Born: July 25, 1972
Died: Not yet
Family: 4 kids, 1 father to my kids, 1 Girlfriend/Partner
Current Job: Mom
Other Jobs: Writer
Upcoming Job: Teach Creative Writing
Prior Jobs: University teacher, bartender, waitress, archaeology site worker, daycare teacher, cocktail waitress
Hobbies: Motherhood, Longsword, Pilates, Swimming, Gardening, Hiking, Photography, Reading
Religion: Jew By Choice
Politics: See above; super liberal
I grew grew up believing in faeries, ghosts, and other creatures. As a teen I spent a LOT of time with principals, grounded, high, and in trouble. Not ideal, but a combo of issues with a authority and a rape meant I was a difficult child and teen. College. Grad school. Did well. Graduated with a 3.8GPA. (My eldest kid beat my GPA recently!) Then teaching college literature and writing for a decade.
Then I started to actively try to get published. Wicked Lovely was the second novel I wrote. It got blurry after that. I have four kids these days. I grew one of them. I've written/sold 17 novels, 3 picturebooks, and a host of short stories. I co-edited anthologies. I co-wrote a trilogy.
I like doing stuff. I've been writer-in-res in two AZ cities, co-founded a group tour (for 3 years, 40 or so writers, 2 countries). I co-founded and ran a "one year only" conference that last two years (NOLAStoryCon). I volunteered and ran the YA track for RT Booklovers Con for 5 years. I take on about 5-7 editing jobs a year because I miss teaching. For about 18 months, I taught Historical European Martial Arts for women for free in the AZ area. In my pre-writing days, I homeschooled.
In addition to my kids and my swords, I spend several hours a week doing Pilates, swim, and I hike. All of this is because I have lupus, and I've had two minor strokes and a partially collapsed lung. I co-parent my four children (5 yr to 24 yr old) with their dad and am in a committed relationship with a wonderful woman who hits me with a sword, co-parents, and hikes with me. They all seem to tolerate my obsessive gardening and pet problem (currently 5 kittens, 1 cat, and 2 Rottweilers).
I moved to the Phoenix area in 2016, after living in Virginia, California, N Carolina, Virginia again, and Pennsylvania. When I escape, I run to the ocean or to Scotland (almost every year for the last decade).
Yes, Melissa Marr is the name on my birth certificate. Yes, I have a pseudonym or two-- the VERY tricky one of M.A. Marr and Ronnie Douglas. (Douglas is my family clan name.) My full name during childhood was Melissa Ann Veronica Marr (Clan Douglas), so I'm not exactly stealthy with pseudonyms. :)
In 2019, I'll start teaching Creative Writing for a MFA program, as well as have a NEW PICTUREBOOK, Baby Dragon, release in March.
In 2020, I'll have a NEW PICTUREBOOK, And Ducking Too, release as well as a new middle-grade novel. Book 2 of that MG series is contracted to release in 2021.
Melissa writes fiction for adults, teens, and children. Her books have been translated into 28 languages to date and been bestsellers in the US (NY Times, LA Times, USA Today, Wall Street Journal) as well as various countries overseas. She is best known for the Wicked Lovely series for teens and Graveminder for adults.
Wicked Lovely, her debut novel, was simultaneously released in the US and UK by HarperCollins in 2007 (with translation rights also sold in twenty-some countries). It debuted as a NY Times Bestseller and evolved into a multi-book series with myriad accolades and international bestseller lists.
Her debut adult book, Graveminder, released to strong critical reception in 2011. Following that she has edited anthologies with Kelley Armstrong (Enthralled and Shards & Ashes) and with Tim Pratt (Rags & Bones), and released a second adult novel (The Arrivals) in 2013.
With Kelley Armstrong, Melissa is the co-author of the Blackwell Pages trilogy (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers), a children’s trilogy about the Norse myth of Ragnarök. Loki's Wolves released in 2013; it was followed by Odin's Ravens in 2014 and Thor's Serpents in May 2015.
Her HarperCollins 2014 release, Made For You, utilizes both her graduate degree in Southern Literature and her personal experience with stalkers in a story about a killer who terrorizes a small North Carolina town.
Her first picture book (Bunny Roo, I Love You) was released in April 2015. It was written while she was in the hospital with her baby, who was very sick. Her second picture book, Baby Dragon, Baby Dragon!, will release in 2019. A third, Bunny Roo and Duckling Too will follow. All three picture books are with Penguin/Nancy Paulsen Books.
Under the name Ronnie Douglas, Melissa has written several adult romances as well-- the self-published Unlawful, as well as Undaunted and Unruly (via HarperCollins).
2016 and 2017 brought the release of her newest YA books, Seven Black Diamonds, which is the first in a new two-book faery series. (It has no relation whatsoever to the Wicked Lovely series.) The sequel, One Blood Ruby, released in 2017.
2018 is the year of charity anthologies. There are three essays in three charity anthologies: Things We Haven't Said (March, Zest Books, the title drawn from her essay about being a rape survivor), Life Inside my Mind (April, about mental illness), and Nevertheless We Persisted (September).
Currently, Melissa resides in Arizona.
Q: “I would like to know about your family.”
A: I have four children (Asia, Dylan, Kaden, and Zelda). Asia is a 25 yr old Mayan archaeologist. She has completed her Master's degree and is now beginning work on writing her dissertation. I've had her since she was 4, and if there is any person in this world I declare my best friend, it's her. Luckily, she's my kid too.
Dylan just started university. Currently, anthropology and flight school are his areas of study. My son (20 yr old!) was my first child. He's the calmest, smartest man I've met in this world. He lives here with me still, and I am in awe of him daily.
Kaden is 5. He's begun racing BMX last year. His bio-mom left him with the challenge of health issues, but the stubborn resolve of the surliest of goats. I could not love a child more.
In 2017, I added Zelda (now 18 year old) to my home. She is a lovely young woman who has adjusted well as a member of our family. She's exploring her future options, enjoying having the space to figure it out. She has bright blue hair (causing me to surrender my own blue stripes!), and an adorable ferocity and bristling temper, a tattoo or two. If you had plucked 16 year old me out of the past & plopped me into my current house, you'd find a girl who mirrors my daughter. Honestly, I look at her and think she was always meant to be my kid.
I believe very strongly that biology has NOTHING to do with family. Three of my four children are not mine by blood, but they are all mine in heart and reality.
Q: “What did you used to do?”
A: I taught English Literature and Writing at university for more than a decade. I’ve guest taught high school through one of the universities too. When I was in college and graduate school, I also worked as a research assistant, a daycare teacher, an assistant on a colonial archaeological dig, a waitress, a bartender, and a
tutor. When I started teaching, I was bartending too. (Teachers, even at university, don’t make much money.)
I was a writer-in-residence at two AZ libraries last year, and I teach longsword to beginners (for free) currently. I take on a few editing jobs each year because I enjoy that, and I miss teaching. (UPDATE 2018: I have accepted an offer to teach PT at a MFA program next year.)
Q: Where were you born? When?
A: Pennsylvania. July 25, 1972. I am told there was a full moon then. I'm not sure if that's true, but I like the story either way because there are great superstitions about being born under a full moon.
Q: Where do you get your ideas?
A: Everywhere. I read a lot of folklore and history, and I think that’s the biggest source for me. Then I ask, “What if?” Sometimes, though, a painting or a song might start me on a story. A dream could (and has) been the start of a story, too.
Q: Did you go to school to be a writer?
A: No. I went to school to learn about literature, and I got a couple degrees so I could teach college. One of the cool things about being a writer is that there are different ways to end up here. It’s not easy, though. I went to school for 7 years to learn enough about literature to teach at college, and then I taught for another 12 years. All of those years of studying and teaching books were how I became a writer—and every
book I write is a chance to get better at writing too.
Q: I sent you a letter, and you didn’t reply.
A: I don't reply to 99.97% of people. My jobs are writing and being a mom. Those both take up a lot of time. I DO read your letters, but I don’t have the ability to reply to all of them AND be the kind of mother I want to be. (I also don't reply to my friends' letters or answer the telephone or watch television. My kids come first in every spare minute I have from work.)