Melissa Marr

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Reality & fiction (re: MADE FOR YOU & Iceland)

My assistant (who knew that my only online activity has been social media & flight check-ins) sent me a message that there was a potential flight disruption because of the Icelandic seismic activity.  

Now, this potential for delay shouldn’t excite me except that

a) MADE FOR YOU (which comes out in another 2 weeks) has a bit at the start where such flight delays happen

and

b) it’s Iceland

So now I’m vaguely hoping that I’ll be delayed in Iceland bc of ash & smoke to celebrate the release of MADE FOR YOU.

NOTE: If I’m not stranded, I’ll hopefully see a few of you on tour (Portland, Houston, LA, Virginia).  

Anyhow … Here’s the excerpt from MADE FOR YOU with flight delays bc of Icelandic volcano activity:

Day 5: “The Detective”

Eva 

I’m alone. So far, my friends are respecting my “no visitors” stance, and my parents are still stuck in Europe. Apparently, there was another volcanic eruption in Iceland that pretty much shut down all the flights in and out of Europe. It was nothing but smoke, ash, and gas, but Dad explained that when that same thing happened back in 2010, flights were cancelled or disrupted for over a week. I’m not counting on them getting here any time soon. I don’t need them to rush home anyhow. I’ve told them that several times, and I told Grandfather Cooper the same thing when he called from somewhere in Alaska on one of his cruise-tour things.

Grandfather Tilling came by the hospital to sit with me, and of course, he had his congregation pray for me. It didn’t occur to me to ask him or Mrs. Yeung to be here for the police visit I’m about to have.

Right now, I wish it had.

“Are you sure you’re ready to talk to the detective, Eva?” my nurse asks again.

“Yeah.” I offer the nurse a smile, but I’m not sure if it’s encouraging with the way my cuts and bruises must still look.

“If it gets too much, you can stop the interview,” the nurse says kindly.

My nurse helps me to sit up, and maybe’s it’s silly, but I have her get my brush so I can combat some of the snarls. I don’t use a mirror because I can’t stand seeing my own reflection. I’m not sure I ever want to see my face again. I certainly don’t want my friends to see it. I’d like to cling to the image in my memory, not replace it with this one. 

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Ongoing snippets of my research trip

Today resulted in a LOT of note-taking, picture taking, & 10hours of walking. Alchemy tour (alchemist lab that was discovered in 2002 & opened to tours in 2012), Underground Prague tour, Lennon Wall, meandering, & then we ended with a Baroque Opera at the Clam-Gallas Palace, by candlelight, in a flagstone courtyard. The research trip portion of this journey (which followed the writing of the next book—as this research is for the one AFTER it) is going brilliantly. 

A few pictures …

Alchemist’s oven. Discovered in 2002. Opened to tours in 2012. The alchemist’s bottles on the bottom shelf were also found in 2002. The lab & usage date to 16th-18th century.image

Reconstructed fixture to channel the energy into the oven which is precisely below this point. The faces are of Moses, who was depicted with horns at the time as a result of an error in translation at that era.

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From the Prague Underground tour. The city now is a full story above old Prague. Part of this re-discovered home is actually re-purposed for an art galley.

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MOST of the Lennon Wall. You can see the section for message leaving where the people are clustered. This was a source of ongoing conflict during the communist years when people would write their grievances here.

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And 

… me pointing at a Nietzsche quote with a slight error. (He is the philosopher I find most interesting; I did a directed reading course on JUST him years ago & have read far too much of his work). 

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Writing & research trip (& a little excerpt)

I had a word goal for the first part of this trip (25k of “words to keep”).  I’ll meet it by tomorrow. I took a few nice breaks to hike to the 

FAIRY POOLS:

and

FAIRY GLEN:

And a few other spots.

Tomorrow night, my little girl (who somehow turns 21yrs old in less than a month) will meet me here in the house where I’ve been holed up writing.  She’s been in Orkney working on the Ness of Brodgar dig.  (It was in this month’s National Geographic apparently.)  

From here, I stop to meet my UK YA editor & then daughter accompanies me as I go off to do research on a new book I’ll be starting soon (one I actually outlined 2 years ago & then re-outlined last year bc I couldn’t find the first outline, & now, consequently, have two outlines for … oh & had pitched to an editor in 2010).  I’m very excited to be moving into research for it. 

… almost as excited as I have been over here writing my next YA. I posted a line from it earlier on Twitter, but here’s more of that section for the readers who said “yes more please.” 

The only water at XXXXXX wasn’t pure, far from it in fact, but it was there. Lily could feel it tugging at her the way she suspected magnets drew metals.  Soil and sea called to her; plants whispered to her.  Her father had never said that she had XXomittedXX, but as she got older, she came to understand that most people didn’t hear words in the wind or feel the weight of moonlight. 

It had taken years for her to learn to rest without her windows wide open—and longer still to hide her need to be barefoot. 

So I’ve been here writing in the land where I have begun to believe words hide in wait. Sometimes I think I misremember how seamlessly words flow when I’m in Scotland, but then I come back. 

There are places in this world that reach into our souls. I know that sounds religious, and for me, it is.  When people ask me about faith, it’s hard to put it into words. The best I can offer is that I feel the touch of something greater than us in these wild nooks & crannies I like to visit. The Highlands & Islands of Scotland are the top of my list … along with The Burren in Ireland, the Mojave, & the coast of Oregon (et al).  Not surprisingly, they are all places where I go and literally can spend hours or sometimes even DAYS without seeing people and where I can tuck into nature and be alone.  

Being plugged into the earth replaces anything depleted in me during the business of day-to-day tasks.  Being with my kids & spouse is the only other thing that truly evokes that same sense of peace. I think it’s what my father & his parents find in Mass.   I find it in nature.

I’m sure the cities we’re visiting will be lovely too. There, I can get some calm in museums & of course, my daughter’s presence, but I’m blue that my days in Scotland are more than half over. 

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"Fairy Glen" tonight on my peaceful, lovely, & wet walk. Tomorrow I resume all-day writing, but a break to walk where the folklore is LITERALLY part of the landscape does wonders for my soul (& my book).

"Fairy Glen" tonight on my peaceful, lovely, & wet walk. Tomorrow I resume all-day writing, but a break to walk where the folklore is LITERALLY part of the landscape does wonders for my soul (& my book).

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Anonymous asked: Will you ever write a novel about selchies? Oh, do, do, do!

I suspect that’s inevitable. I keep circling back to them—

  • "Love Struck" (selchie romance; short story/novella).
  • Three poems on them (& I rarely ever share my poetry)
  • "Awakening" (inspired by Kate Chopin & selchie myths), which is my favourite short story I’ve ever written.

In all honesty, I have had several novel ideas for selchie fiction, but they weren’t the right ones yet. I also had… oh, 4 or 5 other faery fiction plots swirling around. I like a lot of things, but fae myth (be it sea or land) remains my most beloved. 

… and as I’m typing this while looking at the sea in Scotland, I guess it’s safe to say that there is something magnetic for me not just in the lure of the myth but in this landscape.  I came here the first time specifically to see Orkney where the selchie myths originate (arguably).  My daughter is Orkney right now working on a Neolithic dig.  You can walk along the shore there and the seals watch you. In the mist, in the mornings especially, it’s not hard to mistake them for people. 

Thank you for a lovely question. 

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Parents (& dealing with them as a writer)

An inbox question came in asking about how to deal with parents who “object to [my] books” … and I drafted the reply below, but can’t find the question in the mess of my inbox.   So, please just visualize an articulate version of “how do you deal with parents” here in this space  _____________.

Okay? 

ANSWER:

The only parents I worry about are my own… which is fairly easy bc 

a) my dad doesn’t read books.  He CAN obviously, but in the 42 years I’ve been his daughter I don’t think I’ve ever seen him read a book for pleasure

b) my mother LOVES books. She reads mostly romance, but also ghost stories, classics, & the random non-fiction.  She reads hardcover, trade paper, MMPB, ebook… She reads indie pubbed & small press & Big 5 published books.

So, yeah, I think about their opinions bc they’re my parents. That doesn’t impact the content of my books though. By this point in my life, they know I have sex (the whole getting pregnant bit about 16 yrs ago kinda made that obvious), the know I cuss like … well, like my mother does. They’re very aware of my politics—stances they agree & don’t agree with.

All that said, I know they’d love me even if I screwed up. They’ve proven it over & over.  My mother & I were rather horrible when I a teenager. We screamed at one another, said ugly things, & slammed a LOT of doors. My dear, patient (& possibly hearing impaired) father went to the garage to work a lot when we were at it.

As adults, I’ve had raised voices fights with both of them.  Not often. But it’s happened. We all three have tempers… but never once in all my life was there a sense that they’d think less of me over WORDS said aloud or in a book.

As to other people’s parents? They are totally not a factor in my life. I don’t shove my books in people’s hands like some cartoon drug dealer. I write them for myself, my kids, the people I’ve known in my life. If any parent wants to say my books aren’t for their own kids, that’s completely their right.

Now, if they want to say my books aren’t for OTHER people’s kids, I’d get a bit miffed. I don’t think I have the right to determine what their kids read, but  I don’t think that disapproval of a book for one’s own child has a bit to do with other parents’  kids.  

Now, admittedly, while I don’t deny my kids the right to choose their books, I have said—

1. I’m not sure you’re ready for this— which has always meant they say either “okay” or “you’re wrong & here’s why …”  In my home, if they can successfully challenge ANY decision, it is overturned. (My kids are exceptional debaters as a result of this.)

2. Not with my money, honey. You want it; you ante up.

Answer #2 is the one that they scowl over.

There are, in truth, books I won’t buy my kids. It’s rare though. One author has offended me so much that I simply refuse to buy his books. My teen son, however, likes that author’s books & tells me that politics aren’t enough to deny himself the reading pleasure.  That is his right. He’s 15. So, if he wants to read that author, he has to get the book from the library or buy it with his own money.  That’s my rule. I’ll buy most any book my kids want—except for a few authors on my “refuse to put my money in his/her pocket” list.  I don’t expect my kids to  blindly obey my stance there, any more than I insist they are my same political party, religion, or share all my personal beliefs. They are people who have a right to their own views.

… which is pretty much how I feel about everyone. I don’t expect ANYONE to believe something bc I do, but I also don’t think ANYONE has the right to impose their politics on other people. 

(One surefire way to get on my ugly side is to preach to me about anything. Bring me facts & ask me to discuss? We’re cool. Decide you have the right to tell me a “truth”? We’re so very far from cool that it’s best to back away slowly.)

So, as to the inbox question, what do I say to parents who object to my books? Nothing. I write what I write. I live how I live. I raise my own kids to know that they should question EVERYONE, including me, and form their own views.  If a parent opts not to like my book, not to want their own kid to read it, that’s their right.

And if they send me an ugly letter, I … do nothing. Life is too short to waste on replying to hostility. Writing the letter probably made them feel better.  So be it. My replying wouldn’t make ANYONE feel better.

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maskedfae asked: I feel like us fans really know a part of you. Personally you're quirky , intelligent , strong , beautiful and I love that ! I also believe you should come visit your fans in Australia when you get a chance , we would love to one day meet you ! Thank you xoxo (02/02)

Thank you very much :)

I was to come to Australia on tour TWICE, & both trips were canceled bc of personal reasons (mom stuff). I reallllllly want to come though, so I keep hoping that another invitation from a conference or my publisher will come when I’m able to make the trip.  Sooner or later, I’ll get there. It’s high on my list.

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Anonymous asked: I don't have a question this time, I just want to thank you. For writing your books, for being on tumblr, for being such a cool person. You and WL has done a lot for me. I stole the book from my cousin and read it to my unicorn stuffed animal late at night. I quickly fell in love and it's my comfort series on bad nights. I can't explain, at least on ask, how much it's really helped me, kept me alive. So, thank you.

Thank YOU. Readers like you are an inspiration to me when I’m missing teaching or feeling like I fail at this writing thing (which, AFAIK, happens to all writers).  Thank you for writing to me. (Also if you want a book that you don’t need to steal from your cousin, send a message through my website contact form saying I said to write & my assistant will send you your own copy when she returns from her holiday.)

sending hugs!

M. 

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What is a film option?

Over on io9 someone asked what it meant when a book was optioned,  so I thought I’d explain it here too:

Quick & Basic Explanation of How Options Work:

1. Author writes Nifty Book.

2. Hollywood Someone says “I’d like to adapt Nifty Book. I will pay X purchase price.”

3. Author receives a percentage of the purchase price while the Hollywood Someone does preproduction.  This “option” give the Hollywood Someone a set number of months (6, 12, or 18 typically) to move to the next step. During that time, no one else can try to adapt the Nifty Book for film or TV. The Hollywood Someone can act or can sit on it.  Sometimes they might option it to keep Nifty Book from being bought elsewhere & potentially competing with the project they actually intend to make OR they could to hold it bc it looks like it could be a book that explodes & getting it early can mean getting it cheaper OR they really want to make it. 

4. The next step is that the time passes & either Hollywood Someone says 

  • a) we’re done here & the rights to Nifty Book revert to author (who could  sell it elsewhere if there is still interest), 
  • b) we are still seeing this as a film & renew the option (i.e. here’s more money but this time it does NOT count against purchase price), or
  • c) the cameras are rolling, author, so here’s the purchase price. 

SAMPLE MATH:

Here is a sample of the math breakdown of the option of this fictional Nifty Book.

(NOTE: THIS IS AN EXAMPLE. IT IS NOT MY ACTUAL FIGURES! i.e. I’m not violating any rules by using these numbers.)

  • Purchase price of Nifty Book: $100,000 (NOTE: this amount typically only given if the cameras start rolling; on occasion it is given outright, but this is risky bc then if it never gets made the author has a check but no film ever)
  • Option 1 (typically 20%; typically applicable):  $20,000 (this amount given to author as an advance against purchase price)
  • Renew Option (typically 20%; typically non-applicable): $20,000 (this is NON-applicable, so doesn’t count against the purchase price)
  • Amount Due To “Exercise” The Option: $80,000

BOTTOM LINE ON WHAT AUTHOR EARNS:  Refer to STEP #4

  • If A) The option is not renewed, & the author would have made $20,000 TOTAL but have her rights to sell again.
  • If B) If the option is renewed, the author would have made $40,000 TOTAL & the film could still happen.
  • If C) If the option is renewed AND purchase, the author would have made $120,000

NOTES:

There are other things … so, so, SO many other things that are a part of the option contract. Literally, what if it’s an amusement park (author receives $X), or a TV spin-off (author gets $Q), or a “studio-created sequel” (author gets $M)… & so on … and so forth.  There are potential box bonuses, studio bonuses, and there are funny things like how many DVDs author gets (often it’s … wait for it …ONE!).

Most of this doesn’t matter unless the film gets made (option was exercised) & does well (yay! those box bonuses might be checks!!!) & etc. You need to consider it all on the possibility, but you need to also weigh it with “none of this matters UNLESS it’s made.”  Hollywood has the power. 

Authors? We need to concentrate on the next book. THAT is our job.

I’ll be blunt. It CAN be lucrative, but it’s often not for many authors. I know authors who’ve made $10k on options total & authors who’ve made $100k+ in both types of cases those were not options that ever resulted in films.

Often books get optioned, but not renewed.  This was the case with my Graveminder. It was optioned, but the option expired & the rights are mine again.  In such cases, there is a chance of a new option elsewhere.

Sometimes it gets re-newed once, but then it falls apart. This has happened to many many friends. 

Wicked Lovely has never fallen out of option in 6 years and 3 months now. That means it has better odds of getting made than it did that first year because they have & continue to work on it. They invest money in it every year, not just by paying me (which they do annually) but in the assets they commission for it.  This says that the producers are committed. They hit roadblocks (lost a director, went into turnaround), but they BELIEVE in it so continue to look for the right fit so it can be on the screen.  It took 6 years, but instead of giving up we are now working with the best effects company for fantasy (IMO).  Weta Digital is onboard, contracted & announced, and that is remarkable. However, it took us 6 years to get here.  

Bottom line: options are nice, but devoted producers who renew & renew & renew & renew (& renew again) are rare.  It’s both humbling & scary to have people believe that much in a book you write too, so the longer it goes, the scarier it sometimes feels as an author. 

Hope that explains it, but feel free to ask more if you want :)

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Made For You UK/Aus cover

In case you missed my io9 chat today (archive here) where I shared answers AND my UK/Aus cover of MADE FOR YOU, I thought I’d post it here.

MADE FOR YOU releases in Australia/NZ (as well as US/Canada where it comes out with the cicada cover) in Fall 2014.  September here in the US & Canada.  It releases in the UK & Ireland in Spring 2015.

I absolutely love that they kept the tagline (which I wrote), as well as using scarlet lilies (a symbol of desire in the language of flowers which the killer uses in the book) & of course, a drowning girl (directly from the plot).  VERY VERY happy with the cover .  . .  I think it highlight aspects that the US cover (which I also love a lot!) does not. 

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My most books owned by list (Faulkner, @neilhimself, @hollyblack, et al)

I don’t usually do these, but I thought this was fun.  If you RT, please add YOUR list (so I can follow links & check them out). 

I Own The Most Books  by … 

  1. William Faulkner. Collection: All but 1 book (intentionally omitted), as well as multiple editions, critical essays, & bio
  2. Neil Gaiman  Collection: Like Faulkner, he has his own set of shelves. (Also several prints of his poems that he gifted me & now hang on the walls.) Spouse and children also some have copies of their own.  Spouse has various of the Sandman collector editions, single issue, & all 3 kids have one autographed Gaiman book. Also, there are audio books (hardcopy), a manuscript of his I did notes on (as did both kids), and … multiple copies of a few things.
  3. Hemingway. Collection: A “complete” novels set, as well as misc alt copies added to my library by spouse & daughter (NOTE: I have never purchased a single Hemingway book for myself. Not a huge fan actually.)
  4. Shakespeare. Collection: Various practical & bound editions of collections, stand-alone volumes, critical volumes, etc.
  5. Charlaine Harris. Collection: All Lily Bard books, All but one of the Sookie Books, anthologies, assorted others, & a few SFBC editions.
  6. Kelley Armstrong. (Initially began as I am a fan, expanded madly bc we are now friends, co-authors, & sometimes project collaborators). Collection: Almost every novel of hers (no rare editions!). 
  7. Jeaniene Frost.  (Crit Partner since 2007) Collection: All books.
  8. Julia Quinn. Collection: As many as I can find, actually. I love her books.
  9. Holly Black. Collection: Almost everything (I think). Holly is on my auto-read. She can do no wrong when she tells a story.  I think all I’m missing are anthologies with her stories. 
  10. Andrew Lang: The “Fairy Book” collection, comprising 400+ tales, in a beautiful collector’s reprint edition from my spouse & kids one year.
  • The Blue Fairy Book
  • The Red Fairy Book
  • The Green Fairy Book
  • The Yellow Fairy Book
  • The Pink Fairy Book
  • The Grey Fairy Book
  • The Violet Fairy Book
  • The Crimson Fairy Book
  • The Brown Fairy Book
  • The Orange Fairy Book
  • The Olive Fairy Book
  • The Lilac Fairy Book

Hmm, my list is a little eclectic… The one commonality I see is (obviously) they are all by talented authors (even though I’m not naturally a Hemingway reader).

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Sometimes an image anchors everything …

Sometimes stories start from a simple image. Many of my stories are like this.  I “see” a scene, & I write from it—both forward & backwards.  It’s a case of asking the two questions:

1. How did we get here?

2. Where are we going next?

Some people outline (which is perfectly awesome!), but most of my books are written in non-linear ways as I sketch these “anchor scenes” & then answer the two questions, which then lead to those same two questions, which I answer, which … repeat.

When I saw the script of WICKED LOVELY, it was interesting to see that my anchor scenes that propelled me were also the keys that screenwriter selected to highlight. 

Here is my anchor in the book I’m writing right now:

"Hair so dark it appeared to be scattered with stars flowed behind her like a cloak.  Eyes so cold they made him want to run in terror stared at him.  Her tiny feet were bare, and she wore armor the color of blood when it’s near hardened, neither red nor black but a hue that hovered between them. Zephyr had the fleeting thought that the material was dyed in blood. Stories of her cruelty had been whispered often enough that some people would say it was truth, but he believed in her. She’d be the one to save them one, and he was finally meeting her.

No one was with her. No buildings were in sight.  It was only her, standing alone on the vast expanse of black rock.” (Work In Progress)