It’s always great to see old friends and hear all the new things that they have been up to. I had a chance to reunite with my friend Sarah whom I met in Villanova and got to hear all about her fantastic writing projects. We took a stroll through Eastern Market in DC and made a stop at Busboys and Poets, an art-inspired coffee shop that supports and showcases local artists’ works. Here is a little bit more about Sarah and a visual documentation of our adventure in DC.
A little about yourself and your background for our reader?
I graduated from Villanova in 2011, where I studied Humanities. Since college, I’ve moved around a lot and worked in a lot of industries from retail to manufacturing to healthcare.
What are your ambitions for your writing career?
I would love to just be able to support myself with writing. It’s what I love to do, and I’d love to do it full time. And if me being a writer could somehow help me meet JK Rowling, that would be awesome 🙂
Why do you write?
I’ve always wanted a career where I’m able to help people. I think (in the most humble way possible) that I have a knack for writing. Escape with a good story – that is how I can best help people.
Where do your ideas come from?
I get inspired by snippets of things people say, or sometimes an object will catch my eye. I like to be stimulated by new things all the time, so I like to go new places or be surrounded by new people. I also use this handy book called 642 Things to Write About by the San Francisco Writers Grotto when I’m feeling stuck.
Which writers inspire you? Or what is your source of inspiration?
I write primarily literary fiction so Alive Munro, Jhumpa Lahiri, Jeffrey Eugenides. I love the tone of their writing. They all have this realistic sense of melancholy about their writing that I love. I hope I achieve a similar tone in my own works.
What is your favorite book and why?
That is an impossible question. First, because I have so many. Second, because I change my mind based on what I’ve recently read or my mood. But if I HAD to choose, I’d say the Harry Potter Series. I get something new every time I read it. It’s so great.
So, what have you written?
My main project right now is Precisely 25 which is a daily flash fiction blog I write. Each day I post a story of exactly 25 words. I also completed a novella recently, which I plan to self publish by the end of the year!
Here are a couple of flash fiction examples:
“When the policemen came for Daddy, Lisa was hanging laundry to dry. She cried while they took him, but finished her chores like Daddy asked.”
“Whenever he came home from the shop, she’d complain about their shabby house and broke down car. Each morning, he’d return to work – for her.”
What are you working on at the minute?
In addition to the blog, I’m working on a few other flash fiction pieces, which are just super short fiction. I’m also working on my second novella which is character fiction set during a zombie outbreak! I’m very excited about that.
What genre are your books?
I mostly write dark literary fiction. Recently I’ve been having some horror elements creep into my writing, which took me by surprise. I never thought I’d be able to write horror! But those elements fit well with the dark themes of my writing.
What draws you to this genre?
I like writing dark things because I think people are comforted when characters have thoughts or do things that are just as dark, or darker, than the reader. People like to feel connected, like they aren’t alone, even in their depravity.
Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you?
I’m a total pantser! That is the affectionate term for us writers who fly by the seat of our pants! I usually have an idea for a character in a particular situation, and have no idea how it will turn out when I begin writing.
How do you think you’ve evolved creatively
As I mentioned earlier, I’ve begun using some horror elements. I used to (rather snobbily) swear off genre fiction. But as I’ve expanded my reading, I’ve realized it’s best to not limit myself. There are great elements to all genres of writing, and I should write in the style that works best for me.
What is the hardest thing about writing?
Being poor 🙂 More seriously, I’d say having confidence in your projects, even in the face of criticism. It’s a learned skill.
What was the hardest thing about writing your first book?
In my novella, I hit a huge road block about halfway through. I had no idea where the plot would go or what the character would do. I put the project on hold for a few months and was really discouraged. It was hard to motivate myself to just jump back in and keep writing. But I did it!
What is the easiest thing about writing?
Reading. You have to do a lot of it when you write, and I love it. It’s also great to be a part of communities of writers. I belong to an online community called Scribophile which is super fun, and a great resource.
Who are your favourite authors?
Of course! I’m kind of all over the place. As I mentioned, Alice Munro, Jhumpa Lahiri, and Jeffrey Eugenides are all brilliant. I usually don’t read a ton of books by an author for some reason. I might read one or two books, then move on to a new author. I love Stephen King lately. I’m in love with John Green. Laurie Halse Anderson too, for YA. Like I said, I’m a bit all over the place 🙂 Oh, and obviously JK Rowling.
What book/s are you reading at present?
I’ve been reading a lot of indie authors lately. I just started Beggar Magic by H.L. Burke which is intriguing off the bat! I’m only a few pages in. I just read The Breathing Method which is a great novella by Stephen King.
Do you proofread/edit all your own books or do you get someone to do that for you?
I have three main resources. My boyfriend Chris reads basically everything. Especially my Precisely 25 posts. He’s super supportive of my writing. My friend Cailey Underhill has edited my novella so many times now! Along with lots of short stories. She is a writer too. And I post most of my writing on Scribophile for critique, which is the online writing community I mentioned earlier.
Do you let the book stew – leave it for a month and then come back to it to edit?
Nah, I prefer to come back to it as soon as I get critiques! I’m not very patient.
How are you publishing this book?
I plan to go the self publishing route. As I said, patience is not my strongest attribute. With traditional publishing, it could take years to find an agent, years to find a publisher, and years to actually see it on shelves. You also get more creative control with self publishing. Cover design, book content, what genres you want to publish. You keep more of the profits, although you might have less sales with self publishing. You do lose the nice advance that sometimes comes with traditional publishing. And you probably won’t see your books in Barnes and Noble. But for me, there self publishing better fits with my personality.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Keep on writing and get lots of critiques. Also read Bird by Bird by Anne Lammott – great book on writing.
Where do you see publishing going in the future?
I think it will keep trending toward digital publishing! I’m interested to see how publishing and writing will continue to change over the next decade.
How can readers discover more about you and you work?
Check out my website! I’m also very active on Twitter.