Welcome, Sara! Defy has such an awesome main character—a tough-as-nails girl disguised as a boy and working within the royal guard. Did the idea for DEFY start with that heroine, or did another part of the story materialize first? (In short: what was the inspiration behind Alexa’s story?)
Thank you! Defy actually came from a very difficult period in my life, when I lost someone I loved. I was so upset by his death that I couldn’t write anything, but a friend of mine told me to stop trying to write a book and just write what I was feeling. So that’s exactly what I did. I sat down and wrote a scene, not intending for it to go anywhere…but then I got curious about the characters. This whole fascinating world unraveled itself and I realized Alexa had a very intriguing, difficult, but ultimately amazing story that needed to be told. I threw myself into that writing and from there the story took on its own life. It became a story of survival and moving forward, a story of what true courage and strength is, and a story about the many different kinds of love, and hope (even in the most desperate of situations) and risking everything for the chance of a better future.
Wow. How wonderful you were able to take grief and channel it into writing Defy. How about the series as a whole? What’s the biggest challenge in writing a series, and is there anything that, in hindsight, you wish you had done differently in the writing or publication process?
I think the biggest challenge in writing a series is trying to make each book better than the last. I really didn’t want to have a “saggy” middle book, and I worked hard to try to raise the stakes and make my characters stronger with each story. Hopefully my readers will feel that I accomplished my goals!
I completely agree about upping stakes. The overall arc of a series is just as important as the individual arc of each book! So what’s your typical writing day like? Do you have a routine or is every day/book a little different?
With three young children and a husband who travels for work, I don’t really have a “typical” writing day. Every day is different. I have to write whenever or wherever I can. Usually at night when everyone’s finally in bed, or the few hours a week that all three kids are in school (my youngest is in pre-school a couple times a week). And if I’m on deadline and short on time, or hitting one of my manic must-write-all-the-words-right-now drafting binges, then you’ll probably find me at my dining table with my headphones in, using music to help me channel the right emotions for my book while my kids watch a movie and fight over popcorn. At least I can see them if a full on wrestling match ensues and put a stop to it before someone ends up bloody.
As a new mom myself, I can totally relate to the “no routine” approach. So what are you working on now?
I’m currently working on promoting Ignite and preparing for launch parties and signings in January. I’m also working on some new projects, but can’t say anything about them yet. I’m super excited about them, though! Stay tuned…
Ooh, secrecy. Can’t wait til you can share the details. Switching gears entirely: Do you have any words of advice or inspiration for aspiring writers?
To never give up, first of all. I know everyone tells you that, but it’s because it’s true. If you persevere no matter what, working to get better with every book you write, you WILL get published! And second is to set deadlines for yourself and make yourself keep them. And make them hard. If you train yourself to be able to handle deadlines now, when you do get published, you won’t panic if you get hit with a hard deadline because you’ve already done it!
Such good advice about deadlines. And now I have to break out the Pub-themed questions: If you could spend a night at the pub with any 3 authors (alive or dead) who would it be and why?
Oh, that is SO hard! Off the top of my head I’d pick J.K. Rowling, Jane Austen, and Laini Taylor. Maybe their combined genius would rub off on me just by proximity.
EEP there’s a creeper at the pub! What book are you reading to avoid him?
I’m reading This Shattered World right now and LOVING it!
Ah, TSW co-authored by our very own Amie Kaufman. Good choice, Sara. Thanks for stopping by!
And now, to celebrate the upcoming release of Ignite, I’m giving away a copy (physical or ebook for US, ebook only for international)! Or, if the winner hasn’t read Defy yet, I can send that instead.
To enter to win, just use the handy form below. We’ll try to announce a winner a week from today, but with the holidays coming up, it might be a tad longer.
SARA B. LARSON is the author of the acclaimed YA Fantasy Defy that released from Scholastic in January 2014, and the forthcoming sequel Ignite (December 30th, 2014). She can’t remember a time when she didn’t write books—although she now uses a computer instead of a Little Mermaid notebook. Sara lives in Utah with her husband and their three children. She writes during naptime and the quiet hours when most people are sleeping. Her husband claims she should have a degree in “the art of multitasking.” When she’s not mothering or writing, you can often find her at the gym repenting of her sugar addiction. Sara is represented by Josh Adams, of Adams Literary.