2020 Debut Author Interview: Mara Fitzgerald!

In 2019, we made it our goal is to work with as many debut authors as possible and spread the word about their debut novels. It was such a success last year that we decided to continue the fun this year as well! Follow us this year as we pick the minds of the 2020 debuts and chat with them. Also stay tuned for news of giveaways, Twitter chats and more!
At the end of 2019, we Tweeted about wanting to discover more debut authors and their books. We ended up finding Mara Fitzgerald and her novel BEYOND THE RUBY VEIL , and we have been interested in it ever since. We are so excited to have Mara on the blog today to answer some of our questions! 

Mara Fitzgerald

Mara Fitzgerald writes YA fantasy about unlikable female characters who ruin everything. She is a biologist by day and spends entirely too much time looking at insects under a microscope. She was born near Disney World and now lives near Graceland, which is almost as good.

Keep up with Mara: Website / Twitter / Instagram / Goodreads / Pinterest

The Book Bratz: First of all, congratulations! How does it feel to be a debut author?
Mara: Thank you and happy to be here! Being a debut author feels like one long hallucination. It’s still hard to believe that the words I created while holed up in my living room, typing frantically like a gremlin, have come together to form a Real Book.
The Book Bratz: In your opinion, what's the best part of the writing process? What's the hardest?
Mara: I love the element of discovery and surprise. I’m what we in the biz call a “pantser,” which means that when I begin writing, I don’t have much—just a premise and some vague characters—and I move forward by the seat of my pants. I rely heavily on my writer’s intuition. I go in the wrong direction a lot. But oh, when I figure out how to go in the right direction! That’s magic. The hardest part is the existential despair. Writing a book is creating something out of nothing, and for most people, we spend years getting essentially zero external rewards. We all have to find the reasons that it’s worth it.

The Book Bratz: Where did you get the inspiration for BEYOND THE RUBY VEIL?
Mara: A dream. Should I come up with something cooler to say? It’s too late—I’ve admitted it in too many places. I had been struggling to get a story off the ground, but it wasn’t really coming together, and then I woke up with a totally new idea in my head—an idea about two characters who were looking for something. Then, I started to develop the idea in my usual way, by asking questions—what were they looking for? Why was it missing? I’d also been listening to the Little Shop of Horrors soundtrack not long before. I feel like it’s partially responsible for the amount of blood in the book.

The Book Bratz: Who was your favorite character to write? Who was the most difficult?
Mara: My main character, Emanuela, is a terrible person, and that was both fun and challenging to write. It was almost cathartic to portray someone so unapologetically selfish. Her nemesis—and maybe, just maybe, eventual love interest—Verene, was also challenging because of the particular way I wanted her to serve as a foil to Emanuela. I didn’t want her to be the complete opposite, nor did I want her to be exactly the same. Figuring out how to execute and walk that line was also fun, but it took a lot of engineering. And by that I mean my editors deserve all the credit.

The Book Bratz: This story involves omens, secrets, and even a touch of magic. How did you go about keeping all of this information in order while plotting?
Mara: I didn’t. The beauty of writing is that once I figure out everything I need to tell the reader, I can go back and make it look like I intended to do it smoothly all along. You know the thing where you left an argument with someone thirty minutes ago, but you’re still coming up with new things you should have said? In writing, you can just go back and say them!

The Book Bratz: What do you hope that readers will take away from BEYOND THE RUBY VEIL?
Mara: I’ve always wanted to write the type of book people will read in one sitting. I love the idea of being an “airport” novel or a “train trip” novel—a book that makes that little moment in your life more fun. But the book isn’t about straight white men.

The Book Bratz: Do you plan on returning to the world of BEYOND THE RUBY VEIL in the future, or do you have any other projects in mind? Can you tell us anything about them?
Mara: I’m currently working on a sequel to BEYOND THE RUBY VEIL, which should release a year after the first book. All I can tell you about it is that it’s even weirder than the original! 

Title: Beyond the Ruby Veil
Author: Mara Fitzgerald
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: October 13th, 2020

Summary: Emanuela Ragno always gets what she wants. With her daring mind and socialite schemes, she refuses to be the demure young lady everyone wants her to be. In her most ambitious move yet, she's about to marry Alessandro Morandi, her childhood best friend and the heir to the wealthiest house in Occhia. Emanuela doesn't care that she and her groom are both gay, because she doesn't want a love match. She wants power, and through Ale, she'll have it all. But Emanuela has a secret that could shatter her plans. In the city of Occhia, the only source of water is the watercrea, a mysterious being who uses magic to make water from blood. When their first bruise-like omen appears on their skin, all Occhians must surrender themselves to the watercrea to be drained of life. Everyone throughout history has given themselves up for the greater good. Everyone except Emanuela. She's kept the tiny omen on her hip out of sight for years. When the watercrea exposes Emanuela during her wedding ceremony and takes her to be sacrificed, Emanuela fights back...and kills her. Now Occhia has no one to make their water and no idea how to get more. In a race against time, Emanuela and Ale must travel through the mysterious, blood-red veil that surrounds their city to uncover the secrets of the watercrea's magic and find a way to save their people-no matter what it takes. 

Thank you so much to Mara for stopping by and answering our questions! We are super excited about BEYOND THE RUBY VEIL and can't wait for it to be out in the world on October 13th

Celebrate So Excited GIF by Hey Violet

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