Best-selling author of the Wicked Lovely series, Melissa Marr, returns with Carnival of Souls. This new novel is the first of a duology set in a world full of violence, magic, and pacts. Populated with intriguing characters who are fighting to make their lives better, Carnival of Souls is an exploration of the bonds between family and reluctant allies.
Melissa Marr and Kelley Armstrong will be joined by many other fabulous authors for the three Smart Chicks Kick It 3.0 tour stops across Canada at Chapters Westside in Edmonton (9/13), Chapters Pointe-Claire in Montreal (9/15), and Chapters Dartmouth in Dartmouth (9/16). Please see our events page for more details! If you have an opportunity, you have to go as this will be the last of the Smart Chicks tours. (We met with many of these authors during their first tour, and have this great Indigo Minute from the second tour.)
Welcome, Melissa, to the blog!
Indigo Teen Blog (ITB): Family—mostly adoptive or created family—is a huge theme in Carnival of Souls. (Like with Adam and Mallory or Kaleb and Zevi.) Is blood thicker than water? Or is pack more who you make it to be?
Melissa Marr (MM): I think there are people who get hung up on biology, but I’ve never understood that notion. Love and family are choices. My daughter isn’t of my blood; my son-to-be-born infant won’t be either. I chose to be their mother, just as I chose to be the mother of the son I grew inside my body. I feel no difference between the love I hold for each of them, so I have to conclude that “choice before blood” is the answer.
ITB: One of the things that impressed upon me about Aya was her firm resolve not to have children and the lengths she went to preserve her choice. Since your novels are often about choices, can you tell us more about this one? Did Aya evolve from her world or did the restrictions of her world evolve from her?
MM: I think it was both. In a society decimated by war, for a species fighting for survival, children would be vital. So, in The City, the restrictions on women make sense from a world-building stance. However, women’s rights are limited in so many countries, so gender equity concerns tend to be on my mind a lot. In particular, the legislation stripping away reproductive rights in the past year in the US currently serves as a reminder that we have to remain vigilant even once we get progressive laws—because, as we’re seeing, those rights can be taken away again. So, it’s probably safe to say that Aya’s thread evolved from both the post-war society of the text and my own interests.
ITB: From “The Goblin Market” to Something Wicked This Way Comes to The Night Circus, readers have a fascination with circuses and carnivals. Did you have any historical or literary influences for Carnival of Souls?
MM: I’ve never read The Night Circus, and it’s been years since I read Something Wicked This Way Comes, but “Goblin Market” is one of my most beloved pieces of literature. Rossetti’s writing was what led to my initial “I want to study literature” epiphany, so her “Goblin Market” is undoubtedly an influence. I see more from the non-text influences, though: I attend FaerieCon and FaerieWorlds, and I had been in Italy right before writing this. The FaerieWorlds events are filled with costumed and masked people, artists, food, and music. In Italy were street vendors, the Coliseum, and open-air markets. I think those experiences swirled together to create the carnival in my book, but I won’t ever dismiss the influence of classic lit! Teaching those texts was my career for over a decade.
ITB: I loved Graveminder so much, and I’m eager to see another adult book from you. Can you share anything about The Arrivals?
MM: The Arrivals was such fun to write, but I have no idea what genre it is. My typical explanation is Wild West meets wormhole meets monster-hunters. The protagonists are an 1870s saloon girl, a 2012 recovering alcoholic, a 1930s triggerman, and assorted other killers and misfits. There are monsters and boomtowns, corruption and romance, and a lot of violence.
ITB: This is your third year of the Smart Chicks Kick It tour. What’s one of your favourite memories so far from Smart Chicks?
MM: I’m not sure that’s a fair question! I organize the tour with a good friend, Kelley Armstrong; all the authors are people whose books I enjoy; and I’ve met thousands of readers in the US and Canada. I have pretty much only favourite memories. I’m sad that this is the last year; it’s been a lot of fun.
ITB: We’re all thrilled that you and Kelley Armstrong are writing THE BLACKWELL PAGES. It sounds like it’s going to be fantastic. Did anything surprise you during your co-writing process?
MM: Writing with Kelley is such a kick! Our processes are so different that we were worried, but it turns out that the differences are assets. I write till about 4 or 5am—which is when she wakes up. Since we only write the initial drafts when we’re in the same building, we write 24hour/day in a shared file. It creates a pressure to Not Slow Down. If I don’t get my chapter done, she can’t do hers (and the inverse). So it’s this crazy process that we sort of stumbled into at the beginning, but it works for us. We’re already in revision on book 2 in the trilogy (Odin’s Ravens), and the first one (Loki’s Wolves) isn’t out until May 2013.
ITB: As you’re one of the authors whom I trust when I’m looking for my next great read, are there any amazing titles coming out this fall that I should put on my TBR list?
MM: I read several books a week, but at best I only finish 1 out of every 8 books I start. These are the ones that have wowed me of late. I don’t know release dates, so these may be Fall or Winter.
- Splintered – A.G. Howard (companion to Alice in Wonderland; simply delicious and polished writing)
- The Darkest Minds-- Alexandra Bracken (dystopian future; teens held in detainment camps and on the run; very thought-provoking and well crafted)
- The Madman’s Daughter—Meghan Shepherd (inspired by The Island of Doctor Moreau; polished writing, historical setting, unsettling plot)
- Unspoken—Sarah Rees Brennan (Gothic meets funny; if you’ve ever seen Sarah at an event, this is the book you’ve been waiting to read. I laughed out loud on a plane while reading)
- Time Between Us—Tamara Ireland Stone (contemporary romance/time travel; I smiled a lot while reading this.)
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Thanks to Melissa Marr for answering our questions and to our friends at HarperCollins Canada for arranging this interview. Carnival of Souls is available now.