Welcome to SNEI, Sara. So glad you’re here.
When did you first realize you wanted to write?
I honestly can’t pinpoint a time. I think I have always wanted to write. Growing up, I was always the geeky kid with the glasses off reading in the corner, or scribbling stories in a notebook. From the time I could hold a pen, I wrote diary entries, a newspaper column, letters to the editor, a few (not very good) poems, and short stories and articles for school newsletters. I even did a stint in high school answering letters in an advice column à la Ann Landers. Except, of course, nothing like Ann Landers (unfortunately). In university I majored in English just so I could read and write my way to a degree. After I graduated, I registered for college courses in creative writing and took every other possible opportunity to learn the craft through workshops, seminars and classes. To that point, most of my writing was for fun and my own enjoyment. I do remember the exact moment I decided I was going to start taking it seriously. I’d always wanted to write a book, but found the idea of sitting down and actually doing it far too daunting. Then one Easter Sunday morning in church, about eight years ago now, the idea for my first romantic suspense novel, The Watcher, came to me. By the time I got home, I knew the whole story, the characters, beginning, middle, end, everything. Although the first draft was extremely rough and underwent countless overhauls and revisions before its final, published form, the original storyline and characters never changed. Since that fateful Easter Sunday morning, I have never looked back. I’ve written three more novels and have two in progress and have finally figured out what I want to do when I grow up.
Where did the inspiration come from for The Watcher?
There’s no doubt in my mind that God is the source of all creativity, and the one who gives the stories, so I’m more than happy to accept the story that came to me that morning in church as a gift from Him. The idea for the invisible narrator was, I believe, influenced in part by my reading of The Book Thief by Markus Zusak and the realization that struck me as I did that a narrator doesn’t actually have to be a human being. In toying with that concept, the idea of having the unseen beings in the novel gradually emerged and I just ran with it.
Writers are usually readers. What books are you currently reading?
I just finished reading Me Before You by Jojo Moyes (again). Very sad, but a beautiful, haunting and thought-provoking love story (if you can get past the bit of language – the British seem to be so much freer about those sorts of things than we are). I also read a lot of Christian suspense since that is my genre. Some favourite authors are Kristen Heitzmann, Angela Hunt, Nancy Rue, Francine Rivers and Irene Hannon.
Do you prefer to read in the genre you write in or in other genres?
Romantic suspense is definitely my favourite genre to read, so although I didn’t initially set out to write a romantic suspense novel, that’s what came out, and what still comes out every time I begin a new book. I like to read other genres as well, although I mainly stick to contemporary novels. I always return to suspense though, as I like what I’m reading to keep me on the edge of my seat and turning pages as quickly as possible to see what is going to happen.
What is your all-time favourite novel?
Ah, so hard to narrow it down to one. Can I do three? If so, my top three, in no particular order, would be A Wrinkle in Time, The Hobbit, and The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley, one of my favourite authors.
Again, very hard to just say one. I love the classics like The Screwtape Letters, The Practice of the Presence of God and Celebration of Discipline. I like biographies as well; The Glass Castle is my favourite.
What is the number one piece of advice you would give those just beginning their writing journey?
Knowing (now) how very little I knew when I was first starting out, and how much I still have to learn, my biggest piece of advice for beginning writers is to relax and enjoy the journey. And it is a journey, very often a long, meandering one fraught with detours and obstacles, challenges and joys. Always be open to learning new things and to taking the time to hone your craft. As a society, we don’t like to wait for anything, which is reflected in the huge popularity of self-publishing. There are good reasons for self or indie publishing, but not wanting to put in the time and effort to produce a work of excellence is not one of them. Good writing takes time, excellent writing takes a lot of time, so I strongly encourage new writers to settle in for the long haul and not attempt to take shortcuts that will cheat their readers (and them) out of a piece of work that, looking back on, they can truly be proud of.
Check out my review of The Watcher here.
Please visit again tomorrow for Part 2 of my interview with Sara . . . and for a quick ROW update.