You're such a NaNo(WriMo) inspiration, since Cinder, Scarlet and Cress all started as NaNo-projects. What's your best NaNo advice for those who want to be writers and want to get published?
Take the goals seriously. We all have obligations in our lives—jobs, school, families, etc. But if you want to be a writer, you have to treat it like a second job. Make it a priority. Set yourself goals and deadlines and pretend you have an editor expecting to see something on that date. NaNoWriMo is fabulous for this because it gives you the goal—50,000 words in 30 days—and then it’s just up to you to figure out how to make it happen.
I’m not saying that life won’t sometimes get in the way and force you to re-evaluate those goals, but the important thing is to always be making forward progress on your dreams.
How did you start Cinder, which idea came first - the cyborg, the fairy tale, the Lunar history, or something completely different?
The idea of combining fairy tales with science fiction came first, and I’d started to do some work on the world-building (for example, I knew there would be a kingdom on the moon, ruled by an evil queen, and that they were looking for a lost heir). But the catalyst for Cinder’s story really began with her character. I had a vision of Cinder on the palace steps after the ball, but instead of losing a glass slipper, her foot fell off, and I realized she was a cyborg. Her character, personality, and background started to come to me very fast after that.
Do you believe in 'writing what you know'?
I believe in “writing what you want to know more about.” No matter what you’re writing, you’re going to end up doing a lot of research. So make sure you’re researching things and writing about things that fascinate you.
Did you always want to be a published author or a writer?
Yes, always! I grew up with a really overactive imagination and I always enjoyed writing down stories and daydreams. As soon as I realized it was possible to get paid for that, I knew that’s what I wanted to do with my life.
Was it easy to find a publisher?
It was easier for me than it is for a lot of writers, but I think that’s because I spent so much time—two full years—revising Cinder and ensuring I was pitching the best book I was capable of writing.
Once I started looking for a literary agent, it took me about two months to sign with one (who happened to be the first agent I’d queried). She and I worked on our submission package for two weeks before she sent it out to publishers.That was on a Friday, and we had our first offer the following Monday, which is ridiculously fast in the publishing world. In the end, we had offers from two publishers before we settled on Macmillan as the best publisher for the series. I feel very, very lucky that the people at Macmillan fell in love with the series as much as they have, and since then we’ve sold in 23 additional territories around the world.
Do you have plans (or even a book deal) for after the Lunar Chronicles?
Actually, we’ve just sold two new books to my publisher. One of them is still to-be-determined, but I can tell you that the first will be a young adult fantasy novel, most likely a stand-alone. I’m really excited for it!