Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Author Interview: Jen Nadol, author of The Mark

Hey, Jen. First off--thanks so much for taking the time to chat with me about your new book, The Mark. Wanna give us a quick summary?

Having realized that the light she’s always seen around certain people means it’s their day to die, sixteen year-old Cassie must figure out why she sees the mark and what – if anything – to do about it.

As with any interview, I'm obligated to ask; what was your inspiration for The Mark? Any real-life influences?

None at all. I’d written and tried to sell one book that – in hindsight – was just terrible. It taught me that you have to write something you’d want to read. This seems obvious, but somehow it wasn’t: I wrote an entire novel I’d never pick up at the store (Women’s fiction, bleh. So not me.) I was ready to scrap that first book and try again and was tossing around ideas when this one came: what if you knew it was someone’s day to die? I could see so many possibilities right away, I knew I’d found something to work with.

What got you into writing?

I’ve always loved to write, but was mostly a “when the mood strikes” kind of writer. I was never faithful enough to keep a journal or even finish more than a short story (and only because I had to for class). I finally decided to try writing a book – something I’d always meant to do – when I stopped working to stay home with my first son. I think my stubbornness is the only thing that got me through it.

Did you begin the Mark with a YA audience in mind?

I actually didn’t, wasn’t even really aware of the genre. The story just kind of came out and I was subbing to agents when one finally told me she thought it was a YA novel, not adult. It was a lightening-bolt moment: of course it was YA! And so is everything else I want to write!

Your book is about death--or, more precisely, a girl who can see death. Why did you decide to write about such a morbid subject?

You know, it sounds morbid, but to me, it’s really more about life and exploring what we do with the time we have.

There's been a recent boom of supernatural YA in the last few years. What’s your stance on it? Do you enjoy any of the releases and, if so, any favorites youd like to share?

I think it’s awesome! I grew up reading Stephen King and wishing I could figure out Astral Projection so I’m thrilled to see more supernatural creatures and topics being explored. I LOVED Wake by Lisa McMann – not so recent anymore, but exactly the kind of story I like best: real world with a paranormal element thrown in.

What are some of your major literary influences?

Definitely, the two authors above. Stephen King writes such vivid, real characters and has come up with so many incredible ideas. My copies of his books are literally tattered. And when I read Lisa McMann’s book, I finally understood what my editor meant by “tightening up” my writing.

If you had a gift similar to Cassies, would you want to tell someone?

I don’t know. It’s a really hard question and I think I’d struggle with it, much in the same way Cassie does.

Anything new in the works?

Bloomsbury’s just bought the sequel to The Mark - which I am over-the-moon thrilled about – so we’ll be working on those edits for the next couple months. Then, I have three other YA novels in very early stages.

Sell The Mark over twitter (140 characters or less!)

When she sees the mark, Cassie Renfield knows a person will die. Not how or where, only when: today. Should she tell them? Would you?

You’re on a desert island. You have with you ONE book, ONE television show and ONE movie--what are they?

Book – The Stand by Stephen King. I love it. And, it’s really long so it’d last me a while. And when I got tired of just reading, I’d study it to see what I could learn about how he crafts characters and plot.

TV show – LOST (I can have the entire thing, right? Not just one episode?) I’ve only seen it a few times, but I’m totally intrigued.

Movie – omg, I have no idea. How about The Hangover? My husband says it’s hilarious and I’m sure I’d need a good laugh.

Any advice for young writers?

Write a lot. Whether you feel like it or not and even if you think what you’re writing is no good. Being a good writer is mostly about hard work and practice.


Thanks to Jen for the interview, and you can pick up The Mark today.


Faye said...

great interview! I have 2 start the Mark!

Alexia561 said...

Great interview Dannie! I've heard good things about this book, and the interview makes me want to read it even more.

BTW, I have an award for you here.

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