The time it was the last event

Posted December 6, 2014 by Stacee in Signings | 2 Comments

I was able to get my greedy hands on an arc of The Young Elites at SDCC and I devoured and loved it. I was so so so excited to see that Marie Lu was going to be at MG.

We got down to the store around 5 because we work in the area. It was the last day that they were going to be in the old space, so a lot of the shelves were empty. And it was probably good that the YA section had just been boxed up before I got there.


Hubs and I killed time at Starbucks and we had cocoa and ham & cheese yummies before heading to Boomers to play video games {where I ruled at the Fast and the Furious driving game}. We got back to the store around 6:30 and I was able to get front row seats.


Marie got to the store just before 7:30, her GPS took her to the new location. She said that she would talk for a little bit and then open it up to questions right away.  She was really excited to talk about The Young Elites because it was such a new series.

I started writing it when Prodigy came out. It was very different from what you’re holding. It was about a boy who found out he had super powers and found other people who had super powers and they defeated a super villain. I wrote about 100 pages and sent it to my editor and when she got it, she asked if I thought it was good. My editor, Kristen,  is really blunt.  She said that the main character was kinda boring and the world was dull. I figured the easiest thing was to ask what Kristen liked and she liked Adelina.


Anyone who follows my twitter knows that I have a thing about hair. There’s always lengthy descriptions about hair. You can tell my favorite characters by how great their hair is.

Kristen asked why I didn’t make her the main character. I didn’t want to write a hero story, I wanted to write a villain story. So this is an origin story. I realized it was the piece I was missing. After that, things came to me a bit easier.

Legend was the easiest thing I’ve written. It just spat out of my brain in about 4 months. Young Elites was about 2 years. Most of it was because Adelina. If you’ve read the Legend series, you know that Day and June are good people in a dark world. They have good families and friends and they know what’s wrong with their world and they want to fix it.

Adelina is the opposite. She’s a dark person and was raised in a horrible family and it’s twisted her around. It was really unsettling to be in the mind of someone who is going to be a future Darth Vader. I thought it was going to be amazing, but I realize now why they never make movies from Loki’s point of view. Or why they don’t make a Batman movie from the Joker’s point of view. I had to separate myself and realize that I was just the writer.

It was fascinating to write someone that you still want to root for. In the first book, she’s not evil all the way though. Now I’m working on the second book and it’s even darker. I’m trying to find that fine line of how far can I push her and not push readers away or myself away.


Do you set aside a specific time frame to work?

I fall into the pantser group. A friend calls me a headlights writer, meaning you only do what you can see in front of you. I’m someone who outlines one or two chapters and then write them. I don’t have a lot of things set in stone when it comes to writing. I tend to write from 7am-1pm. I have to listen to something, but music without words or in a language it don’t understand.

There will be days or weeks where I don’t write. It’s been 3 weeks since I’ve written anything. I just turned in a draft, so I’m detoxing. I’m reading everything right now.

I just finished my first draft of my book. What’s your editing process?

That is huge. Congratulations. Drafting is the hardest thing for me. I hate it a lot. It’s a huge thing for me to celebrate and I usually do a little dance. I like the revision process, I find it easier to work with something and will happily rip it apart. Normally I take a month off and then I’ll read the MS and take notes about what is wrong with it. I’ll do several rounds of that. So my editor never really sees my first draft, she gets like draft 6.

Who or what inspired you to create Adelina?

She was mostly inspired by Darth Vader. I’ve always been a fan of super villains. I’ve never been a fan of Superman. I mean, I think he’s really good looking, but he’s way too good. I wanted to create someone who would eventually fall into a category that people will still want to root for. She’s sort of a Walter White type person. Someone who could be good if they saw the light, but the light is just too far away.


How did you feel when the NYT commented and what inspired the first page of Legend?

I was thrilled when NYT commented. It was the first or second review on my first book.  I was new to the industry, so I didn’t know how it all worked.  As for the first page, I knew I wanted to make Day an elusive leader. I wanted an opening that sort of explained who he was without dropping you into the story. Originally it wasn’t there.

Who are your favorite authors and books?

{She started with her favorites from childhood and progressed into high school, but I got distracted by the people sitting next to me asking if they could take the seat I was saving for Hubs so I missed everything.}

Leigh Bardugo’s series is one of my favorite. If you haven’t read them, I highly recommend them. Rae Carson’s series, Meagan Spooner and Amie Kaufman’s books. Ready Player One is also one of my favorites.

For upcoming releases: An Ember in the Ashes. This book is so good I was reading it in the airport and missed my flight. The Wrath and the Dawn {I may or may not have made a complete fool over myself about this book and offer to buy everyone in the store a copy so they would be forced to read it} and another one is Illuminae. It’s unlike anything out there.  It’s going to be one that you can’t do an audio book for, you’re going to have to see it on the page.

How did you get the idea for Antarctica for the Legend series?

The dystopian world is based on The Sims. I was in video games and I’m still a gamer. I wondered how a society like that would work. Would people really want to level up and what would the government determine as good?


How did you know when to stop the Legend series? Did you want to see it as a movie?

They sold it as a trilogy, but my synopsis for book 2 and 3 were both vague. {There was more to this.} It has been optioned and there’s some great producers attached to it. There is a screenplay and they’re looking for a director.

What made you want to use different perspectives?

I’ve always written in different perspectives. I wrote a novel in high school with alternating 1st person POV and Day was one of the characters. Day and June are so different that I think they both needed to tell the story. For Adelina, she’s going to become a villain, but the villain is always the hero of their own story. She’s not going to think there’s something wrong with her.  I needed to throw in some third person point of view chapters that were pointed on her so the reader could see what the other people see.

Do you ever make yourself cry while writing?

I cried once at the end of Champion, but I was really tired and just emo about everything.

Was it hard to come up with the markings on The Young Elites?

That was a lot of fun for me. I have to draw my characters before I start writing. I can’t write if I don’t see them. It was just a process that I went through, playing with how they look. I don’t know why I drew Adelina with one eye, she just came to me that way.


How did you come up with the mindset with June?

June and I are very different. She was a boy at first. Legend is based on Les Miserables. I was talking with my husband and he said that if she wasn’t a boy, he would read the book.

I knew I need a character strong enough to balance Day out. Day wears his heart on his sleeve, he’s very emotional. June is like Sherlock Holmes. She’s a genius and can be cold. She has emotions, but hides them behind logic. I’ve always been interested in child prodigies. Which means that it made her chapters much harder to write. There’s a scene with the paperclips and I spent and hour researching the history of paperclips just to write 2 lines of dialogue.

Do you have a playlist for The Young Elites?

I have a ton of music. The Assassin Creed soundtrack, Lorde, “If I Had A Heart” which is the opening song for Vikings. The theme song for The Young Elites would be “Sweet Dreams Are Made of These”. There’s a version from Sucker Punch that is perfect.

How did you come up with the character names for The Young Elites?

I didn’t have a lot of reason behind it. I looked up a lot of Italian baby names. Adelina is the only one who has a name with meaning. It means noble and I thought it was fitting.


Have you every had a crush on a fictional character?

Uh. Yes. I really like Loki. I had a huge crush on Legolas in high school and then especially when the trailer came out.  Orlando Bloom was so pretty and he had that hair.  There we are again with the hair…

If you could be any of your characters who and why?

In the Legend series, it would Kaede because I wanted to be a fighter pilot. When I told my mom, she said that I couldn’t do it because I had horrible eye sight and no sense of direction. She told me to follow my dreams, but not that one.

Favorite tv shows?

Vikings. American Horror Story, but I can’t watch it alone.


How attached to your characters are you?

I am very attached to Day and June and it does hurt me to hurt them. I know you probably don’t believe me, but it’s true. They’ve been in my head for so long and I know them so well.

Was the Italian Renaissance the basis for the setting?

Yes. Because I would be able to create something around the Renaissance, but with magic and flying creatures.

After about an hour of Marie talking, the signing started.  The people who asked for my seat ended up being a group of kids, teachers and the principal of their school and they ended up being first in line.  I was right behind them.  It took about 25 minutes to get up to Marie.

I thanked her for coming and she said it was nice to see me again.  And then I lost my damn mind, telling her that I was so excited that she was so excited about The Wrath and the Dawn.  She laughed and said that she was also excited that I was excited…  I think I may have thanked her again? I don’t even know.

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As always, Marie is so much fun to see in person.  She’s charming and charismatic and if you aren’t reading her books, you’re really missing out on some excellent storytelling.

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2 responses to “The time it was the last event

    • Stacee

      Marie is a lot of fun. I couldn’t type fast enough to catch all of the tangents some of the answers went on.

      Thanks for reading and commenting!

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