Girls*Heart* Books: Tammy's Two Cents with Mari Mancusi

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Tammy's Two Cents with Mari Mancusi

 Tomorrow Land
Can true love survive the end of the world?
Imagine finding your first love, only to be ripped apart by the apocalypse. Peyton Anderson will never forget the day she was forced to make a choice--between her family--and Chris Parker, the boy she'd given her heart. And now, four years later, as she steps from the fallout shelter and into a dead and broken world, he's the only thing on her mind.
All Chris "Chase" Parker wanted was to take Peyton away and keep her safe from harm. But he waited for hours in the rain on judgment day and she never showed--breaking his heart without ever telling him why.
Now the two of them have been thrown together once again, reluctant chaperones of a group of orphan children in a post-apocalyptic world where the dead still walk...and feed. As they begin their pilgrimage to the last human outpost on Earth, can they find a way to let go of old hurts and find the love they lost--all the while attempting to save what's left of the human race?

I loved this book!  But, I do have a morbid fascination with Zombies J
The year is 2030 and Peyton Anderson just wants to be a normal, teenage, high school girl.  To fall in love and live happily ever after.  A very nasty Flu virus, some even nastier zombies, her pill poppin mom and her slightly insane father have other plans.  Reguardless, Peyton and Chris are determined to be together.   As they travel across the post apocalyptic world in search of Peyton’s father (supposedly he’s at Disney World, even a zombie book needs some humor, right?) you witness first hand their story of love, loss, betrayal and loyalty.
I really enjoyed the storyline between Peyton and Chris, their determination to be together and the path they travel throughout the book is wonderfully written.. they fight then makeup, bicker and bitch, then snuggle and kiss; they are also forced to grow up and mature way faster than they should due to circumstance and surroundings.  And Peyton, I love our current run of books lately with strong, independent female characters and Mari does not disappoint!  Peyton kicks ass with her “enhancements” courtesy of her father the scientist.
Then we have the Flu strain, I was so enthralled in this portion of the story; the reason for the Flu and what makes the zombie’s, once it’s all explained in the story it’s so… real.  It is so believable it’s scarey!  I give this book 4 out of 5 quills, I would recommend it to everyone, especially my fellow zombie lovers!

Mari was kind enough to participate in my Interview process and answer a few questions for her fans; without further ado, here is my Interview with Mari Mancusi
(contest details to follow)

Mari Mancusi 
*Tell me a bit about yourself.
I’m a former Emmy award winning TV producer turned writer and the mom of
a ten month old baby girl named Avalon. I’ve published 16 books over the past
seven years, both adult romances and teen books. I love good restaurants, great
wine, long walks and playing videogames.

*Where were you born and where do you call home?
I was born in Massachusetts—about 30 minutes north of Boston. I’ve moved
around quite a bit—TV work will do that to you—so I’ve also spent time in
Orlando, San Diego, and New York. I’m currently living in Austin, Texas, the
motto of which is “Keep Austin Weird.” I’m doing my best to aid the cause.

*What was your inspiration for Tomorrow Land?
I’ve always loved post-apocalyptic books and films. Imagining how mankind
would survive in a world where there’s no longer rules and reason and
flesh-eating monsters roam to streets. Where suddenly it’s WE who are the
endangered species. If this were to happen, would people band together and
form makeshift societies for protection and companionship? Would they enact
rules and create new governments in order to keep the peace? Or would they
end up turning into monsters themselves—abandoning social mores and doing
despicable thing it will take to survive?

*Was there a particular person that was the inspiration for Peyton?
I made Peyton’s father is a big fan of the cyberpunk novel Neuromancer, by
William Gibson. I’m a huge fan, too. In Neuromancer we’re introduced to a
character named Molly Millions, a so-called “razor girl” who has the same
cybernetic enhancements as Peyton does. But while they’re similar on the
outside, thanks to her dad’s cybernetics, they are very different on the inside.
Molly’s personality matches her kick-ass parts. She even had her tear ducts
rerouted to her mouth. Meaning a razor girl doesn’t cry—she spits. That,
Peyton’s father says, is the only way to survive the apocalypse.

But Peyton can’t always come to terms with what she’s expected to be. Inside
she’s still a scared kid, filled with doubts and insecurities and conflicted loyalties
to her family and the boy she loves. In Neuromancer, Molly explains only by
saying, “I guess I’m just wired that way.” In Tomorrow Land we learn Peyton’s
wired a bit differently.

*What are some of the Pro's and Con's to being an Indie Author?
I’m more of a hybrid than a pure indy author. I still publish my Blood Coven
Vampire series traditionally with Penguin and I’ve only just begun to put my
backlist titles online. (Tomorrow Land was once a Dorchester paperback
called Razor Girl, back in the day.) I’ve been doing this through my agent,
Kristin Nelson’s, digital liaison service so she takes care of things like covers,
conversion, copyediting and uploading—all that fun stuff—so I can concentrate
on writing.

So far for the pros side, I’d say getting paid monthly instead of waiting six months
for a royalty check is nice. Making more money per book, even while you are
able to charge your readers less. I like having creative control, being able to work
with artists to design my own covers. And having the freedom to breathe new life
into old, dusty titles that wouldn’t make a penny otherwise.

For cons, not all teens have e-readers so having a digital only book can limit your
audience. I think that will change in the near future though. Creating and meeting
deadlines can be challenging, since you’re not under contract you aren’t held
accountable by an editor for a release date. The fact that you have to write the
entire book before you get paid—no advance money—and the fact that there’s
no guarantee you’ll ever get paid.

*For those who are unfamiliar with your novel Tomorrow Land, how would
you introduce it?

I like to call it a post-apocalyptic pilgrimage to Disney World. Or Casablanca with

*Whom in your life would you say has influenced you the most?
My old English/drama teacher Mr. Charles Seifert. He was my true mentor and
always encouraged me to become a writer someday. I, of course, was stubborn
and went to college to study film instead. The tragedy is, he died of cancer before
I could show him my published books. That’s one of my biggest regrets—that
I never got to tell him he was right! In my Blood Coven series, I modeled the
school drama teacher/Vice President of Slayer Inc., Mr. Teifert, after him.

*What has been the most interesting comment (or review) about your

The book alternates each chapter from just before the apocalypse to post-
apocalypse, four years later. I never meant to tell the story that way in the
beginning, but as I wrote I just keep learning more and more interesting stuff
about the past and I realized it was an important part of the story to tell. Some
people LOVE this and some people LOATHE it. Some people find the pre-
apocalypse the most interesting, some find the post better. It’s interesting how

very opposite people’s reactions have been. I, myself, feel it would not be
a complete story without both parts included. Think about some popular TV
shows – Veronica Mars, Revenge, Lost – they all used this technique quite
skillfully. Would we really care about the survivors on Lost if we didn’t learn their
backstories? So while this is a rather unique way to write a novel, I’m glad I did it.

*Why Zombies? What brought you to this particular genre and what
research did you do to get to the finished product?

I always thought zombies were very interesting monsters. They’re more working
class than vampires and they tend to stick in groups. They’re not terribly powerful
on their own, but when they band together they can become unstoppable. The
early George Romero films and more recently, The Walking Dead show are
so terrifying because you realize there really is no escape. The whole world is
overrun and there’s no place to go.

Without zombies, the apocalypse would be a bit dull…

*Who is YOUR favorite Author?

Marion Zimmer Bradley, who wrote the Mists of Avalon series, a retelling of the
King Arthur legend from the female point of view. It’s a gorgeous series and I
adore her writing. I also love Anne Rice and earlier Stephen King. The Stand was
the first post-apocalyptic book I read and it was life-changing.

*What are you reading right now?
I’m reading The Selection by Kiera Cass. Really sweet and charming. “Dystopian
light” as she calls it. I recently finished a more gritty YA called Enclave by Anne
Aguirre—cannot wait for the sequel on that one. And I’m ready an arc for a
steampunk Jane Eyre coming out from Tor called Ironskin. Such a cool book!

*Tell us your latest news.

The last of the Blood Coven Vampire books comes out in September of this
year called Blood Forever. It’ll be bittersweet to end the series, but I do believe
it’s better to go out when you’re still going strong. And eight books is a lot! I’m
working with my editor at Penguin on a new series idea. Not contracted yet so I
can’t talk too much to jinx it, but I’m excited about the idea and I think she is, too.

I’ll also be issuing another backlist title as a digital release soon—called Alternity.
It was originally published in paperback by Dorchester as Moongazer. It was a
reader favorite so I’m excited to re-introduce it this summer.

*Please, do tell why we should read your book.
While zombies are cool and zombie fighting action is fun, the real reason to read
this book is to get a glimpse into humanity and how we react and survive when
put in a position of crisis. What happens after the world ends? How do we go
on? Can we put the past behind us and learn to live…and love…again? Chase
and Peyton have their hands full with the zombies, not to mention the group of
small children they have to chaperone through the wasteland. But their biggest
issues are not any of these outside factors, but what the fight they have within


It’s meant to be a standalone story, but I might consider doing other, separate
stories about different characters in the same world. As usual, though, it’s so
many ideas, so little time!


  1. I honestly haven't read a lot of zombie books but of the few I've read I liked Die For Me by Amy Plum its a whole different take on "zombie" and far from a apocalyptic world. :) good review and interview! :)

  2. I haven't read many zombie books either but they do intrigue me. Just haven't gotten to them yet

  3. I also enjoyed Die for me by Amy Plum and The Forest of hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan. I have Feed by Mira Grant waiting tbr! This book sounds intriguing, thank you for this chance to win!

  4. Zombies is not my favorite to read about... but i have to agree with Jessy when it comes to Die For Me by Amy Plum :)


We love to hear from you!