Book Nerd Interview
Mari Mancusi used to wish she could become a vampire back in high school.
But she ended up in another blood sucking profession --journalism -- instead. Today she works as a freelance TV producer and author of books for teens and adults. When not writing about creatures of the night, Mari enjoys traveling, cooking, goth clubbing, watching cheesy horror movies, and her favorite guilty pleasure--videogames. A graduate of Boston University and a two time Emmy Award winner, she lives in Austin, Texas with her husband Jacob, daughter Avalon, and their dog Mesquite.
Where were you born and where do you call home?
I was born in Haverhill, Massachusetts—right on the New Hampshire border. I’ve lived all over—from Orlando, San Diego, Boston, NYC—to now Austin, TX—where hopefully I’ll be staying a long while.
As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
It changed a lot, but mainly an actress or a writer. At least one of those panned out!
What fiction most influenced your childhood, and what effect did those stories have on your writing?
I loved an author called Zilpha Keatley Snyder. She wrote paranormal style kids stories, which were not common at the time. She also wrote an amazing dystopian kids series called “Below the Root.” One of my favorite books ever. These books really stretched my imagination and gave me the ability to say “what if?”
What was the greatest thing you learned at school?
To believe in myself and my writing. I had a lot of really supportive teachers that nurtured my creativity and writing. Without them, I probably wouldn’t have gained the confidence to seek publication. I still remember my fifth grade teacher telling me, “Someday I will see your name in print.” She was right!
Did it take a long time to get your first book published?
Yes and it wasn’t my first book, either. I wrote a couple unpublishable books along the way that will never see the light of day! It’s hard when a book is your baby, to accept the fact that you need to start over. But I’m glad I did because I eventually was able to write the book that sold. I think so many writers give up too easily. Perseverance is the only secret I know to publication!
For those who are unfamiliar with your series; Blood Coven, how would you introduce it?
Well, it’s not like Twilight, lol. I’d say it’s more in line with the old Buffy the Vampire Slayer TV series, which combined humor with romance, adventure and angst. I like to turn the vampire mythos on in its ear and give things a new twist.
Plot wise, the story follows two identical twins—Sunshine (Sunny) and Rayne. While they look exactly the same on the outside, on the inside they are as different as well...you know. Rayne is a goth girl who wants so badly to be a vampire. She’s networked, been on waiting lists, gotten her vampire certification. But on the night that she was meant to be bitten, the vampire in question accidentally bites her twin sister instead. Now Sunny has one week to reverse the transformation...or become a vampire forever. That’s how book one starts. A lot more happens in later books!
Which character have you enjoyed getting to know over the course of writing Blood Coven?
I had a really fun time writing Race Jameson, vampire rock star. He first shows up briefly in Girls that Growl, but has a much bigger role in Soul Bound. I see him as kind of a Russell Brand type character. A total flirty rogue, but with a good heart, deep down. It’d be fun to write a novella about him finally finding a lady love to settle down with.
If you could introduce Rayne to any character from another book, who would it be and why?
I think she would really dig Eve Rosser of the Morganville Vampire series. They’re both goth girls with an interest in dark clothing and darker music. Plus they both have total attitudes. They’d either love each other or fight like cats and dogs.
Why do you feel you had to tell this story?
I’ve always loved vampires. From back in the day when I used to read Anne Rice, to my time watching Buffy—there’s just something so appealing about these creatures of the night. But I wanted a world that was all mine—where I could pick and choose between the legends and even make up some rules of my own. Thus, the Blood Coven series was born.
Where did you get your idea for Magnus?
A lot of people assume I got his name from the vampire who turned Lestat in Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles. But I actually got it from a kid that used to go to the “real” Club Fang back in my own high school days. (An underage dance club called Rave that I based the vampire club on.) He insisted Magnus was his real name, though no one believed it. I still thought it sounded pretty cool, though.
As for his character, I like writing guys who are strong on the outside, but soft and marshmallowy on the inside. Magnus is torn between his loyalty to his people and his obligations and his love for Sunny. He doesn’t want anyone to be hurt because of him, which isn’t always easy.
What’s one thing that readers would be surprised to find out about Sunny?
She’s pretty strong. Everyone sees Rayne as the strong one, mostly because she’s so outspoken, but Sunny’s got a lot of personal convictions that she’s not afraid to stand up for. She may not be the best in a physical fight, but she’s never afraid to speak her mind.
What question are you never asked in interviews but wish you were?
Well, nowadays I always want to be asked about my daughter! :) Her name is Avalon and she’s nine months old. It’s been a challenge, this past year, juggling mommyhood and writerdom, but it’s also been well worth it! She’s my angel and I can’t imagine life without her.
Beyond your own work (of course), what is your all-time favorite YA book and why? And what is your favorite book outside of the YA genre?
In the YA genre, I really love Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments series. It has just the right mix of action, adventure, romance and, most importantly, snarky humor.
Outside of the YA genre, I am obsessed with the book, The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley. It tells the King Arthur story from the female characters’ points of view. A very interesting new approach to the legend.
When asked, what’s the one question you always answer with a lie?
Any question having to do with shoes. As a girl, I’m supposed to be obsessed with shoes and I’m not saying I don’t have a few great pairs. But secretly, I’d be most happy wearing flip-flops twenty-four seven. They’re just so much more comfortable than high heels. But say that in a cocktail party—especially when I lived in New York City—and people will look at you like you have three heads.
Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
When I published my book Gamer Girl, which had to do with a girl being bullied at school, I got a lot of emails from readers who said they’d also been bullied and after reading Maddy’s story, they decided they needed to start fighting back against the haters and sticking up for themselves. That made me so happy—that my message made a difference in girls’ lives. I, myself, was bullied when I was in junior high and so I think it’s really important now to empower others.
Which author would you love to co-author a book with?
Heather Brewer! She’s a friend and totally amazing. I think we have a similar sense of humor and dorkiness as well. We’d have a blast writing a book together, I bet.
Do you have any fun Halloween experiences you can tell us?
I’m a huge fan of any occasion where you’re required to dress up. I don’t even wait for Halloween! Going to see the Halloween parade in New York City’s Greenwich Village was a lot of fun. Too bad it’s always so cold in NYC that time of year. I’m looking forward to the day I can get my daughter into Halloween. I think it’ll be just as much fun to help her dress up as it is to dress up myself.
What was a time in your life when you were really scared?
Right before my first novel came out. I was petrified that no one would like it and I’d get trashed by reviewers. Luckily, though of course every author gets some bad reviews, mostly it wasn’t too bad!
If you could be any mythology creature, what would you be?
Probably a fairy. They really seem to have a good time. Lots of dancing and parties and not a care in the world. And nectar sounds pretty delicious.
Where can readers stalk you?
Sunny McDonald and her vampire boyfriend, Magnus, are on the run-accused of treason and wanted alive...or undead. And her twin is the slayer sent to track them down.
Rayne would do anything to save her twin sister, Sunny, from the Vampire Consortium dictator who wants her dead. Instead, she's been commissioned by Slayer Inc. to find Sunny and Magnus and deliver them to the Consortium...which Rayne knows means certain death. She also knows that if she and her boyfriend, Jareth, disobey orders, they are signing not only their own death warrants, but also those of every vampire in the Blood Coven.
As a rival slayer with a personal vendetta moves in, Rayne and Jareth must do something to stop her. So they embark on their most dangerous journey yet, deep beneath the streets of New York City and through the Gates of the Underworld. But when a greedy god demands the ultimate sacrifice, will Rayne be forced to choose between her sister...and the vampire she loves?
Twins, Sunny and Rayne McDonald, are two sisters with two completely different needs. Sunny wants to live a normal life but her sister, Rayne, has a different agenda. She badly wants to become a vampire. A sister is turned when Magnus the vampire bites Sunny. Sunny finds a way to return back to normal but it does not bid well for Pyrus. Now Sunny and Magnus must run away from Pyrus and his evil-doings. He plans on controlling the Vampire Consortium and ultimately the world.
Angered by Sunny’s actions, Pyrus appoints Slayer Inc. to hunt down the two. The plot thickens as Slayer Inc. allocates Rayne and her boyfriend Jareth to hunt down her sister and Magnus. Rayne is worried because if she and Jareth fail to bring the two runaways to the Vampire Consortium, it would be the end of all the Blood Covenvampires that includes herself and her boyfriend. To add more action, there is another slayer that is out to hunt her sister and Magnus. Just as when Rayne gets close to locating her sister, complications just seems to stack up. She comes to a predicament of choosing either her boyfriend or her sister, Sunny.
Mari Mancusi’s Soul Bound continues the dark story of the two twin sisters. Mancusi has delivered another fast-paced teen urban paranormal fantasy. We learn more about the twins and where they stand. The descriptions are so wonderfully put into words that picturing it comes easily. The adventure set forth in this book is original and cannot wait to see what else is in store from the A Blood Coven Vampire Series.
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