SMP: Welcome, Sarah! Please tell us a little bit about yourself, such as: your family, where you live, pets, favorite color, favorite film, favorite book, favorite scent.
Sarah: I am a stay at home mum to one engineer, two tween girls and two golden retrievers. We have traveled all over the place in the last fourteen years, including Moscow, Johannesburg, Matola (Mozambique), Vancouver and Montreal. Our newest home is in Draper, Utah.
I would really struggle to pick a favourite movie or book, for that matter. I tend to be a bit eclectic in my taste in both. I have read my Anne McCaffrey’s so many times that the covers are getting threadbare and never pass up the opportunity to buy a Georgette Heyer – especially the older, hardcover print editions. I would not hesitate to read an Ian Banks and I am still convinced if I read Gone with the Wind one more time, Rhett will turn around and come back.
I have an incurable love of chic flicks and inflict them on my girls whenever they’ll let me.
SMP: Please share your favorite holiday memory.
Sarah: I’m a total Christmas fiend. The best one I can remember is the first year my girls became aware of what it was all about. I can still see the look on their faces when they clocked all the presents under the tree. I have been known to go all out for Halloween as well.
SMP: How long have you been writing? Have you always wanted to write?
Sarah: I am one of those that always said I wanted to write a book. About three years ago, I sat down and got serious about it.
SMP: Do you write in a single genre, or more than one? What do you find most compelling about your genre(s)?
Sarah: I write both historical and contemporary romance. I like the unadulterated romanticism of the historical genre. There is a certain liberation and fantasy element in dealing with times gone by that really motivates me.
In contemporary, because there is not as much research involved, it frees me to really dig deep into issues and characters that I see all around me.
SMP: Tell us a little about your writing journey.
Sarah: Three years ago, I decided to get serious about this writing business. Prior to that, I took about two years to write a 300,000-word fantasy novel. Not surprisingly, it didn’t sell. But romance has always been my first choice. For me, the most defining moment so far was when I surrendered to the process. Instead of trying to do things my way and wrestling with the tried and true, I put my ego aside and listened. I took classes, found critique partners, heard what people had been trying to tell me all along and went with it.
SMP: Tell us about your process. Do you plot/make outlines for your WIPS, or are you a total pantser?
Sarah: I am an anal plotter, all the way. I even have the Save the Cat software to make sure I keep it to plan. I spend the most time in plotting and character development. Once I have that down, the words come quite quickly. I get to first draft very fast, so all my critique partners tell me. Then, I start fiddling and fussing and I will probably end up writing about 10 drafts before I am happy. Even then, it has to be pried out of my fingers, because there is always that one sentence that is a bit iffy or that one word that is just not right . . .
SMP: What has been your most significant inspiration on the road to publication?
Sarah: Going to the RWA conference in Atlanta. It brought me face to face with so many opportunities. It helped me to see agents and editors not as the axe-wielding guardians, blocking my path, but as people who are, ultimately, wanting to do the same thing – craft and sell great stories.
SMP: What advice would you give an aspiring writer?
Sarah: Just keep writing. The only book you will never sell is that one you don’t write. That and don’t take the rejection personally. It is a process and that is just part of the process. For some, we have a lot of that part of the process and others – not so much (I try not to hold it against them, too much).
SMP: Tell us a little about your current or upcoming release: your inspiration, main characters, setting, etc. What was the most difficult process? The easiest?
Sarah: My upcoming release, The Bride Gift, is a medieval romance set in England in 1153. It uses as its basis the ongoing war between King Stephen and Empress Maude. The research was a challenge, but this one really twisted me in knots on plot. I must have written at least double the amount of words to get to ones I eventually, kept.
I had the beginning image of my hero climbing through the window, waking up the heroine and telling her they were married. It took me several tries to make that work. I truly hope that I got it right on my final try.
SMP: Any final thoughts you’d like your readers to know about you or your books?
Sarah: Regardless of the genre or setting of my books, I tend to write about real women facing real dilemmas. The stuff that all of us have to deal with, the who am I, what am I and how do I fit into the world around me sort of challenges.
Want to find Sarah? Start here:
SMP: Sarah, thanks for visiting with us today!
Sarah has included an excerpt from her upcoming novel, The Bride Gift, scheduled for release with Soul Mate Publishing in May, 2014.
Her husband. Her uncle had given her safekeeping, her future, into the hands of this man. The Scourge of Faringdon.
He looked the part, a large man with broad shoulders blocking the rest of the room from view. In the scant light, his face was all rough-hewn angles and hard planes. His eyes were light, colder than the stone at her feet. Helene shivered suddenly.
“So,” she tugged the sides of her robe closer together. “We are at an impasse.”
“Nay, my lady,” he replied with that infuriating calm. “Now we must open the gates.”
“Must we?” she taunted. Why did he not challenge her? She wanted him to demand she do his bidding so she could fling it back in his teeth. He merely stood there for a moment and looked at her.
His continued silence unnerved her. “You do not speak much.”
He moved suddenly and Helena jumped. It was as if a tree had suddenly sprung into life. He motioned for her to precede him. “Gates?” he reminded her in his rough voice. It was the sort of voice accustomed to yelling commands across a battle-strewn field. Urging his men forward to murder and mayhem.
Helena raised her chin. “And why must I open the gates?”
“My men . . . are outside.”
It was so absurd that she started to laugh. When he did not join her, but just looked at her with his chillingly pale eyes, Helena’s laughter died in her throat.
“I am not letting your men into my keep.” She crossed her arms over her chest and stared back at him. This game he played could be equally well-played by two. He moved toward her so suddenly that she stepped back. Her foot tangled in the carpeting and she nearly lost her balance.
“My keep,” he growled. “And my men. Open the gates.”
Her heart pounded so loudly she could barely speak. He gripped her arm firmly, but not hard enough to be painful. She tested its strength and found it secure. Her anger grew stronger. This was not his keep. Lystanwold was hers. This mockery of a marriage changed nothing. She shook her head.
He stepped closer until she could feel the heat from his body. “Be you willing or not, those gates are opening.”
“Do you plan to force me?”
“If I must.”
The silence stretched between them. His eyes were as hard steel and seemed to stare a hole right through her head.
“Lady?” The soft rasp in his tone warned his patience was at an end.
Helena felt an unbidden surge of elation. “How do I know I can trust you?” she flung at him. “You could have deceived my uncle into trusting you and when I open the gates, your men will run havoc through my keep and her people.”
He frowned as if she had just said something so stupid it pained him to consider it.
“You would not be the first to come here with false promises spilling from your lips.” Helena’s fingers curled into her palms. “How do I know you will not kill us all?”
“You do not,” his voice rumbled through his chest. “You have my word only.”
“The word of a hireling sword?” She sneered.
His eyes narrowed. “Gates,” he insisted.
Helena peered at his grave, stern face. He was tall. She barely reached one powerful shoulder. It made her feel tiny by comparison. She bent her neck to maintain eye contact. The cold, implacable certainty of his eyes held hers. And she knew then it made no difference what she believed or what she wanted. He could snap her in two, right this instant, before anyone in the keep was any the wiser. Her courage wilted within.
Yet she resisted. “If you force me, I will scream for help. My men will roust you before you can make a sound.”
“They will try,” he responded, seemingly indifferent to her threat.
“You are not that fearsome.” She tugged at her arm, but he held firm.
He stared at her, battering her resistance with his quiet certainty.
Her husband. Sweet Jesu. Her breath clogged in her lungs. Her mind spun in ever increasing circles. Do. Not. Panic. Think, Helena, think.
As if reading her thoughts, he rumbled softly, “I will not harm you. Do not be afeared.”
“I’m not afeared.” She tossed her head rebelliously even as she lied. He raised his brow, a silent mockery of her boast.
Her shoulders slumped to admit he’d bested her. If she did not open those gates, there would be blood, and it would be on her hands.
“Open the gates,” he said softly.
“I do this under duress,” she hissed, beaten for now. But she would fight again. He nodded as if he understood and drew in a slow, careful breath. For a moment, she thought he might have looked relieved. Helena dismissed the notion as ridiculous.
“Have you no slippers?” he demanded.
“Eh?” Helena noticed he stared at her pale feet sticking out beneath her night rail. “I have slippers,” she replied.
“Put them on. The stone is cold and hard.”
Helena looked down at her feet and up at him again, then reached below the bed for her slippers.