Marissa Burt is a sister member of the 2012 debut collective called the Apocalypsies. I only know Marissa online, but I know her to be kind and generous with her words and a keen supporter of other authors! Her middle grade novel, STORYBOUND, was published by Harper Collins in April.
1. Who are your real-life heroes?
My real-life heroes are always those people who demonstrate exemplary courage. I’ve recently been reading about the life of William Wilberforce, the famous abolitionist, and I so respect people like him who weren’t daunted by the magnitude of the societal ills around them. He could have been dissuaded by his own smallness; instead, he gave everything he had to the fight for justice. Lately, I’m learning more about modern day slavery and human trafficking, and I just read a story of a woman who quit her job in her thirties and ended up establishing an orphanage in war-torn Sudan. That combination of bravery and compassion is stunning.
2. What intrigues you?
People’s stories. Love of story is what makes me a book-lover and a fiction-writer, but I also find the accounts of real-life experiences to be captivating. Biographies. The quiet chapters of well-lived lives. Dramatic, unbelievable, true tales. All of it. So intriguing.
3. What other profession would you like to learn?
I would love to be involved in the theatre. I’ve done a few community theatre productions – both as an actor and as a backstage helper – and I loved my experiences! I think this has to do with my obsession for living out the imaginary worlds I so love, and there’s something magical about the vitality and energy of creative people on stage.
4. What profession would you never, ever want to have?
Tough question! I would have to say anything to do with heights. Whenever I see footage of people hanging from harnesses, washing skyscraper windows or operating cranes on towering structures, everything gets all tingly. I’ll keep my feet firmly planted on the ground, thanks!
5. What is your favorite writing motto/mantra?
Just do it. We all have our tricks for encouraging creativity or brainstorming plot ideas, but the reality is that one’s capacity to write is directly related to the ability to sit down and crank the words out. The surest way to writer’s block is to wait for the muse to strike. Instead, I’ve found that forcing out those first few sentences – as horrible as they seem at the time – is the only sure way to a productive writing session.
When Una Fairchild stumbles upon a mysterious book buried deep in the basement of her school library, she thinks nothing of opening the cover and diving in. But instead of paging through a regular novel, Una suddenly finds herself Written In to the land of Story—a world filled with Heroes and Villains and fairy-tale characters.
But not everything in Story is as magical as it seems. Una must figure out why she has been Written In—and fast—before anyone else discovers her secret. Together with her new friend Peter and a talking cat named Sam, Una digs deep into Story's shadowy past. She quickly realizes that she is tied to the world in ways she never could have imagined—and it might be up to her to save it.
A few days ago, I wrote a post asking for topic suggestions and readers came back with some very intriguing ideas! But one has been echoed by Facebook messages, Twitter replies and interview questions, so I thought I'd address it here.
Anonymous commented: I want to know what your next book will be about!
Well, let me tell you, I am dying to talk about it. I wrote the first draft of Book 2 last summer and fall, and struggled with it. I think most published writers talk about the dreaded Sophomore book, the Book 2 curse, the horrible fear of being a one-hit wonder.
I was terrified that GILT was a fluke. That I didn't know how to write a book. That my agent and editor were deluded. That I would let everyone down - agent, editor, myself, and (worst of all) readers.
But I wrote it. And that first draft was not pretty.
However, I loved my character from the very beginning. My husband teases me when I tell people this, but her voice just came to me. (Oh, so now you're hearing voices?) It was a six-hour drive to see my family, everything was quiet in the car, the road curved around a river and bam! The book started. This girl was funny. Snarky. Self-assured but vulnerable. So different from Kitty in GILT. It was her voice that carried me through the first draft. And her voice that made me able to sustain the revisions.
I have a couple of revisions left to go (a novel's path to publication is a long process!), so I am not yet ready to talk about this character. I know I sound cagey, and I'd rather not be. But I want to retain the freedom of writing this character without other voices intruding. Without comments or suggestions.
Writing historical fiction based on real people naturally invites opposing opinions - we don't know what these people were really like! This is what makes them so much fun to read and write about! And I love it when people question my take on an historical character - was Catherine Howard really such a manipulative cow? Was Katherine Tylney really so loyal? Because I don't know! These are real people, but my characters are fictional! I'm just not ready to face these questions yet about Book 2. I need the book to be complete, to put the character to rest, and then I'll tell you all about it.
Having spent time as a freelance travel writer, travel agent, coffee shop barista, bookseller, ship's steward, construction company contracts manager and Montessori preschool teacher, I have finally found my calling. I write historical fiction for young adults. I am represented by Catherine Drayton of InkWell Management.
When poet Thomas Wyatt offers to coach Anne Boleyn on how to shine at court, she accepts. Before long, Anne's popularity has soared, but more than popularity, Anne wants a voice. What began as a game becomes high stakes as Anne finds herself forced to make an impossible choice between her heart's desire and the chance to make history.
When her best friend marries Henry VIII, Kitty Tylney must learn to walk the fine line between secrets and treason, discovering that in the Tudor court, the price of gossip could literally be her head.