Mari is the author of the Blood Coven YA vampire series. (and today is her birthday, Happy Birthday Mari!)
Welcome Mari. Thank you for joining us today on your Birthday.
Thanks for having me!
Q: How did you transition from working in television to writing books and what was your first published book?
A: I always dreamed of being a writer. When I was a kid, too young to pick up a pen, I'd dictate stories for my mother to transcribe. In high school, I'd amuse my friends by writing up soap opera type stories staring them and the rock stars who loved them.
In college, I studied film and wrote screenplays. When I got out, I had to face the reality that there's not a ton of film jobs in my home city of Boston. So I took a job at our local NBC station and began my career in television. But I never lost the writing bug and when I was in my mid-twenties, I realized if I wanted to be serious about writing, I needed to actually finish a book. So after a couple of false starts that will never see the light of day, I wrote "A Connecticut Fashionista in King Arthur's Court", the first ever chick-lit time-travel mash-up. I sold the book in 2004 to Kate Seaver at Dorchester and never looked back. Today I have twelve books out--a mix of teen and adult--and two anthologies.
Q: Out of all the stories/books you’ve written, which is your favorite?
A: That’s like asking someone to pick their favorite child! I like them all in different ways. I do have a particular fondness for my Blood Coven Vampire series and I also really like News Blues, which is a contemporary romantic comedy that takes place in a television newsroom. It was my chance to really get to poke fun at local TV news and all its idiosyncrasies.
Q: Do you have a favorite character that you’ve created? One that is especially close to your heart?
A: Probably Rayne, from the Blood Coven Vampire series. She's so strong and angry on the outside, but inside she's a marshmallow--vulnerable and insecure. She's always making things harder for herself because she can't admit her weaknesses and I often just want to give her a big hug and tell her that high school sucks and things will get better!
Q: Do you have a set schedule for writing or do you just go with the flow?
A: With my busy schedule, if I were to go with the flow I’d never get anything done. So I wake up at 6am every morning to write for two hours before work. To most people, this sounds like torture, but I find I’m at my best in the quiet morning, alone with my coffee and nothing to disturb me. I also usually write on my lunch break at work to get a little extra in when I'm on deadline. If not on deadline, I try to take weekends off, just like you would a nine-to-five job. Everyone needs a break or they become in danger of burning out.
Q: Do you need to be in a specific place or atmosphere before the words flow? Do you have a ritual that you do before sitting down to write?
A: I prefer to be at my own desk writing at my own desktop computer. My desk sits in front of a large sliding glass door that leads out to our balcony and overlooks the Hudson River, with the Statue of Liberty in the background. It’s a very scenic view. I make myself a bowl of cereal and coffee, then sit down to read a few blogs or my Twitter feed and allow the caffeine to kick in before starting to write.
Q: What is the strangest source of inspiration you’ve had? Maybe something weird that ended up in one of your books or short stories.
A: Probably my day-to-day life when I worked in the special projects department of TV News. You know the type of stories we're always producing: "Can your couch kill you? We'll tell you, tonight at 11." They're made to be really promotable and scary sounding and often have very little real news value to viewers. For example, one time I was told I needed to do a story on "deadly purses" -- how your purse could be harboring disgusting germs or e-coli or something. My boss told me we needed to make sure we got results from our tests, as we didn't want to waste money on a non-story. That meant going into the bathroom and dragging the test purses on the floor before sending them to the lab. (I refused to do it and she ended up assigning the story to another producer who would.) But that kind of thing was the norm around a TV news station and it was fun to be able to sort of "tell all" in News Blues, albeit in a fictional setting.
Q: If you could offer one tidbit of information for new writers, what would it be?
A: Don’t be in such a hurry to get published. Enjoy the process of writing your first book. Edit the heck out of it and get a critique partner to do the same before sending it out into the world. Don’t take rejections personally, especially in this economy, where editors have to be ridiculously choosy. And while you’re waiting for agent/editor responses, write another book. While I don’t recommend you chase trends, subscribe to Publishers Marketplace and look at the deals that are being done every day. Those are the books editors want NOW. The ones on the shelves are what they bought a year or two ago. And never give up. Never surrender. You can get a hundred no's, but it only takes one yes to get a book deal.
Okay, that's more than one tidbit, but you get the idea!
Q: Do you still work in television or do you write full time now?
A: I work as a producer for a nationally syndicated women’s lifestyle show called Better TV. It’s a fun job where I get to learn a little bit of everything I’ve interviewed celebrities (recents include: Pierce Brosnan, Lauren Conrad, Ewan McGregor, Hillary Swank, David Duchovny), sat in the front row at Fashion Week, visited top spas, cooked with celebrity chefs, etc. etc. It's a lot more interesting than TV News, though a lot more vapid in a sense, too. Still, I can't say it's not entertaining!
Q: Name one thing readers would be surprised to learn about you.
A: I'm a Disney World freak. I love it there and have been hundreds of times. (I used to live in Orlando for a short time.) I have friends who live down there still and at least once a year we hit one of the parks. I'd rather go there than be in some fancy chalet in Switzerland or a glamorous Parisian apartment. It's just so full of fun memories for me. I can't wait to have kids so I can introduce them to the magic as well.
Q: What are some of your hobbies besides writing?
A: I like to go snowboarding, play videogames, taste wine, cook new meals, watch movies, read, go hiking, go shopping, go swimming, travel, etc.
Q: Why the paranormal, why vampires? Have you always been attracted to “the dark side”?
A: I grew up reading paranormal books from a very young age. I got my start with the Zilpha Keatley Snyder books. Then in high school I was introduced to Anne Rice’s vampires and was hooked. I became a goth girl and grew to love all things dark--from music to clothing to literature. It was my way of expressing myself as a teen. Then came Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which had the perfect mix of angst and humor. I knew immediately this was the kind of thing I wanted to be writing.
Q: For those not familiar with your Blood Coven series can you give us a super quick synopsis.
A: The series starts with two twins—Sunshine and Rayne. They’re identical on the outside, but on the inside they’re polar opposites. Rayne is a goth girl who wants to be a vampire more than everything. She’s networked, been on waiting lists, taken a certification course, the works! But on the night when she’s meant to be transformed, the vampire in question accidentally bites her twin sister instead. Now, Sunny has a week to reverse the transformation or become a vampire forever.
That’s the premise of Book 1. As you can imagine the deeper into the series you go, the wilder and more complex the twins’ adventures.
Q: Tell us a bit about your latest release, Bad Blood.
A: Bad Blood is the 4th book of the series and is back to Sunny's point of view. (Stake That and Girls that Growl are narrated by Rayne.) The majority of the book takes place in Vegas, which was fun to write. I mean, what a perfect city for vampires, right?
Here's the back cover blurb:
Sunny McDonald is in the ultimate forbidden relationship. Her boyfriend Magnus is a vampire, and the leader of the Blood Coven. Their differences have never been an issue, until now…When the Blood Coven decides that Magnus needs a mate to be his co-ruler, Sunny’s humanity puts her out of the running. The Coven’s chosen candidate is Jane Johnson, a magna cum laude graduate of Oxford University who just happens to look like a vampiric celebutante.
Sunny is suspicious of a Rhodes Scholar who can’t answer the most basic poly-sci questions, but Magnus brushes it off as petty jealousy. Still, when the Blood Coven goes to Las Vegas for a vampire convention—where Magnus and Jane’s bonding ceremony will be the main event—Sunny and her sister Rayne secretly tag along. And Sunny’s not going home before she learns the truth about Jane. Because not everything stays in Vegas—especially bad blood…
Q: Could you tell us about your current work in progress? And what’s next for Rayne and Sunshine?
A: I just sent Book 5 of the series, tentatively called “Night School” to my editor. And I’m working up an idea for Book 6. The twins’ adventures continue! I'm also working on a time travel YA for Dutton called The Camelot Code.
For more please visit www.marimancusi.com, www.bloodcovenvampires.com
Thank you so much for joining us today, Mari it’s been wonderful having you as a guest here at Fang-tastic Books.
Thanks for having me!!
Now it's giveaway time!
Mari if offering a copy of either BAD BLOOD or MY ZOMBIE VALENTINE.
Open to residents of US and Canada
To enter leave a comment on this post with your email contact info.
Contest Closes Tuesday March 9 Midnight EST
Winner Announced on Wednesday March 10
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