Thursday, November 14, 2013

A Conversation with Sara Larson, author of DEFY

Today’s author conversation is with none other than Sara B. Larson, author of the soon-to-be-released (this winter, mark your calendars!), DEFY. Sara hangs out with me over at the YA Valentines blog and I was a lucky girl because I’ve read the ARC of her girl power fantasy. So I decided we were long overdue for a chat!
Click here for a link to Sara's pre-order Thank you giveaway!

Hi, Sara! Thanks a million for stopping by! I loved your debut novel, DEFY, and am so excited for it to be out in the world. But I have to know, did living in the desert of Utah influence your decision to set your book in a jungle? Do you secretly need to live in lush landscapes?

Hi JRo!
Thanks for having me! That's a great question, and one I haven't thought about before! Utah is technically a desert, but it's not quite the same as, say, Las Vegas. We have plenty of trees, the mountains are incredible here and we even get lots of rain...sometimes. And don't get me started on the snow.
However, I definitely do love lush, green landscapes--they are my favorite places to visit on vacation. But the jungle, in particular, has always fascinated me. The animals, the flowers, and trees, and just everything. I've always wanted to go there, so I guess setting DEFY in a jungle was my way of experiencing least a little.

Oooh, cool. I so get that. I gave my MC a talent I don't have. Any other wishful thinkings in DEFY? (Ermmm like having to choose between two smoking guys, maybe? - kidding, Sara's husband!) But really, don't you wish you could wield a sword like Alexa? I know you're an athlete, did that play into any of Alex/Alexa's physical abilities?

Ooh, what talent did you give your MC? That's so fun! Well, I honestly don't think I'd do well trying to choose between two guys (and yes, I totally agree that they're both smokin' hot!) Which my hubby is okay with because he knows I think he's the hottest of them all. But yes, I honestly would love to learn how to sword fight. Again, it's something I've always been fascinated with--especially the thought of a girl being able to beat the men. How amazing is that? I've seen women do truly amazing things-oftentimes beating their male counterparts--so I know it IS possible for a woman to become at least as good, if not better, than men at most anything. Brute strength? Probably not. But you can make up for lack of mass with agility and speed and knowledge. I do think my love of exercise played into Alex/Alexa's abilities a bit, because I can completely relate to needing that physical exertion, that release, to help me deal with the stresses or worries in my life. You will see that in her-when she's frustrated or upset, she often turns to training and exercise to help work through her emotions and clear her mind. In my life, those endorphins really have made a world of difference! (Again, I never really consciously thought about it though until you asked--these are great questions!)

Amber, my MC, has a beautiful singing voice. My range is about from the back door to the door mat. But enough about me! Back to you! 

Oh, I love to sing! I actually have a (not so) secret dream to sing a duet with Josh Groban someday...That makes me even more excited to read your book! 

Since you talked about needing to release endorphins, what part of the writing, getting published thing has sent you running for the gym the most often?

In the past, querying or being on submission were definitely the hardest times, and when I needed to work out to deal with the stress the most. But I honestly need to get that endorphin release at least 3-4x a week just to be a good Mommy and/or person, even when I'm not on submission. If I go even a couple of days, I can start to feel a difference. Which is funny because I've never been good at working out before--I didn't start to be consistent with it until after my second son was born. But that's a whole other story.  

Actually, that's a great story. How do you balance young children with writing? I know you recently drafted the sequel to DEFY (Yay for DEFY sequel!!!!!). How'd that happen? And was it different from drafting DEFY?

Oh man, it's HARD. I feel like I'm never doing enough in any aspect of my life. Most of the time my house isn't as clean as it should be, or I'm not spending enough time playing with my kids, or I'm not spending enough time on my writing, or etc. It's a major juggling act, and one I'm still trying to perfect. The thing is that if I take out any one of the variables, I get down. Writing is such a part of who I am, that and exercising keep me sane and happy (usually). And I adore my children and don't want them to grow up and have regrets I didn't spend as much time with them as I should have. So I'm constantly readjusting and trying to find that balance.

In regards to my sequel, I actually had to write it very quickly, and it was during the summer when all of my kids were out of school. My editor was going to be gone because of maternity leave and wanted to see it before she left, if possible. She's incredibly sweet, so I know that if I just could not have made it she would have understood, but I like to try and meet the deadlines that are set for me. In this case I had written about six or seven thousand words when I found out I had 6 weeks until she needed it before her maternity leave. Cue panic. I'm a fast writer generally, but I had no idea what I was going to do with my kids home all day and night, and my husband working and traveling. I finally decided to hire one of my neighbor girls to come over for 3-5 hours a day, 4-5 days a week, & I went to the library and forced myself to write, whether I felt like it or not. I managed to finish in time, but I was terrified the whole time that it sucked. The funny thing is that when I had a couple people read it and then I went back through it to revise it before sending it on, I realized that it actually was much better than I had thought. In fact, it was actually really good! That was a real lesson to me that this is my job, and sometimes you just have to DO it. And even if you have to literally force yourself to write, you might be surprised by how good it will turn out. Once you have contracts and deadlines, you don't always have the luxury to wait for your muse to show up.

The funny thing is that before I got an editor or even an agent, I used to set really hard deadlines for myself and force myself to write fast and make sure that I hit my goals, as if I were doing it for an agent or an editor. I was raised by an entrepreneur and I was taught if you want to become something, or be successful, you act like you already have made it, before you actually do. Does that make sense? I've heard of authors panicking after they got their contracts because they had really fast deadlines and they weren't used to needing to write so fast. So I trained myself to be prepared for that, and it ended up being a huge blessing to me. Every time I've been given a hard or fast deadline, I've known that I could do it with confidence, because I've already been doing it for years.
Wow, what a long answer--sorry! 

Long answer, but a great one! This is so valuable to other writers, and I love that entrepreneurial spirit. As we both know, simply doing is a big part of success.

And now that we've had this awesome chat - thank you SO MUCH for stopping by, it's time for the Exquisite Corpse game! Please add a sentence to our paragraph. Feel free to add dialogue or break paragraphs as needed.

Thank you so much for having me JRo! This has been a lot of fun! Yes! And those of you stopping by, remember to go to Sara's blog for some giveaway madness! Here.

Yesterday, at the asylum, Johnny got lost in a hole. One moment he was occupying stall #6 of the third floor boy's restroom, the next he was gone, nothing but a flush and a startled scream in his wake.  Briefly, he wondered how he'd talk himself out of this mess when they found him...if they found him. But a howling sound suddenly echoed through the surrounding darkness and he knew; there wasn’t time to worry. He'd landed on his hands and knees on a stone floor covered with a foul-smelling, slimy liquid that made him glad he'd skipped lunch. When the howling sounded again--this time much closer--Johnny scrambled to his feet. 

Be sure and stop back in next week, when I'll be chatting with Kristen Lippert-Martin about humor, villains, and character arcs!


  1. Great interview! And I love the advice of acting like you've already made it and setting deadlines for yourself. I am such a slow writer, that this would be good for me!

  2. A fun interview! Sword fighting does sound like fun. . .well, not the dangerous kind. And I love the idea of setting deadlines too. Oh, and the cover is lovely!

  3. Such a good interview! After living in Utah, and now Montana, I seriously could use a little lush greenery :) And I totally understand the release of a good workout--it definitely helps to keep me sane.

  4. Very enjoyable interview. And I completely agree with acting like you've made it before you actually do.


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