Friday, May 2, 2008

Author Interview: Marissa Doyle

Marissa Doyle at a signing

Marissa's rabbit, Maple! :)

Bio: Marissa Doyle lives in Massachusetts with her family, far too many books and antiques she swears are just bought for research purposes, and a bossy pet rabbit. She likes listening to Bach, growing things, making quilts, and eating Juicy Pear Jelly Belly jellybeans.

Book summary: Persephone Leland would far rather devote herself to her secret magic studies with her governess Miss Allardyce--Ally--than plunge into the social whirl of the London Season. The only thing drawing her there this spring of 1837 is the prospect of seeing her idol, Princess Victoria.

Then Ally disappears, and Persy and her twin sister discover that she’s been kidnapped as part of a devious plot to enchant the soon-to-be queen. Persy also discovers that one should never cast a love spell after drinking too much brandy punch at a party, that pesky little brothers can sometimes be handy, and that even boys who were terrible teases when they were twelve can somehow turn into the most perfect young men…

Web Presences:,

Why this story? What was the moment you knew you had to write BEWITCHING SEASON?

The idea for Bewitching Season came from a writing prompt exercise that we did in my local RWA chapter, where we all had to take the same sentence (“Oh my God, you’ve killed him!”) and write the beginning of a story using it as the opening. It was the mix of that with the biography of Queen Victoria I was reading at the time that sparked the plot--and as soon as that central idea gelled, I knew I had to write it. And yes, the opening line is still the same, just slightly modified.

How much research did you do?

A lot. Most of the broad history is already in my head, just because I’ve read so much of it over the years. But I really wanted to get the flavor of life in 1837 down for readers, so I tried as well as I could to get even small details right, like what colors were fashionable that year or what was served for refreshments at balls. Most of all, I wanted to communicate that this was a totally different world from today with a totally different culture and mindset...not just people wearing fancy dresses waltzing a lot. Women had almost no rights in early Victorian society, and girls didn’t even think of dreaming about living their lives in any other way than what their families and society dictated.

What were you doing the moment you first saw the cover for BEWITCHING SEASON?

Standing at my kitchen counter clutching a pair of shears, because my first view of my cover was on the ARCs my editor sent me. I do remember being almost afraid to open the package…what if I hated it? But I didn’t…and liked the revised version even better a couple of months later, and LOVED the full jacket. It’s beautiful and rich and elegant and makes you just want to pick it up and taste it with your eyes.

What’s your favorite genre to read and why?

All right, I’m weird…I mostly read non-fiction for relaxation, like historical studies and biographies and science. I recently finished an amazing book about the officer on Wellington’s staff who cracked the codes Napoleon’s generals and brother were using in Spain during the Peninsular Campaign--fascinating portraits of all the people involved including Wellington himself, who may have been a hero but was not a terribly noble human being. I think I love non-fiction because so often it’s even more odd and unexpected than fiction.

Who’s your favorite character in BEWITCHING SEASON?

Hmm. That’s a hard one. I had the most fun writing Charles, the main character’s little brother, because he could get away with being outrageous at times, and I liked writing the family’s mother, because she comes across as rather oblivious but is anything but. But Persy was like my best friend while I was writing her, so…

You’re the co-president of the Class of 2k8. That must be exciting! What’s new with the Class?

We’re mostly just plugging along, celebrating our members’ releases as they happen. One of the exciting parts about that, though, is seeing the wonderful book videos that our designers (Madison Meyer and Paige Feldman) come up with for each book.

Your rabbit, Maple, is so, so cute! (Now, I must get one…) What made you decide to get a house rabbit?

Cute? Cute? He’s the sweetest, handsomest, most adorab--oh, sorry. I get carried away sometimes. :)

I was originally a cat person (and still am)--my first cat, a beautiful apple-head Seal Point Siamese, came to live with us just before my 7th birthday, and she lived until just before I got married at 24. Unfortunately my husband is extremely allergic to cats. We’d resigned ourselves to being petless (I’m not a dog person) until my son volunteered us to baby-sit his classroom’s pet rabbit over a long weekend. We were utterly smitten. Rabbits are just as intelligent as cats and dogs, but very different--they’re prey animals, after all--so potential rabbit owners have a learning curve when it comes to their behavior and how to read them. Maple is litter-box trained and has the run of the house, sleeps under my bed at night, plays with toys (rabbits especially love noisy toys) and flips his food dishes around when he’s feeling cranky. He also loves to give me kisses. It’s much nicer to have your face licked by a creature with parsley-breath than one with tuna-breath.

What’s next for you? Any exciting projects to give us a hint about?

Well, the companion to Bewitching Season will be out next spring from Henry Holt--it tells what happens to Persy’s twin sister, Pen, when she goes to study magic in Ireland. And after that? You may not have heard the last of the Leland family…

Find Marissa's book online here:

Great answers, Marissa and thank you for stopping by!


RR2 said...

ooh...this book sounds really good. It's pretty cool that a writing prompt started off her book!

Em said...

I haven't read this one yet and now I really want to check it out. Great interview! :)

Marissa Doyle said...

This was fun, Jessica, and you asked great questions. Thank you so much for inviting me, and best of luck with your upcoming release in 2009!

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