Pen Friends: Welcome Mary Weber, author of the wildly popular Storm Siren Trilogy, as she shares her writing journey with us. Talk about encouraging, charming, and instructive!
SP: Can you tell us a bit of who you are and when you started writing?
Hi! Yes, let’s see…I was born and raised in California by parents who’ve been pastoring the same church for 40+ years (and are legitimately the coolest people I know). My husband and I have been married for 18 of those years and have three kids (ages 16, 14, & 10). I write books (obviously). I like homemade honey lattes, Sherlock, The Last Airbender, laughter, rain, and sushi, and I work part time as a youth pastor. Annnnd now I feel like I just filled out a dating profile. Nice. 😉
As far as writing – a part of me always WANTED to write but I considered myself rather horrible at it. About eight years ago though, I sort of went through this season of pausing on life. I told my husband, “I know who I am as a wife, mother, youth pastor, etc… But I can’t find the creative part of me.” That’s when I began writing for real – at first to find myself, then eventually, for publishing.
SP: So, tattoos. What was your first tattoo? What made you get it?
I think of tattoos as another way of telling a person’s story. Of remembering the things that matter—the lives, the moments, the beauty. It’s like wearing your soul on your skin. My first tattoo was an anklet vine when I was 18 and in Bible College, and it was just something I’d always wanted. My second tattoo (on right) is my favorite thus far – it says “You were once wild here; don’t let them tame you.” It’s a reminder to myself and the teens I work with that we were made to be incredibly creative, passionate beings – and that there is far more to this life than what the shiny-pretties or bullies or fears or media tell us.
SP: What was your favorite part of the Storm Trilogy to write? The hardest part?
Favorite – probably the fight scenes. I adore them. The tension, the choreography…it’s my jam. Also, any scenes that make readers cry. I have no idea what that says about me.
Hardest – the actual sitting in a seat writing. And not knowing exactly where the story was headed. 🙂
SP: How long did it take you to write the first book? What about the other two books?
Storm Siren took 11 months. Siren’s Fury 9 months. And Siren’s Song took 4 months (and a WHOLE lot of revisions, gah!).
SP: We are big on world building over here at the Spinning Pen, can you give us some tips on how you built the world for the Storm Trilogy and the kingdom of Faelen?
*laughs* Sure! I absolutely adore that as writers we get to create wild, made-up places. (And then populate them with characters and make them fight and cry and be all sexy and stuff. Commence JK Rowling, who is the queen of this.)
For me, the best inspiration I’ve found for this is to (1) watch movies.
And (2) read all the books.
Then I sit down and, with my main character in hand, begin to construct a universe (and its rules) that feels alive and fresh and terrifying to live in.
For Storm Siren this was done by attempting to:
- Create a sense that the fantasy universe (and rules within) was similar enough to our own real-life world that it felt familiar. Thus (hopefully) allowing readers to settle in quickly with the story without getting too overwhelmed by new information.
- Create enough of a difference in the universe (and rules) that the reader could feel intrigued. (So in Storm Siren, it might’ve been: What are bolcranes? And why do the panther-monkeys eat dogs? And where did the Elementals and shapeshifters get their abilities? These are questions that need answering and thus we read to find out.)
- Develop rules for magic and societies that suspended the boundaries of reality without totally breaking it.
- Develop a realistic history for that universe. Even if the scope of it never showed up in the stories, having Nym’s world’s history detailed out behind the scenes provided a foundation for the book and characters to stand upon. (What nations have gone to war? Which societies are totalitarian, or impoverished, and what led to those things? Which races have been oppressed and why? Those types of things.)
- And finally…I forced my sister and husband to brainstorm with me for HOURS. Multiple times. So really if there’s anything good it’s due to them. 😉
So yeah…basically I read and watched movies and tried to figure out what everyone else was doing and then followed their lead. Ahem.
SP: Agents. Before you found yours, what you were looking for in one?
I met my first agent, Lee Hough (Alive Communications), through a mutual friend at the same writers’ conference I pitched Storm Siren at. I signed with him and Thomas Nelson Fiction almost simultaneously, and he was hugely instrumental in mentoring me. He passed away shortly after, but I sure miss him and I am forever grateful to him.
After Alive, I knew I needed someone who knew the YA book world well, and also who could work well with my TN publishing team (whom I adore beyond belief). After researching, I ended up signing with a dear friend (and brilliant agent), Danielle Smith, whom I’d gotten to know years before when she and I were both YA book bloggers. Her strengths shore up my weaknesses and her friendship and kindness are the best blessing.
SP: If Nym lived on earth, what would she use her power for?
*laughs* Oh man, I’ve never thought of that. But definitely to strike fear into the hearts of world politicians, corporations, murderers, human traffickers, etc.
SP: If you could give only one piece of writing advice to an aspiring novelist, what would it be?
Dig into your soul until you find your voice — the one that’s scared of what people will think or tries to put the grown-up shoes on so no one will know he or she is secretly insecure. Because we’re all insecure to some degree. But when you tap into the dreams and fears and give your soul a voice? It’ll begin to sing. And that is where I believe our stories take on heart. And yours is a heart the world needs to hear from.
SP: Where can we learn more about you and your book?
The Storm Siren Trilogy is available through booksellers including local Walmarts, Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and Book Depository.
And I hang out on Facebook (Mary Weber, Author), Instagram (MaryWeberAuthor), Twitter (@mchristineweber), and my website (maryweber.com). So y’all should definitely come say hi! ❤
SP: Thanks again, Mary! We wish you all the success and favor in both books and your work with teens.
Awwww! Thank YOU for the chat!!!!!
BIO: Mary Weber is the award-winning author of the bestselling young adult Storm Siren Trilogy. In her spare time she sings 80’s hairband songs to her three muggle children and ogles her husband who looks strikingly like Wolverine. They live in California which is perfect for stalking tacos, Joss Whedon, and the ocean. She gets nerdy on FB (Mary Weber, Author), Web (maryweber.com), or IG (MaryWeberAuthor).
Nova, signing off.