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Melissa Marr

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Melissa Marr   Melissa Marr is the New York Times best-selling author of Wicked Lovely, Ink Exchange and Fragile Eternity, an edgy teenage series about invisible and sometimes terrifying faeries who wonder the earth unbeknownst to human beings. Her books have made it onto the BookSense Children's Pick List, International Reading Association Notable Books list for Young Adult fiction, New York Public Library's Books for the Teen Age, and's Best Book of the Year list for teens, where it hit number 2. Universal Pictures has acquired the screen rights to Wicked Lovely.

Buy Melissa Marr's Books at the following locations: (downloadable audio books) (independent bookstores)
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This episode originally aired on 10/29/2009 with the following authors:
Note: The following interview has been transcribed from The Author Hour radio show. Please excuse any typos, spelling and gramatical errors.

Interview with Melissa Marr

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Matthew Peterson: Youíre listening to The Author Hour: Your Guide to Fantastic Fiction. Iím your host, Matthew Peterson. Most of you already know that I write for a younger audience (My book, Paraworld Zero, came out just last year), so I have a great affinity for other authors who also write for teens and young adults.

My next guest is Melissa Marr, New York Times bestselling author of Wicked Lovely, Ink Exchange, and Fragile Eternity. Her books have made it onto the BookSense Childrenís Pick List, International Reading Association Notable Books list for Young Adult fiction, New York Public Libraryís Books for the Teen Age, and Amazon.comís Best Book of the Year list for teens, where it hit number 2. Thank you for being on the show today, Melissa.

Melissa Marr: Oh, thank you for inviting me.

Matthew Peterson: So, your first book, Wicked Lovely, came out in 2007 and has had a great deal of success. Tell us a little bit about Wicked Lovely?

Melissa Marr: Wicked Lovely is a book about a girl whoís able to see faeries. I stay pretty true to the folklore in that there is a tradition of having the faery sight. And the problem with that is, faeries are, their name is traditionally, ďsidheĒ, the hidden people. And theyíre not very fond of people seeing them and so the tradition is a lot of times that people get their eyes removed if they see things theyíre not supposed to. But thereís a bunch of folklore that goes with that.

Matthew Peterson: Ouch. [laughs]

Melissa Marr: So, Aislinn, the character, is growing up afraid of the fact that she canít let them see that she knows them. It turns out this works fairly well up until the point where two court faeries are stocking her and she knows that theyíre of some sort of court because of what sheís learned over the years. And discovers that one of them is the King of Summer and that heís stocking her because heís trying to romance her. And sheís a smart girl and not a fan of stocking and runs. And itís the consequence that goes with this decision.

Matthew Peterson: And these faeries just live among people?

Melissa Marr: Yeah, I mean, thatís the traditional folklore. I mean there are folklores in which youíve got tiny little faeries. But a lot of the tradition, I come from an Irish and Scottish background, is that they live around us, and can wear glamour, they look like us. So, you never really know who is one. Itís the sort of awareness that youíre in perpetual danger. But their sense of humor and their sense of morality is very different than ours. They donít play by the same rules and you donít actually get to know what those rules are.

Matthew Peterson: And your main character has this special gift to be able to see them. So, sheís a younger person, I mean, sheís in her teens, right?

Melissa Marr: Yes, sheís 17.

Matthew Peterson: 17, so sheís going to high school still?

Melissa Marr: Yes.

Matthew Peterson: And sheís seeing some of her fellow students are faeries?

Melissa Marr: Well, because she has the sight, she can tell the difference. The rest of us canít because we donít have the sight. But sheís able to see the difference. And so she can tell The Summer King and The Winter Girl, and sheís the sort of an object of a quarrel between them.

Matthew Peterson: Aahh.

Melissa Marr: And when she realizes that these two faeries are pursuing her, theyíre showing up at the library and theyíre showing up at the school and outside the comic book shop and, I mean, sheís got this sort of . . . trying to live a normal life . . . you know, sheís fallen in love with her best friend, Seth. And wants to have a normal life and wants to spend time with her friends and gets caught up in this thing out of her control. Which is, in part, I think a normal feeling that a lot of us have, maybe not the faery part, but the fact that there are pressures and events beyond our control that are steering our lives and trying to . . . a sense of normalcy, while thatís happening, is a challenge.

Matthew Peterson: Yeah, exactly. I hear that you really get into your characters heads. You use some triggers to help you get into the mood or into their point of view, like music play lists and visuals.

Melissa Marr: I do. I write multiple, third-person point of view. So for every book I have several different people that are telling the story. And in order to make sure that Iím able to shift between those voices . . . one thing that I do is I write, like, one personís point of view for a number of chapters, and then the next day I go back and do another personís point of view. But another way that that works for me is I have my sort of Pavlovís dog experience, where I have play lists that I associate with different characters. And so I play the songs. Itís really helpful when Iím going back and Iím starting a new book with a new character, with a characterís point of view that I havenít done in the last one.

Matthew Peterson: Uh huh.

Melissa Marr: I can just cue up that play list. But I also take pictures. I walk around with my camera and I take pictures of places theyíd be or things theyíd like. I save art on tiles that I think theyíd enjoy. Itís just a set of making them have a pulse for me, so when I write them they feel that way to other people.

Matthew Peterson: Thatís interesting. You know, I remember when I was in high school, I used to write. I used to be able to listen to music while I was writing, but now, I must have A.D.D., I wear earplugs all the time, because even a bird chirping outside will make me lose my concentration.

Melissa Marr: See, Iím the opposite. I canít write without music. If I donít have music on, Iíll just stare.

Matthew Peterson: Uh huh.

Melissa Marr: Because the world is such a fascinating place that if I donít find a way to dissociate myself from the here and now, Iím never going to get anything accomplished. So, when I want to work, I put the headphones on and I crank it.

Matthew Peterson: Uh Huh.

Melissa Marr: So, then Iím not here, Iím somewhere else.

Matthew Peterson: Oh, I wish I could do that. I used to do that when I was younger. You know, I like what you said about Pavlovís dogs,. One thing I was doing with my book is I actually did the narration for the audio book. And so the second book, every time I was writing, their voices would come into my mind, just like they were there. So, I guess similar to you, you put your play list and your pictures and you really create these characters and use that as a reminder as you go to the next book.

Melissa Marr: It helps. I mean, music is a nice way to alter our moods and everything really. I mean, the music that I listen to one character, isnít going to be the same as another because they have different personalities. And my tastes are pretty wide, but there are even times Iím listening to songs that arenít things that I would listen to at any other time. But they invoke a certain personality. And that personality or that mood is what I need for that section.

Matthew Peterson: Ah, great! Do you ever find that your characters develop a life of their own sometimes?

Melissa Marr: Oh, I think they always do.

Matthew Peterson: They always do.

Melissa Marr: I mean, for me, Iím writing from the perspective of sitting in an auditorium and watching them on stage and Iím just there to take notes, I guess is the sort of visual representation of how the story works.

Matthew Peterson: Yeah. Very visual. Speaking of visual, I understand that Universal Pictures acquired the screen rights to Wicked Lovely?

Melissa Marr: They did! I am beyond giddy. Universal said yes, and then we got Caroline Thompson to do the screen play. I actually, I did, I screamed like a hyperactive two year old. She did Nightmare Before Christmas, and Corpse Bride and just . . . I donít watch movies, but I actually own movies sheís written. So, I couldnít be happier, and theyíve just been fabulous. Weíve had conference calls and Iíve gone out to L.A. and met with them and talked to Caroline on the phone and theyíre just being amazing.

Matthew Peterson: I love Nightmare Before Christmas. I think thatíll be a great person to write the screen play. Well, letís move on to your second book and then weíll talk about your newest book as well. Ink Exchange. Which is a little darker, itís much darker actually, I think, than Wicked Lovely. And itís a companion novel to Wicked Lovely? Not necessarily a sequel? But tell us a little bit about Ink Exchange.

Melissa Marr: The sequel/companion novel thing, we decided to opt for those terms because when people think sequel they think exact same protagonist. In my head, theyíre all sequels, all five books will end up being . . . itís all part of the same story. This is not a series about a girl or a boy or a romance or a team of fighters, or whatever. Itís a series about a world and the courts. And so in many ways itís a sequel. The events that take place in Ink Exchange couldnít take place without the events in Wicked Lovely, likewise, Fragile Eternity couldnít take place without the events of the first two. So, they are sequential and all of the characters and their events play a part. But itís a companion in that itís a series of characters, where we saw them in the first book, but they were not at the center, they werenít telling the story. So in the second book, the story is told by Leslie, who is Aislinnís friend in high school. Neil, who has been one of the advisers to the Summer Court and Irial who is the king of the Dark Court. And the Dark Court is based on the Unseelie, of folklore, which means that these are the really scary faeries. And so by definition itís going to have to be a bit darker. In my mythology I tweaked it in terms that they are nourished by negativity because thatís their function within the folklore. So they literally feed on it. And so Leslie gets drawn in to be a conduit for the negativity of humanity, which there is quite a lot of. But the faeries traditionally can only feed on each other. So, they needed a conduit, and I have that conduit in the form of a tatoo that Leslie gets on her skin that enables the Dark Court to pull her emotions from her. So, it is a bit darker.

Matthew Peterson: I know you have a fondness of tatoos. I think you have many tatoos. Did that play a roll in wanting to add that element in Ink Exchange?

Melissa Marr: It did. Actually to me it made a certain amount of sense. I knew in Wicked Lovely that Leslie was a rape survivor.

Matthew Peterson: Mm hmm.

Melissa Marr: When I was thinking about her, when I was starting to write the second book, I realized that a lot of times when you have a significant event in your life, you get a tatoo to mark change. And Iím a rape survivor and Iím very fond of tatoos. And so it made sense to me that Leslie would do what a lot of people do. Is to mark ownership of your body by making this symbolic gesture. And so my own experience, both as a survivor and as a tatoo fan went into play in creating the very similitudes of the book.

Matthew Peterson: Oh, okay. So like a symbolism of reclaiming your body. Thatís good.

I know you have a third book coming out, Fragile Eternity. And you have some Manga as well.

Melissa Marr: I do.

Matthew Peterson: Thatís like the new thing. Thatís the rage for kids, the Manga is. But letís talk about the third book too, Fragile Eternity. All three of your covers are very similar in feel, but tell us a little bit about Fragile Eternity. [Note: see the bonus material for more about the Manga]

Melissa Marr: Well, Fragile came out this year and it is a bit of a true sequel in the sense that itís going back to the original characters in Wicked Lovely, but this time we get to hear Sethís point of view and Seth was not one of the narrators in the first book. He was very much a presence, but he didnít get to tell. And a lot of the plot I canít really say without being all spoilery for people who havenít read the first book. But the long and the short of it is: heís caught up in this world now and he has to make sense of the fact that he is a human surrounded by people that arenít. And thereís a bit of a sort of Persephone illusion going on there. As well as the standard, if you eat the food of faery, youíre trapped there. And thereís some play with that mythology. And the fourth book is actually the one thatís coming out in April and it goes to, again, some characters who were not the protagonists, all the rest of them, Seth and everyone, are in it, but itís again the switch out.

Matthew Peterson: And that one is tentatively titled . . .

Melissa Marr: Itís titled Radiant Shadows. And it comes out in April in the United States and Canada.

Matthew Peterson: Okay. Well, thank you so much for being on the show. Iíve been talking with Melissa Marr, New York Times bestselling author of Wicked Lovely, Ink Exchange, and Fragile Eternity and coming up, Radiant Shadows. Thanks for being on the show today, Melissa.

Melissa Marr: Thank you very much for having me.

Matthew Peterson: Okay, guys. Donít forget to go to to listen to Melissaís bonus questions. After the commercial break weíve got Maggie Stiefvater and then Aprilynne Pike.

  Read or Listen to the extra questions that didn't make it onto the live show.  

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