Author Crush Friday with Marie Lu
Glitter girls, you have pressing questions for your favorite authors and we have their answers. Welcome to our weekly segment, Author Crush Fridays.
We love asking questions and we love the answers from some of our favorite authors. Today we’re talking to Marie Lu, #1 NY Times bestselling author of Wildcard, the sequel to Warcross, which was named the Best YA Book for 2017 by several outlets (Sept. 18, 2018; G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers). Thank you for talking to us today, Marie! We’re honored!
GLITTER: Tell us five things that people might not know about you.
- When I was three, I was bitten on my eyelid by a wild rat. I’m okay! Just waiting for my superpowers to manifest.
- I’m ambidextrous, but only for specific tasks. I.e. I write with my right hand, but eat/throw/hold bicycle handles/etc. with my left.
- I love white peaches and can never get enough of them. I hate carrots with a burning passion.
- I used to work in video games.
- When I was little, I wanted to be a fighter pilot. Turns out I have terrible eyesight and an even worse sense of direction, so I’m glad that didn’t work out.
GLITTER: How would you describe your writing to a new reader?
MARIE: I like writing science fiction and fantasy, and try to fill my stories with action, angst (I’m not very nice to my characters), romance, and something that lingers with you after you finish the story.
GLITTER: How do you find the emotional truths in your writing?
MARIE: It usually happens after I’ve finished writing the first draft of my book. I don’t think too hard about what themes or morals I want to showcase in a novel. I set out to tell an entertaining story, and then inevitably, in the telling of it, I realize that there are issues I unconsciously wanted to tackle. Those truths tend to emerge on their own as I explore the reasons behind why my characters act the way they do and why certain things matter so much to them.
GLITTER: What one question sparked the whole plot of Wildcard?
MARIE: Wildcard is the sequel to Warcross, which actually began as an offshoot of an idea I didn’t get to explore much in my Legend series. What would society be like if it was entirely based on a game? That was a seed I planted in the third Legend book, Champion, but I always wanted to write something denser around that concept. I also used to work in the video game industry, so Warcross and Wildcard allowed me to indulge in revisiting that part of my life.
GLITTER: Did you have to do any research in the video game industry for this series?
MARIE: I used to work in the games industry as an artist, so I drew partly on my experiences. There are anecdotes from my game industry days sprinkled throughout the books. If any of my past co-workers read them, they’d probably be able to pick them out!
GLITTER: Do you have any particular writing rituals?
MARIE: Over the years, I’ve learned to adapt to different writing environments simply out of necessity. I do love to write in the early morning, though–the earlier the better. And I almost always have music on while I write.
GLITTER: What character do you relate most to?
MARIE: Emika Chen, the protagonist of Warcross and Wildcard, is basically a wish-fulfillment version of myself. She’s smarter and tougher than me, but I put a lot of my own personality and insecurities into her.
GLITTER: What was the first book that you ever wrote, even if it wasn’t published?
MARIE: Back in high school, I wrote a fantasy novel that was basically a ripoff of Lord of the Rings. It’s best for all of us that that book never got published.
GLITTER: Do you have anything that you love to collect?
MARIE: I’m not much of a collector, honestly! If I’m obsessed with a book, though, I do tend to have multiple versions of it, in every cover and concept I can get my hands on.
GLITTER: What one piece of advice could you give any teen going through difficult times now?
MARIE: I know that times are currently scarier than they’ve been in a while, and I can’t imagine being a teenager and seeing what’s currently happening to our government. It’s hard to feel helpless in the face of that, in addition to all of the private and personal hardships that all teenagers go through. But, to the young people out there: we need you. I love writing YA because you are the silver lining in the darkness. Never forget that. This world is yours, and one day, you are going to be running it. Hang in there, love yourself, and remember that the power to change everything is yours.
GLITTER: Will we see any of your books on screen soon? Please say yes!
MARIE: I hope so! Legend and The Young Elites are both currently under option. Fingers crossed!
GLITTER: Did any of the authors you read in high school affect how you write now?
MARIE: Oh yes, hugely. Brian Jacques’s Redwall series was the first fantasy series I ever read, so I credit those books with getting me into the F/SF genres. I read Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel’s Dart way too young, but it enchanted me then and influenced how I think about my characters’ relationships. Barbara Kingsolver’s The Poisonwood Bible made a deep impression on me; Legend has dual first-person narrators because of that book. I also was lucky enough to grow up with Harry Potter as the books were still coming out. I’m forever grateful to have witnessed the beginning of that phenomenon and be a part of the first wave of fans. J.K. Rowling’s writing still inspires me.
GLITTER: What are you passionate about in life?
MARIE: Aside from reading and writing? Oh man. Everything. Anything. One of the best things about life is that you never know what new thing might capture your imagination. I love to travel, I love listening to interesting people, I love people who pursue extraordinary and creative things. I love astronomy and photography and art and anything that captures the big and small wonders of life.
GLITTER: What are you working on right now?
MARIE: I’m working on a secret new series that I’m pretty excited about! It’s been a very challenging story to wrap my head around, but I’m having so much fun with it. I can’t wait to share more of it with my readers.
Marie Lu is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Young Elites series, as well as the blockbuster bestselling Legend series. She graduated from the University of Southern California and jumped into the video game industry as an artist. Now a full-time writer, she spends her spare time reading, drawing, playing games, and getting stuck in traffic. She lives in Los Angeles with her illustrator/author husband, Primo Gallanosa, and their dogs.