Today we are honored to have Marina Cohen with us. She is an author of numerous books for children and young adults. Her spine-chilling middle-grade novel The Inn Between was released in March of 2016. Her novel The Doll’s Eye releases in February of 2017.
Middle Grade Mafia: How did you decide to become a writer and what was your path to publication?
Marina Cohen: It was always my dream to be a published author. Unfortunately, my path to publication was more of a long and winding road—a road riddled with obstacles and paved with tears. I wrote my first manuscript knowing little about writing or the business of writing and was rejected far and wide. I wrote another manuscript without success. After countless rejections I began networking with other writers. I joined a critique group, learned a great deal about the craft of writing, and how to properly submit a manuscript to publishers. At long last, I received my first contract with a small publisher that has since closed their doors. There were many more twists, turns, and pitfalls leading to this wonderful place and though the road is still far from smooth I have come to expect the bumps and just try my best to keep moving forward.
MGM: You describe yourself as a lover of all things creepy. Did you read ghost stories as a child? Is there a book that influenced your writing the most?
MC: As a child, I read all sorts of ghost stories—my favorites were those that claimed to be true! I also enjoyed reading Greek mythology, Nancy Drew books (especially those with creepy covers and titles, like The Hidden Staircase, or The Sign of the Twisted Candles), and fantasies, such as The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. But the book that perhaps influenced me most was a collection of Edgar Allan Poe stories. I loved The Tell-Tale Heart and The Pit and the Pendulum and aspired to write similar stories.
MGM: Why did you choose to set The Inn Between in the Mojave Desert? Have you had any personal experiences with ghosts?
MC: Setting is important in every novel, but I think it’s especially important in creepy books. I love cold, dark, decrepit places like abandoned houses and ancient castles, but with this story I wanted to present readers with a setting that’s both hot and intensely bright, yet just as unnerving. Years ago I drove through the Mojave Desert. I found the barren, desolate landscape and feeling of isolation very unsettling. Some strange things did happen—not quite ghostly encounters—but I recall thinking to myself, what a great place to set a creepy story!
MGM: Your next book The Doll’s Eye sounds wonderfully creepy. Can you tease us with any details?
MC: There is something inherently creepy about dolls—especially those with eyes that seem to be watching your every move. This novel, however, was not inspired by a doll’s eye, but by a paw—The Monkey’s Paw…(Another one of my all-time fav stories!)
MGM: What advice can you give aspiring writers?
MC: The best advice I have for aspiring writers is to persevere. Believe in yourself and your writing. Attend workshops and conferences. Join a critique group. And above all read, read, READ!
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