Interview with Author Mary Longley

Welcome to BookView Interview, a conversation series where BookView talks to authors.

Recently, we interviewed author Mary Longley about her writing and her recently released book, Cult’s Prey, an engrossing novel that offers a glimpse into a dystopian future in which the masses are controlled by cult leaders who regulate their religious, political, and ideological views. (Read the review here.)

Mary Longley is an author and blogger. Prior to becoming a writer, she worked in the legal industry. Her debut novel Butterflies is available through Atmosphere Press, Barnes & Noble, IndieBound, and Booktopia. Check out her website for updates on future releases and her blog on The Blog Corner


At the core of Cult’s Prey‘s plot is an insidious cult. What kind of research did you do to accurately portray the practices and consequences of cult behavior?

My research consisted of reading peer-reviewed journals and articles written by multiple psychologists including those at Psychology Today, Daniel Shaw LCSW who specializes in counseling for former cultic members, and reviewing interviews with former cult members. I watched several documentaries about famous cults—Jonestown: The Life and Death of Peoples Temple, which is referenced in chapter 104 of Cult’s Prey, and Cults and Extreme Belief featured on Hulu.

Although Cult’s Prey is a sci-fi novel, it comments on social issues relevant to our everyday world – issues like sexism and racism. What led you to write a sci-fi novel to tackle these issues?

a. Cult’s Prey is based on a true story.

b. Please check out my blog post Why I Wrote Cult’s Prey, February 15, 2023:

c. As a Black woman, I have often dealt with microaggressions, sexism, and racism.

d. I blog weekly about various social issues

What do you hope readers will take away from this story?

Hopefully, it will shine a spotlight on the extent of systemic oppression and people who are the victims of it will know that they are not alone, nor are they wrong in identifying it for what it is, especially when they are gaslit into believing otherwise.

What life experiences have shaped your writing most?

The persistence of structural racism and sexism. The book is also filled with love, family, and friendship. I have met many interesting personalities over the years.

Have you read anything that made you think differently about fiction?

My reading is wide-ranging—authors such as Toni Morrison, Terry McMillan, Celeste Ng, Nora Roberts, Sandra Brown, Nathan McCall, James Patterson, Claude Brown, Donald Goines, and Nelson DeMille to name a few.

This is the second novel you’ve written. What did you learn from the process of publishing your debut novel, Butterflies, that you carried into the process of writing Cult’s Prey?

I learned the various steps that go into publishing a book and that it’s important to work closely with the team so that they fully understand my vision/purpose for each book.

Which character was most challenging to create? Which character was the most fulfilling to create?

I loved all of my characters because they came from all walks of life, as have the people I’ve met over the decades. I was able to show their complexities, frailties, and humor.

AI plays a big role in Cult’s Prey, especially timely considering the recent upswelling in AI research and public accessibility. Can you tell us why you incorporated it into the story to the degree that you did?

Big Brother/AI technology is in every facet of our lives—some people more than others.

Cult’s Prey is the first installment in a trilogy. Can you give us a sneak peek at what to expect from the series going forward?

Prey’s Deception is the second book in the trilogy, which I am more than halfway through writing. It follows the characters in the aftermath of Jazz’s kidnapping. Predators become prey. Maddy’s special abilities take center stage.


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