To the list of authors with eyebrow-raising credentials, add Melissa Marr, whose Wicked Lovely was published by HarperCollins: in high school, she was voted “most likely to end up in jail.” And she has the yearbook picture to prove it.
“I was the girl in the black leather jacket with the black fingernails, picked up after school by guys with loud cars and motorcycles,” says the mother of two. “I carried straight-A grades, but I had a little trouble with rules. I tended to have a bit of an authority problem.”
Marr graduated high school in 1990 in Pennsylvania and paid her way through college by serving drinks at biker bars. She started accumulating literary style (she wrote her master's thesis on rape narratives, with a specific focus on Faulkner's Sanctuary) and tattoos in equal measure: “I have an ivy vine that wraps around my torso, and it's still growing—there are berries that are about to sprout out of it.”
Two years ago, she started work on a short story that would eventually become Wicked Lovely. The story would sit on a shelf for more than a year—but it was never far from her mind. “It lingered with me,” she says. “I was very afraid to write a novel—it was a dream for a very long time, and it was one of the few things that I was afraid to try.”
Eventually she summoned the courage to rewrite the story and let it blossom into a novel. A 21st-century fairie tale, Wicked Lovely is the story of 16-year-old Aislinn, who is blessed/cursed with the ability to see the “bad fairies” that walk the world. One of them takes a special interest in her; he turns out to be fairie royalty.
Things happen quickly for Aislinn in the book; likewise, things happened quickly for Marr. “Over a four-month period, I sat down and wrote every day,” she says. “And then there was a novel, and all of a sudden there were agents and offers.”
It was a first novelist's dream come true: from the time she started the novel to the time of the sale, a mere six months passed. Marr now has a three-book deal, co-acquired with HarperCollins in the U.S. and U.K., with foreign rights sold to “a variety of countries.” And Tokyopop has ordered a manga series set in the novel's world.
Marr says her future books will likely be linked to Wicked Lovely in some form, but won't be sequels in the pure sense. She's drawn to framed narratives, and wants to explore using multiple timelines, though she is not limiting herself to writing fantasy. “My goals are less about genre and more about writing paths,” she says. “So I'll probably do some things that are realistic and some things that are fantasy. It's all up to whatever the muse wants me to do.The world is too fascinating to limit yourself to one path or one sort of people.”