Ask the Author: Mara Rutherford
What would you like readers to know about you?
Mara Rutherford began her writing career as a journalist but quickly discovered she far preferred fantasy to reality. Originally from California, Mara has since lived all over the world along with her Marine-turned-diplomat husband. A triplet born on Leap Day, Mara holds a Master’s degree in Cultural Studies from the University of London. When she’s not writing or chasing after her two sons, she can usually be found pushing the boundaries of her comfort zone, whether at a traditional Russian banya or an Incan archaeological site. Her debut YA fantasy CROWN OF CORAL AND PEARL will release from Inkyard/HarperCollins in August 2019.
What is your book about for those who haven’t read it?
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.
What has been your inspiration for writing it?
Crown of Coral and Pearl was inspired by my relationship with my twin sister, as well as my love for YA fantasy books in general. I wanted to play with the idea of duality, not just in the main character’s relationship with her sister, but in the setting, other characters, and even the title.
What was your favorite scene or part of your book to write?
I wrote the first one hundred pages of CoCaP very quickly and I have always loved the Varenia (ocean setting) section of the book. My sister says that means the “muse” was with me. All I know is, it was some of the most fun I’ve ever had writing. I wish it was always that easy! I also loved writing the “fight” scene (I won’t get too specific because *spoilers*).
What books or authors inspired you to become a writer?
My favorite writers when I was first starting to read novels were Brian Jacques, Peter S. Beagle, Mercedes Lackey, Robert Jordan, and Stephen King. The first few books I wrote were women’s fiction, inspired by writers like Barbara Kingsolver and Diane Setterfield.
What advice would you give to aspiring authors who want to write a book?
Aspiring authors these days have a lot of resources that weren’t available when I started writing fifteen years ago. I recommend finding other writers (either in real life or virtually; ideally both!) who are at the same place as you, or a little ahead, and critiquing their work. And, of course, letting them critique yours. That said, make sure you find people who want to help you move forward and aren’t just competing with you. If the fit isn’t right, it’s okay to move on. Read a lot in the category and genre you want to publish in, research agents thoroughly, follow contests like Pitch Wars, etc. But most importantly, write what you love and what excites you. Keep at it, even when it seems impossible (because it probably will, at some point). CoCaP was my ninth novel. There was a lot of heartbreak and rejection on the path to publication, but my mantras were “keep moving forward” and “follow your compass, not your clock.” I think they served me well 🙂