Thursday, January 3, 2013

Marni Bates Author Interview

Photo Content from Marni Bates

Marni Bates began her writing career at the age of 19 with her autobiography, Marni, for HCI’s Louder Than Words series. Her debut fiction novel, Awkward, has been translated into Portuguese, Spanish and Hungarian and has been optioned by Disney Channel as a made for TV movie. She has three other novels with KTeen; Decked with Holly, Invisible,and Notable, as well as short stories in Ambush Books’ Magical Mayhem and Love Stinks Anthology.

In her free time she can be found reading romance novels, rollerblading, singing really loudly (and off-key) in public and . . . watching copious amounts of television.


Why is storytelling so important for all of us?
Stories let us imagine that we could be someone or something other than ourselves. They provide a safe space where you can put yourself in someone else’s shoes. I know I am a stronger, braver, more empathetic person because of the books I’ve read. They shaped the person that I am today and I’m incredibly grateful to have had such great literary sources of inspiration, especially during high school.

Stories can also help strengthen your belief in a happy ending even when you can’t imagine one for yourself.

What’s one thing that readers would be surprised to find out about you?
I saw the glowing red eyes of a mythical creature when I was studying abroad in Australia. I’m not making this up. Everyone in our group had to leave a stick in this cave and then return for it by ourselves in the dead of night. Without a flashlight. Right after one of the elders had spent hours telling us stories of this creature around a fire.

I’m pretty sure all of us were terrified. I know that I was scared witless.

But our elder said that if we could find our way to the cave and return with our stick, well...then we could do anything. This was happening at the same time that someone I dearly love was going through a hard time back in the states. And I felt so horribly powerless to help her that I had this overwhelming need to do something brave. To become stronger for both of us. Part of me honestly believed that if I could face my fear of deadly things that go hiss in the night, she would be okay.

So I volunteered to go first.

Given that I have absolutely no sense of direction, it should come as no surprise that I got pretty lost in the woods. I spent approximately an hour blundering around in the bushes, trying not to think of all the ways I could die, before someone from the group guided me back to the path and then left me alone again. And when I finally entered the cave...

I’m not prone to jumping to supernatural conclusions, but I know I saw the red eyes that night.

And that person I love is doing great now. So who knows? Maybe it worked.

Beyond your own work (of course), what is your all-time favorite book and why? And what is your favorite book outside of your genre?
I think The Twinkie Squad by Gordon Korman will always have a slot on my all-time favorite list. It’s about an ambassador’s son who was born in Pefkakia and doesn’t feel obligated to follow American rules. It is absolutely hilarious. I tried to read it aloud to the kids I was babysitting and they confiscated it from me because I kept laughing instead of reading.

Gordon Korman also responded to the letter I wrote him when I was in elementary school. I can’t tell you how much that meant to me.

Outside the YA genre...I love Pride & Prejudice. It’s funny and witty and romantic. Oh, and it has Mr. Darcy. Need I say more? *Swoon*

What was the greatest thing you learned at school?
I learned that having a passion for something means a heck of a lot more than a perfect GPA.

Oh, and that you should pursue your dreams no matter how far-fetched they may seem.

What is the best piece of advice you ever received from another author?
I read Meg Cabot’s blog obsessively when I was in high school and she recommended that aspiring writers might want to keep their career plans on the down low so as not to be discouraged by parents/friends/teachers etc. I’m really glad I listened to her because she was spot on.

My friend Marina Adair recently reminded me that the best tool you can have as a writer is adaptability. I think that’s pretty great advice too.

Can you tell us when you started Decked with Holly, how that came about?
Decked with Holly sort of happened by accident. It all started with a call from my agent saying that KTeen wanted to hire me to write a spin-off holiday novel if I was up for it. To which I enthusiastically assured my agent that I was ready for any challenge.

Two minutes later I was freaking out over the phone with my mom.

Me: What have I done?

Mom: It’ll be fine, Marni.

Me (hyperventilating): They asked the Jewish girl to write a holiday novel! I don't want to be writing about Santa. And there will be no Christmas miracles in my books! No non-denominational miracles either! SO HOW WILL THIS BE FINE?

As you can tell, I always keep my head in times of uncertainty.

And yet when I actually got down to the task of writing, I absolutely fell in love with Decked with Holly. Nick and Holly cracked me up from page one. So I just hope everyone enjoys reading their story as much as I loved writing it.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating Dominic?
I was surprised by how much I enjoyed writing from a male point of view. I didn’t expect that at all. In fact, I was downright terrified that I would turn the book in and hear that I needed to rewrite Nick’s half. Luckily that didn’t happen!

If you could introduce one of your characters to any character from another book, who would it be and why?
I think it would be fun to introduce Holly and Nick to Chelsea Halloway aka the most popular girl at Smith High School. I’m not sure that they would mesh all that well, but it would be certainly be interesting to watch. I think Nick would understand the pressure Chelsea is under to maintain a perfect image. Actually, I they could become long as she didn’t mess with Holly.

Then all bets would be off.

For those who are unfamiliar with Holly, how would you introduce her?
“Hi! This is Holly. She’s sort of a walking disaster, but she’s also smart and snarky and a whole lot stronger than some people might think. Oh, and she is willing to fake a whirlwind romance with a rock star but only on her terms.”

You have the chance to give one piece of advice to your readers. What would it be?
Find something you’re passionate about and go for it! And don’t let anyone dim your excitement.

When asked, what’s the one question you always answer with a lie?
Hmm...I don’t tend to lie. I simply evade.

Where is the best place in the world you’ve been?
My family places a lot of importance on seeing the world. So it’s really hard for me to pick just one country. I saw a little bit of Italy (primarily Rome) back in middle school and I would love to see more. The architecture and the history...oh, and the gelato! I distinctly remember enjoying the gelato.

Definitely on my list of dream travel destinations.

What's the most memorable summer job you've ever had?
My first non-babysitting job was working at a used bookstore, which I thought would mean I could spend all my time helping people find great books. Instead, I spent hours splashing lighter fluid on the sticky price tags on books and scraping them off with a razor blade.

I quickly returned to babysitting (and dogsitting) during my summer vacations and I had a whole lot more fun!

When was the last time you told someone you loved them?
Today. My older brother Skyped me from Cambodia and I got him to say that he loves me before he disconnected the call. This may not seem like much of an accomplishment, but to get my gruff brother to say anything sweet is a huge victory.

Although to be fair, he read Awkward and then quoted one of the lines back to me!

That was definitely a moment I will always treasure.

If you can go anytime in the PAST. What time are you traveling to and what are you going to do when you get there?
I would love to go back to 1889 and meet up with daring newspaper reporter, Nellie Bly. Not only did she write ground-breaking stories about the treatment of the mentally unwell in insane asylums, she decided to see if she could beat Jules Verne’s fictional record and make it around the world in under 80 days. So I would love to go back in time and travel the world with her. Maybe buy a monkey of my own in Singapore.

Oh, and she totally made it back with over a week to spare.

When was the last time you cried?
I cried when I heard about the elementary school shooting in Connecticut. And then I called up my mom just to tell her how much I love her.

Smartly blending of-the-moment pop culture references and timeless themes, Bates follows her YA debut, "Awkward", with a hilarious, over-the-top adventure about a teen girl who becomes the fake girlfriend of a cute rock star.

Taking a Christmas cruise with her two cousins from hell isn't Holly's idea of a good time. And when seasickness forces her into an open suite, she's pepper-sprayed by a gorgeous guy called Nick. But when Holly makes her exit, she's greeted by a horde of screaming teenage fans. Because Nick happens to be Dominic Wyatt, drummer for one of the hottest bands in America. Suddenly rumours are swirling and Holly's face is plastered all over the Internet. The band can't risk a scandal destroying their family-friendly image, so Dominic convinces Holly to be his fake girlfriend - just for two weeks. How bad could it be to be "fauxmantically" involved with a cute rock star? She's about to find out...

Decked with Holly is another cute story by Marni Bates that follows seventeen year-old Holly Dayton on an eight day cruise to Mexico with her family. On board with her stuck-up cousins, what seems to be a fun trip already seems to start off as being sour. Holly does not have the stomach for boat rides and seeks refuge into Dominic’s bathroom to calm her seasickness. But what Holly does not know is that Dominic is the drummer of the popular band ReadySet. While leaving his room, the two are photographed together and the tabloids stir up a story. In order to kill the rumors, he makes a deal with Holly to be his fake-girlfriend. Holly thinks no trouble would come of it but she’s about to find out first-hand.

The plot that author Marni Bates has laid out yields to many fun moments between Holly and Dominic. Providing readers with their points of view allows them to get a full grasp of their personalities and their true intentions. The back and forth teasing between the two is truly cute and made for great storytelling. The dialogue progresses the story into a fun and witty adventure of a contemporary romance. Although the ending is something to expect in this genre, it does not take away at how enjoyable the story is. Decked with Holly is a great novel that I’m certain fans of contemporary novels in general will not want to miss out.

You can purchase Decked with Holly at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you MARNI BATES for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive one e-copy of Decked with Holly by Marni Bates.


  1. Thanks Marni for this awesome giveaway! I absolutely love vacation stories!

  2. your story looks cute!

    Thanks for the nice giveaway!