Monday, December 3, 2012

An Interview with Mari Mancusi

Q: Of which book are you the most proud? And why?

A: I’m particularly proud of my novel Gamer Girl, which was released back in 2008. The book deals with bullying and is actually a fictionalized account of something similar I went through when I was in Junior High and started at a new school. I wanted to share what happened to me—but also give my heroine a happily ever after—to show that it can happen, despite how hopeless things might seem at the time.

After the book was published I received countless emails and messages from girls and even boys talking about their own experiences being bullied. They told me that my main character, Maddy, inspired them to stand up for themselves and get their own happy ending. That, of course, made my day—to know the book I wrote made a difference in their lives.

Q: Patty Campbell talks about the germ for a piece of writing being like the sand in the oyster.  What is your grain of sand?  Do you begin with character or setting or something else?

A: I’m a concept person. I like to think in elevator pitches and movie trailers. Once I come up with a concept (for example, my newest book was pitched as “Terminator with dragons!”) then I create the story and characters to live in it. Sometimes the story and characters change as I’m writing them and I never know exactly how things are going to turn out. But it’s that initial “What if?” that gets my creative juices flowing!

Q: What do you hear from your readers?

A: As I mentioned above, sometimes my books inspire them. But sometimes they just make them laugh. Or maybe make them swoon. And that’s okay, too! Not all books should be life changing. Some should just be entertaining and a great way to spend the afternoon. I get a lot of readers saying they get in trouble at school—for reading my books during class. That makes me laugh. I used to get in trouble for the opposite—for writing stories during boring lectures!

Q: Why do you write for Young Adults or Children or Adults?

I’ve written for both adults and young adults, but these days I much prefer to write for teens. Unlike adults, who will often just pick up a book, read it, then put it aside, teens want to live in the world their favorite author has created. No, not just live—but actually become a part of it and help build it. I have readers who not only draw pictures and make videos based on my books, but also create fan fiction or role play my characters on Facebook. In a sense, that makes them part of the universe. And that’s just really cool. They’re enthusiastic and smart and passionate about what they read—and that’s so rewarding for an author.

Q: Who is your favorite character you have written or read about?

A: I have a lot of fun writing Rayne McDonald, the bad twin in my Blood Coven Vampires series. It’s just fun to write a character who always speaks her mind—even if it gets her in trouble. In real life we can’t always do that—say exactly what we’re thinking with no filter. But Rayne doesn’t care what people think about her. She just blurts it all out. So much fun to write!

Q: What is one thing you would like your readers to know about you?

That I love them as much as they love my books! Okay, maybe that sounds creepy, lol. But I just appreciate so much their willingness to delve into a world and characters I’ve created. It thrills me to no end to get their emails and Facebook messages and blog posts. I don’t think I could do this job—which is often solitary and a bit lonely—without knowing that they’re out there, chomping at the bit for the next book!

Q: In high school, where did you fall? (Prom Queen/King, Gamer Geek, Brainy/Book Nerd, Jock, Shy/Quiet Scholar, Skate Rat, Stoner, Class Clown, etc.)

A: Goth girl and drama geek. I dressed all in black and listened to New Wave and goth bands and went clubbing at the local goth club every weekend. I dated skateboarders and guys with piercings and shaved heads. I was also very active in my high school drama department and won Best Director my senior year. One thing I realized in school—once you no longer cared what people thought about you, then you became much more interesting to them.

Q: Do you have a pet (pets)?  Tell us about it (them) and how they help/hinder your writing.

A: I have a Border Collie mix named Mesquite. She motivates me to go jogging each day – which helps with brainstorming whatever I’m working on at the moment. I consider her my only co-worker. Not so great when it comes to the company Christmas party, but at least she never takes a sick day!

Q: What is the hardest part of waiting for a book from the end of your writing to when it is released?

A: Not spilling the secrets! Especially since all the Blood Coven books end on cliffhangers. I get antsy, wanting to tell readers what happens next!

Q: How often do you dream about the writing you are working on?

A: Hardly ever. I think it’s stored in a different part of my brain. I’m definitely no Stephanie Meyer – getting my ideas in my sleep. I wish I were that lucky!

Thank you so much for your time, Mari. We look forward to seeing you at the festival!

For more about Mari Mancusi, check out her website.

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