Home Interviews Zoë Marriott for Lost in Young Adults

Zoë Marriott for Lost in Young Adults

by Louisa Klein

1) Why young adult? Did you choose this genre 
or were you ‘chosen’ by it? 
I do feel as if YA chose me. Which is odd because,
as a young adult between the ages of twelve and
eighteen, I mostly read adult books. We didn't
 have much spare money to buy books with, and I
 only had access to a couple of local libraries.
I had practically stripped their children's and
YA departments bare by the age of eleven, and
moved onto the adult sections simply because
there was nothing else new to read.
I always knew that I wanted to be a writer,
but I vacillated wildly as to what kind of stories
I wanted to tell. I loved literary fiction and the classics,
 mysteries, romances, poetry, horror, historical and all kinds of
fantasy, and wished there was a way to combine all of these into one book.
But that didn't seem to be possible.
Then, when I was eighteen, my oldest niece was born.
I decided to be original and buy books for her nursery
shelf rather than anything as cliched as a stuffed animal or mobile.
I dug around in my dim and misty memories of books I'd loved as a child,
and ordered a pile of YA novels online (blissfully unaware that they were
inappropriate for a newborn baby). When the books arrived they exerted a
kind of magnetic pull on me, and instead of giving them to my sister
I ended up re-reading them.
Discovering these old favourites as if for the first time felt like being
hit by lightning. I knew, almost at once, that THIS was what I needed to be
writing - genre-crossing books for young people. And I've never changed my
mind in all the years since.
2) Is there an author, living or dead, who inspired you particularly? 
The author whose books I was reading when I realised that I wanted to be a
YA novelist was Tamora Pierce. I think she has had the most influence on my
work; not just because her Lioness Rampant Quartet was responsible for my
personal ephiphany, but also because all her stories are profoundly
Feminist and determinedly diverse, including characters from many different
cultural and religious backgrounds, and making room for people of different
physical abilities and sexualities.
She writes beautifully, but she also writes thoughtfully and inclusively,
and I hope that the stories I chose to tell follow in her footsteps.
3) Please, tell us about your last book and, if you can, about your future projects.
My last book was "FrostFire" which is due out from Walker Books in July of this year. It's a
companion novel to my second book, "Daughter of the Flames".
FrostFire is about a young woman named Frost who has been fighting an internal
battle her whole life: a battle with a wolf spirit which is inexplicably
bound up in her human soul. When the wolf sees blood it takes control of
her body and sends Frost into berserker rages where she's just as likely to
attack friend as foe, and this has destroyed any chance she might have had
for a normal life. After the death of her mother she flees her native
country and follows rumours of the miraculous healing powers of a certain
fire goddess to a foreign country - the recently war-torn Ruan. But once
there chance brings her into contact with the Ruan Hill Guard, who are
engaged in a vicious border struggle with the remnants of the army which
lost the Ruan civil war. These people are, in their own ways, just as
scarred and broken as she is, and she finds herself caught between the urge
to flee and the urge to stand and fight, just as she's torn between two
very different men.
As for future projects: I'm currently working on an urban fantasy trilogy -
The Katana Trilogy - which is my first series and also my first story with
a contemporary setting and characters. The first book, "The Night
Itself" http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13031257-the-night-itself>,
is finished, and is due out from Walker next year. I can't wait for my
readers to see this, as it's so different from everything I've written
before, and I've absolutely loved being able to let my...unique sense of
humour out to play on the page for the first time!
4) How was your writing journey? Was it difficult to find an agent and get published?
Well, I don't think it was too bad - but when I tell people about it, they
get a bit wide-eyed, so maybe it's all in your perspective? My first YA
novel (which will never see the light of day) was rejected by twenty-six UK
publishers and two in Australia before I gave up (and countless agents,
too!). But I was very lucky - one of the editors who eventually rejected it
contacted me personally and told me he felt I had a lot of potential. He
asked me to send the next thing I wrote straight to him, and in the
following year he periodically emailed me to check how I was doing, which I
now realise was a very unsual decision on his part! When I finished my next
book I emailed it to him, and within twenty-four hours he emailed me back
to say 'This is very, very good'. He and his boss invited me up to London
to meet them and talk - but the editor warned me that his boss really
wanted me to consider writing Young Readers for them, or taking on some
other project, because she wasn't sure how they would sell a piece of
fantasy that was so clearly marketed at young women. This was way before *
Twilight* and *The Hunger Games* came along and revolutionised everything,
and the idea at the time was that girls really only read contemporary
novels and fantasy was for boys.
So I prepared myself. I went in there happy and smiling and told them I'd
be interested in any work they wanted to offer me - but could we just chat
about my fantasy book for a minute first? And then I talked at them for
forty minutes, bringing up Tamora Pierce and Robin McKinley and Meg Cabot
and J K Rowling, pointing out how these authors had a huge female
following, how they wrote books with strong romantic subplots, how each of
them were rewarded with brilliant sales, and saying that I felt there was
enormous potential for British fantasy aimed at girls.
By the end of the meeting they'd agreed to work with me on revisions and
had even given me a development contract - which meant that they paid me
for my time in making changes to the book, even if they didn't eventually
publish it. Looking back, I can't believe my own nerve! But a few months
later I'd gotten my first agent and my first proper publishing contract.
The book was "The Swan Kingdom".
5) What’s your opinion about this E-book revolution? 
Would you consider the indie route?
I love e-books! I love the instant gratification of them - point, click,
and book in hand. I love the fact that I can get five books and not have to
spend half an hour wracking my brains as to where to shove them on my
already over-stuffed shelves. I love the extra portability, which allows me
to take twelve books on a holiday without dislocating my shoulder. I still
buy a lot of physical books too, but e-books have encouraged me to buy more
books than I probably would have thought wise if I had to find space for
them all and carry them around.
On the other hand, I don't really see indie as a viable path for me at the
moment. I know that I'm lucky; I've always had very close working
relationships with my editors, and the people at my publisher are
wonderful, warm, creative types with whom it is a pleasure to deal.
Revising and re-writing my work with an editor who loves it as much as me
and is dedicated to making it the best it can possibly be is a joyful
process and without it nothing I've written would be even half as good.
Having professional graphic designers create cover art and internal designs
to enhance the story in physical and e-book form is thrilling. Having
professional proof-readers and copy-editors checking and rechecking my
words and type-setting them for me is very comforting. Having a PR
department working hard on my book's behalf is humbling. So tempting as it
is to imagine that I could make a million pounds by independently
publishing a book on Kindle/Smashwords/B&N for 99p, I'd be very reluctant
to give all that up and go it alone.
6) Nowadays many publishers expect their authors 
to use social media a lot to promote their books. 
Many authors, on the other hand, would prefer to write only, 
without being distracted by digital trivialities: what are your thoughts?
Again, I'm very lucky - my publisher never pressures me to do anything that
I'm not already enthusiastically doing by myself! I actually love
interacting with my readers, with reviewers/bloggers, and with other
writers online. I don't exactly live in a bustling cultural Mecca, so
having access to this thriving virtual YA community is a wonderful chance
for me to connect with those who share common interests and get excited
about the same stuff as I do. Both as a writer and as a person, I thank
heavens for the internet every day!
I have to admit that I'm not one of those frighteningly organised writers
with a marketing and PR plan, or anything like that. I just like to talk to
people, and I find that being genuine and interested gains you friends very
quickly. That's all do, just talk to people and make friends. And my
publisher and agent seem to think I'm doing OK, so that's fine by me.

Info about the author:
Zoë Marriott lives in a little house in a town by the sea, with two
rescued cats, a springer/cocker spaniel known as The Devil Hound, and over
10,000 books. Her first YA novel -*The Swan Kingdom*, a fairytale retelling
based on Hans Christian Andersen's 'Wild Swans' - was written when she was
only twenty one, and published when she was twenty-four.

To know more, please visit her website: http://www.zoemarriott.com

To buy her latest book, simply click on the cover below:

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