Sara Grant has written Dark Parties.
1. What is your name and where do you call home?
Hi! I’m Sara Grant. I moved to London from Indianapolis, Indiana, eight years ago.
2. What is the name of your most recent book and if you had to sum it up in 20 or less 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.
3. Do you have plans for a new book? Is this book part of a series?
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.
4. What or who inspired you to start writing? And how long have you been writing?
I’ve created stories since I was a little girl, imagining epic dramas for my Barbie dolls. I wrote my first short story when I was eight years old. It was titled “A Dream I Wish Was True” and it was a complete rip off of a skit from The Brady Bunch Variety Hour. My first original story was titled “Adventure in the Bread Drawer” and it was about a girl who shrinks and meets a family called the Germs in a stale Twinkie (an American snack cake with cream filling). While in school, I was convinced I couldn’t be a writer because my spelling was appalling. The invention of spell check saved me.
5. How did you come up with the cover? Who designed the cover of your book?
The very talented design teams at my publishers created the covers for Dark Parties.
6. Would you have different book covers for different countries?
You can see the very different and equally wonderful covers for Dark Parties on the homepage of my web site: www.sara-grant.com. I love all my covers for different reasons. I trust my publishers to develop a cover that appeals to readers in their countries. It’s really interesting to see how different publishers focus on different aspects of the story. The German cover is gorgeous and focuses on my strong protagonist. The US cover is dark and sinister. My UK cover is more symbolic and atmospheric and really communicates a sense of hope.
7. How did you come up with the title for your book?
The original title for the short story that would become Dark Parties was “Beige.” Not a very compelling title so you can see why I needed to change it. Since I expanded Dark Parties into a novel, it has always been titled Dark Parties. The book starts with Neva and her best friend Sanna hosting a party in the pitch black. The events that happen when the lights go out serve as catalysts for the rest of the action-packed book. The title refers to this party and the subsequent encounters Neva has in the dark, but it also refers to the many dark forces that are at work against my main characters.
8. Do you prefer e-books, paperbacks, hardcovers or audiobooks?
I prefer different forms of books for different reasons. I must own a hardback of all my favourite books – if they are available. I love the weight, substance, smell and feel – everything – about a hardback book. But often it’s not practical to carry around a hardback. When I’m travelling, I love to have multiple reading options on my Kindle. It’s great to go on holiday and have a dozen books at the touch of a button. I also enjoy listening to audiobooks. While I’m rushing about, there’s something soothing and satisfying about having a book read to you. I think it must tap into the wonderful memories I have of being read to as a child.
9. Have you ever read a book more than once? And if so what was it?
When I was younger I re-read The Secret Garden and The Boxcar Children several times. Recently I’ve read and then re-read and analyzed A Gathering Light by Jennifer Donnelly. I love that book and wanted to consider it page by page to figure out what made it tick. I read To Kill a Mocking Bird by Harper Lee for the first time last year and I already want to read it again.
10. Have you ever read a book just based on its cover?
I may be enticed by the cover but I generally make my decision to read a book based on reading the blurb and the first page. I’ve nearly done the opposite though. For a long time, I didn’t buy what is now one of my all-time favourite books because of its cover. Something about the original paperback cover for Walk Two Moons didn’t appeal to me. When I finally picked it up, read the blurb and the opening, I was blown away. I’m certainly glad I didn’t judge that book by its cover.
11. What book are you reading at the moment? And in what format?
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 for this book 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. Do you have any advice for other writers? And what’s the best advice that you have been given when it comes to writing?
Read. Read. Read. Read broadly for the age group for which you are trying to write. Read the classics but also keep up with what’s on bookstore shelves right now. One of my tutors at Goldsmiths College said that all the teachers I’d ever need can be found in the pages of great books. Learn from the current masters of fiction. I like to dissect books that I admire and try to figure out why they work and why I love them so much.
Revise and polish your manuscript until it sparkles and until you can’t think of any way to improve it. Then give it to a fellow writer whose opinion you respect – better yet find a writers group – and then revise some more. Write. Revise. And repeat as necessary.
Be obsessed by your story. If you get published, you will be working on this story for years and will be connected to it for the rest of your life. Love your story and characters. Write a story that will continue to intrigue you.
But most importantly...believe in your work and never stop learning and improving and writing and rewriting.
13. Where can your readers follow you?
Blog: I blog as part of The EDGE, a group of UK-based writers who focus on edgy fiction for teens. http://edgeauthors.blogspot.com/
Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Dark-Parties-US-and-UK-and-NEVA-Germany/185986454776108
Goodreads author page: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1320312.Sara_Grant
My website is: www.sara-grant.com
Thankyou so much for taking the time to do this interview and allowing us a glimpse into your writing world!