Mara Purl

Science Fiction & Fantasy, Literature & Fiction

Author Profile

Mara  Purl

Mara Purl is the best-selling, multi-award winning author of the ground-breaking Milford-Haven Novels and Stories, which pioneered small-town fiction for women. Mara takes her readers on a journey from head to heart with her unusual serial-novel saga, an intriguing blend of fictional characters and carefully researched issues. Her followers love visiting the gorgeous California Central Coast through her compelling writing, or through her frequent in-person events. Mara’s novels, novellas and novelettes have earned 35 literary awards and have soared on best-seller lists at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Mara’s beloved fictitious town has been delighting audiences since 1992, when it first appeared as Milford-Haven, U.S.A.©—the first American radio drama ever licensed and broadcast by the BBC. The show, with its all-star cast, reached an audience of 4.5 million listeners throughout the U.K. If her face looks familiar, it might be because as an actress, Mara was “Darla Cook” on "Days Of Our Lives", and has won awards for her theatrical appearances. Mara loves connecting with her readers online through her social media pages and newsletter. Subscribe and follow her at She's married to Dr. Larry Norfleet and lives in Los Angeles, and in Colorado Springs.


When Otters Play

Literature & Fiction

Are sea otters as cute and clever as they seem? Miranda Jones is as captivated by their sweet faces as she is spellbound by their antics. She can hardly wait to interact with them on her kayaking expedition off California’s Central Coast. Yet nothing could be more surprising than the controversy they’ve caused in the sun-drenched Santa Barbara waters, nor more disturbing than the vehement hatred they seem to inspire among local fishermen. Are the otters really so adorable? Or is there more at stake . . . When Otters Play?

Book Bubbles from When Otters Play

Cross-Species Baby Love

Three years of research went into the writing of "When Otters Play," all of it fascinating. One great privilege was working with the director of the Sea Otter Rescue Program at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. She took me "backstage" to observe not only the professional care given all the rescued otters, but also the tender regard for this fellow creature. Theirs is a practice of both head and heart, and I wanted to make sure to bring both into my story. In this excerpt, we see my fictional Director handling a rescued baby. They are so cute you just want to take one home! But preparing them for a healthy and safe next chapter of life is the real goal. I hope my readers enjoy this precious little one as much as I do!

What the Heart Knows

Literature & Fiction

Can a young woman with a promising future in the big city find happiness in a small, coastal town? Book One of the Milford-Haven Novels, based on the author's own hit BBC Radio Drama, introduces the beautiful coastal town Milford-Haven and its several residents, including protagonist Miranda Jones. An ambitious young artist whose paintings are beginning to succeed in the competitive art world, she is also on an internal personal journey to establish her own sense of spirituality and purpose. Author Mara Purl is a former soap opera celebrity from Days of Our Lives, as well as a former journalist from the London Financial Times and the Associated Press. Through her novel series she has established a loyal following in the Women's Fiction genre. Short stories appear as prequels to each novel, extending the five-book series.

Book Bubbles from What the Heart Knows

Where the Heart Lives

Literature & Fiction

Is the heart a better navigator than the head? Artist Miranda Jones has followed her heart to a new home in the beautiful California coastal town of Milford-Haven, and now begins to map her emotional and professional life from a new perspective. An extensive Los Angeles research trip takes her from the Palos Verdes peninsula to the Mojave Desert, and from A Doobie Brothers Concert at the Hollywood Bowl to the Angeles Crest National Forest. Meanwhile her Milford-Haven friends have adventures of their own: Samantha Hugo plunges into a search for the son she gave up years earlier; restaurant owner Sally O'Mally suddenly encounters the highschool man she lost. Each woman wrestles with her own core issues while balancing demanding careers with the attentions of interesting men. Though the book stands alone, it is also Book 2 in the critically acclaimed, award-winning, Amazon best-selling series, a multi-generational Milford-Haven saga. Based on Purl's BBC Radio drama Milford-Haven U.S.A.

Book Bubbles from Where the Heart Lives

Mystery - the cold case begins

Each Prologue of the Milford-Haven Novels picks up the thread of the ongoing mystery. Deputy Delmar Johnson is part of SPU -- Special Problems Unit -- and has been assigned to the strange case of television journalist Christine Christian who, though missing, may just be on overseas assignment. With no body and no evidence of foul play, the case is indeed a "special problem." But Del has an intuitive connection to the case that makes it hard for him to categorize, contain, or dismiss. This storyline began in my radio drama "Milford-Haven USA", but took a much darker turn because the wonderful actress portraying Chris Christian passed on suddenly. I continued the storyline in the novels partly to honor her memory, but also because it's a way to process an event that actually happened in the ongoing life of Milford-Haven.

Mara  Purl

Where an Angel's on a Rope

Literature & Fiction

Can an intuition save a man’s life? Astronomer and competent mountain climber Cornelius Smith depends upon his intelligence for both his career and his hobby. Never before has he faced a situation where logical steps couldn’t be followed to an inevitable conclusion. Yet even he couldn’t possibly have imagined or predicted his experience in the Angeles Crest National Forest high above Los Angeles. Out for a pleasant hike on a warm Southern California day with a bare minimum of equipment he isn’t prepared physically or mentally for his sudden challenge, nor for the intuition that seems to insist he make an illogical choice — or die clinging to a rock face. Can a man with apparently no way back up, and no way down – find an unexpected means of his own rescue seems to have been placed there for him ahead of time? How can he explain the persistent image of a tiny angel that seems to hover over him on the mountain? And what will he do with the illogical intuition that won’t leave him alone? Though the e-book stands alone, it also extends the Milford-Haven Novels, the critically acclaimed, best-selling series, a multi-generational saga. Based on Purl’s BBC Radio drama Milford-Haven U.S.A.

Book Bubbles from Where an Angel's on a Rope

Christmas in nature

Each of us celebrates the holidays in our own way, and this time of year is full of cultural traditions. Astronomer Cornelius Smith enjoys the Christian traditions with his parents, but feeds his soul by escaping into nature. Earlier in his career, he spent time in the Angeles Crest National Forest -- also a favorite spot of mine -- at the Mt. Wilson Observatory, so he drives up the long, winding highway that rises high above Los Angeles and plans to do a day-hike before returning to Milford-Haven to spend the holidays with his parents.

When Hummers Dream

Science Fiction & Fantasy

Can a hummingbird dream? Artist Miranda Jones thinks so. Sensing the tiny injured bird that wings its way into her world still lives, she paints the creature’s dream-garden and seems to reach into his very heart. She reached into her own heart to create a new life for herself in Milford-Haven.

Book Bubbles from When Hummers Dream

Nemesis "Mrs. Lime" Debuts

The setting and the tone of this story is idyllic and even a bit magical. Based in part on a real experience I had, I remember so clearly the beauty of that day as my friends and I enjoyed lunch in a spectacular garden overlooking the ocean. And then something bad happened . . . and it transformed into something transcendent, as you’ll see in this novelette. What didn’t happen in real life was the arrival of "Lime Woman" -- a bossy, intrusive pill of a woman who barged into my story, startling me as much as she startled my protagonist Miranda.. She seemed to arrive of her own accord and I had no choice but to let her walk all over my beautiful, peaceful story! But my author-self knew enough to trust that she actually belonged, even if I’d have loved to kick her out. Comic relief . . . dramatic tension . . . extreme contrast . . . she serves all those purposes. She had me laughing, then my editor laughed out loud, and soon my readers decided she was a “contrarian favorite”. See what you think of “Mrs. Lime.”

Dating the Wrong Person

We've all had experiences where hope tried hard to triumph over reality, right? In this case, a nice guy named Will was really hoping to share his love of Milford-Haven with a vivacious, attractive, smart woman. Trouble is, he begins to discover Randi is more interested in "being seen" in swanky locations than in taking in the natural beauty of the Central Coast, or in getting to know her soon-to-be-ex-boyfriend. Have I ever experienced dating the wrong guy? Ohhhh, yeah, I could share some stories. But I won't. Why? Because truth be told, I'm grateful to anyone I ever dated. Each experience gave me a chance to learn something, and made me a better writer!

The Hummer's Perspective

The narration in this story, while remaining in third-person, delves into the POV or Point Of View of the hummingbird, as though he were a character in the story -- which he is. Because I have a non-talking creature's stream of consciousness, the story is categorized as science-fiction/ fantasy. But I believe a hummingbird does possess intelligence and perspective. Can the intelligence of animals on our planet be categorized according to size? If so, a whale would be smartest (you might enjoy by story "When Whales Watch") and a tiny creature like a hummer might be least intelligent. Yet I believe "intelligence" resides in Mind, just as many of our programs now reside in a Cloud. If so, a hummer can download just as effectively as any other, and perhaps with a dash more of whimsy?

Finding Home

I believe that at the heart of every work of women's fiction is a journey toward "home"---whatever that looks like, or means, to each of us. My protagonist Miranda Jones has an experience that mirrors my own: glimpsing a place during her travels that she intuitively knows is where she belongs. When she moves to my fictional town Milford-Haven, everything starts to "click" for her, and fall into place. Since this prequel novella introduces the whole saga, this theme of finding her home is a key-element.

Foreshadowing Dream

Though most of my stories emerge while I'm awake, occasionally I get a "visitation" from a night-dream, or a waking-dream. It's as though I get information ahead of time that prepares me for what's about to happen. Since I find this to be a fascinating phenomenon---one that many other people have also experienced---I wanted to include it in this story.

When Whales Watch

Literature & Fiction

Can whales watch the humans who watch them? Miranda Jones is convinced they can and do. She’s looking forward to her day of whale-watching off California’s Central Coast. In preparation for a painting commission, she’ll be photographing the migrating gray whales. Yet even while the boat plies the coastal waters, she senses a presence below the waves, one that speaks to her heart.

Book Bubbles from When Whales Watch

Nemesis Mrs. Lime Times Two

The drama and tension in this story is so extreme that it needed some comic relief. And who better to fill that bill than "Mrs. Lime" who, once again, has appeared to harass protagonist wildlife-painter Miranda Jones? "Lime Woman" -- self-centered, self-involved, bossy, and ill at ease on these adventures her husbands insists they must undertake, is only human. And her favorite method of communication seems to be shrieking. But in this tale . . . she has good reason. I was surprised when she reappeared in this story, but now I'm sort of expecting her in the next novella.

Whale pregnancy

Every expectant mother has moments of intimate joy at the prospect of the new life she carries. It was a unique challenge -- and a distinct honor -- to understand and share with readers the heightened insight whales can share through their echo-location. Humans can come close to sharing this too, now that we have ultrasound technology. But this moment of the father scanning his unborn progeny, then transmitting that image to his mate, the mother, was a moment of magic, intimacy, and joy that gives readers an insight into this extraordinary species they couldn't otherwise have. The research I did was extensive, but began with my own experience on a Greenpeace voyage to save whales. I feel the whales spoke to me as I wrote this story.

Whale Watching

Whale watching can be one of the most thrilling adventures anyone can experience. In my story, the whale watchers expect to see gray whales during their annual migration along the California coast. To their great surprise, they see instead a pod of sperm whales, who normally stay in much deeper waters. These two species are quiet different. The grays are bottom feeders whose baleen sifts and allows them to gather krill. The sperm are toothed whales and skilled hunters. The males are also highly protective of their mates, and this aggressive behavior can be triggered if they perceive a threat. That's part of what makes this story so exciting!

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