Tuesday, April 4, 2017

0 Jonathan Maberry, author of MARS ONE, on having the courage and optimism to step into a better future

Hi all,

I’m traveling today, but finally off-deadline (woo hoo!). Look for book news very shortly! Meanwhile, today, all of us at AYAP are delighted to bring you a special giveaway from Jonathan Maberry, who is well-known to anyone who reads YA horror, mystery, suspense, and thrillers, not to mention comic books. Not only is he an extraordinary award-winning writer whose ROT & RUIN is in development for film and whose many books have sold in more than two-dozen countries, but he’s also a prominent writing teacher and lecturer. 


After you read Jonathan's interview, which is loaded with helpful writing advice, make sure to enter to win the chance to be a character in one of Jonathan's upcoming YA novels. What a fun opportunity!

Jonathan, how long did you work on MARS ONE?

I began research for MARS ONE about a year before I actually began to write. That’s how I work. I write at least three novels per year, so while I’m writing one book I’m doing research for one or more upcoming projects. For MARS ONE I did a lot of research online, read every book I could find related to the subject, but also spoke with a lot of professionals, including people at NASA, astronaut candidates in the actual Mars One International Program, doctors, physicists, engineers and more. I also plotted the whole book out before I wrote. Then, when I sat down to write MARS ONE the actual writing time was about two and a half months. I began it at home in Del Mar (Southern California, near San Diego) but actually finished it in a hotel room in Florence, Italy. I’d been a guest at Lucca Comics and Games because of my ROT & RUIN novels, and then took my wife to Florence for a couple of weeks. I finished the book there. After I turned it in there were a couple of rounds of edits and a final polish.

What do you hope readers will take away from MARS ONE?

Beyond the science fiction and adventure of the novel MARS ONE is a story about believing in oneself and also about reaching for higher ground. Tristan Hart, the lead character, is an ordinary seventeen-year-old in a lot of ways, but he’s also part of something pretty important. He could be just another one of the crowd and allow life to happen to him, but he doesn’t do that. He encounters situations where the adults on the mission become guided by fear and old habits of distrust and cultural intolerance and Tristan simply cannot bear to see those negative qualities be part of what they are, as a group, trying to do. He doesn’t want to infect Mars with the same old weaknesses and hatreds and pettiness that caused so many problems on Earth. That’s something we can all consider now, here, on this planet, in this country. I think the readers will be able to align with Tristan’s view that the younger generation –his generation—have a unique opportunity to be the best generation, and to have the courage and optimism to step into a better future.

How long or hard was your road to publication? How many books did you write before this one, and how many never got published?

I’ve been a writer all my life. I began selling magazine feature articles to major magazines while I was still in college; and then I sold a bunch of college textbooks (on subjects like judo, jujutsu, women’s self-defense, etc.) and then mass-market nonfiction books (on martial arts, folklore, and on believes in the supernatural). I did all that while working day jobs to pay the bills. I was a bodyguard, a bouncer, a college teacher, and a jujutsu instructor at different times. When I decided to try my hand at fiction I’d already done twenty-five years of part-time nonfiction. So I was a fairly experienced writer by then. Even so, it took me three and a half years to write my first novel, and a year to find an agent willing to represent it. Once she had it, my agent was able to sell my first novel, GHOST ROAD BLUES, pretty quickly. Since then I’ve been writing fiction almost exclusively. It’s been eleven years since my first novel came out and I’m currently wrapping up my 30th novel. In that time I’ve also written over a hundred short stories and a lot of comics (for Marvel, Dark Horse and IDW). I write full time now, which is the best job in the world. Think about it…my job is to play inside my imagination, make stuff up, and get paid for it. I’m a professional daydreamer!

What's your writing ritual like? Do you listen to music? Work at home or at a coffee shop or the library, etc?

I am a full-time working writer, which means writing is my day job. I generally write eight hours a day all week long, and a bit less on weekends. I take off evenings for family time. I make elaborate playlists for each project, and the playlist for MARS ONE is actually included in the back of the book. Most days I ‘go to work’ by heading to a coffee shop or to my favorite local restaurant (they reserve a table for me and leave me alone to write as long as I want!) Then after lunch I go home and work from my office there. A few years ago we moved to Southern California, and my office looks straight out to the Pacific Ocean. So cool to see whales and dolphins while I’m writing. It’s kind of insane. I grew up very poor and in a deeply troubled household, so this is literally living in paradise. As far as productivity, though, I try to write four thousand words a day. I’m a ‘high output’ writer. Last year I wrote a million-and-a-quarter words for publication. This year I’ll do about the same, which works out to five novels and a slew of short stories. And I love every minute of it!

What advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?

There are several important things to know about becoming successful as a writer. Things I wish I’d known earlier in my career.

First –be very good at what you do. Having a natural gift for storytelling is great, but you need to learn the elements of craft. That includes figurative and descriptive language, pace, voice, tense, plot and structure, good dialogue, and many other skills. Good writers are always learning, always improving. Always.

Second –learn the difference between ‘writing’ and ‘publishing’. Writing is an art, it’s a conversation between the writer and the reader. Publishing is a business whose sole concern is to sell copies of art. Publishing looks for those books that are likely to sell well. There is absolutely no obligation for anyone in publishing to buy and publish a book totally on the basis of it being well written. It has to be something they can sell. A smart writer learns how to take their best writing and find the best way to present it to the publishing world, and then to support it via social media once it’s out.

Third –you are more important than what you write. A writer is a ‘brand’. That brand will, ideally, generate many works –books, short stories, etc. Each work should be written with as much passion, skill, love, and intelligence as possible, but when it’s done, the writer moves on to the next project. And the next.

Fourth –finish everything you start. Most writers fail because they don’t finish things. Be different.

Fifth –don’t try to be perfect. First drafts, in particular, are often terrible. Clunky, badly-written, awkward, filled with plot holes and wooden dialogue. Who cares? All a first draft needs to have in order to be perfect is completeness. It is revision that makes it better, and makes it good enough to sell. So, don’t beat up on yourself if your early drafts are bad. Everyone’s early drafts are bad. Everyone.

What are you working on now?

I just wrapped a horror suspense novel for adults (GLIMPSE) and am working on a submarine-themed weird science thriller (DEEP SILENCE), which is the 10th in my Joe Ledger Thriller Series. Then I’ll write two YA novels back-to-back. WATCH OVER ME will be the first in the Dylan Quinn series, about a teenager who wants to be a bodyguard like his parents, and who tries to solve a terrible crime at school; and then I will write ROT & RUIN: BROKEN LANDS, which is a spin-off of my ROT & RUIN post-apocalyptic zombie series, and restarts the series in a new location and with mostly new characters.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Mars One
by Jonathan Maberry
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Released 4/4/2017

Go on the adventure of a lifetime with a teen and his family after they are selected to colonize Mars in this thrilling new novel from multiple Bram Stoker Award–winning author Jonathan Maberry.

Tristan has known that he and his family were going to be on the first mission to colonize Mars since he was twelve years old, and he has been training ever since. However, knowing that he would be leaving for Mars with no plan to return didn’t stop him from falling in love with Izzy.

But now, at sixteen, it’s time to leave Earth, and he’s forced to face what he must leave behind in exchange for an uncertain future. When the news hits that another ship is already headed to colonize Mars, and the NeoLuddite terrorist group begins threatening the Mars One project, the mission’s purpose is called into question. Is this all worth it?

Purchase Mars One at Amazon
Purchase Mars One at IndieBound
View Mars One on Goodreads


Jonathan Maberry is a New York Times best-selling and multiple Bram Stoker Award-winning suspense author, editor, comic book writer, magazine feature writer, playwright, content creator and writing teacher/lecturer. He was named one of the Today’s Top Ten Horror Writers. His books have been sold to more than two-dozen countries. Jonathan and his wife, Sara Jo, to whom he dedicates all of his published works, and their dog, Rosie, live in Del Mar, California.


Have you had a chance to read MARS ONE yet? Do you think of yourself as a professional daydreamer? Are you able to separate writing as an art and publishing as a business? Do you write each work with as much passion, skill, love, and intelligence as possible? Share your thoughts about the interview in the comments!

Happy reading,

Martina, Emily, Jocelyn, Anisaa, Sam, Erin, Susan, Shelly, Kelly, Laura, and Lori Ann

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