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Blog Tour: Cress

Author Marissa Meyer stops by to discuss the challenges of writing a series, particularly one with four books rather than three. Plus: Win a set of the first three books in The Lunar Chronicles and a special Cress comb!

Blog Tour: Cress

Welcome to the Cress Blog Tour!

Last week, I had the opportunity to review Cress, the third book in The Lunar Chronicles series. It was, as expected, fantastic—It’s going to be hard to wait until 2015 for the last book in the series. But since Marissa Meyer stopped by our lockers and spoke with such passion about how difficult it can be to undertake a four-book project (see below), I suppose I can temper my impatience just a little bit.

On the Challenges of Writing a Quartet
By Marissa Meyer

Ask any writer what the most difficult part of writing a book is and they’ll probably say it’s the middle. That dreaded second act—with its tangle of subplots, slogging stakes, and milling suspense—is the bane of most novelists. As opposed to the beginning, which is full of character introductions and inciting incidents, and the end, full of heart-wrenching climaxes and clever resolutions, the seemingly endless middle is too often full of convoluted subplots and aimlessly wandering heroes. The middle gets us, every time.

This phenomenon doesn’t just plague a single novel. It’s also prevalent in series. The second book in a trilogy has many of the same challenges—it must act as a bridge between the beginning and the end, raise the stakes while still leaving them somewhere to go next, show growth in the protagonist without fully completing their character arc, and—above all—it must hold the reader’s attention enough that they will want to dive into the final book as soon as possible. That’s asking a lot out of a book. Known as “second book syndrome,” it’s unfortunately too common for middle books to fall flat to readers’ expectations.

Which is why I have sometimes questioned my sanity in deciding to write, not a trilogy, but a quartet.

Cress is the third of four books in The Lunar Chronicles, making it the second half of a very, very long middle. Knowing the trouble with middles from day one, it has always been important to me to face the second-book syndrome head-on in both Scarlet and Cress. My greatest goal for both of these books was that they would add to the world and story set up in Cinder—increased stakes, unexpected twists, fun new characters—without feeling like the story was meandering aimlessly in between the beginning and the end.

To do that, I considered the overall plot way back when I was first outlining the series, before I wrote a single word, and gave a lot of thought to the major plot arcs that would continue through all four books. Who is Cinder at the beginning and who will she have to become? What new lengths will Queen Levana go to in order to stake her claim over Earth? How will Cinder’s and Kai’s goals change in order to accommodate the new challenges Levana throws at them?

At the same time, I knew that each book would more or less follow the arc of the fairy tale it was inspired by, so that there would be new characters for the reader to meet, and new resolutions—secrets revealed, minor villains vanquished, temporary safety for our heroes—at the completion of each book.

Suffice to say, it’s taken a lot of brainstorming, theorizing, and experimentation to get to this point—three books down, one to go. Readers will make the final decision on whether or not I succeeded, but looking back over my initial hopes for the series, I think I’ve managed to stay true to those goals, and I hope that readers are enjoying the rollercoaster adventure played out by Cinder and her ragtag band of rebels.

Next up: Winter, the epic conclusion. Also known as the end. Wish me luck!

Check out the rest of the stops on the Cress blog tour below:

Monday, Jan. 20: That Artsy Reader Girl
Tuesday, Jan. 21: Mermaid Vision Books
Wednesday, Jan. 22: MacTeenBooks
Thursday, Jan. 23: Refracted Light Reviews
Friday, Jan. 24: Love is Not a Triangle
Monday, Jan. 27: YA Bibliophile
Tuesday Jan. 28: The Irish Banana Review
Wednesday, Jan. 29: Forever Young Adult—That’s us!
Thursday, Jan. 30: Alexa Loves Books
Friday, Jan. 31: FicFare
Monday, Feb. 3: Mundie Moms

Cress will be available Feb. 4.

Connect with Marissa and The Lunar Chronicles:

Become a fan of The Lunar Chronicles on Facebook | Become a fan of Marissa Meyer on Facebook | Follow Marissa Meyer on Twitter | Follow along with The Lunar Chronicles on Tumblr | Pre-Order a copy of Cress to get a free comb! Details here. (U.S. only) | See Marissa Meyer on tour | Join the Scarlet Readathon | Get more fun Lunar Chronicles links and info on the MacTeenBooks blog

Want to win paperback copies of Cinder and Scarlet, a hardcover copy of Cress and a special Cress comb? Let us know who your favorite Lunar Chronicles character is (and why) below. We’ll choose a winner Feb. 4. Per the publisher: U.S./Canada only, please. Giveaway is now closed.

Mandy Curtis's photo About the Author: Mandy is a small town girl living in a nerdy world, or—if you want to get literal—an editor/writer living in Austin, TX. In addition to yearning for YA books—the more dystopian or fantastical, the better—she can also be found swooning over superheroes, dreaming of The Doctor and grinning at GIFs.