Thank you for taking the time to chat with me! I’ve read some wonderful interviews that you’ve already done (linked at the end of this blog post) in which you describe your inspiration for FEAR THE DROWNING DEEP, your experience landing an agent, and putting your debut YA novel out on submission. I’ll try my best not to be redundant 🙂
And thank you so much for having me, Jennifer!
FEAR THE DROWNING DEEP (release date September 6, 2016) sounds exactly like the type of book I’ll love. On the Isle of Man in 1913 a young girl named Bridey suspects the sea holds the dark secret to why villagers are disappearing in the night. If she wants to uncover the truth and save lives, she’ll have to team up with an old witch that finds magic in the ordinary and a dark-haired boy that steals her heart.
With so many threads to the story, which one did you start with when you began drafting? In other words, what basic idea helped you plot the book?
I started the book with an image of a girl’s body washing up on a beach. From there, I knew I wanted to write about some ancient evil in the sea that killed this girl–and that I wanted the heroine who’d have to do battle with the evil to be terrified of the water. The villagers’ disappearances, the romance, and Morag (the old witch) appeared later, as I developed that initial idea!
I noticed you also have TWO picture books coming out soon. Congrats! Can you tell me a little about each one?
Thank you! I’m so excited about both books–and you may want to watch for more good news from me on that front soon! Wait, who said that? 😉
CAMPFIRE SCALES, which is being published by Sterling Children’s, is the story of a hapless dragon and his misadventures at summer camp, all of which greatly annoy his volunteer buddy. It’s a story about giving your friends second and third (and dare I say–fourth!) chances. It comes out next spring (2017)!
The other picture book is a biography, ANNA STRONG: DAUGHTER OF THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION, which will be published by Abrams Kids (date TBD). This book tells the story of Anna Strong, who (much historical evidence suggests) assisted George Washington’s Culper Spy Ring in passing information that helped America win its war for freedom.
Before you landed an agent, did you ever participate in YA contests or Twitter pitch parties? Querying into the slush pile can be daunting. Any tips and tricks?
Yes! When I was agent-searching, I loved participating in pitch contests on Twitter and on popular YA blogs. They were a fun way to pass the long wait time of querying, and I even won a few! In fact, it was a contest on Adventures in YA Publishing (where I’m the new contest coordinator!) that led to me finding my agent.
As for querying advice, I think the best thing I can say is this: traditional publishing is a maddening world of opinions. Unless you’re seeing consistent feedback when you query (as in, three or more passes on your material all say “this opening needs work!” or “you should really remove that irritating side character from the story!”), then you’ll have to keep your head up and slog through a lot of rejection as you try to find your agent match. And remember, if you do get offers, it’s important to go with the person whose vision for the book aligns most closely with yours! Oh, and stick close to your writer friends. They’ll help you through it all.
What does your typical writing day look like? Set time and place? Word counts?
I try to write mostly in the mornings; I find that that’s when I have the highest chance of being able to concentrate! I always write in my living room with the dogs (my sort-of support group, who cheer me on with their snores), in part because there are several large windows in there and I love the view of my backyard.
I don’t set a word count when I sit down to write; seeing a goal that might be unattainable just gets me flustered 🙂 However, on a day when I can really focus and get to put in a solid 5+ hours of writing, I can get about 3,000 good words in!
What TV shows and/or movies help ignite your writing voice? Feel free to toss in some book titles, but I know that’s often a hard one for authors to answer.
I love TV questions! I watch a lot of SyFy shows–like 12 Monkeys, Haven, Killjoys, Defiance, Dark Matter, and the long-ago Farscape…their quick-witted characters and snappy dialogue have definitely influenced my writing! I love a main character with a sharp tongue.
Back when I was writing FEAR, however, I’d say my voice was more shaped by the classic fantasies I read growing up: Tolkien, Lloyd Alexander, Charles de Lint, Neil Gaiman, as well as the full work of Patricia McKillip, my literary heroine. I also have to mention Harry Potter, of course!
I noticed that you have four rescued greyhounds as pets — and might I add they have the best names ever — Romeo & Juliet, Grimm, and Khaleesi. I know many authors that write with their cats on their laps. Not possible with four large dogs! Do you have any funny pet related stories that either helped or hindered your writing?
Thank you about their names!
Khaleesi is great because she’ll actually get on the sofa and cuddle while I write. Don’t let her cuteness fool you, though–she’ll eat any books we leave lying around on low tables! Of course, that’s not much of a story, but I *do* have one about a certain Juliet… 😉
Juliet once leaped onto the couch while I was in the middle of drafting a chapter. She started leaning against me and tapping my shoulder, which was super cute. I thought she just needed some attention. Before I could set my laptop down to pet her though, she peed ALL OVER ME–and the laptop! I took two showers before I felt remotely clean!
Related: whenever Romeo or Juliet pee in the house (a small dog’s favorite hobby), I fuss at them in a bad Russian accent. True story. Not sure what that says about me, but there you have it!
Thank you so much for stopping by my blog!
Best of luck on your exciting year ahead!
Thanks again for having me, Jennifer! Happy to swing by anytime with my weird dog stories!
For more information about Sarah Glenn Marsh:
Hop on over to these other blogs to read additional interviews with Sarah:
Michelle Hauck’s blog: Sarah tells about the offer call for her debut YA novel.
Write for Apples blog: Sarah’s Query, Sign, Submit interview about going from her first query letter to her debut book deal.
Team Rogue YA’s website: Sarah answers ten fun questions about FEAR THE DROWNING DEEP.