Monday, September 5, 2022

Sunya Mara Interview - The Darkening

Photo Content from Sunya Mara

Sunya Mara grew up in six different cities across five different states and now calls Los Angeles home. She studied film and business at the University of Southern California and went on to write and illustrate at Kobe Bryant’s Granity Studios. When not telling stories, she spends her time haunting old movie theaters and staring at museum walls.


Greatest thing you learned in school.
If I had to pick just one thing, it would be: learning how to learn. School taught me to embark upon something without knowing how to do it, and trust that I’ll figure it out along the way.

Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
There have been so many beautiful, rewarding moments — but there’s nothing like hearing from readers who’ve shared that The Darkening feels like it was written for them, that they dream about it, or even that they’ve cried reading it. Those moments feel so special — because it feels like this little story that I’ve nurtured in quiet has gone out into the world and found its people.

Was there a defining moment during your youth when you realized you wanted to be a writer?
I can’t remember a time where I wasn’t already in love with the idea of making stories. But it was a slow dawning realization—a realization that took years to really sink in—that it was something I could spend my life doing, rather than something I did in little stolen moments or in the wee hours of the morning.

What’s the best advice you can give writers to help them develop their own unique voice and style?
Style doesn’t exist in a vacuum; people develop a style because it suits what they have to say. Like—Goya and Michelangelo had very different things they wanted to say. Different things that they loved. And it shows in their art.

And I think be honest about what you like. The moments in life that you’re most drawn to. Like, when you watch some movies about flying or race cars, you can tell which folks love that feeling of going impossibly fast. They make sure to make you feel it. Explore everything, find what you like, and cultivate your thoughts and ideas about it.

What are some of your current and future projects that you can share with us?
The Darkening is my first novel and I’m currently hard at work on the sequel.

In your newest book; THE DARKENING, can you tell my Book Nerd community a little about it.
The Darkening is a story of Vesper Vale and Prince Dalca—both who struggle with the legacies their ancestors have left for them—and the cursed storm that encircles their city. Vesper and Dalca have little in common—he lives in the palace, in the sun, empowered by restricted magic, and she lives at the city’s edge, in an old house for those cursed by the storm. But they both love their city, and when they meet, something in them changes — and as they change, so does the fate of their world.

What do you hope for readers to be thinking when they read your novel?
That even the gentlest of us — those without superpowers, who don’t know how to kill a man with just their pinky finger — have a great role to play. That there is great power in choosing responsibility.

What part of Vesper did you enjoy writing the most?
Vesper is such a thoughtful character who genuinely wants to do the right thing—she just happens to live in a world where “the right thing” isn’t so clear. That tension made every page fun to write, but I really loved the moments that challenged her and made her reevaluate her perspective—about Prince Dalca, about her family, about the world she’s known.

What was your unforgettable moment while writing THE DARKENING?
Writing the first line. It was the last thing I wrote, and that was the moment the story felt done.

If you could introduce one of your characters to any character from another book, who would it be and why?
My first thought is that I’d like some of my characters to meet Winnie the Pooh. I think everyone could benefit from meeting Winnie the Pooh.

What is something you think everyone should do at least once in their lives?
There’s a bit from a Rilke poem called The Beholder that I like—it says something like, “the purpose of life is to be defeated by greater and greater things.” Every time I seek out something that seems far too big for me to be able to do—no matter if I fail or succeed—I feel as though life itself expands. Everything becomes clearer and more possible. So that’s what I’d suggest—to attempt the biggest, most terrifying, most incredible thing one can imagine.

Best date you've ever had?
Oh gosh, every date my partner and I have feels pretty extraordinary. One time, we went out to the desert, to a dark sky preserve, to watch a meteor shower. The sky was so clear and we were laying on the ground, and I remember this feeling of wonder that the gentle force of gravity was all that was keeping us from falling into that endless darkness.

What is your happiest childhood memory?
I love being reminded of the joy in simple things—the wind through my hair as my grandfather took me around on his motorcycle, wandering through the little bit of wilderness between my and my best friend’s neighborhoods, my mother making my favorite dessert to cheer me up… All those things are little treasures I’m lucky to have.

If you could go back in time to one point in your life, where would you go?
I wouldn’t. It’s the future I’m interested in shaping. I find it helpful to consider the past as dead.

What were you doing at midnight last night?
Midnight is for long conversations and dreaming up new adventures.

  • 1. A kingdom trapped in the eye of a cursed storm
  • 2. The storm has raged for a thousand years and curses anyone who touches it
  • 3. Vesper - a girl who dreams of more
  • 4. Dalca - a prince terrified of his throne
  • 5. Izamal - a revolutionary cursed by the storm
  • 6. Casvian - a scholar uncovering forbidden magic
  • 7. Magic that works through intricate symbols, that must be written perfectly
  • 8. Beasts made of storm and lightning that shift between creatures more and more terrifying
  • 9. A queen who is the vessel of a god and who’s dying under his power
  • 10. A story about the storms that rage in us, and what it takes to face them.
Writing: Behind the Scenes
I write in a little six-sided room with an incredible view that my partner and I built over the last several months. We didn’t know anything about construction when we began—and we made more mistakes than we can count—but it’s pretty much the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen. There’s nothing like the sense of calm and purpose I get when I step inside.

In this thrilling and epic YA fantasy debut the only hope for a city trapped in the eye of a cursed storm lies with the daughter of failed revolutionaries and a prince terrified of his throne.

Vesper Vale is the daughter of revolutionaries. Failed revolutionaries. When her mother was caught by the queen’s soldiers, they gave her a choice: death by the hangman’s axe, or death by the Storm that surrounds the city and curses anyone it touches. She chose the Storm. And when the queen’s soldiers—led by a paranoid prince—catch up to Vesper’s father after twelve years on the run, Vesper will do whatever it takes to save him from sharing that fate.

Even arm herself with her father’s book of dangerous experimental magic.

Even infiltrate the prince’s elite squad of soldier-sorcerers.

Even cheat her way into his cold heart.

But when Vesper learns that there’s more to the story of her mother’s death, she’ll have to make a choice if she wants to save her city: trust the devious prince with her family’s secrets, or follow her mother’s footsteps into the Storm.

You can purchase The Darkening at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you THE DARKENING for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a Copy of The Darkening by Sunya Mara.


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