Mari Miniatt hails from the former publishing capital of the world New York, yet this debut author chose to be an independent author of her new novel FLEDGLING book one of the Coiree Series. Mari writes urban fantasy novel that deal with fantasy and mythological creatures in the modern environment and how they interact with that environment, (us mere mortals). In the interview below we discuss her novel, writing tips, and the future of book publishing.
1. When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
I’ve always wrote, or made up stories. Luckily my folks understood I was being creative and not “making things up.” My dad wrote every day after work, so I know that was a big influence on me growing up. Yet, I never saw myself as an author, just someone that liked to write. I wrote for myself first, then I started to show my work to other people. When I got some really good feed back I thought, maybe I could do this full-time.
2. Who are you inspirations?
My dad, because he wrote every day. My husband, because he puts up with me talking about my ideas ALL THE TIME. The staff at a store in Syracuse called the Enchanted Bazaar, they got so excited over my stories, I had to get them ready for the public.
As for writers; Ray Bradbury is a big influence on me. We had almost all of his books and I read everyone that we owned. Later on, I discovered Terry Pratchett and Douglas Adams. Even though I love to read satire, I haven’t been able to write it.
3. Are you a pantster or a plotter?
Pantster: It seems that the idea or the characters will come to me. I will get an idea of where to start the story and where to end it. I write to fill in the blanks. I have tried plotting it’s too restrictive to me. I have plotters tell me that’s not the case. But this is what happens, to me. I plot out a story, about 20 pages into it, the writing takes a left turn and the outline has to be thrown out. So for me to go through the trouble of outlining makes no sense. My rough draft is my outline.
4. Congratulations on the release on your debut novel FLEDGLING. Can you tell us about it?
It is about a woman named Rebecka “Beka” Saberhagen, who has a history of mental issues. She relies on her brother for a place to live and work. Which happens to be a nightclub. One night she walks in on a vampire feeding. The vampire is a friend of hers, named Vincent. She tries to process this information, but before she has a chance to accept the idea, two things happen. Murders begin to occur around the nightclub and she is attacked by another vampire, Steopa.
After Beka becomes a vampire then she is able to help with figuring out who is committing the murders. Along the way, Steopa, Vincent, and her discover an item buried under the nightclub. How it is related to the murders and the other vampires in the town, is what they have to figure out. All the while Beka is adjusting to her new existence.
5. What are the key ingredients for a good vampire story in your opinion?
I don’t mind vampire stories, where the vampires interact with humans in other ways other than food, but don’t try to make them “nice”. Nice in the sense that they go against their basic nature, just to fit in. In other words they won’t hunt humans. Vampires are predators and a personification of our fear of death. You can still have them as the heroes of the story. A story that can have a vampire that a reader find interesting, but is still a threat to the humans around them, is what I like to read.
6. How did you come up with the idea for you Coriee series? When did you know it would be a series and not a standalone novel?
The idea came from one character. I had a dream where Steopa introduced himself to me. He was proper, to the point of bowing to me. But I knew he was a vampire. I had to find out more. Over the years of figuring out who he was the other characters came to life as I wrote one short story after another.
But I never could find one story that could really show the world who they were. One August something clicked. I started to write Beka’s story out and the larger story arc presented itself. I had the four stories in rough draft written in a few months.
I could have stuffed them into one novel, but I felt each character needed to have their platform.
7. On your blog www.mariminiatt.com you posed the question “Why another vampire book?” so I will pose the same question to you here.
Most vampire books out now are cookie cutters of a certain genre. I think we all know which one. And even though they are popular, some people do not like the books, or the readers want something different. I didn’t write this book because vampires were popular. I wrote this book, because the story had to be told. It just so happens the main characters are vampires.
I have talked to some writers that have vampire stories that do not want to put them out in the public right now, because they do not want to be lumped in with the popular ones. Which does happen. I feel that even with all the clones, and attempts at copying the popular vampire novels, the few of us that want to show you something different will get our chance. I hope my book will strike people as different enough, but yet familiar enough to enjoy it.
8. Why are stories and films about zombies, vampires, and werewolves so popular now? How long do you think this trend will last?
Zombies, Vampires, Werewolves, have always been there. Between the three of them, they are a way to reflect our fears. Zombies could be a metaphor for the destruction we do due to consumerism, or fears of being too gluttonous. Werewolves are the fear of the wild or conformity. Vampires, death and sex.
The trend will continue, but the best part of these monsters is their ability to fit our needs at the time. For example, Zombies in the 1930’s they were people controlled by someone else; slow moving slaves. Now they are fast, disease spreading creatures.
What they will be in ten years, it’s hard to say. Could vampires change again and become more of a lurking fear in the urban settings? Could werewolves come back and remind us of why the wild is still not a place where man “rules” I don’t know, but I am sure they will be ready no matter what.
9. I loved your blog entry about “casting” the movie version of FLEDGLING. Has Hollywood started knocking on your door yet?
I have had a few indie film makers approach me and ask if I would consider. Of course I said yes, but nothing past an interest.
I do know a few local actors, and we joke about making sure they are called to auditions when the film is cast. Who knows when the time comes, this story could launch my career and a few others at the same time.
10. How do you balance writing, blogging, work and family life? I have yet to find the perfect balance, something always gets pushed to the side and it’s usually my current wip.
Public transportation is a god send. I take my netbook (throw it in my purse) and write on the bus, or waiting for the bus. I write on lunch breaks. My kids are older now, so that has made it easier.
11. Who are your favorite authors and what are you reading now?
I am reading Dréoteth by Danielle Bourdon. We were on a twitter chat together and her novel sounded interesting.
Terry Pratchett, Ray Bradbury, and Stephan King are my favorite authors.
12. If you had one wish for your writing career what would it be?
My goal is to be able to live off my books sales, not a lofty goal when you realize I work in retail. But my wish is to at the very least get a good cult following. I love cult movies, books, plays, etc. It would be a joy to reach that status.
13. What advice would you give other aspiring writers?
Write, write, edit, wait a month, rewrite, and write again. Always write. Even if you think it’s garbage.
14. Do you have an agent?
15. Have you ever won any awards for your writing?
16. Where can someone purchase your books?
Mainly online; Amazon, Smashwords, www.independentbook.com etc. Getting the book into stores has been harder. The aforementioned Enchanted Bazaar is my main home. I would like to see more independent bookstores carry my and other self-published author books.
17. How do you promote your books?
Twitter is the starting point. Not only do I promote through Twitter, I also have found other places, such as Bookbuzzr and Goodreads, through Twitter. I have a fan page on Facebook, but the most of my traffic comes from Twitter
I am also in a group called the Indie Book Collective. It’s in the birth stages right now. But we all met through Twitter, we all have different backgrounds, and we support each other with the promotion and marketing.
18. Do you belong to any writing associations?
None. The big ones I want to join, have a rule against self published authors. I am looking at other associations though.
19. Many authors have stopped waiting for contracts from the big publishing houses and instead self publish or go with a small press. Do you think this is where the future of publishing is headed?
It looks that way. What I see from the articles and the blogs is that the big publishing houses are only looking for the big sellers and over looking the mid-list authors. They want to write and get paid, but the deals handed out now, are as good as the self published or small press. Gone are the days were the big house will help you with your promotion and large advances. If you can make 80% on an ebook sale, why not do it yourself.
20. What are you working on now?
Editing the second book in the series. My current is WIP about monster hunters. And waiting breathlessly so I can edit my fantasy story about the minstrels. I really can’t wait to get back to that one, I had so much fun writing it.
(Lexi’s note: I for one can’t wait to read it. Thanks for stopping by Mari, and may the muse be with you always!)