Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Author Interview: SarahBeth Carter

Wow, I am so excited! The first author interview on Simply Books! And right on time for Book Bloggers' Appreciation Week. So the author I interviewed was SarahBeth Carter, and she wrote Meeting Lizzy, which is being released Friday, September 19. I reviewed Meeting Lizzy a few months ago for Flamingnet and you can read my review here.

SarahBeth's Bio

SarahBeth is the author of LJW Publishing's first fiction book: Meeting Lizzy. She can't seem to stop reading and at times it seems that writing is her only form of effective communication. SarahBeth graduated from Arizona State University with a degree in English Literature followed by a slew of previous majors that she thoroughly enjoyed experimenting with. She's married with two kids and sometimes wonders if she has come home to an insane asylum, but then...isn't that normal? She someday wants to spend the night in an Irish castle and possibly, if it's allowed, touch one of the stones at Stonehenge.

About Meeting Lizzy

What was your inspiration for the book?

I can remember the exact moment at which Meeting Lizzy began. I was driving home from a night class at ASU in the rain. The freeway was pretty empty and I was enjoying the drive and the sound of the rain. I turned the radio on and was flipping through stations. One song mentioned domestic violence and another mentioned the age old question of identity from a teen perspective. That’s really all it took for my overactive imagination to jump right in and fill the rest of the drive home with the first scene that unfolds in the prologue. I jumped on the computer and started typing as soon as I got home.

How did you create the characters Cy and Lizzy? Were they based on real people?

Cy and Lizzy weren’t based on real people, but Cy and Lizzy do feature random quirks and traits of people I know. For instance, Cy’s buffalo wing eating technique came straight from my husband, Justin. (Sad, right?) And I have personally made the mistake of trying to get from point A to point B barefoot during an Arizona summer which also finds its way into the story. I’m a firm believer in fiction reflecting reality, but I always feel pretty safe in my musings since actually recreating a person I know on paper would be next to impossible. There are so many perspectives of a person that I won’t ever get to see. I only see what they give me and that’s going to be totally different than the person they give their husband, their mother, their teacher or a stranger on the street.

The book's plot revolves around teen dating violence. Why did you decide to include this issue?

Domestic violence has always been a haunting issue for me. Not because I’ve been personally affected by it, but because it seems like one of the most confusing, terrifying and hopeless situations I could ever imagine finding myself in. I’ve always been in awe of people strong enough to stand up when the person they depend on for strength when they’re running low becomes the person pushing them down. I hope that I could be one of those people, but imagination can only take you so far and even then…imagining something and actually doing it are two very different things.

The more I got into the story the more I realized that violence in teen relationships is a wider spread issue than the general public realizes. I hope that I did a decent job of portraying the situation and that someone, somewhere will read the book and use their new awareness of teen dating violence to recognize it in a friend who needs help or to avoid falling into an abusive relationship themselves.

Now that the book will be released in less than a week, how do you feel? Nervous? Excited? Happy?

Nervous and excited about covers it, I suppose. Every now and then I’ll have a giddy, “I did it!” moment: when I see my book on a shelf, when I get an email from a stranger who loves the characters as much as I do, when a random post pops up online discussing the storyline presented in Meeting Lizzy and recommending it to other readers. It’s an amazing process and I’m so glad I’ve been able to have the experience.

On Writing

What is the hardest part about the writing process?

The hardest part of the writing process for me is when the initial character and story rush ends and I’m left with the basic story and someplace to go and a lot of blanks when it comes to exactly how I need to get there. The easiest way for me to get over it is to print off everything I’ve put down and cut it into pieces. Then it’s a huge jigsaw puzzle on my office floor with blank pieces for the spots that need something new or a transition, etc.

Do you have any weird quirks about writing? For example, you can only write when it's dark outside.

I do almost always write when it’s dark outside. I don’t think it has anything to do with the fact that it’s dark. I think it is more the fact that it’s a time during which I can have total control over my environment because no one else is in it. All my favorite people are asleep that could normally distract me from my train of thought. Strangers don’t normally knock on my door in the middle of the night and phone calls are rare. I’m the only one that disrupts the silence and that’s the main requirement for me when I’m writing.

How do you combat writer's block?

When I’m stuck I’ll gather songs and make a playlist that reminds me of the characters I’m working with or the situation I’m trying to get down on paper. It usually works for me, but I have to admit that sometimes it just doesn’t. Sometimes I just have to turn off my computer, put my notes down and spend my writing time going out to a movie with the girls instead. Distraction is a fabulously effective fall back for writer’s block.

Getting To Know You

What was your favorite book growing up?

One of my favorite books growing up was The Witch of Blackbird Pond. I also really loved Susan Cooper’s The Dark is Rising series. Luckily, I’m absolutely fine with re-reading so I can still enjoy them today.

Did you always want to be a writer?

I actually did always want to be a writer. I wanted to be an artist, too, so I’m at a 50% success rate. But I’m totally good with that!

In your bio, it says you "experimented" with different majors before settling on English Literature. What other majors did you experiment with?

When I think of my range of majors I have to laugh. Let’s see if I can hit all of them for you. I believe I actually declared most of the majors at one point or another, but some may have changed before I put any official paperwork through: Exercise Science, Dance, Nutrition, Architecture, Speech & Hearing Science and then…English Literature! Not really that many really, but definitely plenty! My first inclination was English Literature, but I had several people advising me that it wouldn’t be a smart choice and that it would really limit me when it came to using my degree to get a good job after graduation. I should have gone in to talk to an English Literature counselor from the beginning. It’s really one of the most versatile degrees you can get; it can lead in so many different directions that you’ve got a lot of options.

Just For Fun

If you were on a deserted island, what one movie would you bring?

Love movies…and this answer would change frequently, but at the moment I’m thinking “Disturbia.”

Tell us a random fact about yourself.

I am third in a family of seven children.

Any last comments?

Thanks! It was fun running through your questions.

Thank you, SarahBeth! If you want to more information on the book, click here, or if you want to visit SarahBeth's blog, click here.

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