Author Interview - MARISSA BURT
1) What is your book about?
The Tale of Una Fairchild: 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 ( 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.
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.
1. Lord of the Rings, by: . 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.
2. 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.
3. 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.
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.
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.