Tuesday 27 November 2018

Interview: Sarah Fisher

the-13th-key, sarah-fisher, book

It's no secret that I've always had a soft spot for Young Adult fiction, so I'm super excited to be welcoming YA author Sarah Fisher to The Writing Greyhound! Sarah sat down with me for a chat about her writing and gave me a special insight into her novel The 13th Key. Read on to find out more!

Firstly, please could you introduce yourself?
I’m Sarah Fisher and I enjoy life in a country cottage in the hills in Queensland, Australia. By day I’m a teacher and I write when I can.
How did you first become interested in writing?
I’ve always loved words and writing has long been my way of organising my thoughts and ideas. But creatively, my younger self liked to indulge in quasi-journal writing. I never kept a diary but for a number of years, I wrote an annual newsletter. The kind that people included with their Christmas cards – back in the day when people sent Christmas cards through the post. I was determined though, not to do the ‘boring recount’ thing so I spent days crafting something ‘special’. The end result was always based in fact but embellished to a point where it was more entertaining than informative.
Tell me about The 13th Key.
The 13th Key follows the adventures of deaf sixteen-year-old fashion designer Noah Chord. When she is approached by intergalactic visitors – an immaculately dressed young man and a talking cat – who claim she is central to a prophecy to save their world, things get crazy for Noah. She agrees to travel with them to a world she’s never heard of, to search for a key that no one is sure really exists to battle the forces of dark magic sweeping the land. Noah’s motives aren’t exactly altruistic though – she’s more interested in sourcing unique fabrics for her next collection than fighting evil. Nevertheless, when the fight comes to her, Noah’s feisty nature comes to the fore and those that underestimate her do so at their peril.
Why were you drawn to the fantasy genre?
Fantasy is not just an escape from reality, but a way of appreciating how humans rise to the occasion (or don’t) in different situations. I like the idea of ‘speculative fiction’ – altering an aspect of our society (like adding the ability to do magic) and following the stories of characters in those environments. I find that fascinating.
What’s your writing process?
I start with a plan. Characters come first for me. I write notes about them and find pictures of people I think look like them so I can visualise them clearly when I write. Then I think about the world they will live in. I spend a lot of time day-dreaming about situations and events that will challenge my characters and I write copious notes. When it’s time to stop procrastinating, I construct a storyboard and thrash out a list of scenes. Then I attack one scene at a time. This is where my best ideas come out, and when the plan goes out the window.
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Tell me about your journey to getting published.
I had written a draft of a series of three books. It took me seven years, writing in my spare time and doing online writing courses along the way. After I’d re-written The 13th Key twice, I knew I’d written the best story I could but that it still wasn’t ‘right’. It didn’t read like a real book that you’d get in a bookstore. So I decided it was time to engage an editor. After working with her, I re-wrote the story again and sent it to a number of publishers. I was lucky then to be accepted by Austin Macauley Publishers.
What’s the hardest thing about writing?
Finding the time to write is a challenge. I need blocks of a few hours to really ‘get in the zone’. Sometimes if I wake up at 2am and have trouble getting back to sleep, I’ll take the chance to plonk away on my keyboard for a couple of hours while it’s nice and quiet.
What do you love most about writing?
The best thing about writing is the thrill of breathing life into characters. I get ridiculously invested in my characters and I love celebrating their achievements. I am proud of them when they conquer challenges, and I suffer with them when they are beset by seemingly insurmountable hardship.
Which authors inspire you?
The first fantasy series I read was The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant by Stephen Donaldson. That is where my fantasy journey began, so I’m very sentimental about Donaldson. Raymond Feist and Janny Wurts are also big favourites. I adored the Riftwar series, the Empire series and the Wars of Light and Shadow series. Jasper Fforde is amazing – loved the Thursday Next novels. I also think Garth Nix, Sean Williams, Amie Kaufman are fabulous. The most recent addition to my inspiration list is Taran Matharu with his Summoner series.
Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?
Write. Lots. Do writing courses. And if you’re serious about publishing – engage a good editor. Getting a structural edit was the best thing I ever did.
What are you currently working on?
Currently, I’m in the process of publishing the third book in the Dragonscale series - Redemption. Once that story is out in the world, it will mark the end of ten years working with Noah Chord and her crazy friends. Then I’ll be trying something new. I have a plan for a ‘magical realism’ story, working title Spirited Away.
What are you reading at the moment?
I have just started Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie C Dao. I was drawn by this review: “A stunning reimagining of the Evil Queen. Filled with treacherous courtesans, dark magic, terrible choices, and bloody hearts.”
What’s your all-time favourite book?
Okay, everyone knows that fantasy fans don’t read books, they read series' of books. So, I’m going to share my all-time favourite series. Jasper Fforde’s Thursday Next series is simply brilliant!
Have any particular books had a big impact on you?
I was captivated by the protagonist in The Empire series by Raymond Feist and Janny Wurts. Mara is a young woman thrust into a deadly environment. She proves to be a tough, uncompromising character who plots boldly and ruthlessly to gain political advantage for her house in the treacherous Game of the Council. I was at times horrified by her machinations but also inspired by her empathy and loyalty. An intriguing and complex character.
What are your interests outside of writing and reading?
I enjoy spending time in my garden and my guilty pleasure is watching Marvel movies!
The 13th Key is available to buy now. To keep up to date with Sarah and her writing, you can check out her website.

Will you be reading the book? Let me know in the comments below!

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