Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Writers Like Us - Mara Purnhagen

Whenever I read author interviews, I'm always looking for that one thing that tells me whatever it is I'm going through–rejection or acknowledgment or insecurity or excitement–is totally normal and just a part of the process. I want to know what makes that author like me.

I'm super excited to host Mara Purnhagen this week! Mara is the author of the young adult novels, Tagged (March 2010), Past Midnight (September 2010), One Hundred Candles (February 2011), and Beyond the Grave (August 2011) all published by Harlequin Teen and two novellas, Raising the Dead (January 2011), and Haunting the Night (August 2011).

Past Midnight has been nominated for Young Adult Library Association’s (YALSA) 2011 Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers, the 2010 Cybil Award for best Fantasy/Science Fiction novel for young adults and the 2010 YABC Readers Choice Award. One Hundred Candles has been nominated for YALSA’s 2012 Reader’s Choice Awards. She was featured in the March/April 2010 issue of Writer’s Digest. Make sure you like her Facebook Fan Page.

Her answers are below in bold. Let us know what makes Mara like you in the comments.

Mara on Writing
  • I've written seven books, and four have seen the light of day.
  • My favorite type of scene to write is the opening of each book.
  • No matter how long I've been writing, I still have issues with weaving in flashbacks.
  • A typical comment from my critique partner is “lose the exposition.”
  • The book I wished I wrote changes every time I read something that I can’t stop thinking about! That said, I wish I had written any of Laura Lippman’s books. And I admire anyone who can write historical fiction or really good suspense.

Mara on Getting Published
  • If my agent really knew how crazy I was, she would find out that I am obsessive about font. My manuscripts are always typed in Microsoft Sans Serif, and Times New Roman gives me a headache. 
  • When I was querying, I felt anxious. I checked my email every few minutes and hated to be away from my desk.
  • The biggest mistake I ever made querying was forgetting to include my manuscript’s word count. It’s a simple error, but it matters. 
  • The craziest thought I've ever had while writing is, this will never be good enough. It’s more common than crazy, but I think it occurs to all of us who sit in front of a computer screen and punch away at the keys.
  • When I got "The Call," my first thought was, is this how it begins? Am I ready for this?
  • When I saw my book sale in Publishers Marketplace, I resisted the urge to shove the magazine in the face of everyone at the bookstore and shout, “That’s me!” It wasn’t easy.

Mara on Life Outside Writing
  • If I weren't a writer, I'd probably be an editor. I love the process of revision. Also, I think I’d make a very good zombie hunter, but it’s just a hunch.
  • Secretly, I'm terrified of snakes. Seriously—snakes. They’re everywhere, people!
  • My secret boyfriend is John Cusack—with a Scottish accent.
  • Sometimes, when no one is around, I listen to bad pop music. 

Mara Purnhagen has lived in Illinois, Michigan, Ohio and South Carolina. She now lives outside of Cleveland with her husband, two cats, three children and too many LEGO sets to count. Visit her at www.marapurnhagen.com


  1. Sans serif! How can you STAND it? :P Fellow font obsessed person here, but for me it is 12pt TNR or I ain't writin' nothin'.

    Thanks for the interview, Mara!

    1. I'm an Arial or Times New Roman girl myself. But never Comic Sans...never. :)

  2. Always thought I was going crazy - but when you put it in the context of sitting and staring at a screen all day - it kind of makes sense...

    1. It surprises me whenever I get authors' answers for Writers Like Us because I swear I thought I was the only one who felt/thought/did certain things. I think you're right though--there's something about sitting in front of a computer all day that makes people act alike (and weird) :)


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