Author Interview - MARISSA BURT

Marissa Burt is joining us today! She is agented by Laura Langlie and her MG fantasy trilogy THE TALE OF UNA FAIRCHILD is currently on submission. 

This illustration is of Una Fairchild, a shy and imaginative thirteen-year-old girl. I wanted this drawing to fit the fantastical, storybook vibe I got from the description and used silver and gold tones.

1)  What is your book about?  

The Tale of Una Fairchild: The Beginning is the first book in a middle-grade fantasy trilogy.  

Meet Una Fairchild, a shy thirteen-year-old misfit who feels invisible most of the time. Add a mysterious old book and the unknown author who writes Una into it. Throw in a little enchantment and join Una as she stumbles into a bewitching world where characters-in-training enroll at Perrault College to learn skills like Heroics and Outdoor Experiential Questing in the hopes of being cast into a story of their own.

As if learning to juggle character classes and life with her snooty new roommate wasn’t enough, Una and her friends discover that the legendary rulers of the land are not myths, as the college administration claims. Instead, the ancient enemy of the land is about to be set free after centuries of bondage in the king’s guardian books. And he is looking for Una. Now, Una must find out who has written her in and why, all while dodging the enemy’s seekers and the power-hungry college administration. Una’s quest lands her smack dab in the middle of an ongoing battle between good and evil and unearths a secret about her own identity that will change her life forever.

2) What inspired you to write the story?

You know the feeling where you come to the end of a great book and are sad to say farewell to your character friends?  Well, I don't like those goodbyes.  Besides, I always imagine the characters carrying on without me, going about their business even when nosy readers aren't spying on them.  And I wondered what would happen if a girl from our world stumbled into theirs.  So I wrote that story.  

And one of the best things about writing is that every time I write part of the second or third books (
The Middle and The End, respectively), I get to spend time in Una's world.  Which means sitting in on character classes and eating treats like blackbird tarts and talking with friendly cats by crackling autumn fires and going on Important Quests and...well, you'll just have to read the book to find out more.

3) What is your favorite fantasy book and why?

Okay, so all of us who love to read know this is the question that stumps us.  I'll narrow it down.  In no particular order, here are my favorite fantasy books from when I was Una's age.

Lord of the Rings, by: J.R.R. Tolkien.  I read this for the first time in the 7th grade and wore an old key ring on a chain around my neck for weeks. I really didn't care that carrying the ring was a Bad Thing in the book; I just really wanted to be in the story!  But then the key ring gave me a rash, so, in the end, it was a very practical application.

Solo's Journey, by: Joy Smith Aiken.  This book made me a thief.  It was out of print when I first checked it out from the library, and there were only two copies in the whole county system.  So I kept the book.  Hey, I went back and paid the $20 fee!  Anyway, I think it might have been reprinted by now (or it should be - hint! hint!), so get your claws on a copy.

Tailchaser's Song, by: Tad Williams.  A classic.  This is one of the books that got me in trouble for reading during class.  But, you know?  It was so totally worth it.  

4) What's your advice to authors looking for an agent?

Once you've polished your manuscript and know that it's the best it can be, do your research.  There are so many excellent resources out there from agent websites to author blogs to the annual 
Guide to Literary Agents -- all of which can help you find an agent who might be a good match.  

It's tempting to e-mail every address you can find as fast as your 
little fingers can hit "send".  But move that cursor over and hit "save draft" instead.  At least until you find the right agent.  Not only will the right agent have the professional experience and connections needed to submit your book, but she'll take an active interest in your work and be enthusiastic about your project.  Out of all the things I love about my agent (and there are many - she's amazing), her optimism and encouragement top the list.  So try and be patient.  It'll be worth it.      

5) You have a feature on your blog called Rummaging Reads. Can you tell us about it and what your favorite book-inspired snack is?

Well, have you ever read a book and then wanted to go rummage through your cupboards for a snack? I have. Lots of times. So, once a week, or thereabouts, I try and post a munchie and the book it inspired.  

And, hands down, my favorite is cake.  Any kind of cake, really.  Whenever a character is eating cake, I feel an irresistible urge to get baking.  Perhaps this is because I have been on a lifelong search for the Gold-and-Silver cake described in 
Chapter 34 of Anne of Ingleside.  If you find the recipe, make sure to let me know.  

Thank you, Marissa! I too get cravings after reading about food in books and glad I'm not the only one. (I'm on a mission to create the perfect butter beer.) Well, if anyone knows my background with the game, Portal, you know I couldn't agree more about cake.

Cheers, and looking forward to seeing Una's debut!



Enjoyed this interview? If you're an author, editor, agent, or illustrator and would like a five question interview and a drawing of your character (or of yourself), email me at rtlovejoy (at) yahoo (dot) com. 


  1. Realm - thanks a thousand times over. Una is perfect. M

  2. Sounds like a great story. Best of luck :)

    I have a silver bracelet with the one ring poem on it - and I've worn it since I was in tenth grade. This past winter, my car broke down and was overheating and I popped the hood to try to figure it out myself. But the steam was everywhere and I couldn't get the bracelet off in time and the metal heated and burned my wrist. Later when I was whining to my sister about burning myself, she got really quiet and then said: "It would have been really cool if it burned the elvish into your skin."

  3. Fun interview. A middle grade fantasy sounds like a great read. Congrats on your success!

  4. Fantastic interview, Marissa. And Realm, that is a gorgeous illustration!!!

  5. Beautiful illustration and fabulous interview! Nice work ladies!

  6. Great interview and it sounds like a series I would really enjoy. And I love the illustration!

  7. I would definitely read this--I love middle grade fantasy! Good luck with submissions and please update us if it sells!

    As always, Realm--great ills!

  8. Suzie - Wow. If the poem had burned onto your wrist - you would definitely win the ultimate LOTR fan award.

    Thanks, everyone! I'll keep you posted. M

  9. Thank you, everyone! Glad you enjoyed the interview! I'll definitely post news when Marissa tells me the book sold. (Best of wishes, Marissa!)

    Suzie and Marissa -- Haha! I have a LoTR memory too. I remember when I was a kid, I was so excited about Frodo's adventures that I would pack my bag with food - as if I was going to go on an adventure myself - sit on the couch with the backpack for bit, and then unpack it and go to bed. What a weird thing to do, right?

  10. Realm - HAHA! Your parents must have gotten a kick out of that...or been very confused.

    I remember I loved the nights my mom would fix stew or something that felt quest-ish.

    What I love is that you did all that and then unpacked and put the food away. Very tidy. M

  11. Marissa -- Yeah, I was an odd child. Oh my God, reading LoTR always makes me want stew. Hahaha. It is so quest-ish.

  12. hey Marissa, can you plz write a third book? and can you make it maybe 3 yrs after Una wrote her fathers Tale? i really hope Una gets adopted by the Merriweathers!
    Your biggest fan~ Kyla Thompson


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