Marissa Burt is the author of Storybound, a Middle Grade fantasy that looks fantastic. This year has been a banner year so far for awesome MG novels, and I am eagerly anticipating Marissa’s debut in April. Until then, I invited her to the virtual offices for a chat about her soon to be released novel.
[Manga Maniac Café] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.
[Marissa Burt] MG fantasy author. Wife. Mother to three boys. Cat lover. Ice-cream connoisseur. Obsessive book reader. A wee bit neurotic.
[Manga Maniac Café] Can you tell us a little about Storybound?
[Marissa Burt] When Una Fairchild stumbles upon a mysterious book buried deep in the basement of her school library, she thinks nothing of opening the cover and diving in. But instead of paging through a regular novel, Una suddenly finds herself Written In to the land of Story—a world filled with Heroes and Villains and fairy-tale characters.
But not everything in Story is as magical as it seems. Una must figure out why she has been Written In—and fast—before anyone else discovers her secret. Together with her new friend Peter and a talking cat named Sam, Una digs deep into Story’s shadowy past. She quickly realizes that she is tied to the world in ways she never could have imagined—and it might be up to her to save it.
[Manga Maniac Café] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?
[Marissa Burt] I’ve always loved to read, and, like many book-lovers, I’m a bit sad when I come to the end of a good book and have to say farewell to the characters. So I imagined a world where the characters carry on without nosy readers peering over their shoulders. And I wondered what would happen if a girl from our reader’s world fell into theirs.
[Manga Maniac Café] What was the most challenging aspect of writing the story?
[Marissa Burt] The biggest challenge was making myself write it – ha! I had the idea for probably about a year before I sat down and found the regular time needed to write a novel. I kept waiting for inspiration to strike and instead I was left with plain old determination. I’ve since learned that it’s best to just keep on writing, whether circumstances are conducive to creativity or not.
[Manga Maniac Café] What three words best describe Una?
[Marissa Burt] Brave. Clever. Determined.
[Manga Maniac Café] What are three things Peter would never have in his pocket?
[Marissa Burt] Ooooh, interesting question. Peter would never have any mean notes about anyone – his heroic ideals are very important to him. Since he’s from the Fantasy District, Peter wouldn’t have any contraptions belonging to a Modern character – no calculators, ink-pens, or i-phones. And I’m not sure Peter would have any snacks or food. He’s usually too busy eating them to stow them away for later.
[Manga Maniac Café] Why did you decide to write for the Middle Grade audience?
[Marissa Burt] I love reading Middle Grade books! I think that’s the era in reading where I began to discover favorite authors of my own, so I’m a bit nostalgic for it. Also, I love that Middle Grade is a place where you can have fun and silliness and also explore pieces of the grown-up world. Very magical.
[Manga Maniac Café] What are your greatest creative influences?
[Marissa Burt] This is a great question! I think my favorite books can’t help but influence my creativity and imagination. So at my core there’s a good bit of L.M. Montgomery, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Jane Austen. Also, thinking up a good setting for my characters is important to me. So time outside – whether in real life or just in a dream-world – in a wildish sort of setting feeds my imagination. The rocky Oregon coast, the rich greens of Pacific Northwest forests, or the snowy magic of the Colorado mountains are some favorites.
[Manga Maniac Café] What three things do you need in order to write?
[Marissa Burt] With three young children in the house, my essentials for writing are pretty minimal. My laptop, earbuds to block out the noise, and the absence of an internet connection.
[Manga Maniac Café] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?
[Marissa Burt] Such a difficult question! My parents were great readers and introduced my brother and I to so many books when we were very young. I’ve loved reading ever since my first "I am Sam" book in preschool, so I’m going to have to go with that one, even though it’s probably not the star you’re looking for.
[Manga Maniac Café] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?
[Marissa Burt] I like to spend time with my family, read (of course), think about other creative projects like quilting or gardening (I usually never get around to doing them, though), go for slow walks somewhere quiet, daydream, and watch movies.
[Manga Maniac Café] Thanks!!
You can learn more about Marissa by visiting the following websites:
Storybound hits stores in April! You can preorder a print or digital copy from your favorite bookseller, or by clicking the widget below.
In the land of Story, children go to school to learn to be characters: a perfect Hero, a trusty Sidekick, even the most dastardly Villain. They take classes on Outdoor Experiential Questing and Backstory, while adults search for full-time character work in stories written just for them.
In our world, twelve-year-old Una Fairchild has always felt invisible. But all that changes when she stumbles upon a mysterious book buried deep in the basement of her school library, opens the cover, and suddenly finds herself transported to the magical land of Story.
But Story is not a perfect fairy tale. Una’s new friend Peter warns her about the grave danger she could face if anyone discovers her true identity. The devious Tale Keeper watches her every move. And there are whispers of a deadly secret that seems to revolve around Una herself….
With the timeless appeal of books like A Wrinkle in Time and the breathtaking action of Inkheart, Storybound has all the makings of a new classic. Brimming with fantastical creatures, magical adventure, and heart-stopping twists, Storybound will leave readers wishing they too could jump through the pages into this enchanting fairy-tale world.