Children's & Fantasy/Sci-Fi Books

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Interview with NY Times bestselling ‘Legend’, ‘Prodigy’ & ‘Champion’ author Marie Lu

Marie Lue is the author of the Legend, Prodigy, and Champion trilogy. Prior to becoming an author, she worked as an artist in the video game industry. Now she spends her time writing, drawing, playing Assassin’s Creed, and sitting in traffic. She lives in Los Angeles, CA.


For what age audience do you write?

In general, I write for ages 12 and up–although I’ve received emails from readers between the ages of seven and seventy. My books are science fiction.

Tell us about your latest book.

‘Champion’ is the last book in my Legend trilogy, and it came out on November 5. It concludes the stories of Day and June, my teen criminal and teen detective pair who first met as enemies in ‘Legend’, and are now working as allies. I can’t say much without giving spoilers, but in short–it has war, explosions, and romance.

Henry: You had me at explosions.

What do you hope readers will get from reading that book?

I hope, more than anything, that they feel a sense of closure and satisfaction when they finish ‘Champion’. I love that feeling when I finish a series, and I want my readers to feel the same.

Henry: Something tells me that the satisfaction from reading a trilogy is nowhere near the satisfaction you must have felt having completed that labor of love.

What aspect of writing do you find most challenging?

Can I say ‘everything’? I kid (sort of)! Writing the first draft of a new story is incredibly difficult for me. I will happily do revisions, because once I can see the words on the page, I can go about ripping them up and moving scenes around. A blank page, though? Terrifying. I’m always angsty when I’m working my way through a first draft.

Henry: Hey, did you just make up the word angsty?

What is a powerful lesson you’ve learned from being a writer?

Every time I think I have the process figured out, I’m proven wrong by the next thing I write. Writing is an extremely rewarding and humbling process, and I’ve learned to go with it, that even if it feels absolutely impossible, I will find a way to tell the next story.

Henry: You’re like Obi-won telling Luke to trust his feelings!

What has been a memorable experience that you never would have had if you had not been a writer?

I receive emails from readers that both break my heart and give me a profound sense of connection. Several months ago, I received an email from a teacher who told me that ‘Legend’ was the first book one of her troubled young students had ever read to the end. He cried when he finished it. Stories like that stay with you forever. I think all writers yearn for those moments of heartfelt connection with their readers.

Henry: Beautiful.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors?

Don’t be afraid to write something bad. Like everything else in life, mastery takes practice, and you can’t master writing if you don’t let yourself get the bad words out of your system first. Let yourself write bad chapters and meandering plots. Eventually, you’ll get to the point where your writing soars.

Henry: Well, then I’m well on my way! 🙂

Do you have any favorite quotes?

“It is never too late to be what you might have been.” – George Eliot

Henry: Nice. I also like “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.”

Do you have any strange rituals that you observe when you write?

I don’t have any bizarre ones. My main habit is to always write in the morning, because I have trouble concentrating in the afternoon, and to always have music playing. However, both of these habits haven’t been working for my current work-in-progress, so I guess that means I have no habits!

Henry: Perhaps you simply have not yet discovered the special ritual that fully unleashes your writing…

If you could have one superpower, what would it be?

I’d love to stop time for everything else in the world and then just work on my stuff for as long as needed. Spoken like a true procrastinator, I’d say!

Henry: You are not the first writer I’ve interviewed to wish for that very handy superpower. The subtle downside would be that you’d age faster than your contemporaries, which could accumulate noticeably if you use the power frequently. With great power comes great responsibility!

If you could have three authors over for dinner, who would it be?

Brian Jacques, J.K. Rowling, and Jacqueline Carey. I can only imagine how fascinating the conversations would be.

Henry: All fantasy authors! Of course Ms. Rowling brought us ‘Harry Potter’, and Mr. Jacques brought us ‘Redwall’. Ms. Carey won a Locus Award for ‘Kushiel’s Dart’, which I must now read.

What is your favorite creature that exists only in literature?

My answer is kind of a cheat, but since Avatar the Last Airbender also exists as graphic novels, I count that as literature and am going to go with the sky bisons. How adorable is Appa (Aang’s sky bison). He’s loyal, sweet, fuzzy, and fun to ride.

Henry: A giant flying bison with six legs and a beaver tail is such a great choice that I feel compelled to share an image of Appa here.


What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I love to draw, and will usually resort to drawing whenever I have writer’s block. If I’m not drawing, I’ll be playing video games, practicing photography, or eating.

Henry: I’m having trouble reconciling the writing and drawing with video game playing. Luckily, you have no difficulty reconciling these activities.

What would you like it to say on your tombstone?

“Here lies Marie Lu, at home with her head in the clouds.”

Henry: Well said.

Where can readers find your work?

My books are available at all bookstores, Amazon, Kindle, Nook, other e-readers, and as audiobooks.

This interview is also posted to the San Diego Children’s Books Examiner.