#1 New York Times bestselling author committed to giving back to the community
By Marguerite Cleveland | Photo by In-Gear Media
Marissa Meyer is a #1 New York Times bestselling author. She also has deep roots in the South Sound community with a BA in Creative Writing from Pacific Lutheran University. Meyer believes in supporting and giving back to the local community through her work with many local nonprofits.
Romantics will love her two new books. “Gilded” is a retelling of the Rumpelstiltskin fairytale with a haunting and romantic edge. It goes on sale November 2, 2021. “Serendipity” is a collection of love stories written by 10 of the brightest and award-winning authors of young adult fiction and edited by Meyer. In addition to her own writing, she also mentors writers as the host of “The Happy Writer” podcast where she shares ways to bring joy to the writing process.
Q. With the holidays rapidly approaching, can you share with our readers your work with the Tacoma Toy Rescue Mission and why has that become a holiday tradition for your family?
A. When I was growing up, my family had the holiday tradition of going to the Giving Tree at the Tacoma Mall, choosing a child from the tree, and buying a present for them. My husband and I continued similar traditions after we were married—sometimes doing the Giving Tree, sometimes buying gifts for Toys for Tots, and at one point we started to feel like we could be doing more. We both have such enchanted memories of Christmas from when we were kids, and we know that isn’t the reality for a lot of children.
My husband had the idea that we should go to Teaching Toys, a locally owned toy store, go on a bit of a shopping spree, then drive all those toys straight to the Tacoma Toy Rescue Mission, which is a fantastic organization that gives toys, books, games, puzzles and more to local kids and families—not just during the holidays, but year-round. These days, the employees at Teaching Toys help us by pulling everything together and having it ready for pickup. Plus, our children are now at an age where we let them pick out some toys to give as well, continuing the tradition from my childhood. Pulling up to the Toy Rescue Mission with a truck packed full of gifts has become one of the highlights of the whole season for us.
Q. With the COVID-19 pandemic, food insecurity became prevalent in our area. What drew you to work with the Food Lifeline?
A. Originally, we had started making donations to Feeding America—I think we saw a billboard in Seattle one day and decided to look them up and were shocked to hear how prevalent food insecurity is, and particularly how many children in America don’t have regular access to food. We immediately felt called to contribute, and not long after that, we were put in touch with some wonderful people at Food Lifeline, the local organization working to end food insecurity in our area. For all people, being able to feed ourselves and our family is number one. It’s basic survival. We can’t expect people to function, much less thrive, if they’re hungry. And I do believe it’s a solvable issue. The problem is rarely a lack of food but more about needing better systems to get that food to the people who need it. I’m so grateful that organizations like Food Lifeline and Feeding America are working to build those systems.
Q. Your books feature strong female characters. Why do you think it is important to show women in these roles, especially for your audience of young girls?
A. I think it’s important to show that strong can mean a lot of different things. There was a time in book circles when we would talk about “strong female characters” only as those who fit the Katniss Everdeen model—the girls who are fighters, who are survivors, who have these tough outer shells, or who had stereotypically “masculine” skills. And those characters are great—I love Katniss, and I’ve got a few of them in my books too. But now we’ve broadened the conversation, and readers and writers have embraced this idea that being strong can mean so many different things. A female character might be strong because of her intelligence, her creativity, her courage, her kindness, her willingness to speak her mind or not apologize for what she wants. I think young girls need to know that we are all strong in our own ways—that they are strong in their own way—and it’s okay to embrace that and be proud of it.
Q. Washington has been the inspiration for books such as "Dune" and "The Twilight Series." There are so many unique areas to visit in our state. Did any become the inspiration for a setting in any of your books?
A. My new novel, “Gilded,” is set in a world inspired by 16th century Germany, and while I have been to Germany and drew a lot of inspiration from that trip, I would be lying if I said that our own Bavarian town of Leavenworth wasn’t a huge influence as well! I’ve always loved Leavenworth for its charming, magical vibe, delicious food, and that spirit of community, so I was very much picturing it when I was describing the villages and cities in the book.