Interview with mandi rei serra

Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in a small town in Northern California, in the midst of almond and olive orchard, rice fields, and dairies. A lot of my writing tends to center around small towns, homesteading, and other rural activities. With more people living in cities than ever in history, I think being able to present an authentic small town feel in my writing lets city readers dip their toes into the sensation of belonging out in the sticks.
When did you first start writing?
In elementary school. My mom even got me an old-fashioned typewriter when I was seven, so I could get elbow deep in embracing my craft. Began writing novels my sophomore year in high school.
What do you read for pleasure?
Can't say I have a set type of pleasure reading material. I'm very fond of non-fiction ranging from How-to and History. When it comes to fiction, I definitely prefer historical rather than contemporary settings and character driven stories.
Describe your desk
Cluttered with remotes, incense burner, little boxes, a meditation timer and electronics.
What's the story behind your latest book?
I had gotten frustrated when I realized a lot of recent bestsellers followed a disturbing trend-- that these supposed 'romances' were rife with domestic violence-- and seemingly had gotten society's approval. With that in mind, I set out to weave a tale to have as much action, romance, and yes-- even violence in it; but the romance is not tied in with the violence in any positive way. That my protagonist finds inner strength before facing the demon she married.

Having once been in a craptastic relationship where the domestic abuse echoes that in the popular novels and has been glorified by the authors... well, someone has to stand up for the folks; men and women who have been in a relationship where the abuse has been anything from full on violence, threats, stalking, intimidation, put downs; and show that this kind of behavior is not acceptable.

Art is a society's mirror. Do we really want to make our reflection one that is tolerant of douche-baggery?
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I know my writing tends to be too edgy for mainstream publishing houses. I also like the ability to have direct control over my end product-- something that doesn't necessarily happen with traditional publishing. Granted, that means all responsibility falls onto my shoulders, but therein also lies the thrill. If I succeed, it's due to my efforts.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
There's more than one joy; for me, I find crafting tales to be therapeutic. A sense of order happens when words fall into my manuscript, arranged just so, conveying ideas that spoken words alone cannot convey.

Also, there's the bonus of the finished material. Who doesn't enjoy a job well done?
What do your fans mean to you?
Fans mean much to me-- it's with their encouragement that really spurs me to write. I love surprising them with twists and turns they didn't see coming and hearing their feedback in response.
What are you working on next?
I have a Viking and Pagan influenced novel in the works, about a culture that abducts females from bordering tribes to integrate into their own society. One of the newer captures takes a different path than most women before her, and in doing so, fulfils a prophesy of a woman who will lead the society to a golden age. Problem? Expectations and how to fulfil them without losing one's head-- literally.
What is your writing process?
It generally starts as a "what if?" prompted by something I've seen or read. From there, I try to figure out the background of the person experiencing the "what if?" and from there, the writing begins.
Who are your favorite authors?
First off, I really enjoy Jenny Trout/Abigail Barnette. Ms. Trout's blog is generally filled with insightful posts while her non-de-plume pens delightfully naughty tales. Can't lie, she's one of my biggest influences.

Jules Verne, Bertrice Small, Catherine Coulter (prefer the historicals), Wilber Smith (Again, historicals) are the one from right off the top of my head.
Published 2014-11-14.
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