Thursday, February 27, 2014

A Conversation with Sarah Guillory, author of RECLAIMED.


Hi Sarah! Thanks so much for stopping by the blog. It seems like we should
know each other in person! Anyway, I loved your debut novel, RECLAIMED,
the plot point with the brothers for sure, but mostly your really beautiful
writing. Writing a book is hard to begin with, but you, like me, work
full time as an educator. How'd you make that work?

Goodreads Link

When I decided to write seriously, I knew that meant budgeting my time. (Hoarding it, really.) I write every day when I get home from work, usually from 4:30 - 6:00 PM. If I'm on deadline, I also usually work after dinner as well, for at least another hour. My weekends are for writing, as are holidays (Mardi Gras, Spring Break) and the summer. I wrote RECLAIMED during the school year by writing at least 1,000 words every day after school. I finished in the spring, then let it sit for a few weeks before spending most of my summer revising.

I try not to bring my school work home. My mother and grandmother, also teachers, gave me that advice early on, and even before I was a writer, I followed it. There are times when I do have to grade at home (usually research papers), but I only do so after I've met my writing goals for the day. I'm cranky if I don't get to write, so having that time is an integral part of who I am, and I believe it makes me a better teacher.

Now that RECLAIMED is out in the world and presumably your students have
been reading it, what's it been like to straddle that line between published
author and teacher. Are there things that are different? Things you wish
were different? (I won't ask about the same, because I'm sure you still have
your type A's and your slackers and that doesn't change a whole lot!)

It's not that different, actually. Many of my students have read the book, but they are good at separating me as author and me as teacher. (Maybe because author Guillory is much cooler than teacher Guillory.) Tons of them attended my launch party (seriously, it was mindblowing),had me sign their books, and made me pose with them for pictures. That made me laugh, since they could take a picture with me any day of the week. Those who didn't get to come have had me sign their books at school, but they don't ask during class. They come before school or during my break, and they seem shy, the way they would if asking someone they don't know instead of someone they talk to every single day. A few of them finished the book while at school and chased me down to yell at me a bit. I loved that. I actually get to chat with readers every day, and I feel incredibly lucky for it. (A few have handed me "fan" letters when passing me in the halls. They are the sweetest.) They do get small inside scoops, since many have asked about my next book. I hope the one thing my students do learn from me is that hard work pays 
off and dreams can be reached, even the biggest ones.

And to always do their homework. ;)

Nice! And I love that bit of shyness, it's so sweet.

So, RECLAIMED is published with Spencer Hill Contemporary, a newer branch of a small press that still is relatively new. Have you enjoyed working directly with an editor versus going the agented route? And what have been the advantages of being with a newer imprint?

I love working with Spencer Hill. I'd always envisioned my publishing path the traditional route - agent, then editor. I was participating in Writeoncon and trying to polish my query when my editor read it and asked for the full. When she called to offer a week later, I was ecstatic! I took some time to think about it, but I decided to go ahead and sell it to Spencer Hill because I thought it was a good fit for the book. My editor was so enthusiastic about RECLAIMED, and she completely got the story. She loved the characters as much as I did, and I knew they would be in good hands. It's been a great experience, and the personal attention and close working relationship has been the best part. My editor was always just a phone call away if I needed her. I actually emailed her on a Friday night in the middle of my revisions because I had a little freak-out moment. She called me immediately to talk me through the problem I was having (which was nothing), then ordered me to take the night off, even if it meant I missed my deadline by a couple of days. She always wanted what was best for the book, and that meant the world to me. Everyone at Spencer Hill, editors, interns, publicists, have been absolutely amazing. That was one of the benefits of a new imprint - there were only a few (three I think) releases in 2013, so I always felt I had the support I needed and that they believed in my book.

I know so many authors that I love as people have signed with Spencer Hill so I can't help but think they must be awesome as well! Glad to hear what a positive experience it's been.

So what's next? Are your writing new things? Sticking with contemporary or venturing out? Can you tease us a little?

I am writing lots of new things! I'm currently revising a book I dreamed up back before I sold RECLAIMED. I had an idea for a trilogy back in the spring of 2012, but it was very involved and scared me. I told myself I wasn't going to write it, but the idea just wouldn't let me go. I wrote it over the summer of 2012, then set it aside to work with my editor on RECLAIMED revisions. I revised it a bit in Janurary, 2013, but an awesome writing friend suggested I start in a different place, so the book I originally wrote will become parts of book two and three, and I wrote an entirely brand new book one in March of 2013. I revised this summer, and am now revising again based on feedback. It is both historical and contemporary. It's very different from anything I've ever done, which is both exciting and terrifying. It's set in Louisiana, and there is kissing.

Oh that gives me hope! I have a couple of former projects that won't die for me. Weirdly enough one upper MG I wrote, I'm toying with writing as an adult novel now! Strange.

Anyway, I can't wait to find out more about the new one in the future as I love anything that has a Southern setting! And I do hope it has a bloodhound in it. (Cue, gratuitous photo of author pet here, please :0))

Sarah's handsome Bloodhound!

Before we end our chat, I have one final question, or rather a series of small questions. Tell my readers, what are the next 3 books on your TBR pile? The liquid in your cup? And the song you've got playing on repeat!

 And thanks so much for stopping by!!

That's so funny that you mentioned the bloodhound, because he was one
of the first characters! Right now I'm planning on having him make his
appearance in book two.

My next TBR books are: The Lucy Variations by Sara Zarr, Not a Drop to
Drink by Mindy McGinnnis, and Let Me Play by Karen Blumenthal.

In my cup: Community Coffee

Song on Repeat: "Too Late" by Wes Kirkpatrick

Thanks so much for having me!

Next week, be sure to stop in when I'll be chatting with Joy Hensley, author of RITES OF PASSAGE!


  1. Great interview and I love the book description, definitely adding to my TBR-list!

  2. Love the hair/fire/buring hay aspect, very cool! Also, Sarah's outfit is very cool too. =)

  3. Great interview! I'm so glad to hear Sarah had such a good experience with Spencer Hill--I've heard such great things about them! (And JRo, if the MG you mentioned is the one I remember, I really hope you pick it up again!!)


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