Mari-Mancusi Photo

Mari Mancusi always wanted a dragon as a pet. Unfortunately the fire insurance premiums proved a bit too large and her house a bit too small–so she chose to write about them instead. Today she works as an award-winning young adult author and freelance television producer, for which she has won two Emmys. When not writing about fanciful creatures of myth and legend, Mari enjoys goth clubbing, cosplay, watching cheesy (and scary) horror movies, and her favorite guilty pleasure–playing videogames. A graduate of Boston University, she lives in Austin, Texas with her husband Jacob, daughter Avalon, and their dog Mesquite.


If you could sum up Blood Ties in four words, what would they be?

Vampires in Tokyo, Japan

What influenced you to write about vampires?

I’ve always loved the allure of vampires. When I was in high school, I was obsessed with Anne Rice novels. Lestat was the ultimate anti-hero. I also loved vampire films– from the artsy (The Hunger) to the awesome eighties (Lost Boys.) After college I discovered Buffy the Vampire Slayer. In fact, I’d say out of anyone, Joss Whedon has had the biggest influence on me and my Blood Coven novels. I love how he was able to mix sexy angst with laugh-out-loud humor. That’s what I always try to do in the books.

In the beginning, what or who spoke to your first? The story or the characters?

I’ve always been fascinated by twins–how two people could be exactly alike on the outside–even share DNA–and yet be so different in personality. So, I thought, what if one twin was Goth and loved all things vampire and the other had no idea vampires even existed. What if a vampire mistook one for the other– and ended up biting the wrong girl? So many vampire stories are about girls who want to date vampires or become vampires themselves. I wanted to take the opposite tract–and follow a girl who has no interest in vampires whatsoever–but is slowly becoming one.

I also wanted to explore the idea of vampires in the twenty-first century. What would they be like? How would they have embraced modern technology to make things easier? For example, to become a vampire these days, you have to network, get on waiting lists, take a three month certification course–the works! No one just turns someone into a vampire against their will; it’s not kosher and a lawsuit waiting to happen! They also don’t just drain the blood of innocents. They have hired blood donors who sign a contract, are tested for blood diseases, and get paid well for their services.

Was there any scene or part in Blood Ties that was difficult to write? And if so how did you get through writing it?

The scene with Sunny and Magnus going to talk to Pyrus and the Consortium of vampires was challenging. Magnus finally realizes that he can’t just go along with what’s happening–that Pyrus’s lust for power is out of control. But, at the same time, he worries that if he speaks out, Pyrus will destroy not only him, but the vampires under him. So he has to be strong, yet fair and balanced. He has to convince the other vampires that what Pyrus is doing is wrong, without being accused of treason. Vampire politics are complicated and it was a tough scene. I rewrote it a bunch of times to get it right.

I feel that names hold meaning and importance to characters. How do you come up with or decided on the names for your characters? Do they hold meaning?

Well, I wanted the two girls to have names that fit their personalities. So Sunshine (Sunny) is very lighthearted and very “normal” as she likes to say, whereas Rayne is darker. The name Magnus came from Anne Rice’s vampire Lestat’s sire–and also a boy that used to go to the club I modeled Club Fang after–who swore his name was Magnus. (It wasn’t.) Jareth is named after David Bowie’s character, the goblin king, in Labyrinth.

Who was the easiest & hardest character for you to create?

I think Rayne is the easiest character for me–because she says what she feels. I sometimes wish I was like that in real life–though she does often get herself in trouble! I think Magnus is tough to write– because he’s such a complicated vampire. Much of the time, Sunny thinks he’s being a jerk–but he’s not really trying to be. So I have to balance the seemingly selfish things he does while ensuring readers see that there’s more going on than Sunny might realize–and that his intentions are always good, even if sometimes they don’t appear to be. I don’t want them to think he’s an unlikeable character.

Did you do any unique research for Blood Ties?

I actually visited Tokyo, Japan a couple years ago and realized it was the perfect setting for a novel someday. Many of the places mentioned in Blood Ties are based on places I went to on my trip, such as the Vampire Cafe, Harajuku, The Cat Cafe, a Ryoken, etc. I soon plan to post photos in my blog of all these places so readers can see them firsthand.