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On The Table Read, “The Best Book Reader Magazine in the UK“, author Marina R.B discusses her new coming of age book, Crystal Tear, and her creative writing process.

JJ Barnes editor of The Table Read online creativity, arts and entertainment magazine

Written by JJ Barnes

www.jjbarnes.co.uk

I interviewed Marina R.B about her coming of age book, Crystal Tear, what inspired her characters, and her creative writing process.

Tell me a bit about who you are.

I am Marina R.B, I grew up in France and moved to London at the age of 17, after finishing secondary school. I have always been drawn to art, whether it be books, drawings, music, dance and much more, as well as myths and legends.

When growing up, I couldn’t help but feeling out of this world. I had the feeling that I didn’t belong here and that something much greater was waiting for me. Like an inner push, London was calling for me.

Marina R.B. Crystal Tear YA Novel Author The Table Read
Marina R.B.

First time I truly remember that feeling was at the age of 14. I didn’t know much about London, in fact, living in the French countryside had been the only thing that I had ever known and desired, and yet, that big Capital was beckoning.

When did you first WANT to write a book?

I don’t recall a specific moment in my life were I suddenly wanted to write. I started a private journal at the age of 10 and since then writing have been part of my day to day life; I have never stopped writing my thoughts ever since then.

I suppose this is the reason why starting to write Crystal Tear felt so natural because I had done so, even though it wasn’t fictional, for many years. Writing has always been a part of me.

When did you take a step to start writing?

For as long as I can remember I have been writing stories but they were always short and for my own use. I never quite realised that writing an entire book was something that I could do, and so, although writing was always part of my life, I never thought of writing an entire book, let alone making it a career. But when I turned 16, I started writing Crystal Tear and it naturally became a whole story. I had not planned to do so, it just happened and when I had finished the very first draft, that’s how I realised that it had been the most truthful experience of my life and that I needed to write again and again.

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How long did it take you to complete your first book from the first idea to release?

I will always remember that day of December 2008, a week after my birthday. I was sat by my window, staring at the snow covering the field around my family house and suddenly I started writing about it. The more I wrote about the landscape, the more the story of Crystal Tear emerged in my head. The entire plot took me only a couple of months but I was then a 16 year-old girl and I felt that I was not ready for something as big as releasing a book.

I knew that I needed to go through more experiences in order to fully understand my character and therefore, over the next 13 years, I continued to rewrite some aspect of Crystal Tear, without changing the main plot, but reorganising my main character’s thoughts and getting fully comfortable with my own writing style.

At the beginning of 2021, I was finally ready to submit to agencies and publishers and I signed a publishing agreement with the fantastic team at Cranthorpe Millner. After 10 months of hard work with them, Crystal Tear will be published on the 26th April 2022.

What made you want to write Crystal Tear?

Writing has always been for me a way to express myself. Ever since I was a child, I had always found it difficult to tell people the way I felt which is why writing had soon become the only way that seemed accessible for me in order to get things out of my chest.

When I started writing Crystal Tear, I wanted to create a world of my own, where I could be truly myself without having to pretend nor conceal my feelings. It was the only part of the world were I was the truest version of myself and losing myself in this world of mine had become a therapy as a teenager, and even to this day if I’m completely honest.

I never intended to write a whole storyline, nor wanted to get it released. At first, it was a different sort of private journal but after a while, I got truly attached to my characters and I thought that perhaps their journeys could be enjoyed by more people than just me and hopefully make others lose themselves in this world of mine too.

What were your biggest challenges with writing Crystal Tear?

When it comes to writing Crystal Tear, it always felt natural: the plot, the characters’ personality, the world… Everything came to me with so much ease because it felt real to me. Even changing the language of it from French to English was not an issue; even this aspect of writing felt like the right thing to do.

Who or what inspired you when creating your Protagonist?

I am aware that this might sound quite pretentious but I have created Fada based on my own personality, but most of all, on who I dreamt of becoming when I was only 16, and then overtime, as I grew up along her, who I believed to be. Not as her role in the world or what happens to her, but the way she thinks, or reacts to certain situations; those were the behaviours I would have had as a 20 year-old discovering that I am from another world, and having to go through everything she does.

As I mentioned above, I first started writing Crystal Tear as a way to get emotions and feelings out of my chest so even before giving Fada a name or a purpose in life, I had given her a personality very similar to the one I had when I was her age.

Who or what inspired you when creating your Antagonist?

I haven’t written any of my characters with the thought that one, or more, of them were antagonists. They are all beings with feelings and some of them might have behaviours that would place them in the antagonist category but I like to leave each reader decide who is who. Every character has flaws, but I also like to remind people that certain behaviours come from past traumas, or the way a certain person has been raised.

As a reader myself, I have always taken a liking to antagonists because I felt the need to try and understand them. I am one to believe that nobody is born evil and that there is a reason to everything. Having gone through traumas and terrible events don’t excuse bad behaviour from people, but I like the idea that antagonists are more than just bad people, which is why I never wrote mine with the intention of making them antagonists. I may not have explained the reason to everything in Crystal Tear, but I know the backstory off every single one of my characters, and a lot of it would explain their personality and behaviour. 

Marina R.B. Crystal Tear YA Author The Table Read
Crystal Tear by Marina R.B.

What is the inciting incident of Crystal Tear?

It is when Fada meets Angel for the first time. Although he doesn’t tell her straight away that she is from another world, she can’t help but feel connected to him and since she had never experienced such thing in her life before, having this connection with someone brings her hope for a better future.

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What is the main conflict of Crystal Tear?

Fada discovers this new world, and, along with it, a new culture, a new language and a new way of being regarded by others. We follow her journey through this new life, which isn’t easy. Combined with this already exhausting situation, she also discovers love, war and losses.

Did you plot Crystal Tear in advance, or fly by the seat of your pants and write freely?

When I write a story, whether it be Crystal Tear or any other fiction, every single idea come to me naturally. More often than not, these ideas strike me just before falling asleep and I need to write them down quickly to then add them to the plot. I usually write every chapters or scenes in a non novel-like fashion, it looks more like a brain dump and then when I’m ready to write this specific chapter, I would read the scene again and make something out of it.

Did you get support with editing, and how much editing did Crystal Tear need?

I edited a lot of it myself over the past 13 years but when you have worked on something for so many years it can be easy to not see where things still need some editing. So after signing my publishing agreement, the editor at Cranthorpe Millner did a fantastic job at editing some sentences and paragraphs, without changing the plot at all and keeping my writing style within her own editing. I couldn’t be happier of the job that she has done.

What is the first piece of writing advice you would give to anyone inspired to write a story?

Being the truest version of yourself will always make your story more believable and enjoyable. There is no need in trying to fit perfectly into the genre you are planning on writing.

I had once had a feedback from a literary agent telling me that a 20 year-old main character isn’t suitable for a young adult novel because the norm is teenager, but I could not disagree more with that statement. I personally felt out of place when reading young adult novels because I was in my twenties and had not yet experienced the coming of age part of my own life and, somehow, reading about these young people going through all of that before me made me feel yet again out of this world and I know for a fact that millions of people in their early twenties feel the exact same way and reading about a character that is similar in age to them will make them feel understood at last.

This is only one example of something I have done to my book that is “out of place” for a young adult fiction novel, and I believe that staying true to your beliefs and yourself will set you up for a successful writing.

Can you give me a hint about any further books you’re planning to write?

I have just finished the first draft of the follow-up for Crystal Tear. I have also planned the plot for another couple of follow-ups after that but also many plots for stories happening all around the world that I have created. Having created an entire planet gives me the option for countless stories and my imagination is never-ending.

And, finally, are your proud of your accomplishment? Was it worth the effort?

Yes, I am so proud of what I have created and I cannot wait for people to read it and fall in love with my characters and story. A few reviewers have already read my book and hearing their thoughts on it made me the happiest I have ever been. It was worth the wait and I cannot wait to hear more people telling me their thoughts on my characters’ journey.

Pop all your book, website and social media links here so the readers can find you:

Website: www.marinarbauthor.com

Instagram/Twitter: @marinarb__

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/60216906-crystal-tear

Waterstones: https://www.waterstones.com/book/crystal-tear/marina-r-b/9781803780313

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