The interview with Mara Purnhagen, author of PAST MIDNIGHT from HarlequinTEEN, was originally posted at the HarlequinTEEN Facebook page — along with the PAST MIDNIGHT desktop below! For more exclusive HarlequinTEEN goodies like these, be sure to “like” HarlequinTEEN on Facebook!
Jacy J C Hulett Mara: If you spend the rest of your life in the pages of a book, what book would it be or would you write your own?
I think I would write my own, only because I could control the setting (I’m thinking Hawaii or Greece), the characters (I could omit people who text and drive), and fill it with amazing moments (My favorite band showing up at my house needing a place to crash). And in my book, all desserts would be good for you and I would be able to sleep eight hours every night.
Kaitlynne Watanabe: Who is your favorite character from a book?
That’s a tough one, so I’m going to go with a classic character (as opposed to a modern one). I’ve always like Beatrice in Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing. She has some sharp, witty lines. There are so many great characters, though, that it’s really hard for me to claim an all-time favorite.
Mary Helms: What inspired you to write the PAST MIDNIGHT series? Were you always interested in ghosts and paranormal stories?
The first book I fell in love with when I was a kid was “Mrs. Gaddy and the Ghost” by Wilson Gage. It’s about a nice-but-noisy ghost living in a farmhouse. I just loved it, read it all the time, and secretly hoped a nice ghost would move into my house so I could feed it gingerbread. Now I read the book to my boys, and they love it, too. I think the stories we loved as kids can often serve as a good indicator of what truly interests us.
Amanda Sun: Do you plot your novels or just start writing and see where they go? And since it’s getting closer to Halloween, what’s your biggest fear?
I always know both my first and last scene. I tackle the middle as it comes, which can be fun because I’m not sure where it’s going to go until I sit down to write it. That way, I have some structure, but also some freedom to take the plot in different directions.
Honestly, my biggest fear is snakes. I am deathly afraid of them. I read an article once about a woman who rented a car. She noticed something moving near the passenger seat. It was a massive boa constrictor! To be trapped in a small space with a large snake? I think I would pass out. In fact, I know I would pass out.
Jacy J C Hulett: Mara, what advice would you give a novice author like myself?
You have to read, read, and then read some more. Know what’s out there and find the books you love. Reading them will make you a stronger writer. Also, write every day, even if it’s just a journal entry.
Karina Hernandez: Who is your favorite author?
I have favorites in every genre. I love to read mysteries by Laura Lippman, poetry by Mary Oliver, and young adult novels by M.T. Anderson.
Freda Mans: Where did you come up with the character Charlotte Silver? Is she developed from real life experiences?
Not exactly. I wanted to create a character who was basically normal, without special powers. I like stories that place average people in strange situations. I have had only a handful of personal experiences with the paranormal, but looking back, I can’t say with absolute certainty that those experiences were absolutely paranormal.
Ping Teng: What made you choose the title ‘ past midnight’ ? Not ‘ghosthunter’ or ‘hunted’ , etc.
The book’s original title was “The Other Side of Normal.” It never occurred to me to have “ghost” in the title, because my characters are working with a theory about energy. I liked Past Midnight because it was simple, but also a little bit ominous.
Sarah Bibi Setar: How is it that you came up with the idea of having Charlotte’s parents as ghost hunters who don’t actually believe in ghosts? I’m sure this would make for some interesting situations.
Ghosts have always interested me as a subject, but I’m a skeptic. I like the idea of people who work to disprove things, because what happens when they uncover something they can’t define? I think a healthy dose of skepticism is important, and I thought it would be a neat twist.
Kisah Jackson: i love the cover – did you give any input on it? and why did you set it in charleston?
I love the cover, too! I asked for “smoky swirls.” That was my only real input. I was so happy with the concept they came back with, and I love the way it flows through all three books.
I set the book in Charleston because I was living in South Carolina when I wrote the first book, and Charleston was a favorite weekend trip. It’s an amazing city. I always take the horse-drawn carriage tours and have shrimp and grits for lunch.
April Xu: Mara, if you could co-write with any author, who would it be?
Good question. I think it would depend on the type of book I was writing. If I was writing a short story, I’d want to work with Harlan Ellison because his work is so amazing and different.
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