The Happy Writer with Marissa Meyer

Combining Western Fairy Tales with East Asian Folklore - Elizabeth Lim - Her Radiant Curse

September 18, 2023 Marissa Meyer Season 2023 Episode 170
The Happy Writer with Marissa Meyer
Combining Western Fairy Tales with East Asian Folklore - Elizabeth Lim - Her Radiant Curse
Show Notes Transcript

In this week’s episode, Marissa chats with Elizabeth Lim about her latest YA fantasy, HER RADIANT CURSE. Also discussed: the popularity of Sailor Moon Fan Fiction, the connections between writing music and writing words, combining Western fairy tales with East Asian folklore, how authentic and true to the source material to be when using historical places and time periods as inspirations for fantasy, writing sister stories, the magic of Disney movies, and so much more.

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[00:09] Marissa: Hello, and welcome to the Happy Writer. This is a podcast that aims to bring readers more books to enjoy and to help authors find more joy in their writing. I am your host, Marissa Meyer. Thank you for joining me. One thing making me happy this week, and I know I've been talking a lot about this house and property that we purchased recently, but it is kind of like the gift that keeps on giving. I've mentioned that we have beautiful flower gardens and a rose garden, and honestly, I'm losing track of all the things that I've mentioned. But the exciting thing this week is that there are wine grapes. There are two trellises overflowing with wine grapes. Evidently, the previous owners would make their own small batch wines. And so yesterday we went out with the girls and harvested our first batch of wine grapes, and we're going to try. I've never made wine before. This is brand new. I've been doing lots of reading and researching. I bought a kit, and what the best part is that since we are continuing to home school, this is like our chemistry class. Like, they're only in third grade. But, yeah, let's learn to make wine, right? Why not? So it's been super fun, and fingers crossed that it all goes well. I'll keep you posted on how it goes. All right? I'm also so happy to be talking to today's guest. She is a Harvard graduate with degrees in music and East Asian studies and is the best selling author of The Six Crimson Cranes duology and The Blood of Stars duology, as well as the Disney Twisted Tale Books. So this is love when you wish upon a star and reflection her newest novel, Her Radiant Curse, just came out last month. Please welcome Elizabeth Lim. Hi, Marissa. Elizabeth, how are you?

[02:12] Elizabeth: I'm so happy to be on this podcast.

[02:14] Marissa: It's well named.

[02:15] Elizabeth: The happy writer. So thank you for having me. I overheard that you've been growing wine grapes. That's so exciting. My husband and I have just started a garden. Well, mostly him, and he's been growing a lot of fruits as well. I'll have to tell him about wine grapes, though. Sounds like a really good idea.

[02:31] Marissa: I love it. I'm really excited that we just bought this house and moved in a few months ago, so they were just there and ready to go. I understand it's quite a process if you're starting from nothing to have to grow them. And it takes a long time for them to mature and to produce. So it felt like such a gift. Like, look, there's grapes, and they're ready to be turned into wine. I'm so excited.

[02:55] Elizabeth: Yeah, that's such a boon. We have not been going anywhere near wine grapes. We were just starting out with, like, tomatoes and string beans, like fast growing things. But it's so rewarding to eat your own produce at home. It feels very farm to table, except farm to home.

[03:12] Marissa: Absolutely no. And it's been a couple of years. We did a lot of vegetable gardening when the girls were little, and it was such a joy to watch them in the garden, and they would just pick a cherry tomato and pop it in their mouth or pick some beans, and they peel open the shells, and, I mean, it was just a joy. And obviously, we're always trying to get kids to eat their vegetables, and it really is one of those things where if they can see how it's been grown and they can just walk through the garden and eat it, it helps a lot.

[03:43] Elizabeth: Yeah, I think so. And if anything, at least it teaches them more about the world, and yeah, it's like a science lesson.

[03:51] Marissa: It is. Everything in my mind is somehow related back to homeschooling. It counts, doesn't it?

[03:59] Elizabeth: Definitely.

[04:00] Marissa: All right, I'm so excited to have you on. When I was researching you, looking up your bio this morning, getting ready to talk to you, noticed that you and I have something in common, that we both wrote Sailor Moon fan fiction. And I love this. And I am surprised sort of how often Sailor Moon comes up when I'm talking to authors on this podcast. It is absolutely one of those things that just stokes the creativity for so many people from our generation. So I'm always really excited to meet another Moonie.

[04:39] Elizabeth: Yes, I love I still she has such a big place in my heart, and I feel like she's having this moment, too, where she's getting a lot of revivals. Did you ever post your fanfics?

[04:51] Marissa: Oh, yeah. No, I was. Me too. Although where did you post yours?

[04:56] Elizabeth: I did a sailor moon romance.

[04:57] Marissa: Yes. Oh, you're old school. Yes. I was also on a sailor moon romance.

[05:02] Elizabeth: That was my favorite site. Oh, my goodness.

[05:05] Marissa: I was obsessed when I first discovered it because I was, like, in early high school, and I'd never even heard of fan fiction. Like, had no idea this was a thing. And then a friend of mine sent me a link to Sailor Moon Romance, and it was just, like, the best thing I'd ever found, and oh, my gosh, I loved it. It was so great to have that community and to have a place to post my stories that I was just putting in my little notebooks at that point, and memories.

[05:35] Elizabeth: Yeah, it was a great community. I went back to the site a few years ago, and I think it's defunct now, which made me really sad.

[05:41] Marissa: Yeah, no, I didn't think it was still around. I know a lot of people moved to Fanfiction Net, which I did as well. Of course, it's the years since then. There's been all sorts of other sites that have popped up, but no, I don't yeah, a Sailor Moon Romance, it's a thing of the past, which is why when somebody knows what it is. It's like, yes, you were there too.

[06:01] Elizabeth: Oh, my gosh, I miss those days. It was so fun. Me too.

[06:06] Marissa: All right, so with that, the first question I want to ask you is about your author origin story and how you became a published author. Obviously going all the way back to Sailor Moon way back in the day, but then what happened after that?

[06:24] Elizabeth: Actually, the Sailor Moon fanfics were a big part of it. That was the first time that I ever had the courage to post anything online and get feedback from people, because actually I did not want to become an author when I was growing up. I always loved writing, and I loved writing stories, but I was a very serious musician. Ever since I was, like, five or so, I wanted to become a composer. So my dream was to write music for movies and video games. And because of that, I thought in order to work on my craft, I should also write stories, because I thought stories would teach me narrative, and I could write music for the stories I wrote back and forth. And so that was how I got into creative writing and partly how I got into Sailor Moon. And from there, I just kept writing on the side, like writing stories for myself, taking creative writing classes in school occasionally. But then when I was in grad school for music, I was taking a class where I got to write some opera scenes, and I realized that it might be really cool to just write my own libretto, which is the story for the opera, my own text. So from there, I remembered how much I'd loved writing when I was in middle school and high school, and I decided to embark on writing a novel. And that started the spark, I guess, for writing. And I just couldn't get enough. And I tried to get published, and it took a really long time, but I kept going back and thinking, oh, every time I wanted to quit, I missed it. So I kept trying harder and harder and then fast forward, I don't know, ten years or so, and here I am. It's kind of crazy.

[08:19] Marissa: You mentioned fast forwarding ten years and that it took a really long time. So was it like ten years from the moment you were like, let's try writing a novel up to the point the first book sold or what's that timeline?

[08:33] Elizabeth: So it's a little hard to say because I did take a couple of years off from writing. I started off writing women's fiction. I was actually writing a book that was not autobiographical, but it had a lot of inspiration from my own life. It was about a composer in New York and all the wild jaunts that she encounters in the classical music world. And from there I managed to get an agent, but my book didn't sell. So a lot of the feedback that I got actually was really interesting. One of the editors said that I might want it to try writing for a young adult because my voice sounded a little younger.

[09:21] Marissa: Interesting.

[09:22] Elizabeth: Yeah. So I was like, okay, that's really good advice, and it was something to consider. But I was also in the middle of grad school at the time, so I kept writing for myself to work on the craft and to explore writing young adults. But I didn't really want to pursue publishing anymore because I felt like I was at a crossroads and I needed to pick either music or writing. So I decided to go with music and then fast forward a couple of years. I found that I still really missed writing, and so I gave it another shot and wrote a couple more manuscripts. It would be ten years from when I wrote that first novel to my debut.

[10:05] Marissa: Yeah. Were you a reader of Ya when you started writing in it, or was it like, they've told me I should try Ya. I'd better learn something about that.

[10:17] Elizabeth: Growing up, Ya didn't really exist.

[10:19] Marissa: Yeah, right.

[10:20] Elizabeth: Yeah, it didn't exist. There was only children's or adult, and I felt pretty like I read both. I read a ton from both children. Children fantasy and adult fantasy. Those are actually my favorite genres. So it was interesting to me that my first book I wrote was Contemporary, like Chiclet, but then going into young adult fantasy just felt very natural, even though it was very different from what I had initially written, because I was like, oh, I'm writing the stories that I used to read when I was a kid. So, I mean, I did try to immerse myself in the genre to know what was popular at the time. But one of my philosophies for writing has always been to write what I wanted to read when I was a teen. So it took me a while to figure out that was what I should be writing. But once I did, things became much more natural and much more fun on the writing side.

[11:18] Marissa: It's always good when it becomes more fun. I feel like that's the moment when it clicks.

[11:22] Elizabeth: Yeah, exactly. So it took me quite a few manuscripts to figure that out.

[11:25] Marissa: Right. And then I'm really curious, too, with music kind of being your first choice, and you obviously are very educated in music and knowledgeable about music. And did you actually work as a composer? Did I read that somewhere?

[11:42] Elizabeth: I did, yeah. So when I was in grad school, I did work as a music composer. I did a lot of freelancing for independent films and video games, and I did eventually end up working at it's kind of funny. I ended up working at a casino company writing music for their games, like a mobile casino company.

[12:03] Marissa: It was interesting. Yeah, it was really cool.

[12:05] Elizabeth: It was a real corporate job, actually. And they had all of us composers in a separate office and we would work with the game designers. And it was very eye opening and I loved the experience. That was very cool.

[12:20] Marissa: Yeah. So now how does music influence your writing? Does it play a part in your process at all?

[12:30] Elizabeth: I don't think about it. I don't think about music per se when I start writing. But it is, in the back of my mind, the way I approach writing a book is very similar to the way I used to approach writing a piece of music. So they're just different mediums. I actually think I use the same part of the brain to compose music as I do for writing words. But it's like because there's structure, there's the rhythm of words and cadences and there's themes. And instead of characters in music, I would think of, like, melodies that would be developed and the characters would be developed at the same time. And a big one, though, actually, that I found has helped me as a writer, is I tried to study a lot of musical form just to structure a piece. So that's helped a lot. I find it actually easier in writing books to think about form and structure than I did in music because it's a bit more tangible when you're talking about characters and a world that exists and dialogue and the motives and desires of a character and antagonists. I feel like the pieces in a book are bit more they're a bit easier to mold.

[13:55] Marissa: How interesting. When you're writing a book, do you have ideas in your head of what a character's theme song would be? Or, like, if you're writing an action scene, do you hear how that would be composed if it were adapted to film? Does any of that play a part for you?

[14:14] Elizabeth: I haven't done that recently, but when I was a bit younger and had more time, I did actually sit down to compose theme songs for my characters. And I found that that really helped me at least become more emotionally attached to them. I think now when I'm writing, I think more about the rhythm and pacing of my words as opposed to melodies and harmonies. And I think that's helped me mature a bit. It's actually interesting because I feel like rhythm and pacing were my weaknesses as a composer, and they're things that I tried to focus on a lot more as a writer.

[14:53] Marissa: Oh, that is interesting.

[14:55] Elizabeth: Yeah.

[14:56] Marissa: No, and I'm just curious because I do not have a music background very like, I sort of dabble in the Ukulele and that's, like, the extent I just think that's interesting. But I know some writers who are also really talented illustrators might draw their characters or might draw a setting or things like this. And I just think it's really cool when people have other artistic talents that kind of tie into the creative process.

[15:28] Elizabeth: Yeah. Oh, gosh, I wish I could draw. I think the closest that I do is a pinterest board.

[15:33] Marissa: Me too. Yeah. It is so fun. Yes. I love it. I love it when I find something that another artist has created that feels like it came right out of my brain. That's it. That's what I was seeing.

[15:45] Elizabeth: Yeah, it's like a little bit of magic and serendipity because you're just like, oh, that's exactly what I was looking for.

[15:50] Marissa: Completely okay with that. Would you please tell listeners about your newest book? What is her radiant curse about?

[16:02] Elizabeth: So Her Radiant Curse is the prequel to my Six Crimson Cranes duology, and it can be summed up as Beauty and the Beast, but as sisters. So it's about two sisters. One is cursed to have the face of a serpent, and one who is very beautiful and glows with, like, a divine light. And there's a curse that's been placed on them, and they have to break it.

[16:31] Marissa: So I mentioned before we started this recording, this is the first book of yours that I have read, but I loved it, and I now can't wait to go read everything you've done. I did not realize that it was a prequel, and so that maybe answers my first question, but maybe not, because without spoiling anything, there is a character that I am dying to know what becomes of them. And the book itself has a very satisfying, well rounded ending, but it feels like there could be so much more afterwards. So is there more coming? Is this the first of a series, or do I need to go read one of the other series to find out what happened?

[17:16] Elizabeth: Her radiant curse is a standalone. I'm not planning any more books after it, but the Six Crimson Cranes Duology is completed, and the main character in Herdian Curse plays a very significant character in that mean it's not really a huge spoiler. So I'll just say. The Six Crimson Cranes book is a retelling of a reimagining of The Wild Swans fairy tale by Hans Christian Anderson. It's always been one of my favorite fairy tales. It's about a princess whose six brothers are turned into swans, but cranes in this instance, and she has to break the curse. The antagonist who curses them is her stepmother, the queen. And Her Radiant Curse is about the stepmother as a young girl.

[18:08] Marissa: OMG, that is so cool. I had no idea. I'm so excited to go read that series and, like, over the moon to know that it is completed and out and I don't have to wait a year.

[18:21] Elizabeth: Yeah, it's done.

[18:23] Marissa: That is the best news. Thanks. Okay. And I also love that you're taking stories and fairy tales. I, of course, am a retelling nut. Yes. I love that we've got the Six Swans fairy tale. This book, Her Radiant Curse, kind of hearkens to Helen of Troy a little bit so a little bit of Greek mythology going on, but you're combining it with this very lush and beautiful world kind of inspired by yeah. Yes.

[19:00] Elizabeth: I love combining Western fairy tales with East Asian folklore and myth. That's kind of been something that I've done in most of my books. So, yeah, combining elements of Helen of Troy with Chinese, there's a few Chinese stories that I embedded in her radiant curse, like Madame White Snake, which is a fairy tale about a snake spirit who becomes human and falls in love, and then all sorts of cahoots happen. And then there's the Princess of Mount Ladang, which is a Southeast Asian fairy tale, which is very similar to Helen of Troy, actually. But it's about a princess who is sought by numerous kings and princes across the land. But unlike the story of Helen of Troy, she is the one who gives the suitors these conditions, these trials. So she tells them, if you want to marry me, this is what you have to do. And it's a very interesting and rich tale, and I've always loved it because it empowers the female a lot more than the Helen of Troy. The history of Helen of Troy.

[20:16] Marissa: So let's talk about world building. What are some of your steps when you're creating a world? Because this world feels very expansive, and I suspect that has to do with the fact that you already have a duology set in this world. It felt very like I've just been dropped into something vast. So how do you go about just getting started in your world building?

[20:46] Elizabeth: I love this question because I think, let's see, I try to start out small. I try to start out with the small things in this world. So music is obviously something that I think about a lot when I'm writing and creating a world. So I try to imagine the music that would belong into this world. The food is a huge one, and then the clothing that people wear. And then from there, I sort of build my way up into the larger gaze of this universe that I'm creating. And you're right, because I have had this duology. It's cheating a little bit with Herdian curse because Chinese world is just a part of this larger universe, but it is a different country in the overall map. And this world is very much influenced by Southeast Asia and Malaysia specifically, because my family is half my family is from Malaysia. So I try to incorporate a lot of things from my childhood memories regarding the food and the clothing and the traditions and culture. And so that helps. But there's always magic, which is a fun little touch as well.

[21:59] Marissa: There's always magic, and it seems like a lot of the magic is coming from some of these folklores that you're drawing on. How much do you research and when do you decide to just start making up your own stuff?

[22:17] Elizabeth: Yeah, that balance was something that I struggled a lot with the first book that I worked on in this series because it is tough when you're drawing upon a real culture, whether you stay true, and especially you're like, oh, my gosh, how authentic should I be? But when I was writing my first book, Spin the dawn, the main character is a seamstress, and the world is inspired by ancient China. And I spent days just agonizing over the fact that there was no knitting in ancient China. And then, you know, this is a fantasy book. It's okay. No one's going to get on my case that I'm being a little bit so from know, I try to stay true to the story and to the characters that I'm writing and recognize that this is a world that I'm creating from scratch. And it's not entirely 100% based on history and fact, because I don't don't I mean, dragons might exist, but we know they do.

[23:28] Marissa: You. So out of curiosity, did anybody ever get on your case about the inaccuracy that there was no knitting in ancient China?

[23:39] Elizabeth: No. No one has gotten on my case about that, which is I'm very grateful for.

[23:44] Marissa: No, because I do think that that is something that writers really struggle the the question of how authentic and how much you stick to the truth. But it's so important to keep in mind that we are writing fantasy, not historical. They are two very different genres.

[24:00] Elizabeth: Yeah.

[24:01] Marissa: All right. I have to say so I was reading this book, Her Radiant Curse, while I was on a writing retreat with some other writers, and at one point, my roommate asked, oh, how are you liking the book? And I was maybe, like, 100 pages into it at that point, and I said, I'm absolutely loving it, in part because this book has surprised me at least five or six times in the first hundred pages, and that just does not happen all that often. It's very rare for a book to just continuously throw me off course, like, wow, I did not see that coming again. So I was very impressed with it on that level and makes me question your process when it comes to plotting and coming up with the twists and the surprises, like, are you a panther? A plotter? Just talk me through your process a little bit.

[25:01] Elizabeth: Okay. So I'm very honored to hear that you were thrown off course by this book. I think partially this book has been special to me because I actually began writing it before Six Crimson Cranes, and I put it aside because once I realized that I was writing a prequel, I thought it would make a lot more sense to write the meat of the story first before pitching it to my editor. But because of that, though, when I came back to writing this book, I wasn't sure whether it would ever be published. So in a way, because of that, I felt like I could take more risks, if that makes any sense. Partially a lot of it I was writing for myself, and I was writing it to get to know the character Chani better, because she plays such a significant role in Six Crimson Cranes, and I was like, Well, I don't know if it's ever going to be published, so I can just do, like, crazy things. And I rewrote this book so many times because, again, things changed after I wrote Six Terms and Cranes, and I needed to make the two work together that I did end up. Initially, I panced a lot, but having with each book that I write and with more experience I gain as a writer, I find that I much prefer to plot. So with this book, it was harder to do because I had already written a lot of it, so I just had to just take it apart and then replot it, and it took a lot of work. Sorry if I'm being roundabout with my.

[26:38] Marissa: Answer, but no, that makes sense.

[26:40] Elizabeth: I felt like a seamstress in that I just kind of had to tear it apart and stitch it back together again.

[26:47] Marissa: Yeah. How do I ask this? Are there times when you're writing when you feel like, I don't know, this scene just really needs a wrench thrown into it? I'm not really sure how to I was just so impressed. There were so many times where I was like, wow, where did that come from?

[27:10] Elizabeth: Thanks. Yeah. Sometimes I feel like if I'm bored writing a scene, that's just a sign that it's not working, and so it just needs to be redone or it needs to be deleted. And I find that I not the best at talking about how I work.

[27:28] Marissa: Because I'm not even honestly sure what I'm trying to ask you, other than, like, just tell me your secrets, Elizabeth. I am ready to no, I should.

[27:38] Elizabeth: Be the one asking you. But there's this great quote that we used to say in music a lot, that talking about music is like dancing about architecture. And I feel that way about writing, though, even though it's kind of ironic, because as a writer, you're dealing with words, and words are your weapons. But I find it hard to talk about my writing sometimes, honestly, for 99% of the process, I just feel like I'm writing garbage. And somehow in the last 1%, as I'm editing, okay, maybe it's a little more than 1%, but towards the end, finally, things start to come together. And I think a lot of it is just like stitch by stitch, things are starting to come together. And then there's also an element of serendipity, too. I don't know if you feel the same.

[28:29] Marissa: Absolutely, no. I'm constantly just in doubt of every book and every chapter and every character, which actually this is so universal. I think writers, we are plagued by these feelings of inadequacy and like, oh, yeah, I wrote books before, but I have no idea how I did that. And clearly this one is junk, and that's just so universal. So for you, when you are in the process of writing and you're halfway through a draft and you've got all those thoughts in your head like, oh, this is awful. What am I doing? How did I ever manage to do this before? What are some things you do to kind of work through that?

[29:17] Elizabeth: So what I like to do, what I've been doing, at least for all the books that I've written, is I try to make my first chapter very polished, and because I draft very messily, so that when I have that first chapter very polished, I know that I'm excited about this story. And when I start to draft later in the book and things start to get dysfunctional and not make any sense, I go back to that first chapter to remind myself of the potential that this book has. And I think that keeps me on track, and it gives me hope that I can fix the rest of the book to be as sparkly as that first chapter.

[30:00] Marissa: I love that. What a great technique. Yeah, it's worked for me so far.

[30:05] Elizabeth: Although sometimes I'm just like, oh, I don't know if I can do this. It's a marathon. Writing is a marathon.

[30:12] Marissa: It really is. No, and there are ups and downs, and we just have to expect that. And I do feel like this many books into my career, at least I know that this is normal. I remember the early days and like, oh, how does anybody ever get through their first manuscript?

[30:28] Elizabeth: Yeah, exactly. I think I'm reaching the point at least I'm reaching the point now where I have all these texts to my husband on my phone where I'm at this stage and I'm like, oh, I hate this book. I'm never going to finish it. Everyone's going to hate it. And then my husband will just pluck.

[30:45] Marissa: Those texts from a book before and.

[30:47] Elizabeth: Be like, this is where you are.

[30:50] Marissa: This sounds familiar. Okay, so one other thing I did want to cover with her radiant curse is that it's a sister story. There's a little bit of romance, but definitely the focus is on the relationship between these two sisters. And I know I've been getting more and more requests from readers to have more sister relationships, and I don't know if it's just left over from The Frozen Love or where this is really coming from, but I think that there is a craving for it in our readers right now. So for you or why did you feel drawn to do a sister story?

[31:30] Elizabeth: Oh, that's a really good question. My previous books all focused on the relationship between my main character and her brothers, and in real life, I actually don't have any brothers. I have a sister myself, and. My relationship with my sister, I felt, has always been really special. She's ten years younger than I am. My parents were done with me. They didn't want any more children, and I kind of guilted them into having another child because I was just so lonely. I was very shy.

[32:07] Marissa: It took ten years.

[32:08] Elizabeth: I was just very shy and very shy at school was not an extrovert, and I was just like, I just want a sister. If I have a sister, she'll be my best friend, and that's all I need. So I just had this ten years of yearning. I really wanted to write. Obviously, my sister and I are nothing like Chani and Vana, but I wanted to write a sister's story, and I wanted to show to delve into how close these two sisters could be, but also explore the imperfections in their relationship. Because while my sister and I are very close, of course we always fight, too. But in the end, we're bonded by our closeness together and having grown up together. And that's unbreakable.

[32:57] Marissa: Yeah, well, I really enjoyed it. It felt different from what we're seeing a lot of in Ya these days. But it was a fun kind of take on Beauty and the Beast like you mentioned, the one that's so beautiful and the one that's so hideous, and seeing them kind of how they played.

[33:16] Elizabeth: Off of each other was really great.

[33:17] Marissa: I was wondering, because both sisters are so integral to the story, did you always know it was going to be from Chani's point of view, or was there ever a time when you were like, maybe a dual point of view or what was that decision making process?

[33:33] Elizabeth: Early on, one of my critique partners had suggested that I write some chapters from Ivana's point of view, and I tried it out. I thought it was a really good suggestion, and I was very intrigued by it, and I tried it out, but it didn't flow as well. Without giving too much away, part of Vanna's beauty is it relies on the fact that she has this golden, divine light in her. So she can be a bit unreliable in that she has this ability to sort of manipulate other people into thinking what she wants and doing what she wants. And as a just, it was actually less compelling to write about her since she was so powerful and didn't show her vulnerabilities as much as Chani did. So I ended up just scrapping those chapters and going back to Chani.

[34:31] Marissa: Yeah, no, that's interesting because I do think that so much of what makes readers really connect with a character are those vulnerabilities, like, we're always kind of looking to see, like, okay, this is the protagonist, but what makes them like me?

[34:46] Elizabeth: Yeah. Chani was just always a very interesting and intriguing character for me to explore because she is so much more I don't really want to say morally gray, but she's not, like, the best of human beings, and she's very tough externally, but inside, she has so many broken bits of her that you just want to give her a hug. I just want to give her a hug. I'm like it's.

[35:15] Marissa: Oh, absolutely. No, my heart goes off to this poor girl. She's been through so much.

[35:20] Elizabeth: Yeah.

[35:22] Marissa: All right. And then just real quickly, to kind of change course a little bit, I have to ask about the Disney's Twisted Tales, because it's so cool that you have written not one, but three of them. How did that come?

[35:39] Elizabeth: So me backing up, I was working on my book Spin The Dawn, which my publisher likes to say is like, Mulan meets Project Runway because the main character disguises herself as a man to enter a tailoring competition. So I had a lot of Mulan experience. I was working on a book that was very similar to Mulan in this regard, and when my agent found out that Disney was looking for someone to write a Mulan Twisted tale so again, it was like a lot of serendipity. She was like, oh, she told me about the opportunity, and she said, do you want to try out to try for this? And so we sent an excerpt of Spin The Dawn to Disney, and from there, that was kind of how it happened. They became interested and yeah, I've always loved Disney, so I was very keen, and I think my enthusiasm helped.

[36:40] Marissa: Oh, for sure. I'm a big Disney girl.

[36:42] Elizabeth: Yeah. Do you have a favorite Disney movie?

[36:46] Marissa: Oh, probably tangled.

[36:49] Elizabeth: Oh, I love yeah, but but for.

[36:52] Marissa: The longest time, it was the Little Mermaid was the one that really hooked me as a kid.

[36:56] Elizabeth: Yeah, that came out probably, like, around our time, I guess.

[37:00] Marissa: Yeah, no, I was, I think, five when it came out, but no, I mean, I love so many of the movies, but also just, like, the experience of the parks and I mean, it's just a fantasy that they've built.

[37:11] Elizabeth: Yeah, it is. And the happily ever after, it's very similar to romance novels. I find just the feeling of everything's going to be all right. Everything's going to be happily ever after.

[37:23] Marissa: Yeah, no, definitely. And for the most part, I mean, there's a lot of times in writing and for me planning stories that I kind of find myself going back to that place of being a kid or a young adult and thinking, like, okay, how did the Disney movies make me feel? Like, this is the same sort of vibe that I'm trying to capture. I want my readers to come away with that same sense, know, romance and possibility and happily ever after and all of that. So I do find myself thinking about that.

[37:53] Elizabeth: Yeah. Me love. I was actually watching Milan with my kids yesterday, and I was still tearing up at all the same spots that I did when I was younger, so it was magical.

[38:02] Marissa: They really do just get you.

[38:04] Elizabeth: Yeah.

[38:05] Marissa: All right, Elizabeth, are you ready for our bonus round?

[38:08] Elizabeth: Yes, I am.

[38:10] Marissa: What book makes you happy?

[38:12] Elizabeth: Oh, my gosh. I think I'm going back to one of the books that I first read when I was a kid that made me realize how much I love reading. And I always say, Ella, enchanted. Just going back to my love for fairy tales and the magic in it and giving a spin to a classic story is always something that I love.

[38:34] Marissa: Yeah, no, that one is one of mine.

[38:36] Elizabeth: As yay.

[38:39] Marissa: What are you working on next?

[38:41] Elizabeth: So, I'm working on another book set in the universe, which is more of a more faithful Beauty and the Beast reimagining, and yeah, so it hasn't been announced yet because I'm still trying to figure out a title. I'm really, really horrible with titles.

[38:57] Marissa: Well, I am excited. Love, beauty and the Beast. Lastly, where can people find you?

[39:03] Elizabeth: Oh, I am online mostly on Instagram. I make the occasional TikTok video, but it's rare. And I have my website, which is Elizabeth And, oh, my Instagram handle is Olympics, which is a play on Olympics. It's elimpix. Yeah.

[39:25] Marissa: Awesome. Elizabeth, thank you for joining me.

[39:28] Elizabeth: Thanks, Marissa. It was a lot of fun.

[39:31] Marissa: Readers. Definitely check out her radiant curse. It is available now. Of course, we encourage you to support your local indie bookstore, but if you don't have one, you can check out our affiliate store at slash. Marissa Meyer. And don't forget that we now do have merchandise for all of your backtoschool needs. You can find us on Etsy instagram and T public. Next week, I will be talking with KVON. Lewis about her contemporary suspense heist novel Thieves Gambit. If you're enjoying these conversations, please subscribe and follow us on Instagram at Marissa Meyer, Author, and at Happy Writer Podcast. Until next time, stay inspired, keep writing, and whatever life throws you today, I do hope that now you're feeling a little bit happier.