Today on the blog we have author Sara Walker for an interview. Thank you for joining us Sara.
Where are you from?
Kawartha Lakes, Ontario. I'm incredibly fortunate to live where other people cottage and retire.
When and why did you begin writing?
I can't remember a time when I wasn't making up stories because I get grouchy and difficult to live with when I don't write. My mother says I had an imaginary friend when I was two years old; I consider this friend to be my first character. Obviously my story convinced my mother. J I remember as a kid I knew I wanted to be an author when I grew up. In my twenties I made a conscious decision to teach myself how to write novels because at the time there wasn't any such program or course that did this. But there has always been writing in my life. Always.
What inspired you to write your first book?
I was at the library and I picked up Diana Gabaldon's DRAGONFLY IN AMBER. I always start by reading the author bio and acknowledgements and she mentioned the Compuserve Writer's Forum. So having found a support group to help me learn to write, I started my first novel. That was 1996. I have learned much since then and a lot of it from the Forum.
How did you come up with the title?
I went through many titles before settling on CATCHING A SORCERER. I was certain the title was going to be BLOOD OF A WITCHLING, but then in revisions witches became spell-turners and I found out "witch" is a bad word in Mel's world. So I needed a new title. I wanted something active that also described what happens in the book and somehow hit upon CATCHING A SORCERER.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Yes. I think it's important to remember that although tragedy happens and we are changed by it, it does not define us. For Mel, her mother was killed by a sorcerer and now she has to struggle through life without a mother, but what she has to figure out is that her circumstances don't give her permission to seek revenge or vigilante justice, either.
What books have most influenced your life most?
So, so many. Books that introduced me to fantasy: ALICE IN WONDERLAND, WUTHERING HEIGHTS. Books that gave me permission to write stories the way I want to write them: CITY OF BONES, LOOKING FOR ALASKA, DEAD WITCH WALKING.
If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
Kelley Armstrong. I immediately felt a connection with her writing when I first started reading her books. Her style was very similar to my own. She's also Canadian and in Ontario. I've been fortunate enough to even learn from her writing instructor, and last summer I took a course Kelley was teaching at the University of Toronto.
What book are you reading now?
LOOKING FOR ALASKA by John Green. Love it. I really enjoyed THE FAULT IN OUR STARS last year, and now I can't wait to read PAPER TOWNS and AN ABUNDANCE OF KATHERINES.
What are your current projects?
I'm currently working on the sequel to CATCHING A SORCERER and a YA fantasy project that owns my soul.
Can you share a little of your current work with us?
The opening line to the sequel to CATCHING A SORCERER: Gran's best copper spell pot was on fire and for once it wasn't my fault.
Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
No, but I have been to Ottawa many times. I've also been to Halifax. And the cobblestone streets of the Sanctuary are based on the streets in The Shambles of York, England, another place I've been to.
What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Editing it to get it into shape. Trying to decide what to keep and what to throw away and what to rewrite is much harder for me than first drafts. It's also a much longer process than the first draft because I work with critique groups and beta readers to get the feedback I need for this part of the writing process.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
Sit down and study ten novels that are a combination of your favourite books, books similar to what you want to write, and bestsellers. Figure out why and how they work on all levels—from the first line to the last line to the big picture to the scene sequences to the climactic events to the themes to the relationships to the character development—all of it. Write out the first chapter of each book by hand. Study each word choice. And aim to read more than fifty books a year.
Describe a typical day spent writing. Do you have any unusual writing habits?
A typical day begins with me getting up before six, firing up the computer and banging out words before my kids get up. Then I feed them and send them off to school, after which I'll either head out to the day job or sit down and write until the kids come home from school. Then it's time to do stuff around the house, eat dinner and spend time with my family.
As for unusual habits, I have to write in silence, but in a busy household that isn't always easy, so I write while wearing noise-cancelling headphones. It's gotten to the point where I can't concentrate unless I'm wearing them.
What was your greatest moment since becoming an author?
It's been a great experience all around, but it makes me very happy to see that people are reading my book and liking it. Writing is a performance art, so to be finally seeing audience reaction and no longer writing in a vacuum is really great.