*Looking for a chilling read? Check out this exclusive interview with Mara Purnhagen. This week you’ll have a chance to win a copy of Mara’s novel, Past Midnight!
Mara Purnhagen is the author of YA novels, Tagged and Past Midnight. Both books are apart of the publishing line Harlequin Teen which is quickly becoming my favorite! During the day, Mara is a full-time mom to three beautiful boys. At night, she’s a YA author in charge of spunky main characters and ghosts. Past Midnight is the first book in a paranormal series surrounding a young, teenage girl Charlotte Silver. Book number two, One Hundred Candles comes out in March 2011.
1) Was the road to publishing your novel, easy and fast, or long and difficult?
It was a long road with a lot of pit stops. I wrote one YA and one middle grade novel before I wrote Tagged, which ended up being my first published novel. I’m glad I didn’t focus on my first book. It wasn’t working, so I began a new project. I may still revisit that first manuscript, but part of me now sees it as a good exercise in writing: my goal was to finish a novel and I did. Then I moved on.
2) What surprised you about the publishing industry once you became published?
It’s a slow machine! A book will be due months before it goes to print. Everything takes longer than you might think, but that’s okay. During the “waiting periods,” it is important to keep writing. Not only does it keep you busy and sane, but it helps put you ahead of your next deadline.
3) What has been your favorite author experience so far?
I was recently in a bookstore and saw a woman carrying around a copy of Past Midnight. I made small talk for a bit, then offered to sign her copy. She was happy—I was thrilled.
4) What has been the hardest thing so far as an author?
Deadlines, deadlines and more deadlines. Before I was published, I had all the time I wanted to finish a book. Now, I have a timeline. In a way, it’s good because I’m someone who likes structure. But it can be stressful.
5) What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Read, read, and then read some more. Know what’s out there and find the books you love. Reading them will make you a stronger writer. Also, write every day, even if it’s just a journal entry. Don’t allow yourself to get rusty.
6) When you’re writing, what must you have next to you?
I’m someone who needs noise when I write. I wasn’t always that way, but ever since having my kids, I find absolute quiet unsettling. If I’m writing in my office, I play music. If I’m writing on my laptop downstairs, I like the TV to be on, preferably a rerun of something. It’s white noise, and I like it.
7) What do you when you’re not writing?
When I’m not writing, I’m chasing my three boys (literally, in most cases). My “day job” is working as a mom. I write mainly at night, after the kids go to bed. I’m lucky to have two careers (mom and writer) that I feel passionately about. There are times when it is definitely overwhelming, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
8 ) Tell me about your latest novel, Past Midnight:
Charlotte Silver, the main character in Past Midnight, has grown up believing in residual energy. Her parents are ghost debunkers who travel the world making documentaries. They don’t believe in ghosts—until something happens that challenges their theories.
9) How did you get into writing paranormal YA?
By accident! I originally intended for Past Midnight to be purely scientific. As I was writing, I realized that even with all the science, there will always be paranormal happenings that cannot be fully explained.
10) You have a new novel set to be released in 2011- we want to know more?!
My next novel, One Hundred Candles, will be out in March 2011. It takes place a few months after Past Midnight. The title comes from an obscure game in which you gather a bunch of people in a circle with one hundred unlit votives. Everyone has to describe a paranormal experience. For every story told, you light a candle. When all the candles are lit, there will supposedly be one hundred spirits in the room with you. Charlotte gets dragged into the game, and it unleashes some very strange things.
11) Have you ever encountered a ghostly chill…or a ghost?
I experienced some peculiar things during high school. My family lived in a very old house. My bedroom was located in the attic, and I would sometimes hear voices outside the door. It sounded like two men deep in discussion. It was a random—but fairly common—experience.