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Monday, July 9, 2012

Cover Reveal & Interview! "Scarlet" by Marissa Meyer~Sequel to "Cinder"

Due out in February, 2013...and with a CD, too!  Here's the cover reveal and an interview with Marissa Meyer.

Marissa Meyer reimagined Cinderella as a teenage cyborg mechanic in her debut novel Cinder earlier this year, and with her new follow-up Scarlet, Little Red Riding Hood is a firebrand from France.

Due out in early 2013 from Macmillan, Scarlet is the second book in Meyer's The Lunar Chronicles young-adult series. Cinder reappears in the next futuristic tweaking of a familiar fairy tale — as does Prince Kai, the evil lunar ruler Queen Levana, and a heap of intergalactic intrigue.

Debuting in the new book, however, is Scarlet Benoit, a young French woman who enlists the services of a street fighter named Wolf when she finds her grandmother, a former military pilot, gone missing.

Two more fairy-tale fantasies will follow Scarlet, including Cress (2014), Meyer's take on the Rapunzel legend, and the Snow White-inspired conclusion, Winter (2015).

Here for the first time is the exclusive reveal of the Scarlet cover and an excerpt from the second chapter. We also asked Meyer, 28, about what fans can expect from her new heroine and how she ties into the author's returning series protagonist, Cinder.       This article by Brian Truitt of USToday

How does Scarlet pick up where Cinder left off?

Cinder does play a very large role again. She continues on her next adventure, but you also meet Scarlet, a girl who lives in southern France with her grandmother. At the beginning of the book, her grandmother has mysteriously disappeared from her farm, so she's trying to find her. The only person who's willing to help is this street fighter who's shown up randomly in her town. He may or may not be up to no good. You have these two opposing story lines, but as they go on, they tie together and Cinder and Scarlet meet up and join forces.

Cinder introduced the bustling city of New Beijing. How did you settle on France as the setting of Scarlet?

Both choices go back to the histories of their fairy tales. With Cinder, the history of the Cinderella story is that the earliest recorded version was from 9th century China. That's why I wanted to set it in this futuristic Asia. But with Scarlet, many years ago I saw a documentary about these killings that happened in France back in the 17th or 18th century. At the time, people thought they were happening because of a werewolf, and some think that they may have tied into the creation of the Little Red Riding Hood story. I don't know if that's true or not, but it always stuck with me.

How much of Scarlet is from the original European tale?

I've definitely taken a lot of license with the story. [Laughs] The futuristic setting is obviously very different. There's a love interest in Scarlet where there really isn't one in the Little Red Riding Hood story. It's very much my own story and characters, but I have tried to bring in references to the tale whenever possible. Like with Cinder, how it was very much its own story but people could still have fun picking out these little tie-ins — like a car represents the pumpkin carriage — I've done the same sort of thing with Scarlet. There is a Big Bad Wolf and there is her trying to go visit her grandmother. And other things.

What will readers find intriguing about Scarlet when they meet her?

Scarlet is very much a firecracker. She has a hot temper, she has a tendency to jump into situations without really thinking them through, and that was a lot of fun to write. It's very much not me. I'm such a planner, and so it was fun having this character who will go off on a whim and do whatever she wants and tends to get in a lot of trouble because of it.

Is Cinder a little more you?

Yes, to a degree. Cinder and I share our sense of humor — we're both very sarcastic — and Cinder does tend to be a lot more calm and thoughtful than Scarlet is. At the same time, Cinder has a resourcefulness and intelligence I wish I had but I definitely don't.

This love interest of Scarlet's, is it Wolf or someone else?

I'm not saying. That's a spoiler!

Well, if you stuck somewhat close to the original, there must be an interesting dynamic between Scarlet and Wolf.

There is, and a lot of it goes around Wolf. He's agreed to help her but he has a very mysterious past and is very shy and doesn't talk a lot about it. She finds out fairly early on that he was involved with this street gang in Paris. There is this constant back and forth: Can you trust him? Which side is he really on? He is the Big Bad Wolf, and just like in the fairy tale, he tries to get Little Red to trust him, but whether or not she can is questionable.

Are there other interesting new characters?

Captain Thorne is my rogue-ish, attractive spaceship captain, which every good sci-fi series needs of course. He's in there from very early on, and his path crosses with Cinder, so he's really in the other story line going forward.

You only had one character to focus on for Cinder. Was it tricky finding the pace for two concurrent story lines?

It was definitely a challenge, but it was also kind of funny. There would be days when I was really excited about Scarlet and Wolf's story, and I'd be inspired to write that. When I got bored with that one, I could move over and write about Cinder some more. That worked out really well, but once it came time to look at the book as a whole, it was a challenge trying to figure out the balance between the story lines and making sure you return to each story frequently enough so the reader doesn't forget about it.

When you started writing Cinder, did you have all four books mapped out in your head?

I knew which fairy tales all four books would be, and I had a vague sense of what was going to happen in each one to move the story forward and how the ending would be. But once I wrote Cinder, it ended up changing so much over many revisions that my plan for the series has also changed time and time again. I did have all four books plotted out before we sold the series.

Was that more important for you or for the publisher?

It's both. For me, I knew this series would take four books to tell the story I wanted to tell, and I knew publishers may not want to take a risk on a brand-new author with a four-book deal. I wanted to show them, 'Here's my plan, here's why I need four books to tell it,' and it seemed to work. Going back and writing Cinder, it was a nerve-racking idea to think that, man, what if this book goes out into the world and gets published and I want to change something later? I wanted to have the series as thought out as much as I could so that I wouldn't have to worry about that.

Have you had any movie studios or TV networks sniffing around Cinder yet?

Yes, we are actually in discussions with a movie studio. I hope that I'll have news to report someday soon as my fingers are crossed. It's a newer thing.

Have you finished Cress at this point?

I'm working on the second draft of Cress — it's almost done. And then I also have the first draft of Book 4 written already.

What can you say about Cress?

Instead of being trapped in a tower like Rapunzel was, our heroine is trapped in a satellite orbiting Earth. She is a very skilled computer hacker who's been stuck working for Queen Levana and is desperately trying to get out.

Do you have to reread all the fairy tales before writing the books?

I had a pretty good handle on them. I studied fairy tales in college and have always been a huge fan. But I do read the fairy tales again and again while I'm working on these books. At this point, it's more helpful and I know the stories so well that I don't know how much enjoyment I'm getting out of them. [Laughs] I find that sometimes I'll be reading it for the fifth or sixth time, and a sentence might jump out from the Grimm tale that I hadn't noticed before, and that might spark a new idea to go into the book.


Read an excerpt from chapter 2 of Scarlet, Book Two in The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer:

Scarlet spotted Gilles behind the hot top, ladling béchamel sauce on top of a ham sandwich. She walked around to the other side, yelling to get his attention, and was met with annoyance.

"I'm done," she said, returning the scowl. "Come sign off on the delivery."

Gilles shoveled a stack of frites beside the sandwich and slid the plate across the steel counter to her. "Run that out to the first booth and I'll have it ready when you get back."

Scarlet bristled. "I don't work for you, Gilles."

"Just be grateful I'm not sending you out to the alley with a scrub brush." He turned his back on her, his white shirt yellowed from years of sweat.

Scarlet's fingers twitched with the fantasy of chucking the sandwich at the back of his head and seeing how it compared to the tomatoes, but her grandma's stern face just as quickly infiltrated the dream, scolding her. How disappointed she would be to come back home only to find that Scarlet had lost one of their most loyal clients in a fit of temper.

Grabbing the plate, Scarlet stormed out of the kitchen and was nearly bowled over by a waiter as soon as the kitchen door swung shut behind her. The Rieux Tavern was not a nice place—the tile floors were sticky, the furniture was a mismatch of cheap tables and chairs, and the air was saturated with grease. But in a town where drinking and gossiping were the favorite pastimes, it was always busy, especially on Sundays when the local farmhands ignored their crops for a full twenty-four hours.

While she waited for a path to clear through the crowd, her attention landed on the netscreens behind the bar. All three were broadcasting the same news footage that had filled up the net since the night before. Everyone was talking about the Eastern Commonwealth's annual ball, where the Lunar queen was a guest of honor and where a cyborg girl had infiltrated the party, blown up some chandeliers, and tried to assassinate the visiting queen . . . or maybe she'd been trying to assassinate the newly coronated emperor. Everyone seemed to have a different theory. The freeze-frame on the screens showed a close-up of the girl with dirt smudges on her face and strands of damp hair pulled from a messy ponytail. It was a mystery how she'd ever been admitted into a royal ball in the first place.

"They should have put her out of her misery when she fell on those stairs," said Roland, a tavern regular who looked like he'd been bellied to the bar since noon. He extended a finger toward the screen and mimed shooting a gun. "I'd have put a bullet right through her head. And good riddance."

When a rustle of agreement passed through the nearest patrons, Scarlet rolled her eyes in disgust and shoved toward the first booth.

She recognized Emilie's handsome street fighter immediately, partly due to an array of scars and bruises on his olive skin, but more because he was the only stranger in the tavern. He was more disheveled than she'd expected from from Émilie's swooning, with hair that stuck out every direction in messy clumps and a fresh bruise swelling around one eye. Beneath the table, both of his legs were jogging like a windup toy.

Three plates were already set out before him, empty but for splatters of grease, bits of egg salad, and untouched slices of tomato and lettuce.

She didn't realize she'd been staring at him until his gaze shifted and collided with hers. His eyes were unnaturally green, like sour grapes still on the vine. Scarlet's grip tightened on the plate and she suddenly understood Émilie's swooning. He has these eyes . . .

Pushing through the crowd, she deposited the sandwich on the table. "You had le croque monsieur?"

"Thank you," he said. His voice startled her, not by being loud or gruff as she'd expected, but rather low and hesitant.

Maybe Émilie was right. Maybe he was shy.

"Are you sure you don't want us to just bring you the whole pig?" she said, stacking three empty plates. "It would save the servers the trouble of running back and forth from the kitchen."

His eyes widened and for a moment Scarlet expected him to ask if that were an option, but then his attention dipped down to the sandwich. "You have good food here."

She withheld a scoff. "Good food" and "Rieux Tavern" were two phrases she didn't normally associate with each another. "Fighting must work up quite an appetite."

He didn't respond. His fingers fidgeted with the straw in his drink and Scarlet could see the table beginning to shake from his bouncing legs.

"Well. Enjoy," she said, picking up the dishes. But then she paused and tipped the plates toward him. "Sure you don't want the tomatoes? They're the best part, and they were grown in my own garden. The lettuce too, actually, but it wasn't wilted like this when I harvested it. Never mind, you don't want the lettuce. But the tomatoes?"

Some of the intensity drained from the fighter's face. "I've never tried them."

Scarlet arched an eyebrow. "Never?"

After a hesitant moment, he released his drinking glass and picked up the two slabs of tomato and shoved them into his mouth.

His expression froze mid-chew. He seemed to ponder for a moment, eyes unfixed, before swallowing. "Not what I expected," he said, looking up at her again. "But actually not horrible. I'll order some more of those, if I could?"

Scarlet adjusted the dishes in her grip, keeping a butter knife from slipping off. "You know, I don't actually work—"

"Here it comes!" said someone near the bar, spurring an excited murmur that rippled through the tavern. Scarlet glanced up at the netscreens. They showed a lush garden, flourishing with bamboo and lilies and sparkling from a recent downpour. The red warmth of the ball spilled down a grand staircase. The security camera was above the door, angled toward the long shadows that stretched out into the path. It was beautiful. Tranquil.

"I have ten univs that say a girl's about to lose her foot on those stairs!" someone shouted, followed by a round of laughter from the bar. "Anyone want to bet me? Come on, what are the odds, really?"

A moment later, the cyborg girl appeared on the screen. She bolted from the doorway and down the stairs, shattering the garden's serenity with her billowing silver gown. Scarlet held her breath, knowing what happened next, but she still flinched when the girl stumbled and fell. She crashed down the steps and landed awkwardly at their base, sprawled across the rocky path. Though there was no sound, Scarlet imagined the girl panting as she rolled onto her back and gawked up at the doorway. Shadows cut across the stairs and a series of unrecognizable figures appeared above her.

Having heard the story a dozen times, Scarlet sought out the missing foot still on the stairs, the light from the ballroom glinting off the metal. The girl's cyborg foot.

"They say the one on the left is the queen," said Émilie. Scarlet jumped, not having heard the waitress approach.

The prince—no, the emperor now—crept down the steps and stooped to pick up the foot. The girl reached for the hem of her skirt, tugging it down over her calves, but she couldn't hide the dead tentacle wires dangling from their metal stump.

Scarlet knew what the rumors were saying. Not only had the girl been confirmed as a Lunar—an illegal fugitive and a danger to Earthen society—but she'd even managed to brainwash Emperor Kai. Some thought she'd been after power, others riches. Some even believed she'd been trying to start the war that had so long been threatened. But no matter what the girl's intentions were, Scarlet couldn't help a twinge of pity. After all, she was only a teenager, younger than Scarlet, even, and she looked wholly pathetic lying at the base of those stairs.

"What was that about putting her out of the misery?" said one of the guys at the bar.

Roland jutted his finger toward the screen. "Exactly. I've never seen anything so disgusting in my life."

Someone near the end leaned forward so he could look around the other patrons at Roland. "I'm not sure I agree. I think she's kind of cute, pretending to be all helpless and innocent like that. Maybe instead of sending her back to the moon, they should let her come stay with me?"

He was met with robust laughter. Roland thumped his palm on the bar, rattling a mustard dish. "No doubt that metal leg of hers would make for a real cozy bedmate!"

"Swine," Scarlet muttered, but her comment was lost in the guffaws.

"I wouldn't mind the chance to warm her up!" someone new added, and the tables rattled with cheers and amusement.

Anger clawed its way back up Scarlet's throat and she half slammed, half dropped the stack of plates back onto the booth's table. She ignored the startled expressions at the next table and shoved through the crowd, circling to the back of the bar.

The bewildered bartender watched on as Scarlet pushed some liquor bottles out of the way and climbed up onto the counter that stretched the length of the wall. Reaching up, she opened a wall panel beneath a shelf of cognac glasses and plucked out the netlink cable. All three screens went black, the palace garden and cyborg girl vanishing.

A roar of protest bellowed up around her.

Scarlet spun to face them, accidentally kicking a bottle of wine off the bar. The glass shattered on the floor below, but Scarlet barely heard it as she waved the cable at the incensed crowd. "You all should have some respect. That's girl's going to be executed!"

"That girl's a Lunar!" someone yelled. "She should be executed!"

The sentiment was enforced with nods and someone lobbing a crust of bread at Scarlet's shoulder. She planted both hands on her hips. "She's only sixteen."

I'm looking forward to reading "Scarlet" as soon as it hits the book shelves!



Love the interview and the excerpt looks fantastic! I love a futuristic fairytale!


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