Interview: Mari Mancusi & Giveaway!!

I'm extremely excited today to welcome Mari Mancusi, author of Bad Blood, which was released on January 5th. She's with us today to talk about her series, the Blood Coven, specifically her new book Bad Blood, and a bit about writing in general. Please read to the bottom for the giveaway (Mari's offering any book in the Blood Coven series to a lucky winner!), and enjoy!

1. Can you give us a brief summary about your series, the Blood Coven, without giving away any huge spoilers?

The Blood Coven stars two twins—Sunshine and Rayne—who are identical on the outside, but very, very different on the inside. When the series starts, goth girl Rayne wants to be a vampire more than anything. She’s networked, been on waiting lists, taken a certification course, the works! Problem is, the night that she’s meant to be bitten and transformed into a vampire, the vampire who’s supposed to do the job—Magnus—accidentally bites her twin sister Sunny instead. Now Sunny, who had no idea the vampire world even existed before now, has one week to figure out a way to reverse the transformation—or become a vampire forever!

2. What three words would you use to describe your Blood Coven books? And are there a different three you would use to describe Bad Blood in particular?

Angsty, funny, romantic. I think that applies to the whole series and Bad Blood as well.

3. How did you come up with the idea of two sisters who get mistakenly identified and, from there, become increasingly tangled with the supernatural world?

I was always a fan of twin stories growing up (Sweet Valley High, etc) and used to pretend I had an evil twin myself. There is just something so interesting about two girls who look identical on the outside, but are so totally different inside…

4. Who would you relate to more: Sunny or Rayne?

I think I relate more to Rayne. I was a goth girl too and had her kind of deep down anger and insecurity issues back when I was in high school. That said, she’s way more kick-butt and outspoken than I ever was. I would never take on the jocks and cheerleaders like she does. I’m more like Sunny in that respect. I want to fly beneath the radar, do my thing, and not be noticed. (Except maybe by the cute boy I like!) Also, I used to do drama and draw like Sunny does. But I played World of Warcraft like Rayne.

It’s so interesting how readers relate to one character or the other. I would say, judging by the emails I receive, that there are an equal amount of Sunny and Rayne fans out there. So I’m really excited to have Sunny back, narrating Bad Blood. My original idea was to do Sunny, Rayne, Sunny, Rayne…but the publisher loved the idea of Girls that Growl so much that they bought that one first.

5. And, of course, the boys. Your pick: Jareth or Magnus?

I love both of them for different reasons. Magnus is so giving and self-sacrificing—always worrying about others before himself. Of course, this puts him in a bad position in Bad Blood, when he’s forced to choose between the vampires in the coven who depend on him and the girlfriend who loves him.

Jareth is troubled—he’s had a hard past and can have a difficult time trusting people. He can also be really stubborn. But deep inside, he’s a sweet, scarred soul who desperately wants to be able to trust Rayne enough to fall in love. You just want to hug him and tell him everything will be okay.

Weirdly enough, I actually have the biggest crush on Jayden, a human character who first appears in Bad Blood. I think readers will fall in love with him, too. Though he’s not a vampire, he has a huge heart and is extremely loyal. I hope I can use him in future books.

And then there’s Corbin, the arrogant slayer-in-training in Book #5…But I get ahead of myself!

6. I noticed that the covers underwent a huge, and gorgeous, revamp. Did you have a say in that, and would that signify any major twists coming in Bad Blood?

When the publisher decided to publish Bad Blood, they told me they would also be revamping the other books as well. I was overjoyed because I felt the original covers had become dated over time and thought an update would bring a lot of new readers to the series. I didn’t have any say in what they looked like, but I’m THRILLED at how they came out. They’re so gorgeous, especially Bad Blood.

Even more than any of the earlier books in the series, Bad Blood has a MAJOR revelation and plot twist at the end having to do with the twins’ parents, who, it turns out, are not as ordinary and normal as they may have seen. I’m now writing book #5 and this revelation has turned the twins’ lives upside down. I can’t wait to be able to share it!

7. If you could create or claim any existing person for your ideal "blood mate," what/who would he be like?

This may sound sappy, but I'd make my fiance, Jacob, my blood mate! He's the best guy ever and would be the perfect one to spend eternity with! :) He's loving and generous and so much fun to hang out with--and he knows how to fix my computer, too!

8. How did you transition from TV producer to author (or was it the other way around), and how has your other job afffected your writing?

I went to college for filmmaking and became a TV producer after that. I didn't publish my first book until eight years later. But I was always a writer, from the time I was a little girl--too young to even pick up pen. Back then, I'd dictate stories for my mother to transcribe and then draw pictures to accompany them.

I'm lucky that I love both my jobs and both involve intensive amounts of writing. In TV, I'm always meeting interesting people and learning about interesting things and I'm sure some of that comes across in my writing. I've also learned a ton about publicity from my TV job which has helped in spreading the word about my books. These days an author can't just sit home and write. They have to market their books as well. Luckily, I find that part a lot of fun!

9. Your favorite part of being an author and suggestions for aspiring writers?

I love making stuff up. Creating characters that live not only in my own mind, but also the minds of my readers. And I love communicating with readers too - hearing their reactions and seeing all the drawings and videos and stories they send me. I love making art a shared experience in that sense! I feel the Blood Coven belongs to them as much as it does me.

Advice for aspiring writers--make the time to write everyday, even if it's just for a half hour. I advise it be the same time each day to make it into a routine/habit. Also, leave off writing in a place where you know what happens next so it's easier to pick up the next day. And don't berate yourself if you feel writer's block. There are always going to be times when it's easy and times when it's hard. And lastly, if you get stuck plotting, go running (either treadmill or outside) or take a shower or bath. Some kind of mindless activity where you can run a plot over and over in your brain. By the time you're finished, I bet you'll have a new idea!

10. What other projects are you working on right now?

I'm working on Book #5 of the Blood Coven series, which is tenatively titled Slay School. I also just finished an unrelated time travel YA for Dutton called The Camelot Code. A pre-sword and the stone King Arthur time travels to present day high school, Googles himself, and realizes he doesn't want to go back and face his destiny. If all goes well, this should be out in 2011.

And the paperback of Gamer Girl will be out this summer for those waiting for that!

11. And lastly, anything else that you'd like to get out there?

I guess I would say always believe in yourself, constantly evaluate your priorities, don't get stuck in a rut, and don't be afraid to go after what you want. It may take time, sacrifice, dedication, etc, but I truly believe if you're willing to commit yourself a hundred percent, you can get whatever you want in life. Just remember, once you get that thing--whatever it is--to take some time to enjoy the accomplishment before throwing your attention into your next goal. And lastly, don't compare yourself to others and don't let the haters get you down!

Thank you, Mari! (Isn't she so optimistic and sweet? :D)


Besides being awesome for letting me interview her, Mari also generously offered up any book in the Blood Coven series to one luck winner - signed!

Contest ends: January 20, 11:59 EST
Only US and Canada addresses are eligible.

Extra entry links:
My review of Bad Blood can be found here.

To enter:
Fill out this form.

And Mari will be dropping by, so I encourage you to leave questions or comments for her! :)