Friday, May 27, 2016

2017 Debuts To Be Excited For: Mary Taranta Interview

My goal this year has been to spotlight 2017 Debut authors, and earlier this week I posted an interview with Gwen Cole, and now I have another interview for you all!  It's with the fantastic Mary Taranta, whose book, Shimmer and Burn (previously titled Until Our Blood Runs Clean) is a dark fantasy about a world where magic is dangerously addictive; the book is set to release next summer (is the wait really that long??!).  Thank you so much, Mary, for doing this interview!

Sam: In your own words how would you describe your novel?
Mary: Elevator pitch! After her sister is enslaved by the king, Faris Locke is coerced by an ambitious princess into smuggling stolen magic out of their hidden kingdom in order to bribe an alliance with a neighboring prince.

Sam: What does it mean that your book is dark fantasy?
Mary: I don't shy away from bloodshed or body counts, and characters often make difficult (and unpleasant) choices. No happy endings guaranteed!

Sam: According to your website you have a BA in history; how does this affect what you write about? Did you take classes in college (or outside of college) to help with your writing craft?
Mary: History is a huge source of inspiration in terms of worldbuilding and character motivation, but I tend to only use little details, or a general time period/event to set my books against. Some of my ideas borrow more heavily from specifics than others, but overall, I definitely write fantasy novels, not historical. 
I took one creative writing class in college, but it was taught by a former state Poet Laureate who heavily skewed the class towards poetry, which wasn't my area of interest. Other than that, I just wrote a lot of practice words before I felt I had something worthy of querying.

Sam: You're a mostly self-taught artist and do sketches of your characters- what comes first for you, the character sketch or their role in the book?
Mary: It's half and half! I might have an idea for a plot or a specific dynamic between two characters, and as I start drawing them, details fill in. SHIMMER AND BURN began as a concept which turned into a sketch which led to the pitch that my agent approved.  A rather important character in the novel didn't exist until I was doodling faces and he showed up and introduced himself. Now the novel can't work without him!
The sketch in question; click to be taken to her original post
Sam: Your book comes out in Summer 2017; is the wait killing you? What other projects are keeping you busy while you wait?
Actually... no! I'm on deadline for edits on Book 1, and the first draft of Book 2 is due soon, so having a year to go makes it a little less stressful for me - there's still plenty of time to make changes! ;) That being said, I'm dying to see my cover. The cover will feel more real than a word document I email back and forth to my editor, if that makes sense. 
Since both books are keeping me busy and I work full-time during the day, I don't have any side projects going at the moment, although ideas are simmering in my head.

Sam: What is the greatest piece of writing advice you have for aspiring authors?
Mary: Patience! When you're actively involved in the writing community, you get real time updates of other people's successes, and it makes you hungry - which is good! - but don't let it make you impatient. There's no time limit on success, nor is there only a finite amount to go around. Rushing to catch up will not get you there any faster, and it will probably even set you back - a lesson I learned the hard way.

Sam: Time for two truths and a lie! The rules of the game: give three facts about yourself, two that are true and one that is a lie. Readers will guess which is which in the comments and I'll reveal the answer in a later post!
Mary: 1. I have nine siblings.
2. SHIMMER AND BURN was my seventh novel.
3. I live in Florida, but I don't know how to swim.

Thank you so much for the interview it was a bunch of fun and you were a lovely guest!  

If you haven't already, go check out her website and follow her on social media (Twitter, Tumblr); you won't be sorry!

Born the youngest save one in a family of ten, I grew up notoriously quiet but secretly wild, playacting my favorite stories and writing some of my own in the woods behind my family's farmhouse. Originally from a small (very small) town in Ohio, I moved to the larger (much larger) Orlando suburbs kicking and screaming at the age of fifteen. It turned out all right in the end and I'm still here, now with an adorable husband, two useless cats, and an unhealthy reliance on air conditioning. While I'm not old enough to be President, I am too old to sit on the floor without cracking joints when I stand. As a Midwestern Southerner, I've attained Level 9 Politeness and prefer my iced tea sweet.

Still notoriously quiet, though. Not nearly so wild.
*picture and description taken from Mary Taranta website


  1. I think the lie is that Shimmer & Burn is her seventh book. You're interviewing upcoming debut authors, so if that was true it wouldn't make sense. XD

    1. Good guess! I'll reveal the answer in this week's wrap up!

  2. Great interview! I'm sold on Shimmer and Burn! :) I'm going to guess that number 3 is the lie. Interesting to hear that she's also from a very small Ohio town like me.

    1. I'm glad I've got you hooked! It sounds amazing and is one of my most anticipated.


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