1. What is your name, where were you born and where do you live now?
Hi! I’m Sara Grant. I was born in Washington, Indiana, a small town in the Midwestern United States. I’ve lived in London, England, for eight years with by British husband. Dark Parties – a dystopian novel for teens – is my first book.
2. Did you always want to be a writer? If not what did you want to be?
From a very young age I was a storyteller. When I was a kid, I’d weave epic dramas for my Barbie dolls that would last weeks in real time but span decades of my Barbie’s life. I always loved to write stories and poetry. But I never thought I could be a full-time writer of fiction. I have a degree in journalism and psychology and spent fifteen years after I graduated from college working in public relations. When I moved to London, I went back to school and earned a master’s degree in creative and life writing from Goldsmiths College. That really gave me the confidence and the skills to get my first book deal.
3. Did it take a long time to get your first book published?
Dark Parties is my first published novel, but by no means the first novel I’ve written. I have several of what I like to think of as ‘apprentice’ pieces – from chapter books to other stories for young adults – tucked safely away. I attempted my first story for children nearly twenty years ago. I remember because I wrote the story when my niece Megan was born. (She’s now a sophomore in college, studying creative writing.)
4. What is the name of your latest book, and if you had to summarise it in less than 20 words what would you say?
My debut dystopian novel is titled Dark Parties. Once you’ve written 70,000 words of a novel, it’s difficult to summarize everything you’ve imagined. But here goes...
Dark Parties is a dystopian thriller. It’s a coming-of-age tale about identity, freedom and love.
5. Who is your publisher? or do you self publish?
Dark Parties will be published in January as part of Orion’s inaugural Indigo list. It is an honour to be published alongside such phenomenal writers as Marcus Sedgwick, Harlan Coben, Sally Gardner, Kate Harrison, Annabel Pitcher and Cliff McNish.
6. How long does it usually take you to write a book, from the original idea to finishing writing it?
There is no usual. The creation process of each book is unique. Every book has its own personality and I have to find a way to tell its story. Every story also has its own timing. Some books evolve slowly and painstakingly while others seem to write themselves.
I started playing with the ideas that would become Dark Parties in 2007. It started as a short story, which was selected for the SCBWI British Isles (www.scbwi.org) Undiscovered Voices anthology (www.undiscoveredvoices.com). I spent the next year writing and revising it and I kept right on writing and revising and re-imagining it until my publishers put it into production.
7. What can we expect from you in the future? ie More books of the same genre? Books of a different genre?
My second book will come out in the spring of 2013. It’s another stand-alone dystopian novel. Its working title is Half Lives. It’s a work in progress, but here’s what I know so far:
Half Lives chronicles the journey of two unlikely heroes – Icie and Beckett. Both struggle to keep themselves alive and protect future generations from the terrible fate that awaits any who dare to climb the mountain. Even though they live hundreds of years apart, Icie and Beckett’s lives are mysteriously linked.
Half Lives is a race against time and the battle to save future generations. It’s about the nature of faith and power of miscommunication – and above all the strength of the human spirit to adapt and survive.
8. Do you have a favourite character from your books? and why are they your favourite?
I love all my Dark Parties characters for different reasons. Neva is this hero in waiting. Sanna is an explosion of enthusiasm. Braydon – well, Braydon is smart and handsome and mysterious. I also loved Neva’s parents for how they evolve and change in Neva’s eyes. Even Ethan – someone who is broken by his culture – still has a good heart and does the wrong things for what he feels are the right reasons.
But if I had to pick one favourite, I’d pick Neva’s grandma Ruth. My grandma passed away more than a decade ago, but, like Neva, I still miss my grandma every day. Many details I included about Neva’s grandma were based on my grandma – the way she smelled, how she loved to dress in bold colours, etc. She was a wonderful grandma who had a great imagination and a fantastic sense of humour. It was a joy to capture a small part of her in the pages of DARK PARTIES.
9. Do you have anybody read your books and give you reviews before you officially release them?
I believe in the power of collaboration. I’m very fortunate to have several people who read my work and give me advice during the creation process. I usually share the novel in bits and pieces with my writers group. I have a friend who is also a children’s book editor. She typically is the first one to read the first draft of the book. My husband also reads my work and offers advice several times along the way. When I’m pleased with my initial draft, I show it to my agent. She always gives me considered feedback based on her knowledge of the market and her sharp editorial eye.
10. Are there any hidden messages or morals contained in your books? (Morals as in like Aesops Fables type of "The moral of this story is..")
I liked the symmetry of creating a society that is figuratively ‘in the dark’ and having a protagonist who manifests her cultural blindness into nyctophobia. Throughout the story I use light and dark to symbolize shades of the truth.
Neva’s fear of the dark started after her grandma disappeared. I don’t want to give too much away but I wanted Neva to overcome her fear of the dark while she discovered the truth about Homeland. Neva’s story starts in the dark and ends in the light – both literally and figuratively.
As far as a moral, I’ll borrow a quote from Anne Frank: “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”
11. What are you currently reading? Are you enjoying it? What format is it?(ebook, hardback or paperback)
I’m just starting the hardback of A Monster Calls inspired Siobhan Dowd and written by Patrick Ness. I’ve read so many wonderful reviews so I’m really looking forward to it. I’m also reading Lesley Levene’s I Think Therefore I am: All the Philosophy You Need to Know as research for my next book. It’s a great overview so I can pinpoint further reading. I’m listening to The City and the City by China Mieville on my iPod because I didn’t think I’d have time to read the book soon enough. I already have purchased more books than I can read in 2012. But it won’t stop me from buying more.
12. Are there any New Authors you are interested in for us to watch out for? and Why should we watch out for them?
I highly recommend 15 Days Without a Head by Dave Cousins and Someone Else’s Life by Katie Dale. Both books will be published in the UK early in 2012. Dave and Katie are incredibly talented writers. They are in the EDGE with me. The EDGE is a group of UK-based authors who write cutting edge fiction for teens. You can follow us at: http://edgeauthors.blogspot.com/
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I blog as part of The EDGE, a group of UK-based writers who focus on edgy fiction for teens. http://edgeauthors.blogspot.com/
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