From Sailor Moon to Spider-Man: The Inspirations for Renegades

Today on the MKB blog we've got Marissa Meyer, author of Heartless, talking about her inspiration behind her amazing new novel, Renegades!

Renegades is a thrilling story set in a high-stakes world of superheroes, villains and vigilantes where people are searching for vengeance, and finding out who to trust is a decision that could cost you everything. . . 

So, how did the idea for this awesome book appear?

Take it away, Marissa!


In early 2013 I was on tour for my second novel, Scarlet, sitting in the back of a shiny black car that was driving me to my next book signing. I wasn’t looking for my next novel idea—I never seem to be looking for new ideas when they strike, but I’ve learned not to ignore that flash of inspiration no matter how inconvenient it might seem in the moment. I was at least two years away from finishing my first series, The Lunar Chronicles, and knew I would not be starting on a new book any time soon.

But that day, sitting in the back of that car, I was watching the streets of an unfamiliar city pass by the window when we passed by a construction zone. On the fence surrounding the construction was a big sign telling the local consumers what businesses were “Coming Soon” to that location. I just happened to catch a glance of the sign from the corner of my eye, and, in that split moment, I thought the sign read: “Coming Soon: HERO SCHOOL.”

Well, naturally I lurched forward against my seatbelt and swung my head around to read the sign again, only to be very disappointed that the coming businesses had nothing to do with heroes or schools. But nevertheless, the seed was planted. Within the space of that carried, I began to fantasize about what it would be like to attend a school for superheroes, which very quickly evolved into wondering what it would be like to go to a school for supervillains. But—oh!—what if a girl from the supervillain school fell in love with a boy from the superhero school, but neither of them realized they were rivals and that their alter egos were actually archenemies?!

By the time we got to my book signing, my mind was rushing a mile a minute, and what would become Nova and Adrian’s story was taking shape. (Though I did eventually scrap the school idea.)

Though my previous novels had drawn inspiration from more fantastical classics (Grimms’ fairy tales in The Lunar Chronicles and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland for my stand-alone novel Heartless), my inspirations for Renegades ended up being much different, though no less beloved. Never did writing a superhero story feel like a far reach for me, creatively, as I have loved the superhero genre since I first discovered it as a kid, watching “Captain Planet” and reading my brother’s X-Men comics. For years I was infatuated with the anime “Sailor Moon,” and I make every effort to catch the newest blockbuster Marvel and DC franchises when they hit theaters.

Though I certainly have my favorites, for me, the appeal is as much in the vicarious fantasy of superpowers themselves as any specific character or setting. I enjoyed the process of letting some of my favorite elements from various established worlds influence mine (i.e., Gotham served as an inspiration for Gatlon City, and much of my main characters’ internal conflicts can be traced to my love for Spider-Man), but ultimately, I hoped to create a world and story that would feel familiar, yet unexpected. I hope readers who are already fans of the superhero genre will find many of their favorite elements of represented in Renegades, while also falling in love with new characters that they can relate to. I hope that this book will feel like a natural addition to this genre I’ve loved for so long, while also giving readers a story that stands all on its own. 

Let us know what you think over @mykindabook now!