Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Interview with Maurissa Guibord, author of REVEL

Before becoming a writer, Maurissa Guibord’s work life consisted of slinging pizzas, alphabetizing things, and . . . oh, yeah, practicing medicine. Now she writes teen fantasy that’s mysterious and romantic with more than a touch of humor. (Even a sea god is human, after all.)

Maurissa’s first novel, WARPED (Delacorte, 2011) was a Rita Award finalist  for Best First Novel and Best Young Adult Romance. In a starred review, School Library Journal called it “imaginative, compelling,  and impossible to put down.”

With her second novel, REVEL, Maurissa moves from enchanted medieval tapestry to modern-day sea monsters—some of them the stuff that daydreams are made of. 

She lives on the coast of Maine with her husband and three kids. She’s a former Inkie, so we say: Welcome home, Maurissa!

Boy, Maurissa, you sure know how to show a girl a good time. In your first book, WARPED, you sent a modern young woman into a medieval tapestry to fight a dragon and an evil sorceress. And now, in REVEL, your heroine is trapped on a mysterious uncharted island complete with sea monsters. What propelled the leap from medieval England to a modern —but still harrowing—Maine island? What got you started on the road to REVEL?

So glad you had a good time, Ellen. I hope other readers will too! The idea for REVEL began with a visit to a real place here in Maine—Peaks Island. A ferry leaves from Portland several times a day to transport visitors and residents to this beautiful, rocky island. Each time I visit I’m impressed by the feeling of being very removed from everyday life on the mainland as well as a very distinct air of independence among the close knit people who live there year round.

Those features—the island being isolated from “real” life as well as the reserved nature of the inhabitants—just needed one more thing to get a story going in my head. Monsters!

I have to say, this book surprised me at every turn, and I NEVER would have predicted what happens to your heroine and her friends. Did you surprise yourself, or did you always know how things were going to turn out?

I had no idea what was going to happen or how things were going to be resolved. Even now I’m wondering what’s going on over there on Trespass…


WARPED has references to Norse folklore, while REVEL has a strong connection with Greek mythology—a comforting touch of the familiar in what’s otherwise a truly unique fantasy. What draws you to mythology and folklore, and what role do you think it plays in your books?

Mythology rocks! But beyond that I think the themes and characters from the great traditional stories give readers a shared starting off point. So when you say, “There’s this island with sea monsters and demi-gods descended from Poseidon,” a reader can immediately get a flavor of what might be the backstory, or of what is to come, but there’s so much room for surprises and twists.

Both of your heroines—Delia in REVEL and Tessa in WARPED— are strong and courageous young women, but each has her vulnerabilities. In Delia’s case, it’s a sense of being alone and unwanted, especially after she makes her way to the close-knit island society. How do you go about developing a character like her? Do you start with her strengths or her vulnerabilities?

As a reader I like to get to know a character and go on a journey with them and I also want to identify with them as real people. So I begin from the ground up—that is with weakness and limitations. I want my character to wind up on top, to win the fight. But I want those strengths to be revealed (or even developed) as the story goes along. So I definitely begin with the vulnerabilities—which may be as simple as being in a bad situation, like having a parent die when you’re young.

This is definitely a romance as well as a fantasy, with two very different male leads. (Let’s just say, I’ll never think of gills the same way again.) Do you have a technique for coming up with sexy love interests—are there certain characteristics you shoot for? Or do they just pop into your head? (If so, you are a lucky woman.)

Ha! Imagining sexy men and romantic situations—gosh, the life of a writer is so difficult, isn’t it? There are only two things that a man must have to be a romantic character for me: intelligence and humor. After that, anything goes. He doesn’t have to be handsome or sweet or super-strong etc. And I would say the same for female romantic leads. Brains beat beauty every time.
Also the best romance books for me are 90% witty banter, action and adventure shared by two interesting characters and maybe 10% actual “romance.”

I have a very clear idea of what Trespass Island looks like—it seems like we travel over most of it during the course of the book. And the island society rings true. How did you get it to jell—did you draw maps? Go out lobstering?

Ahem. I geeked out in a big way over this and spent an afternoon drawing a map. It was really fun to do and drawing some unique places and features on the island even gave me ideas for the story.
 Here it is:



It looks exactly as I envisioned it! Very cool, Maurissa.

Which brings me to the next question: So far, anyway, you write fantasy that has one foot firmly planted in the real world. What are the advantages and disadvantages of writing that kind of reality-based fantasy? What draws you to it? Have you ever considered “high” fantasy?

I guess I just write what appeals to me and that’s usually about something fantastic or terrifying that happens to a regular Joe, or Josephine as the case may be.  So high fantasy probably is not in the cards for me.

What’s next? Are you working on something new?

Yes! I’m working on a mystery story right now that involves a girl making a visit to Tartarus. But you know what the only bad thing is about visiting Tartarus is, don’t you?  You usually have to be dead. So I’m trying to figure out a good way to kill off my main character in the first couple of pages.

Thanks so much for this interview, Ellen!

Well, if anyone can kill somebody off in a compelling way, it’s you. Thanks for dropping by, Maurissa. And good luck with REVEL!

For more information about Maurissa Guibord and her books, check out her web site: www.maurissaguibord.com.



***

Ellen Booraem is the author of THE UNNAMEABLES, SMALL PERSONS WITH WINGS, and the upcoming TEXTING THE UNDERWORLD (August 2013). She lives in Downeast Maine with an artist, a dog, and a cat, one of whom is a practicing curmudgeon. She's online at www.ellenbooraem.com.


9 comments:

  1. Thanks for the awesome interview, Ellen. Maurissa--I think I am officially intrigued and I'm going to run over to my Kindle and tell it to get ready for some new downloads! This is just what I love!

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  2. I highly recommend it, Lisa. And I REALLY want a sequel--Maurissa and publisher please take note.

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  3. Thanks so much for a great interview, Ellen and Maurissa! Truly can't wait to read this! I'm fascinated by islands, and I *loved* WARPED.

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  4. You really can't go wrong with sea monsters. Looking forwarding to reading it!

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  5. That cover is awesome. This is going on my list!

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  6. Terrific interview! Fun to have the tie in to Peaks Island. I agree that the best romantic leads are funny and smart more than handsome.

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  7. I'm right in the middle of this book and loving it so much! Thanks for the map. Maurissa. I'm very challenged when it comes to spatial relations, so this is marvelous!

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  8. Maurissa, the map is great--I'm in awe of your multitalents! I enjoyed WARPED so much; can't wait to read REVEL, which sounds wonderful!

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