with the fully-human, Cinder, whose arm, leg, and other random bits are robotic, has always been looked down on by those around her. She’s managed to get by as New Bejing’s best mechanic, but her home life with her stepmother is frustrating and demoralizing. The only bright spots in her life are her little stepsister Peony and her andriod friend Iko. That is until Kai, the crown prince, stops by her shop to have her fix his andriod, and there’s an instant connection. But as Cinder’s life gets more complicated, and gets more interwoven with Kai’s, life as she knows it turns upside down, and what was once familiar is changed forever. With a terrible plague killing off people left and right, and with seemingly no way to stop it, Kai must make an impossible decision … and Cinder’s right in the middle.

I am angry that I waited so long to read this book. I heard all the buzz and people raving about it, and I have to say that it is just as good as everyone said. Off the bat I was delighted in the futuristic world Marissa Meyer constructed around the main character Cinder. This book is set in Asia, but the culture in there is subtle, which helps it feel like it’s more about the world as a whole, with the culture being a subtle addition. This was an important distinction when relating to the baddie; the whole world is at stake, and I really got it..

It was also really interesting to be in Cinder’s head, as a cyborg, and see what it might be like to experience life that way. Cyborg or not though, she’s such an amazing character, I loved being a part of her life as she struggled with all the elements around her. At one point she’s ready to take off in a car she’s building, and I thought, “You know, we’ve all been exactly here.” I can’t say enough about the people in this book, they’re excellently written.

The romance in the book was perfect. Not too much, but enough that I wanted more. Nothing felt contrived, and the whole time it was wonderfully heart-wrenching to feel her struggles with identity, place, and family as she allowed a sliver of hope for love to contrast with her fear that one so high could ever want her if he knew the truth.

I was blown away by this book. It’s easily moved to the top 10 best YA I’ve ever read. I am so excited to see what the author does with the series from here on out. But seriously? Don’t be like me and wait. Read Cinder. Read it now.

Cinder hit shelves January 3rd, 2012.

And now? On to Scarlet!
IF YOU HAVEN’T READ CINDER, there are some SPOILERS in this review of Scarlet! WARNING!

ScarletScarlet is a continuation of Cinder’s story, with the addition of two new main characters: Scarlet and Wolf. Scarlet’s grandmother disappeared two weeks prior to where we pick up the story, and though the police decided it was suicide Scarlet knows that something nefarious happened. She’s determined to get to the bottom of things, and with the help of mysterious new friend and streetfighter extraordinaire Wolf she sets off to find her missing family member.

Cinder starts the book still in a pickle — being stuck in prison, waiting to be shipped off-planet to her impending death. I don’t want to say too much without giving away some plot goodies, so let’s just say that Cinder deals with trying to escape, along with attempting to wrap her thoughts around the mind-boggling news that was recently revealed to her: she’s the long lost Lunar princess, destined to save the world from evil. Now if only she wanted the job.

I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to love Scarlet as much as I loved Cinder, because that book was just so fab. But the lovely Marissa Meyer rose to the challenge, and Scarlet is just as great as the first book. And what’s even better is that we get to be inside the head of a bunch of different characters (Scarlet, Wolf, Cinder, Kai, even the evil Queen!), which really enhanced the story. No character is weaker than the others, all feel unique and fully-developed. And all are struggling with some big things, in their own way, which creates a universal sort-of empathy for these good guys fighting against a frustratingly cunning evil. I’m extremely curious about seeing how good’s going to triumph bad in this series!

Meyer also manages to make Scarlet’s story feel just as poignant as Cinder’s, even though it’s really a side-note to the main story of the series. But Scarlet is just such a vivid character, and her plight is so desparate and heart-felt, it’s hard not to get caught up in her journey. And there’s some fantastic romance in here, without it overpowering the rest of the story. That’s one of my favorite things about both of Meyer’s books; she manages to balance the romance and adventure/suspense so well that it all works effortlessly, and all you notice are the characters and their stories.

Waiting for book three is going to kill me. This is one of those times that I am happy my memory is poor, though, because I’m excited to re-read these books, even now. Highly recommended!

Scarlet hot shelves today, Tuesday February 5th, 2013.

Book Events, Book Interviews, Book News, Book Reviews, Books, Events, Interviews, News, Reviews

Featured Author Week: It’s Marissa Meyer (SCARLET) week on Lytherus!

marissa meyer featured week

This week, author Marissa Meyer joins the staff of Lytherus as our featured author of the week! Marissa’s debut novel Cinder is a New York Times bestseller, and the second book in the series, Scarlet, hits stores this week. These books have quickly become some of the best YA I’ve read, they’re so creative and well-written.

For those of you unfamiliar with Cinder, here’s a synopsis:

Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl. . . .

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.

Marissa was kind enough to answer some questions for us, as well as write up a special guest blog post which we’ll post in a few days. There will also be reviews of her books and giveaways too! Here’s what’s on the docket for the week:

  • Monday (February 4th): Intro to the feature week
  • Tuesday (February 5th): Reviews of Cinder and Scarlet
  • Wednesday (February 6th): Giveaway of CINDER and SCARLET!
  • Thursday (February 7th): Exclusive interview with Marissa
  • Friday (February 8th): Exclusive guest post from Marissa

We’re also incredibly excited to announce that the following authors will be joining us for featured author weeks in the near future:

  • Gail Carriger, author of the PARASOL PROTECTORATE series, will join us the week of February 11th for her new book, Etiquette & Espionage

Looking for more to read? View our past archive of featured authors, with a stellar lineup including Christopher Paolini, Rachel Hartman, Lev Grossman, Stefan Bachmann, Colleen Houck, and more!