Q&A with Marissa Meyer

Q: What inspired you to write about Rumpelstiltskin?
A: Rumpelstiltskin is one of those fairy tales that I’ve felt drawn to since I was a kid. I remember thinking it was so creepy when I was growing up, in no small part because I felt like it was riddled with unanswered questions. I wanted to know who Rumpelstiltskin was, and how was it that he had the magic to spin straw into gold, and what exactly did he plan on doing with the queen’s firstborn child once he got it? I also struggled to comprehend how the heroine could expect to have a ‘happily ever after’ once she was married to the same king who had once threatened to have her killed if she couldn’t complete this impossible task. I guess you could say I was a little unsatisfied with the information I got from the fairy tale, and for years have felt that I’d love to write my own spin on the story and see if I couldn’t answer some of those lingering questions.

Q: Why do you think reimaginings of fairy tales are so popular?
A: There’s something very universal about the themes inherent in fairy tales. They’re filled with powerful messages and symbols that reach across time and culture. The idea that good defeats evil; that kindness and generosity lead to just rewards, while cruelty is punished; that no matter who you are or what are the circumstances of your birth, we can all improve our status, defeat the giant, find true love. These things speak to us on a deeply human level, and in a way that allows for infinite interpretations even while maintaining the heart of the story. Cinderella is a rags to riches story, but that story can be told in 9th-century China, Victorian England, a high school in New York City or a distant planet in the far future. It gives writers a chance to be creative and explore the story in new and interesting ways, while still giving readers something familiar and comforting.

Q: What do you enjoy about writing for a YA audience?
A: I love how optimistic and enthusiastic teenagers are. As adults, we can lose touch with our inner revolutionary, our inner dreamer or our inner romantic. But young people are still very much experiencing these big emotions, and they have big ideas and hopes for the future that I find so inspiring. I love being able to write protagonists that believe in themselves and the people around them, and who aren’t afraid to go forwards into the world and make a difference. I see that in real life with today’s teens, and it’s great to be able to channel that into my characters, too, and I hope inspire readers as they’ve inspired me.

Q: Gilded is also inspired by myths surrounding the Wild Hunt, poltergeists, haunted castles and enchanted woods, do you have a particular interest in myths and legends?
A: Definitely! This book is largely inspired by Germanic and Norse mythology, which I wasn’t particularly well-versed in before I started writing, so I’ve had to do a lot of research, which made for a lot of fascinating reading! Like with fairy tales, I’m very drawn to folk tales and ghost stories and superstitions. I love seeing the different stories that various cultures have used to explain different phenomena, like thunder storms or the moon cycle, and it’s been really fun to develop a fantasy world off of some of those legends.

Q: Can you describe Gilded in three words?
A: Ghosts. Monsters. Lies.

Q: What are your three desert island books?
A: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, Mortal Heart by Robin LaFevers and Spirit and Dust by Rosemary Clement-Moore.

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