Me: HI Sarah! Thank you for coming on Pages!
Sarah: This is Sarah
Personal (asked by moi, obviously)
1. How do you like doing interviews? Are they boring, or do you enjoy them, or…?
It really depends on the questions. Sometimes in interviews you get asked questions that you think: "Is my answer to this really going to give the reader any insight?"
2. For those who don’t know: what is your favourite chocolate?
I love very high octane dark chocolate. Lindt Excellence 85% and I'm very in love with the "Touch of Sea Salt" variety.
My boyfriend also discovered this amazing deliciousness from Chocopologie, which is near us in Norwalk, CT:
Caramel, dark chocolate and sea salt...Nom, nom, nom! He hides the bar and then distributes it a square at a time as a treat at the end of the day when I've been a good writer girl.
Now *that's* what I call incentive!
(Kirthi: Ohmygod, I'm so jealous)
3. Describe yourself in three words.
Funny, passionate, thinker
4. Harry Potter: yes or no?
Yes, Yes, a million times yes! J.K. Rowling is an idol of mine, both as a writer and a person. I would love to just sit and have a mug of tea with her at the kitchen table and talk about writing and life someday.
5. Things that make you laugh?
Wait Wait Don't Tell Me on NPR, my dog Benny throwing himself his toys (hilarious), Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, my kids, Monty Python, David Lubar (he's so punny), BadLipReading on youTube, Damnyouautocorrect.com, oh I could go on and on and on. I have a strong appreciation for the odd and the ridiculous.
6. How do you imagine your dream interview on Oprah (even though the show has stopped)? ^_^
Oprah tells me my books made her laugh - and cry. And then we hug and laugh and then she tells me and everyone in the audience that she's giving us convertibles. "And you get a convertible. And You. Yes, EVERYONE gets a convertible!" WOO HOO!!"
1. How did you research Life, After? Have you ever been to Argentina?
I have never been to Argentina, but I really, really want to go! I looked into traveling to Buenos Aires for research but the airfare alone at the time I would be able to go was $1000, and as a single mom it wasn't something I could work into my budget. Fortunately for me, I'm a bona fide research geek. I put a great deal of time into the research of setting, much more than I had for any of my other books. It was a tremendous compliment when people told me they couldn't believe I'd never been there.
2. In what ways is the protagonist, Dani, like you?
She feels like an outsider much of the time (the working title for the book was "Extranjera") and she is always sticks up for the underdog.
3. You explained the difficulties of immigration in an emotional way: what inspired you to write on this topic?
I've lived abroad myself for fifteen years, so I know how difficult - yet ultimately how incredibly rewarding - it is to learn to adapt to living in a different culture. In my case I only had the differences between the Queen's English and American English to overcome, not a completely different language.
I think of LIFE, AFTER as my “phoenix out of the ashes” book – for several reasons. Firstly the concept came about in a convoluted way from another book proposal that was rejected. I started working on it about 7 years ago but I couldn’t get the voice right, so I put it in a drawer, where it might have stayed if I hadn’t met someone who asked me if I’d ever considered writing anything for teens about 9/11 – she’d lost her husband on Flight United 93 and she said there wasn’t much for kids on the subject. I sent her the synopsis I’d written and she told me I should write the book. My editors at Scholastic were on board, and I found that having met Claudette, and listened to her experiences, I was able to connect with my characters better and I returned to the story with renewed passion. Life, After is dedicated to Claudette, because without her encouragement, the story would probably still be sitting in a drawer.
4. What message to you hope to convey, if any, to the readers of Life, After?
That we should be searching for the commonalities in our experiences and be less insular as a nation. Having lived in the United Kingdom during the Irish Republican Army bombing campaigns of the early 1970's, I grew up fully conscious and on constant alert to the ongoing terrorist threat - every day when I took the Tube to school, when we went to events at crowded venues. I found it incredibly frustrating that so many of my fellow Americans seemed to think that terrorism sprang to life for the first time on 9/11, just because that was when it happened on our soil. Part of that is because of the way our news is presented - you really have to be an educated consumer of media and make an active effort in order to find out what's going on in the rest of the world.
On a more cheerful note - Life, After ends with a message of love and hope, because that's where I hope that searching for the commonalities in our experiences rather than focusing on our differences will lead us.