1) What originally inspired you to get into writing? I knew I wanted to be an author when I was in elementary school. I had very encouraging teachers who expected as much. Then as I grew older, writing for a profession took a back seat when I started focusing on working with people in the therapy field (though I continued to keep personal journals and a blog to keep up with my writing). However, when I lost my job in 2008, I had all this extra time on my hands and started reading more, and suddenly these ideas for Lingering Echoes kept coming to me. I wrote a couple chapters and my sisters loved it and kept me motivated by asking for more! It was so helpful having their encouraging feedback.
2) Where did the idea for Lingering Echoes come from? The first scene came to mind years ago when I was in college. It was a crisp, fall day and as I walked to class, the wind and swirling leaves at my feet created a scenario in my head. When I became bored during my humanities class, instead of taking notes, I started writing a descriptive scene that was intended to simply end as a piece of poetry. Instead, I couldn’t stop thinking about this girl who I envisioned in my head, grieving beside a river on a cloudy, cold day. (I even kept thinking about it while on a rugby road trip, of all things!) I didn’t know until a couple years later when I picked up that piece of writing again that this poetic scene would transform into chapter two of Lingering Echoes.
3) Was there any character you felt particularly able to relate to? Allie Collins, the main character from Lingering Echoes, shares some very personal thoughts and experiences from my own childhood. Her lack of trust in marriage and love was something that came from my own disillusioned fears from my parents’ struggling marriage, and sensing gloom from the increasing divorce rate. It took my husband a while to convince me that it was ok to fall in love and eventually trust in marriage. I am so glad I did. I love my life with my family!
I can also relate to Allie’s struggle with grief and guilt. I have a son who died as a four-month-old baby from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome four years ago (only months after I finished writing Lingering Echoes). It’s been interesting looking at how I anticipated what grief and guilt would feel like, and how much I can relate to it now, even though I wrote the book before I experienced it so personally. I did write a book about my experience, entitled “Borrowed Angel”, that shares these details of grief and how I found healing.
4) Were there any scenes in particular that were easy or hard to write? I loved writing when Allie Collins meets Damien Michaels for the first time. Allie is walking alone by the lake and stops by one of her favorite trees. Then, she feels like someone is watching her and scrambles up the branches. In her haste, she ends up falling and getting the wind knocked out of her. A dark-haired guy with piercing blue-grey eyes and a strange tattoo on his bicep approaches her. Allie is nervous and defensive during her interaction with the “calm and collected” (and turns out highly secretive) Damien… this was one of the first scenes I wrote and it came easily to me, and I immediately knew I needed to keep writing to figure out more about this attractive and mysteriously alluring Damien Michaels!
5) Have any of your characters been inspired by real people? When I wrote Lingering Echoes, I didn’t keep one person in mind the whole time, but there are definitely conversations, thoughts, and emotions that I pulled from various relationships in my life. Some of those aspects I didn’t realize had come from past boyfriends or my husband until I finished the book and looked back on it!
6) Are there any specific books or authors that have inspired you? Even though I don’t write the same genre, following the trends and reading the Divergent Series and Hunger Games (and yes, even Twilight from years ago) helped get me excited about creating characters and storylines. I don’t feel natural writing in those genres, but I love the emotions I felt as I read them, and wanted the chance to do that, too. I’m happy to hear from most readers that Lingering Echoes does have a strong, emotional pull!
7) Are you planning to write any more books in the series? Or any different books/series? I just released a prequel called Rumors, which takes place during Allie Collin’s senior year prior to Lingering Echoes. I originally wrote it as a novella but I extended it into a novel and just re-released it! It can be found for free on Amazon and Smashwords.
8) Do you have any advice/pearls of wisdom for budding writers? Keep writing and reading! Writing is good practice for pulling thoughts and emotions out of your head, and reading a variety of material will give you an idea of the type of books you want to write. I am currently “researching” what I want to write next simply by reading what is out there! Since I will continue writing Contemporary YA/NA, my focus for reading is that genre right now. Also, networking with other aspiring writers, as well as published authors, is crucial! I became published because I joined an online writer’s group, where one question and resource lead to another…and then I found Clean Teen publishing and submitted. I have loved the experience, and it is all thanks to networking with fellow writers.
The original interview can be found on Sarah’s website: http://inkofblood.com/about/