Marr, Melissa 1972–
Marr, Melissa 1972–
Born July 25, 1972; married; children: two. Education: North Carolina State University, B.A., M.A. Hobbies and other interests: Tattoo art, visiting museums, travel, folklore, time with family.
Home—Washington, DC. Agent—Rachel Vater, Folio Literary Management, 505 8th Ave., Ste. 603, New York, NY 10018.
Writer and educator. Former teacher of literature; formerly worked as a bartender and waitress.
Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, Romance Writers of America, Science-Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.
Wicked Lovely, HarperTeen (New York, NY), 2007.
Ink Exchange, HarperTeen (New York, NY), 2008.
Contributor of short fiction to anthologies, including Love Struck, HarperTeen (New York, NY), 2008.
To those who knew her as a teen, Melissa Marr's career as a young-adult novelist might come as something of a surprise. As the author admitted to a Publishers Weekly contributor, during high school "I was the girl in the black leather jacket with the black fingernails, picked up after school by guys with loud cars and motorcycles." Several years later, having completed graduate school, worked as a literature teacher, and busy raising two children, Marr started writing fiction. Over the space of two years, she gradually expanded one of her short stories into what became her first young-adult novel: a contemporary fairy tale titled Wicked Lovely. According to a Publishers Weekly critic, in Wicked Lovely Marr injects modern fantasy fiction with "a fresh infusion of glamour, thanks to a likable pair of protagonists, a page-turning plot and an ample dose of sexual tension."
In Wicked Lovely readers meet Aislinn, a teen who has inherited the ability to see faeries from her mother. Due to her gift, Aislinn experiences glimpses of the faerie world, although she makes every effort to pretend that she is unaware of the activities of the faeries around her. When the Summer King, Keenan, chooses the young woman as his new queen, she finds herself in an otherworldly power struggle. Aislinn's potential mother-in-law, the Winter Queen Beira, objects to the marriage because she realizes that the new queen will supplant her in power and influence. Aislinn wrestles with her role with the help of friend Seth, realizing that if she turns her back on Keenan, the season of summer will be no more and chaos and death will visit both humans and faeries equally.
Noting Marr's effective integration of both myth and contemporary culture, School Library Journal contributor June H. Keuhn wrote that Wicked Lovely "explores the themes of love, commitment, and what it really means to give of oneself for the greater good to save everyone else." Dubbing the novel a "steamy" fantasy, a Kirkus Reviews writer added that Aislinn's desire to live the life of a normal teen is compelling in a story that is "enjoyably sultry." Remarking on the novel's strong, realistic characters, Charles de Lint added in his Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction that in Wicked Lovely Marr reveals her "fine ear for both dialogue and descriptive prose" as well as an ability to "integrat[e] … the dangers, folklore, and flexible morality of faerie with the real world." Calling the novel "a debut that reads like the work of a seasoned pro," de Lint concluded after reading Wicked Lovely: "I can't wait to see what she comes up with next."
What Marr came up with next was a best-seller: Ink Exchange, a companion novel to Wicked Lovely that again melds fantasy with twenty-first-century reality. In this story seventeen-year-old Leslie decides to get a tattoo to symbolize her decision to take control of her own life and end the abuse she has been suffering. When she selects a somewhat sinister image, the tattoo that results seems to take on a power of its own, drawing the teen into a dark faerie world where she must tap into her newfound sense of self in order to fight the control of a powerful faerie determined to sap the life source from both humans and faeries. In Publishers Weekly a critic dubbed the work a "highly addictive read" with "sinister" elements. Although noting that Marr's use of "archaic" speech and "overwrought descriptions" tend to "slow down the plot" of the novel, a Kirkus Reviews writer predicted that Ink Exchange "is likely to be just as popular as its bestselling predecessor."
Marr discussed her writing schedule in an interview for the Class of 2k7 Web site. While writing Wicked Lovely, "I wrote at night and all day Saturday & Sunday," she explained, "unless I had grading to do, lectures to draft, or other tasks that had to get done for my paying job. Now, writing is my job so I write whenever I need." Rather than writing regularly every day, Marr is a self-proclaimed "believer in the theory that one must live in order to be able to write. I wander as much as possible—museums, city streets, parks, desert, ocean, forest. I read daily. I meditate. Then when the story strikes, everything stops. I write fourteen hours at a clip. My family brings me food and coffee at the desk, and I don't leave the office for a couple of days.
"That said," Marr added, "I don't think writing is just that act of fingers on keyboard. The wandering, meditating, reading, exercising—those all are part of my process too. They are the actions that feed Ms. Muse so she'll let me have my fourteen-hour writing days."
Biographical and Critical Sources
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, July-August, 2007, Cindy Welch, review of Wicked Lovely, p. 476.
Kirkus Reviews, May 15, 2007, review of Wicked Lovely; April 15, 2008, review of Ink Exchange.
Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, July, 2007, Charles de Lint, review of Wicked Lovely, p. 29.
Publishers Weekly, April 30, 2007, review of Wicked Lovely, p. 161; June 25, 2007, "Flying Starts," pp. 26-28; February 18, 2008, review of Ink Exchange.
School Library Journal, July, 2007, June H. Keuhn, review of Wicked Lovely, p. 106.
Voice of Youth Advocates, June, 2007, Lynne Farrell Stover, review of Wicked Lovely, p. 164.
Washington Post Book World, June 24, 2007, Annette Curtis Klause, review of Wicked Lovely, p. 7.
Class of 2k7 Web site,http://classof2k7.com/ (May 5, 2008), "Melissa Marr."
Melissa Marr Home Page,http://www.melissa-marr.com (May 5, 2008).
Melissa Marr Web Log,http://melissa-writing.livejournal.com (May 5, 2008).