Marlene Perez’s brand new book, Strange Fates, just came out last week from Orbit, and she was kind enough to answer a few questions about the new series, what influences her, and more!
Please welcome Marlene to the blog!
Marlene, you already have more than 10 titles under your belt and the first book of your brand new urban fantasy trilogy, Strange Fates, just came out! Have you always wanted to be a writer? Will you tell us a bit about yourself and your background?
I’ve wanted to be a writer since second grade when we had a unit on journaling. I grew up in a tiny town in Iowa and moved to California in my 20s. I always wanted to write a novel “some day” but I was married, with two small children and a full-time job at a university when I realized that if I didn’t get serious, some day was never going to happen. I got my writing start working for educational publishers, creating supplementary texts for elementary schools. I did that while working full time in a staff position at a university and then gradually transitioned to a full-time writer.
What inspired you to write Strange Fates? Will you tell us a bit about it and its hero Nyx Fortuna?
Strange Fates is the story of Nyx Fortuna, the son of the fourth and forgotten Fate, Lady Fortuna. Lady Fortuna’s three sisters, the Fates, want to kill Nyx, simply for being the only male in the Wyrd line, but his mother hides his thread of fate so her sisters can’t kill him.
The series is set in Minneapolis and in the first book, Nyx arrives in Minneapolis in order to find his hidden thread of fate and avenge his mother’s death. Strange Fates was inspired by Greek and European myth, especially the Meleager myth. When Meleager was born, the Fates predicted that he would only live as long as the log burned in the fire. His mother hid the log and prevented his swift death. Of course, since it’s a Greek myth, his mother later took the log and tossed it into the fire and fulfilled the prophecy. I loved the idea of a mother who defied the Fates for her son and used it in Strange Fates.
I love Nyx. He’s emotionally wounded and tries to be tough, but is gooey marshmallow inside. And he has some issues!
There are two more planned books in the series, Dark Descent and Fortune’s Favor.
Inspiration comes in bits and pieces for me. There was a thread about writing success on one of my lists and the idea that “cream rises to the top” was brought up, the idea that if you work hard at your craft, you’ll be published and even more than that, be successful. But I don’t agree with that, at least not entirely. There are too many variables in the publishing (or any other) world. I have many extremely talented hard-working writer friends who haven’t found their way to publication yet. I think there is a lot of hard work and a little luck involved in getting published. The idea that someone can live forever (and still look hot) seems at first glance, to be a dream come true, but I was interested in the idea of someone who had been given that “gift” and wanted to return it.
I’ve always loved Greek and European mythology. I’d read somewhere that there was a historical link tying the goddess Fortuna to the Fates. And then I came across a story about a study that basically showed that people who thought they were lucky FOUND their luck and people who thought they were unlucky passed it by. They had the participants read a newspaper and imbedded in it was a message saying something like “This is your lucky day. Turn this in for a prize.” Or something like that. I thought about how most people would think it was the best thing in the world to live forever, but Nyx Fortuna wants to die.
You’re written everything from YA contemporary to YA urban fantasy! Was it tough to switch gears from young adult to adult fiction?
I love to read in almost every genre, so it feels natural to want to write in it, too. For me, every book is different. Even my process is different with every book, even books in the same series. So it wasn’t really tough to switch gears. Well, not any tougher than it usually is. I think that the lines are blurring, but in a good way and I honestly think about plot and character first. It would be a lie to say I don’t think about the classification at all, but I’m not always right anyway.
What do you love most about writing fantasy?
All of it! I think the fantasy genre has some of the most riveting plots and characters around. And the world building is amazing. I read tons of fantasy when I was growing up and it holds a special place in my heart. I never felt like I fit in when I was growing up, but reading fantasy took me out of my own problems and into another world.
If you could experience one book again for the very first time, which one would it be?
A Wrinkle in Time or maybe The Hobbit.
Which book(s) are you reading now?
My to-read list is so long. I’ve been on Goodreads for a long time, so if anyone is interested, check out my list! I just bought M.K. Hobson’s The Warlock’s Curse ebook and I loved the first two books in this series, so I can’t wait to finish this one. My bookshelves are full, so I have books everywhere. Stacked up on my nightstand, under the bed, etc. I pass a lot of the books I read along to my friends or donate them to the library after I’m done reading them, but we’re still full to the brim with books. My husband bought me an iPad for my birthday and I think he did so hoping I’d read ONLY ebooks from then on. What really happened is that now I have even more books because I can buy and start reading a book almost instantly online. Temptation!
I love that you’re an 80s music fan (so am I!) What songs would be on your soundtrack for Strange Fates?
I create a soundtrack for every manuscript and there’s usually at least one 80s song on every soundtrack, but in Nyx’s case, there’s everything from Depeche Mode, Leonard Cohen, Patti Smith’s newest songs to Mumford & Sons. I divide my writing day into two parts, an am schedule when my twins are in preschool and a pm schedule, after they’re asleep. Sometimes I’ll tweet what song I’m listening to as I write. I also have two teenagers, so earplugs and music are sometimes really helpful for blocking out background noise around here. For Dark Descent, the second book in the series, I’m listening to Radioactive by Imagine Dragons and Love is Blindness by Jack White a lot. I just saw the trailer for the movie The Host and recognized Radioactive! Movies based on Stephenie Meyer’s books always have great soundtracks.
How do you like to spend your free time, when you’re not writing?
Free time? What free time? Just kidding. I love to watch TV, read, go to the movies, hang out with my family, and go to the beach. My whole family loves to go to San Diego Comic Con, but it’s really changed since we started going. Mostly, it’s so crowded now! Another favorite thing is meeting my writer buddies for coffee. Writing is a solitary pursuit and I’ve found a group of wonderful women who understand exactly what I’m going through.
What’s next for you?
I just finished a draft of Dark Descent, which is the second book in the Nyx Fortuna series. And I’m working on Fortune’s Favor, which is book three. And the eighth (!) book in my teen paranormal Dead Is series, Dead Is Just a Dream, comes out in the fall. After that, I have this great idea for a contemporary ya that I’ve been dying to work on. And maybe a genre-bender. Like many authors, I have an ideas folder crammed full of newspaper clippings, magazine articles, and photos.
Keep up with Marlene: Website | Twitter
About STRANGE FATES:
Brooding, leather jacket-wearing Nyx Fortuna looks like a 20-something, and has for centuries now. As the son of the forgotten fourth Fate, Lady Fortuna, he has been hunted his entire life by the three Sisters of Fate that murdered his mother.
Fed up and out for revenge, Nyx comes to Minneapolis following a tip that his aunts have set up a business there. His goal to bring down his mother’s killers and retrieve the thread of fate that has trapped him in the body of a twenty year old unable to age or die.
But when a chance meeting with the mysterious, dangerous and very mortal Elizabeth Abernathy throws off his plans, he must reconcile his humanity and his immortality.