So I was lucky enough to be invited to do a blog post with not only one author, but 2! Here is my blog post with the amazing Sara Grant. We had a lot of fun doing this author/blogger Q&A. Questions 1-5 were answered by Sara Grant. Questions 6-10 were answered by me!
1. Which book have you read that inspired you most? What was it about that book that inspired you?
To Kill a Mocking-Bird by Harper Lee
The story is captivating and honest. Its message of equality rings as true today – and is as important – as when it was written in 1960. It’s one of those rare, layered books that combines a compelling story with important themes. It lingers with you long after you’ve read the final page and challenges the way you look at the world.
2. Did you always want to be an author? Why?
I always wanted to be a writer. When I was really young, I told stories to my imaginary friends – Jolly and Eck. As a young child, I spent hours playing with my Barbie dolls. I’d create these epic tales that would last days and even months. I’d disappear into my room and be lost in a story of my own creation for hours at a time. So I guess I’ve always been a storyteller.
I wrote my first story when I was eight years old. It had a beginning, middle and end as well as a title page and dedication. It was called “A Dream I Wish Was True”. The story was about how eight-year-old me was able to meet my favourite movie star. As I was writing this first story and every time I read it, I controlled how the world worked – not something an eight-year-old gets to do. After that I was hooked!
What do you think you’d be doing if you weren’t an author?
I worked for seventeen years in public relations for big foundations and small non-profit organizations. My forte was strategy and planning. After I earned a master’s in creative and life writing from Goldsmiths, I switched careers and worked for several years as an editor at Working Partners, a company that creates series fiction for children. I loved creating stories collaboratively with a team of editors and writers. I imagine I’d still be engaged in children’s publishing in some way.
3. Which of your own characters do you love the most? Do you have one?
I think you have to love all your characters – even the baddies – to be able to write about them convincingly. You spend months – and sometimes years – dreaming them into life. They become part of you.
My new Chasing Danger series stars Chase Armstrong, a feisty, athletic 14-year-old American. Because I’m currently immersed in writing adventures through her eyes, she’s probably my favourite at the moment.
Is there a literary character you wish you’d written and why?
There are so many literary characters I admire: the characters in To Kill a Mocking-Bird, particularly Scout and Atticus, for example. It’s less that I wish I’d written those characters
and more that I want to learn from epic writers, like Lee, and discover how they created compelling characters that endure.
4. If the world was coming to an end and you could only save 3 books (your books were safe!), which would they be and why?
This is a tough question. There are so many books I cherish. If the world was ending and I could only take three books in a bunker with me, I’d want one ‘meaning of life’ book, one to make me laugh and one for pure reading pleasure.
1. To Kill a Mocking-Bird by Harper Lee. I’ve sorted of answer this question in my YA novel Half Lives. To Kill a Mocking-Bird was the only novel that survived in my post-apocalyptic tale. The future I imagined is laced with winks to Lee’s book.
2. Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris. I first listened to it as an audiobook, and I frequently burst out laughing. (Which got me loads of strange looks, especially while riding the Tube.)
3. The complete collection of Agatha Christie. I love mysteries. There’s something cosy and comforting about settling in with an Agatha Christie story. Murder on the Orient Express. And Then There Were None. Murder is Easy. I know most of these stories already but am willing to read them again and again.
5. What’s your favourite Disney film?
The Little Mermaid. I have fond memories of watching it with my nieces. I could probably still sing most of the songs by heart.
Do you prefer goodies or baddies?
All my books have strong female protagonist, unlikely rebels and heroes, so I prefer the goodies. But you need fascinating baddie to make the goodies great.
6. What is the first book you remember reading on your own? What’s the book you’ve just finished reading?
I’ve always read, as long as I can remember I’ve loved reading. I would say the first book I remember reading, finishing and it having an impact was Charlotte’s Web. I loved that it was all about friendship and the things we have to do for our friends. I’ve just finished Beautiful Broken Things by Sara Bernard. Coincidentally it was another book about friendship – the trials and tribulations of being a teenager and having best friends. I really enjoyed it!
7. If you were a comic book character, would you more likely be the evil mastermind or the superhero? Why?
Oh this is a really tough one. But I think anyone who knows me will tell you that I am a goodie in life. So I would have to be the superhero. I would love to be a evil mastermind but it’s not me! I think to be portrayed as negative to me would destroy my soul ha!
8. Growing up did you have posters on your wall? If so, who featured during your tween years? If you were a tween today who would be on your posters today?
Oh yeah, I was a poster girl. Westlife/Boyzone featured VERY heavily on my walls. I was such a fan of them. But any boy bands were good with me. I remember buying Smash Hits and Top of the Pops magazine and loving when they had lyrics pages in and the posters you could rip out! I was also (I still am now) a fan of a quote – whether it’s book quotes, film quotes, inspirational quotes… I love them all. I would buy postcards which would have little quotes on from the shops and they’d be up there! David Beckham featured on my walls often growing up. He’s such a handsome man.
If I were a tween today? My word I don’t even want to contemplate that! But I think my walls would be plastered with probably 1D. Or Little Mix. I really don’t know. I mean I have calendars of Michael Buble and Cheryl and that’s enough wall decoration for me! David Beckham. Yes. That’s who. He’s been one of my number 1 crushes FOREVER.
9. I don’t want to ask for your favourite book because I’m assuming, like me, you have many favourites. So what’s a significant book to you and why?
Matilda. Hands down one of the most significant books I’ve ever read and to this day continue to read at least once a year. To the people who don’t know me very well, Matilda is the reason I am getting into teaching. I remember reading Matilda as quite a young child and thinking ‘I want to be Miss Honey’. As an adult now she is still the one inspiration for me. That’s what teacher should be: caring, compassionate. There are other teachers in fiction who inspired me too but Miss Honey will always hold a special place in my heart. I connected so much with Matilda because I was Matilda. I was the little girl who loved reading. Unlike Matilda, I have an incredible family. But I was the girl who got more pleasure out of reading. We recently took a class to London and we got to see Matilda the Musical and I cried throughout the whole thing. It was amazing. Seeing someone so beautifully portray my favourite story of all time just made my heart so happy.
10. You read and review loads of books. What makes a book great? What’s takes a book you enjoyed to a book that you are dying to talk about and share?
I don’t believe for me that there is a magic spell or recipe to make a book great. It’s about the way a book makes you feel in that moment. It’s about what it does to you, how it moves you, how it makes you think. It’s about having a connection to it. Either through the story, the emotion, one of the characters or just about it making you feel something: be it happy, sad, funny. For me that’s what makes a great book: it makes you feel something. A book that I come out of reading going “meh, that was alright” isn’t one I’d talk about. For example one of the books I talk about most is Gone Girl; I have SUCH a love/hate relationship with that book. I wouldn’t read it again. It drove me mad. But I ask everyone I know if they’ve read it.
Books, stories, characters should evoke an emotion or response from me. That’s what I want.
Thank you so much for taking the time out to answer my questions Sara! It was an absolute pleasure hosting you on my blog!
About Chasing Danger
“I couldn’t shake the feeling that this vacation might actually kill me.”
When fourteen-year-old Chase Armstrong is sent to visit her grandmother at a remote tropical resort, she’s looking forward to sunbathing, swimming and snorkelling. The last thing she expects is danger. But she’s in for some surprises. She discovers another girl hiding out on the island and uncovers a devastating secret about the mum she’s never known. When modern-day pirates attack the island, it’s up to Chase to outrun, out-think and outfight the pirates . . . before it’s too late!
About Sara Grant
Sara Grant has inspired, written or edited nearly 100 books for children. Her newest book – Chasing Danger – is an action-adventure series for tweens. Sara teaches Goldsmiths University’s master’s class on writing for children/teens. She co-created Undiscovered Voices – which has launched the writing careers of thirty-two authors. She loves visiting schools and sharing her passion for writing and reading. She also leads writing workshops for adults in the US, UK and Europe as part of Book Bound (www.bookboundretreat.com). Website: http://www.sara-grant.com Twitter: @authorsaragrant
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