Monday, February 25, 2019

Interview with Mary Weber

To Best the Boys

by Mary Weber
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Release Date: March 5th 2019
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
 photo addtogoodreadssmall_zpsa2a6cf28.png photo B6096376-6C81-4465-8935-CE890C777EB9-1855-000001A1E900B890_zps5affbed6.jpg


Every year for the past fifty-four years, the residents of Pinsbury Port receive a mysterious letter inviting all eligible-aged boys to compete for an esteemed scholarship to the all-male Stemwick University. Every year, the poorer residents look to see that their names are on the list. The wealthier look to see how likely their sons are to survive. And Rhen Tellur opens it to see if she can derive which substances the ink and parchment are created from, using her father’s microscope.

In the province of Caldon, where women are trained in wifely duties and men are encouraged into collegiate education, sixteen-year-old Rhen Tellur wants nothing more than to become a scientist. As the poor of her seaside town fall prey to a deadly disease, she and her father work desperately to find a cure. But when her Mum succumbs to it as well? Rhen decides to take the future into her own hands—through the annual all-male scholarship competition.

With her cousin, Seleni, by her side, the girls don disguises and enter Mr. Holm’s labyrinth, to best the boys and claim the scholarship prize. Except not everyone’s ready for a girl who doesn’t know her place. And not everyone survives the maze.

Can you briefly describe the world in TO BEST THE BOYS and their main characters?

Of course! To Best The Boys is set in a Victorian-esque world, where ghouls and sirens are real, and things like women achieving higher education and financial independence are not (at least not yet ;)). The main character, Rhen, desperately wants to be a scientist, while her cousin, Seleni, wants a life of marriage and babies. When the two decide Rhen’s only chance for earning the future she wants is to enter a mysterious scholarship competition to an all-male university, they find themselves in a labyrinth that may or may not be as dangerous as some of their competitors. 

Who would you say is your favourite character from the story and why?

I have two - Rhen and Seleni. They’re humorous, strong, and different sides of the same coin. While each is worlds apart in their goals, interests, and views on love, they’re both passionate about a person’s right to choose their own path. That, for me, is very much what the story is about. Everyone’s right to belong to themselves and a future of their own making.

How did the story occur to you? Did you find inspiration anywhere?

I wrote To Best The Boys last year when my sister was pursuing a degree (in the very male dominated STEM field) and one of my daughters was in her first year of college. The story reflects aspects of their experiences as well as my own and many others. My inspiration was the incredible strength I see in women (now and historically) pursuing their dreams – but also my frustration with the level of sexism that (unbelievably) still exists. I think the book is my way of saying to my daughters – and really to every teen – “You are worth breaking expectations for. So do it. We’ll be there for you.”

What’s your favourite quote from the book?

"You take this world and make it what it should be. And don't let the beliefs of a backward system define you. You are the one who has to live with the future. So you live it."

If you could choose one song to describe your book, which one would it be?

Paper Doll by Bea Miller. I wrote much of To Best The Boys with her songs in the background.

If the book was a movie/TV show, who would you imagine representing your characters? 

Oh funny - I don’t think I’ve considered this question until this moment! Honestly, I think my ideal would simply be actors who value honoring others in their real lives. That level of authenticity bleeds through a performance like nothing else.

Since it is still cold outside, what hot drink do you think will go with your book to have a perfect book date?

Hot tea with a side of Labyrinth Cakes!

Can you recommend your readers any other books in case they are left hungry for more once they finish TO BEST THE BOYS?

Absolutely. I recently loved Emiko Jean’s Empress of All Seasons! I also think readers would enjoy fantasies by Sabaa Tahir, Danielle Paige, Marie Lu, Mary Pearson, and Kristen Ciccarelli.

What’s next for you?

Sleep! ;) And then...maybe some magic. And murder. With a dash of mayhem. ;)

Interview with Mary Weber, Spider Squealer. Mermaid Believer. HarperCollins Author. Lover of old souls. 
Sign up for writing tips, book news, & giveaways -

Hi. I write books. I eat things. I kiss things. I believe in mermaids.

I'm also the author of the Storm Siren Trilogy, The Evaporation of Sofi Snow series, and the March 2019 release, To Best the Boys. When not working, I sing 80’s hairband songs to my three muggle children, and ogle my husband who looks strikingly like Wolverine. We live in California, which is perfect for stalking aging movie stars while wearing fanny packs and sweatpants.

For those who like to know such things (mainly my mom), Storm Siren was featured in the Scholastic Book Fair and my novels have been endorsed by such nice humans as Marissa Meyer, CJ Redwine, Shannon Messenger, and Jonathan Maberry (in fact, Marissa Meyer and I have a fun interview in the paperback of her book, CRESS). Also, Boba tea & sweatpants are life. {We can chat about life (in sweatpants over tea, obviously) in my Newsletter.


  1. Gender-bending and STEM in a Fantasy setting where a girl doesn't want to accept that all she has to live for is provide "wifely duties" for a man?! How could I not add this to my TBR!

  2. Oh man I'm so excited for this book :):) I just love reading books like these, the girl dresses up like a guy and in the end be like surprise its me, and I'm a girl, and I'm strong and brave and can kick a#$ :):)

  3. I'm super excited to read this book--I love, love the premise--a girl who defies the social system and risks her life sounds fun to read.