Tuesday, May 18, 2010

PART TWO: Melissa Marr's Radiant Shadows Signing/Talk Recap

Yesterday we brought you part one of the recap of Melissa Marr's book signing, and part two is filled with even more insider details on writing graphic novels, juggling multiple projects, the Wicked Lovely movie, what a super agent can do for you, and fun facts about Melissa.

To continue with the Q&A part of the signing...

5. How was the process of writing the Wicked Lovely graphic novels different? How much say did you have in design?
With the novel, she first writes basic dialogue and movement, then adds in poetic language and details. For the graphic novel, it's similar to those early stages, but she expands it without thoughts, etc.
In terms of the design, she had a TON of say, which she attributes to the amazing negotiations from her agent, Merrilee Heifetz of Writers House. She picked her artist, and she approves the content and breakdown of each panel about four times.

6. Currently, what projects are you juggling?
She's on tour for Radiant Shadows. Right before she left, she received revision notes for Darkest Mercy. Mid-tour, she received revision notes for Graveminder. She's writing a short story for an anthology that Charlaine Harris is putting together. She's beginning a new novel or two. The week before the tour, she finished going over the art for a manga, and she's also editing an anthology with Kelley Armstrong.

However, this is her job. She enjoys having three projects (minimum) staggered simultaneously, and it's how she works best -- though she has a critique partner who can only do one project at once, start to finish.

Her writing works on a "Stew Theory" -- her start-to-finish process is about three years for any given project, and she'd already begun writing Ink Exchange (#2) and Fragile Eternity (#3) before she sold Wicked Lovely.

7. How much freedom do you have in the revision process?
All of it. Some friends of hers don't, but she attributes her freedom to her agent and to having editors who believe it's their job ot help her tell the story she needs to tell. Her editor saves revision silver bullets for the important points --- so far, some of the biggest contentions were regarding Seth's implied drug use in a scene, a "corpse negotiation" over a scene's body count, and a specific decision Aislinn had made.

In Melissa's opinion, an editor's job is to make your book shine. (The same goes for your critique partner.) She's not cool with an editor who pushes changes for no reason. The reason? "At the end of the day, it's your name on the cover."

8. What was your agenting process?
She queried her first novel to 40-something agents and was rejected. Then she wrote Wicked Lovely, and she got multiple offers from her query and was able to interview agents. The agent she chose sold it, but the book and Melissa's career grew too big for the agent's (and agency's) experience, so Melissa had to switch agents. It was a tough decision, but it's business, and she had to be practical.

That's when she queried Merrilee Heifetz of Writers House. Melissa doesn't believe in networking, so even though she had a big-name author friend connection, she didn't mention it, because she wanted to get Merrilee on her own merit. The basic query letter she sent mentions the titles she'd sold, but didn't even go into her NYT bestseller status, etc. Merrilee offered representation, and the rest is history.

9. How much say do you have in covers?
Again, thanks to Merrilee's amazing agenting, she gets a ton of say. She picks the models, and she also chooses the type of vine around the title and the iconic image. She has much less say overseas.

10. How much input do you have with the Wicked Lovely film?
She has a killer film agent, also, and she's been in very close contact with the film people. They've kept her very involved, and she's even read the screenplay and been to Hollywood. It all came about because Vince Vaughn's sister discovered her books and read them all, and she told Vince to buy the rights for his production company. Melissa doesn't really watch movies, and she actually didn't know who Vince Vaughn was!

Fun Facts About Melissa:
- She's been carded signing her own books at a bookstore. Now she must resist the temptation to sign other authors' books ... specifically, Stephen King's.
- Her favorite color is purple, and she wore a pair of awesome purple boots that we envy.
- Her love and admiration for Laurie Halse Anderson is so deep that she's too intimidated to meet her. (We have an author-crush on Laurie too!)
- She used to teach English lit (calls herself a "recovering lit teacher") and she can't break herself of some teacher habits -- for example, she has to stand when she talks, and occasionally gestures to a chalkboard that isn't there.
- She's a stickler for punctuality, but loathes boredom.
- Before she goes on tour, she rereads the book she's touring for, because she's working so far ahead that she's afraid she'll accidentally give spoilers for a future book (which she did once)!
- She LOVES punctuation, specifically commas, colons, semi-colons, and em-dashes.
- Wicked Lovely was originally called "Finding the Summer Queen."
- She's very willing assist/give advice to authors starting out on the publication process because so many established writers helped her out when she had no idea what she was doing. Yay good karma!

After the talk, we got our books signed, and Melissa had some great swag to give away -- signed bookmarks and rubber bracelets for each of the faerie courts. And we may just have gotten her to sign a copy of Radiant Shadows for part of our upcoming 500 followers giveaway...  Stay tuned!

Whew! The recap is over! Beyond loving Melissa's writing (she single-handedly destroyed my aversion to faerie novels), I absolutely respect her as an author and kinda sorta think she's super awesome. Yay new author crush! Thanks for a great signing, Melissa!

If you have a chance to meet Melissa Marr in person, definitely go for it... but for more Melissa online, check out her Livejournal and Twitter!


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. Great recap. Thanks so much for sharing all the details. I can't believe how many you remembered. I hope to get to meet Melissa Marr someday.

  3. First, let me get this announcement out of the way: Radiant Shadows is not about Aislinn and Seth, or even Aislinn at all.


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