So here we go, questions for Melissa:
Q: What’s your favorite thing about Made For You?
A: Writing Judge. I’ve wanted to write the voice of a killer since I first taught Joyce Carol Oates’ fabulous short story “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” (when I was teaching university in the 90s). That was also right before I had a stalker. . . all of which was when I lived in North Carolina. So I think this particular novel has been percolating longer than anything I’ve written. It was exciting to get to write the story, and especially Judge.
Q: What inspired you to bring many of the themes you’ve tackled in fantasy into a contemporary setting?
A: Is this the part where I admit that I’m not sure what themes you mean? I don’t set out with themes. Sometimes I can find them when I’m in revision, and sometimes I find out what they are when readers or interviewers ask about them. Sadly, though, I don’t do any of it on purpose. If the same ones are in there, I suspect they must be things I’m pondering or interested in exploring further.
Q: In which ways were you constrained or liberated by writing within a “real” world as you navigated Eva’s newfound power to foresee people’s deaths?
A: I didn’t feel constrained. The only real exceptions were that Eva needed to get discharged from the hospital sooner than would be medically wise, and that her broken leg really limited her mobility, so there are a number of scenes where she needs carried or pushed in her wheelchair. That was hard because I wanted to avoid the “damsel” trope. Overall though, the book was a big logic puzzle. Most of the real-world aspects simply added to the difficulty the characters faced, which was an asset to the story.
Q: You do suspense and intrigue so well. How did you begin to construct the mystery for this story? Character or plot?
A: Thank you! The story started with Eva getting hit. From there, I did what I do for every book: I asked “what next” & “how did we get to here?” That, as it often does, answered a lot of my questions on characters (“who are they?” answers spring from “what do they want?”) and plot trajectory.
I write in layers, so each draft I’d layer in different clues. It’s a slower process, but I wanted to insert cues that could lead readers to think this or that person was Judge—and possibilities as to which person would be the next victim.
That’s my standard process: a) inroads scene, b) questions, c) layers. It generally results in the first draft of a book, and then I revise repeatedly.
Q: What drew you to the Southern Gothic setting and genre?
A: My graduate thesis was on Southern Lit (Faulkner specifically). I lived in North Carolina for 7 years, and in Virginia for 9 years (split over two separate times living here). Mix that with a childhood in a rural area, and the draw towards this setting was hard to resist.
That said, I wouldn’t call this properly Southern Gothic. (It’s my publisher who affixed that tag to the book.) There are elements of the Southern Gothic in the novel (class issues, a bit of creepiness, and a section with some decayed architecture). However, the general sense of the decay of the Southern aristocracy, the gorgeous decaying visuals, and the near-grotesque (in literary not literal terms) elements are absent. If we were to define the genre properly, I’d say that Made For You is a Southern-lit influenced romantic suspense novel. . . but I’m guessing that’s far too wordy for publishing labels :)
ABOUT THE BOOK
Made for You
by Melissa Marr
Bestselling author of the Wicked Lovely books Melissa Marr’s first contemporary YA novel is a twisted southern gothic tale of obsession, romance, and murder. A killer is obsessed with Eva Tilling. Can she stop him, or will he claim her?
When Eva Tilling wakes up in the hospital, she’s confused—who in her sleepy little North Carolina town could have hit her with their car? And why? But before she can consider the question, she finds that she’s awoken with a strange new skill: the ability to foresee people’s deaths when they touch her. While she is recovering from the hit-and-run, Nate, an old flame, reappears, and the two must traverse their rocky past as they figure out how to use Eva’s power to keep her friends—and themselves—alive. But while Eva and Nate grow closer, the killer grows increasingly frantic in his attempt to get to Eva.
For the first time, New York Times bestselling author Melissa Marr has applied her extraordinary talent to contemporary realism. Chilling twists, unrequited obsession, and high-stakes romance drive this Gothic, racy thriller—a story of small-town oppression and salvation. Melissa’s fans, and every YA reader, will find its wild ride enthralling.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Melissa grew up believing in faeries, ghosts, and various other creatures. After teaching college lit for a decade, she applied her fascination with folklore to writing.
Melissa writes fiction for adults, teens, and children. Her books have been translated into 28 languages to date and been bestsellers in the US (NY Times, LA Times, USA Today, Wall Street Journal) as well as various countries overseas. She is best known for the Wicked Lovely seriesfor teens and Graveminder for adults.
Wicked Lovely was her first novel; it was simultaneously released in the US and UK by HarperCollins in 2007 (with translation rights also sold in twenty-some countries). It debuted as a NY Times Bestseller and evolved into a multi-book series with myriad accolades and international bestseller lists.
Her debut adult book, Graveminder, released to strong critical reception in 2011. Following that she has edited anthologies with Kelley Armstrong (Enthralled and Shards & Ashes) and with her friend Tim Pratt (Rags & Bones), and released a second adult novel (The Arrivals) in 2013.
With Kelley Armstrong, Melissa is the co-author of the Blackwell Pages trilogy (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers), a children’s series about the Norse myth of Ragnarök.
Her upcoming HarperCollins 2014 release, Made For You, utilizes both her graduate degree in Southern Literature and her personal experience with stalkers in a story about a killer who terrorizes a small North Carolina town.
Currently, Melissa resides in Virginia with her spouse, children, and many dogs.
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