Today we are chatting with Shawn Sarles, author of
Mary, Will I Die?
Read on for more about Shawn, his book, and giveaway!
Meet Shawn Sarles!
Shawn Sarles is the Indie Bestselling Author of CAMPFIRE and the forthcoming novel MARY, WILL I DIE? (out 09/07/21). Born in western Kentucky, he went to college at Wake Forest University and then moved to New York City after graduating. He has worked in the publishing industry for the last decade and now lives in Jersey City with a French Bulldog and two chatty parrots.
Meet Mary, Will I Die?
Bestselling author Shawn Sarles’ most terrifying YA horror yet . . .
It starts innocently enough. Four kids – three girls, one boy – are at one of their houses, playing games. One of them has read about “Bloody Mary” and the idea that if you look into a mirror and say her name thirteen times, she will show you the future. Some legends say she’ll show you your one true love or a skull to mark your death within five years. Others say that conjuring Bloody Mary will bring her into your world.
Both sets of legends are true. The kids go through with the act, saying her name thirteen times. One girl looks in the mirror and sees her longtime crush. One girl looks in the mirror and sees the boy in the group. But she pretends to see something else. One girl looks in the mirror and sees a girl she’s never seen before but can’t get out of her
mind. And the boy . . . he sees a skull. But he pretends to see something else. They try to laugh it off. And mostly they forget about it. Or at least they don’t talk about it. Yes, over the next few years, whenever they look into a mirror, it’s like there’s always another figure standing in the background, getting closer.
Just short of five years later, the four of them are no longer friends, having gone on separate paths. The girl whose house it was has always tried to avoid the mirror they used – because she always sensed someone in the background. One morning as she’s passing by, she sees much more than her own reflection – it’s a scary figure taunting her. She startles and breaks the mirror. When the pieces are put back together (barely), the figure is gone.
That day in school, a new girl arrives. Her name is Mary . . . .
~ Author Chat ~
YABC: What gave you the inspiration to write this book?
When I started writing this book, I thought a lot about mirrors and what we see in ourselves when we look at our reflections. And I was interested in exploring how our self-perceptions can affect us in different ways. Are we happy with what we see? Do we pump ourselves up so that we look down on others? Or does it make us feel like we don’t belong? Like we’ll never be good enough? We all have that little voice in our heads, the devil sitting on our shoulder, whispering into our ears. And with Bloody Mary I wanted to give that inner demon its own evil embodiment.
YABC: Who is your favorite character in the book?
I enjoyed writing all four of my main characters, but my favorite would definitely be Steph. She shares my LGBTQ+ background, so I felt a real connection in the struggles she goes through. I was that questioning teenager, afraid of being gay. Scared that my truth would alienate me from everyone else. But like Steph, I eventually let myself be myself. And I realized that there were loving people all around me, ready to accept me for who I was. I also was an athlete in high school, so it was fun to see her competitiveness come out on the volleyball court.
YABC: Which came first, the title or the novel?
The title came first. But I actually didn’t like it. I was hoping it’d only be a placeholder until the right one came to me. But the more I sat with it, the more I loved it. And by the time I had finished drafting, I knew that it was the perfect title for the story I’d written.
YABC: What’s on your TBR pile?
There are so many books on my TBR, but the very next book that I can’t wait to pick up is That Weekend by Kara Thomas. I love a good thriller, and all of her books have been heart-stoppingly good. I also have a number of LGBTQ+ titles that I can’t wait to read – The Darkness Outside Us by Eliot Schrefer; The Ghosts We Keep by Mason Deaver; Indivisible by Daniel Aleman; and The Sky Blues by Robbie Couch. Now I just need to finish drafting so I can dive into them all!
YABC: What’s a book you’ve recently read and loved?
I really enjoyed the A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder series. I listened to the audio books, and I highly recommend. It works especially well because the main character is creating a true crime podcast as she investigates unsolved murders in her town. So you’re listening to the actual script as she’s reporting. And then on the adult side, I recently read Gold Diggers by Sanjena Sathian and absolutely loved it. Check it out. The first half of the book follows the main character in high school, so it’s a good crossover for older-YA.
YABC: Which part of the writing process do you enjoy more: Drafting or revising?
I way prefer revising. I find that I always struggle to draft because I get stuck on trying to make it perfect the first time. But when I get to revisions, I realize just how easy it is to make changes and clean things up later. Nothing is set in stone. If only I could trick my brain into realizing this earlier.
YABC: What advice would you give to new writers?
Practice. I know it might sound odd, but you really need to build up that creative writing muscle. So make sure you write and that you give yourself the time to improve. No one just sits down and pops out a masterpiece on the first go. It all takes work and lots of words that end up going nowhere. But don’t get discouraged because it’s all part of the process and you’ll be a better writer after.
YABC: Which character gave you the most trouble when writing your latest book?
Elena gave me the most trouble. She’s a mean girl, so I really had to make sure I got the balance right of keeping her mean but also giving her a heart so I could show that journey she goes on as she starts to realize that maybe she doesn’t need to be on the attack all the time. Maybe she can lean on others and show some kindness.
Mary, Will I Die?
By: Shawn Sarles
Publish Date: September 7th, 2021
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