Mara writes speculative fiction for both adults and young adults.
Mara began her love of reading at a very early age (she was even known to stay in at recess to read, rather than play tetherball). Eventually, this passion for books translated into a Bachelor of Arts in English, which translated (of course) into a law degree. She practiced as an attorney for a year before shifting her talent for writing and analysis to work in higher education. When she expanded her writing from purely professional / technical, to fiction, she fell into the genre she had always loved–speculative fiction.
Spec Fiction, as some call it, has been around for many years, and traditionally, has included fantasy, science fiction, and horror. But more recently, it has expanded to include other wonderful “non-realism” writing, such as magic realism, alternative history, dystopian, super-heros, surrealism, absurdism, and more.
Mara loves this genre because it allows her to explore very human themes and issues, without the limiting boundaries of culture and history that realism requires. Want to talk about sexism in a different way? Set your novel on a planet with beings that cycle between man and woman, like Ursla LeGuin did in Left Hand of Darkness. Want to discuss the power of persistence and love using food? Create a home where magic happens in the kitchen, like Laura Esquivel’s Like Water for Chocolate.
Speculate. Wonder. Conjecture. Try it. You’ll like it
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Are you going to write another book about Sacha and Eldrin?
I do have some ideas about what our intrepid couple might do next, and have sketched out some thoughts about what they might look like fifteen years in the future with children of their own. But I don’t have anything solid yet—I’ve been focused on other projects for the last year or so.
Q: How do you get your ideas for your stories?
Usually I begin with an idea for a theme, or an opening sentence, and then begin to write from a character’s point of view. I don’t know anything about the character yet except the name, gender and a rough age—I learn about them as the story unfolds. The plot is really created by the characters themselves, and sometimes I’m even surprised at what they decide to do. I spend a lot of time editing writing this way. Some scenes need to be cut, or changed significantly based on what the ending of the book looks like by the time I get there. Essentially, I write the book as though I were reading it for the first time, excited to see what happens next.
Q: Why did you have three types of magic in the Bleaken Series?
I’ve read a lot of speculative fiction in my life, as well as having played D&D as a child (I know, very nerdy, but super fun). I wanted to have magic that was different than spells from a book. Sure, those have their place and that’s why I have Structured magic. But it’s not that big a stretch to find magic in other places in our world. The history of mystics, yogis, and practicing Buddhist monks helped shape my view of Affinity. Those with Affinity tune into something within themselves that is connected to the whole, and no separation exists between the two except for our perception—this is fundamentally a Buddhist philosophy. Finally, Savage magic is really just the force of nature and the wild, and humans have termed it Savage because they don’t understand it. This idea stems from our own world where humans (at least in many civilizations) fought against nature to tame it so that they could plant, farm, and live in a non-nomadic way. In the end, Savage magic is no more brutal or base than any of the others—it’s an important piece of the whole.
Q: Who are some of your favorite authors?
Having been an English major in college, I have read a lot of literature. I’ve also done plenty of reading “for fun” (though to tell the truth, all that literature was fun too, except for Clarissa by Samuel Richardson which was narrow-minded bilge). So, in the literature genre, some of my favorites are Maxine Hong Kingston, Toni Morrison, Isabel Allende, Louise Erdrich, Jane Austen (of course!). In fantasy, some of my favorites are Garth Nix, Ursla LeGuin, Patricia McKillip, Stephen R. Donaldson (from my childhood!).