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Happy Wednesday Everyone! Today I’m excited to have debut author Mara Rutherford here to share about her YA fantasy CROWN OF CORAL AND PEARL. It sounds like a real page turner filled with mystery and high stakes. I’m really looking forward to reading it.

Before I get to Mara’s interview, I have my IWSG Post. 

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

Posting: The first Wednesday is officially Insecure Writer's Support Group Day.

The co-hosts this month are Gwen Gardner,Doreen McGettigan, Tyrean Martinson, Chemist Ken, and Cathrina Constantiner!

Optional Question: If you could pick one place in the world to sit and write your next story, where would you write it and why?

That's an easy one for me. I'd write at home. I already write five days a week at home for my job. I love just wearing what I want, taking a walk when I want to, and being in a really comfortable space for me. That's where I write for myself too.

What about you? Where would you choose to write?

Now let's get to Mara's interview. Here’s a blurb of CROWN OF CORAL AND PEARL from Goodreads

For generations, the princes of Ilara have married the most beautiful maidens from the ocean village of Varenia. But though every girl longs to be chosen as the next princess, the cost of becoming royalty is higher than any of them could ever imagine…

Nor once dreamed of seeing the wondrous wealth and beauty of Ilara, the kingdom that’s ruled her village for as long as anyone can remember. But when a childhood accident left her with a permanent scar, it became clear that her identical twin sister, Zadie, would likely be chosen to marry the Crown Prince—while Nor remained behind, unable to ever set foot on land.

Then Zadie is gravely injured, and Nor is sent to Ilara in her place. To Nor’s dismay, her future husband, Prince Ceren, is as forbidding and cold as his home—a castle carved into a mountain and devoid of sunlight. And as she grows closer to Ceren’s brother, the charming Prince Talin, Nor uncovers startling truths about a failing royal bloodline, a murdered queen… and a plot to destroy the home she was once so eager to leave.

In order to save her people, Nor must learn to negotiate the treacherous protocols of a court where lies reign and obsession rules. But discovering her own formidable strength may be the one move that costs her everything: the crown, Varenia and Zadie.

Hi Mara! Thanks so much for joining us.

1. Tell us about yourself and how you became a writer.

Thank you so much for having me! I’m originally from California, but I’ve spent the second half of my life living all over the world with my husband, who was in the military before joining the Foreign Service. We have two sons and a small red poodle and currently live in Belgrade, Serbia.

I studied cultural anthropology in school and started my career in journalism. I knew I wanted to move over to publishing, but we were living in San Diego at the time, so my options were limited. I worked for a book distributor while interning for a literary agency and started writing women’s fiction in my mid-twenties, then switched over to young adult a few years later. My fourth YA novel (set in Russia, where we were living) got into Pitch Wars, and that’s how I signed with my first agent.
2. I bet your travels gives you lots of story ideas. Where did you get the idea for your story?

This was a story that had been brewing in my head for a while – twin sisters whose lives are a competition, whether they like it or not. Other elements, like diving for pearls and a mountain castle, came to me in bits and pieces in the form of magazine articles, photographs, and music.

3. CROWN OF CORAL AND PEARL has been described as a real page turner that readers couldn’t put down. How did you keep the plot moving and what are your tips for other writers?

That’s great to hear! I once did a writing exercise where I had to choose a word that I wanted to describe my writing, and mine was “compelling.” My favorite books are the ones that keep me up past my bedtime. I would say my biggest tip for writing a “page turner” is to always try to end each chapter on a cliff hanger. When the reader tells themselves they’ll just read until the end of the chapter, make it impossible for them to put the book down!

4. I love books I can't put down too. Good world building is so important when writing a fantasy. What was your world building process like?

Writing Varenia, the world in the ocean, was a lot of fun. It’s a limited environment in some ways, which made it easier, but it’s also completely different from anywhere I’ve ever lived. I didn’t want it to be too closely associated with any real place, so I made up my own sea creatures, like maiden’s hair jellyfish and windwhales. Ilara is a more typical fantasy kingdom, but the setting of New Castle, a mountain fortress, is also strange and otherworldly, with glowing fungus for lights and cave salamanders for fauna. I think it’s good to give yourself constraints to work within. Otherwise, it can feel overwhelming.

5. So funny that you picked somewhere so different from the many places you lived. Nor is a twin and chosen to marry the Crown Prince when her twin Zadie is seriously injured. You’re a triplet. Did this help you develop Nor’s character and her relationship with Zadie?

Twins are a popular trope in fiction, and I actually had an agent tell me I shouldn’t write them. But
not only is it completely vital to this story; it’s also probably the most intrinsic part of my identity. While I am a triplet, I have an identical sister and a brother – so I’m both an identical and a fraternal twin. My sister and I have never traded places (except for a brief desk swap in fifth grade that lasted about ten minutes), but we would do anything for each other. We talk every day and always have, even though we’ve both lived and traveled all over the world (Sarah is a producer at National Geographic). Essentially, I couldn’t have written this book if it weren’t for my relationship with my twin. I hope that comes across in the novel!

6. Your agent is Uwe Stender. Tell us about how you got your agent and your publishing contract.

Uwe and I actually met through Pitch Wars, when I signed with a different agent. When that book didn’t sell, I asked Uwe if he’d like to see CoCaP, and I ended up signing with him not long after. CoCaP sold to Inkyard about a year later. I’ve been with Uwe for almost three years now, and I can’t say enough good things about him. He is the fastest responder in the business, always open to talk, and he has a great sense of humor (something you need to have in publishing!). It has been really fun to watch Team Triada grow over the years – I’m so proud to be a part of it.

7. What has been your favorite social media platform to develop after you signed your book contract and why?

Instagram is definitely my favorite social media platform, though I try to use Twitter. Bookstagrammers are so kind and positive, and I love looking at their gorgeous photos. I like taking photos too, so it’s a win-win for me.

8. How are you planning to market your book?

I’ve enjoyed marketing my book on IG, as I mentioned, and making my own swag. I just designed some bookplates that will go out with preorder gifts and I love them. Beyond that, I’ll be doing a lot of giveaways once my author copies come, and I’ll try to make it to as many conferences and events as I can, but it’s tough because I live overseas. Mostly, I know that authors can only do so much marketing on their own, and I’m okay with that. After fifteen years of writing, I’m trying to enjoy the debut experience without letting it stress me out too much.

9. That's true about only being able to do so much as an author. How have you connected with readers and librarians on your social media sites? What advice do you have for debut authors once they get a book deal? Should we start connecting even earlier than this?

I’m not sure if I’m doing the best job connecting with readers and librarians, though I certainly want to! When people post pictures of my book, I always make sure to compliment and thank them. I sincerely appreciate it! I have accepted every interview that has come my way, and I’ve been lucky that bloggers have approached me for tours. I don’t think you need to go out of your way on this stuff. Focus on your writing for now. The other things will come, and you can’t control it anyhow. What I think matters most is being a genuinely kind person. Publishing is a small world, and if you’re rude or a snob, word will get around. People remember the authors who were nice to them even when they weren’t published.

10. What are you working on now?

I’m currently working on the sequel to CoCaP, KINGDOM OF SEA AND STONE! I’m so thrilled I get to finish telling Nor and Zadie’s story, and I hope readers are too!

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Mara. You can find Mara at:

Twitter: @mararaewrites

Mara has generously offered a hardback of CROWN OF CORAL AND PEARL for a giveaway. To enter, all you need to do is be a follower (just click the follow button if you’re not a follower) and leave a comment through September 21st. If your e-mail is not on your Google Profile, you must leave it in the comments to enter either contest.

If you mention this contest on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog, mention this in the comments and I'll give you an extra entry. You must be 13 years old or older to enter. This giveaway is U.S. 

Here's what's coming up:

Monday, September 9th I have an interview with debut author Sara Faring and a giveaway of her YA psychological thriller THE TENTH GIRL

Monday, September 16th I have an agent spotlight interview and query critique giveaway with Marlo Berliner

Monday, September 23rd I have a guest post by Martin Cavannagh from Reedsy

Hope to see you on Monday, September 9th!


lostinimaginaryworlds.blogspot.com said...

Yes, writing at home is a perfect situation, I have to do that as I look after an invalid husband, and I can draw upon my experiences acquired in a long life 😊

Jennifer Hawes said...

I agree with you that writing from home is ideal. Wear what you want, get laundry done! Mara's book looks fantastic. What a great interview too.

Donna K. Weaver said...

I generally prefer to write at home too.

nashvillecats2 said...

A great and interesting interview Natalie. most impressive.


Cathrina Constantine said...

Mara's book sounds awesome and the cover is fabulous!
I also write at home, usually mornings in my pjs and robe!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I like the setting for your book, Mara. Bet it was fun making it all up.
Natalie, that's probably one of my favorite places to write.

Judy Ann Davis said...

Great interview. And I agree, writing at home in comfort is where it's the easiest to create.

emaginette said...

Sounds heavenly to wear what you want when writing. Being comfortable is key to a great imagination. :-)

Anna from elements of emaginette

C. D. Gallant-King said...

Oooh, writing at home for a living, that's a good one. I'm going to change my answer.

Chrys Fey said...

Can't beat home, can ya? :)

Crown of Coral and Pearl is a neat title.

diedre Knight said...

Hi Natalie!

I enjoyed your interview with Mara. A world where there are windwhales sounds awesome! Your favorite writing space (at home) is my top choice as well ;-)
Have a great September!

cleemckenzie said...

You and I think alike when it comes to places we choose to write. Home Sweet Home it is. Thank you for introducing Mara to us. It's always nice to discover writers.

Jemi Fraser said...

Mara - cultural anthropology is fascinating! Definitely a good gateway education for a writer! :)
Natalie - I like home best as well!

Juneta key said...

I like the sound of your place to write. Great interview. Books sounds intriguing. Happy IWSG.

Tyrean Martinson said...

Natalie - I love that you enjoy writing at home! It sounds wonderful! I just get restless now and then and seem to need different places and sounds to keep the writing going.
Wonderful interview!!!

Elizabeth Seckman said...

It is much easier to write in pajamas...

Best of luck to Mara! Compelling is the word I'd want used to describe my stories too. And being kind does go a long way!

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

Yes on wearing what we want while writing at home! This summer, it was all about the shorts and t-shirts. :)

Chemist Ken said...

Writing at home definitely has its perks, but sometimes I just need a different setting. I use to think that I'd need to rent an office somewhere by myself in order to get anything accomplished. Turns out my basement works just fine.

Rosemary Johnson said...

Writing at home is always best. Preferably alone.

Sarah Foster said...

I love to write at home, too. That's where I always get the most done. And I can wear my yoga pants all day!

Pat Hatt said...

At home sure has its merits indeed. Don't have to get dressed.

Goes to show that some agents are better for an author than others. Have to find that match.

Lynn La Vita said...

Living in Mexico for the last several years has taught me first hand the value of living in a different culture.
From this perspective, I fully understand and embrace your life style.
Wishing you continued success.
I'm impressed you and you sister talk everyday. Especially as you often must be indifferent time zones.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Home is where I am comfortable writing. Leaving just takes time and energy.

Twitter pitches do work, Mara. DLP has signed 4 authors now from Twitter pitches.

Anonymous said...

Writing at home is awesome! I've got my own space, the cat, a wine rack, and nothing but comfy clothes.

Beverly Stowe McClure said...

I'm with you, Natalie. Working at home is best for me. I'm comfortable there. If my critters need something, I'm there. And I can dress in my shorts or however I want and no one will care.Congratulations to you, Mara. Sounds like a great story. Thanks for sharing.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

Your comfort place to write sounds perfect. I find traveling very inspiring for writing though I don't think I would like moving homes so often.

Samantha Bryant said...

Home is nice, but I've also enjoyed getting away from home to focus solely on writing (at home I notice things like dishes and laundry). Best of luck to Mara! @samanthabwriter from
Balancing Act

Lynda R Young as Elle Cardy said...

Home is definitely the best place to write.

CROWN OF CORAL AND PEARL is on my TBR list. It's my kind of book.

Brenda said...

I'd love to go on a writers retreat and write in a cabin somewhere in the woods. Second best would be creating my own writing office.

Nicki Elson said...

Mara has such great first-hand insight into the twin dynamic. The story's premise is very intriguing.

I'm with you on writing at home. I honestly don't think I could concentrate anywhere else....though I'd gladly give it a try if I could ever score myself more than a couple of weeks in the mountains or by the sea ro the countryside. I"m flexible, heehee.

Rebecca M. Douglass said...

Hey, good point about writing at home letting you wear what you want! (Pants are over-rated...)

Natasha said...

Great interview!
Crown of Coral and Pearl sounds like a great read!
natasha_donohoo_8 at hotmail dot com

Tamara Narayan said...

I like the blurb because it shows a good build-up of tension with the twins and set of princes.

Enjoyed the interview.

Loni Townsend said...

It's nice that you can get work done at home. I always find myself distracted by family or chores when I try that!

Olga Godim said...

I write at home too.
Great interview, and the book sounds like fun.

Megan said...

Is this giveaway international? If so, I'd love to enter! I shared on twitter too :)

Danielle H. said...

Thanks for the interview! this book is on my TBR and sounds fascinating. I shared on tumblr: https://yesreaderwriterpoetmusician.tumblr.com/post/187518784787/mara-rutherford-interview-and-crown-of-coral-and

Angela Brown said...

I enjoyed the interview and the interesting description of New Castle. Glad you went with your gut, Mara, in writing this story with twins.

Fundy Blue said...

Another interesting interview, Natalie! Mara's book certainly sounds compelling! Comfortable is definitely important for me as I write.

Denise Covey said...

Hello Natalie. Hello Mara. This was very interesting. I love the story premise. Lots of conflict. I hope the marketing goes well Mara. That's the hard part for sure.

Julie Flanders said...

I daydream about going off to exotic retreats but really home is the best place for me to write too. I hope to spend the weekend doing just that.
Congratulations and all the best to Mara!

Suzanne Furness said...

As Dorothy in Oz said, "There's no place like home." I like it when I get the chance to write in my pyjamas at home.

Empty Nest Insider said...

One of my favorite perks about writing for the local newspaper/website was working from home, so I couldn’t agree with you more. Mara’s real life seems almost as interesting as the characters in her story. Wishing her all the best with her new book!


Victoria Marie Lees said...

Interesting that you studied cultural anthropology in school, Mara. You have an interesting life for sure, travelling all over. And bravo on your new release. All the luck with it.

Natalie, if my kids aren't home, writing at home is always best. Believe it or not, sometimes the library can get very loud. Thanks for sharing the interview. All best to you!

Diane Burton said...

Natalie, I love writing at home, too. Also like wearing anything I want. lol I've been known to get dressed (out of my jammies) for dinner. Hubs asked why I bothered.

Mara, the story sounds intriguing. I wrote a story about twins switching places. Love your cover. Best wishes.

Anonymous said...

This sounds like a good book! Thanks for the giveaway.

Tonja Drecker said...

This book sounds very interesting, and the twin switching offers a nice twist.
Natalie - home is a wonderful place!

Angie Quantrell said...

I love writing on retreats! That's my favorite place right now. Or anyplace where I don't have to wear a bra. :) boycotting bras. LOL. (only at home). Your book sounds wonderful, and compelling! Congratulations!

Nancy P said...

Beautiful cover. Thanks for the chance.

Michael Di Gesu said...

As Dorothy said, "There's no place like home..." I can't agree with you more! Nothing like a comfy spot in our home to let our imaginations run wild.

Emily said...

A Crown of Coral and Pearl was already on my TBR list, but after reading this interview it is even more so now. A fascinating insight into her world and character building, and I am intrigued to find out how this carries across to the story.

Morgan said...

Just added to my TBR shelf on Goodreads. :)

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