An Interview with Sara Grant

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What inspired you to become a writer?

I always wanted to be a writer. From an early age, I had imaginary friends and their only job was to listen to to my stories; I had Barbie dolls and would create epic dramas for Barbie and Ken, I always loved to tell stories, even though it took me a long time to realise I could be a writer, because I’m horrible at spelling. When I was in grade school (you call it primary school!), I got my assignments back with loads of corrections, but it took me a long time to realise it’s about your imagination and how to tell but for a very long time I thought it was about spelling, punctuation and grammar.

The important thing is to help the reader experience the story.

Where do you get the ideas for your books from?

From anywhere really. For Chasing Danger, when I was eight there was a TV show called Charlie’s Angels, and I loved that TV show. I wrote fan letters, I never missed episodes, I had the game… And I’ve always wanted to say how could I write my version of that, and how could I write my version of that, how can I give another 10, 11, 12 year old a version of that experience. So I’ve been working on different thrillers and mysteries, but this story came from the fact I loved mysteries and thrillers, and trying to write something that’s personal to me. Chase is from Indiana, where I’m from, and she then goes to exotic locations and bad things happen, and it comes from wanting to create an action series with a strong female character, as back in the 70s there weren’t many, so I definitely wanted to have a strong action female character.

I loved Agatha Christie as a child, so all of those things came together. Plus I also love to travel.

There were plenty of iterations, and there is a lot trial and error; at one point it was a boy and a girl. All the books in the series pull in my love of travel and mystery and thriller. It also comes from trying to create a book that I might want to read.

How would you describe what you write about? 

I am a writer of multiple personalities! I have my teen novels; Dark Parties was dystopian, set in the future, with strong female leads and I quite like something twist-y, turn-y and surprises, usually with a rebellious nature, plus Half Lives is apocalyptic; something terrible happens and the main character has to save the day. Probably the unlikely heroes come through in my books, plus I wrote a series for younger readers called ‘Magic Trix’ which is as far away from the apocalypse as I could possibly go! It’s about this little girl training to be a fairy godmother, but it was still about an unlikely hero.

I also enjoy humour; having an action-adventure but having levity. But saving the day, strong unlikely heroes and humour I hope are all things that come through in my books.

I’m really lucky that I have publishers who have allowed me to write a bunch of different things. I quite like that I can mix things up.

Your latest series is aimed at Middle Grade. Is there anything about this age group you like?

In this age group, you’re starting to explore lots of different themes and ideas, and I think it’s great as a reader because you’re discovering your own likes and dislikes. As a writer, I like to write for readers who are kind of discovering the world and I’m introducing them to strong characters or a part of the world they might not know.

But I think you have all that and it’s for a reader who is finding out what they love. Yet, you still have all the fun and the humour and it’s a great market to be a part of.

Why action adventure? 

Because I love them! What I read and consume in my spare time is all action adventure, I love a page turner. I love to write and read twists and surprises, to keep the reader guessing. I love puzzles, and I love when I’m reading a book, I’m trying to solve the puzzle as well as getting to know the book. As a reader and a writer, it feeds into that love of a good conundrum.

I’m having the most fun as a writer as I’ve ever had writing Chasing Danger. It’s nice when you’re on that journey with your character, hopefully not getting eaten by sharks.

You’ve written 10 novels. What inspires you to keep going?

I love it. I think it’s the best job in the world. Not only can I transport myself into other places and times, but hopefully I can take the reader with me. But also to craft a story is what I love, and even if someone said nobody’s going to read another book from you, I’d still write stories for myself. We do it because we love it, and I think it’s a gift because I can sit on a train or in my bed and tell myself a story.

Imagination is a gift, and everyone has it, but some are too critical about that and I realise that great stories come from what some consider to be bad ideas.

It’s having that freedom to say, “what if?” and see where it goes.

What would you say is next for you?

I’m in an anthology called The Edge, which is a group of short stories that I worked on with Dave Cousins (go to edgeauthors.blogspot.co.uk!), which was great fun to write. I’d love to keep doing Chasing Danger, but I quite want to write something younger and funny again. It’s nice to have something chasing the bad guy and then go back to funny again.

What tips do you have for aspiring writers?

Write! Write anything and everything. Write the types of stories you like to read. Try to dip into the classics, but also try to dip into what’s out there. I think a lot of writers are surprised with the types of story that resonates with them, because a lot of the time we try and write one type of story and it doesn’t work, so write something different. You never know when that inspiration is going to strike.

Read, because I will meet writers who don’t read, and you have to be putting that good stuff into your brain. As a writer, if I’m having a problem with character or whatever, I’ll find a book by someone who does something well, and I’ll work out how they did it.

It would have been very easy for me to say it’s not going that well, but you need tenacity. If you really want to be a writer, don’t give up. You might just need to find your story, but it’s a tough market and too many great writers stop at a certain point of rejection rather than keeping moving and believing in yourself. Tenacity is incredibly important in anything you do.

Find Sara online at http://www.sara-grant.com or follow her on Twitter @AuthorSaraGrant. 

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