Marni Bates is young, vibrant, and an extremely talented writer of Young Adult (YA) fiction. If YA is the current rising star within literature, then Marni is a definite part of the comet’s sparkling trail drawing readers’ attention to what was once a genre believed to be exclusively for school aged readers. Through the writings of authors such as Marni, YA has broadened into a multi-aged following. And, rightfully so.
Marni hit the ground running when she wrote her autobiography “Marni” at the ripe old age of nineteen. Her debut fiction novel “Awkward” soon followed and has been translated into several languages as well as optioned by Disney for a made for TV movie. The tale of a high school junior caught up in today’s world of internet videos, school drama, insecurity, and a desire to please, “Awkward” with its humorous overtones was an instant success. Simply put, Marni not only wrote a story readers could relate to, she made it fun to read.
Next came “Decked with Holly,” in which a young woman accidentally stumbles into the wrong cabin on a cruise ship, only to learn the occupant is a rock star. When he escorts her out the door, the paparazzi is waiting, and life will never be the same.
Returning to the school setting of “Awkward,” Marni has now released “Invisible.” Many students feel ‘invisible’ within their schools no matter what they do, no matter what they are capable of achieving. Where student Jane Smith differs from her peers is that she welcomes and seeks a low profile. That is, until her best friends start dating, and Jane suddenly learns being invisible is a lonely place. She’s talked into writing an exclusive for the school paper. But when Jane stumbles on a real exclusive, a story a renowned celebrity didn’t want told, Jane becomes anything but invisible.
Regardless of the setting and situation, Marni Bates can’t help but inject her own humorous perspective. If you ask her, she’ll tell you how she lived some of what she writes. She knows firsthand how it feels to be awkward and invisible. But she also knows what it’s like to share her joy of life with the world, and that’s why readers should be sure to read her books.
Q) You avoid the trend of supernatural characters and opt to focus on stories that ‘could happen.’ What led you in that direction?
A) I never received my Hogwarts acceptance letter. It sounds funny now, but when I was in elementary school I was pretty crushed. I desperately wanted some kind of super power...and then I began reading novels with strong romantic elements. I don’t think there is anything more magical than being loved for both the person that you are and the person that you can be, especially because that kind of love really exists! By the time I reached middle school I knew I wanted to focus on compelling romantic and platonic relationships.
Q) An avid fan of videos, you post many homemade videos in which you speak directly to readers. Do you see the use of videos becoming more important to the book industry as time goes on, and, why or why not?
A) I think readers want their favorite authors to feel accessible. So whether it’s through Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube, they are looking for a way to connect. I’m having a blast creating my videos and I hope my fans enjoy them as much as I do! I personally find fan interactions thrilling! I also know that I never would have made it this far in the business if I hadn’t scoured author websites for advice. I’m greatly indebted to Meg Cabot, author of The Princess Diaries, for her insights on the publishing industry.
Q) Many youthful readers are flocking to your web site, Twitter and Facebook pages where you make every attempt to answer each question. Writing takes a lot of time, so does responding to readers. Your following is growing. What changes do you foresee in your ability to communicate with fans?
A) As long as my fans keep writing to me, I will keep responding. It may take me longer to get back to everyone, and I can guarantee you that I will accidentally overlook a few messages--but a concerted effort will be made. Here’s why: back in fifth grade I wrote a gushing fan letter to Canadian author Gordon Korman. I completely freaked out when I received his response. Sweaty palms, heavy breathing, flailing arms—the works. It didn’t feel like my chest could contain my heart anymore. I was too overwhelmed to maintain the correspondence, but that was the moment when Gordon Korman became my hero. That experience taught me how powerful even a short message can be when it comes from the right person. Gordon Korman’s letter made a huge difference in my life and I want to pay it forward. So, yes, time-management will always be a tricky balancing act, but this is one commitment that I refuse to let fall by the wayside.
Q) Your stories are current, clean, fun, and quite frankly, a wonderful reminder that stories don’t
A) I was a bundle of nerves when I was hired to write my autobiography. I hadn’t planned on telling anyone in college about my hair-pulling, let alone revealing my most intimate fears to the whole freaking world. I didn’t experience that intense anxiety when my agent called to tell me that KensingtonTeen wanted “Awkward” to be the first book in a series. Although remember that whole can’t-catch-my-breath-my-heart-might-explode-from-my-chest sensation I mentioned earlier? Quadruple it. I was flooded with sheer joy. It was one of the happiest moments of my life.
Q) “Notable,” the fourth in the series is due for release later this year. What can we expect after that?
A) Notable is written from the perspective of Chelsea Halloway, the most popular girl at Smith High School. Each Smith High book has revealed a bit more of Chelsea’s inner turmoil and I had an absolute blast shoving her outside her comfort zone—all the way to Cambodia! I love that Chelsea is socially fearless, unlike my previous heroines, but that her insecurities run just as deep. I also wanted to continue working with the concept that the role you play (hero, sidekick, villain, etc.) depends on the person doing the talking. I’m lucky that Chelsea had a whole lot to say!
Q) Any thoughts for your fans and those not yet familiar with your books?
A) I write humorous stories about compelling teenage girls who are trying to figure out their lives. They make mistakes. They complain. They laugh. Sometimes they cry. And they do all of this—and so much more—while dealing with some incredibly frustrating boys. I’m willing to bet that you can relate to them.DA Kentner is an award-winning author www.kevad.net