Sarah Cornwell grew up in Narberth, Pennsylvania. Her fiction has appeared in the 2013 Pushcart Prize Anthology, The Missouri Review, Mid-American Review, Gulf Coast, and Hunger Mountain, among others, and her screenwriting has been honored with a Humanitas Prize. A former James Michener Fellow at UT-Austin, Cornwell has worked as an investigator of police misconduct, an MCAT tutor, a psychological research interviewer, and a toy seller.
Her debut novel is What I Had Before I Had You.
From Cornwell's Q & A with Caroline Leavitt:
Where did the for this novel spark?Learn more about the book and author at Sarah Cornwell's website.
My mother had several miscarriages before I was born. As a child, I wondered if those miscarriages were my own failed attempts to enter the world, or if they were brothers and sisters I would never know, each with a unique soul. I started writing about Myla and Olivia with those ghost siblings in mind, and it was Olivia’s childhood—the nursery, the beach, the domineering mother, the patterns of domestic life in the Reed household—from which the rest of the story sprang.
To me, there’s nothing more haunting than a missing child. It’s every parent’s nightmare. Did you have moments writing it when you just had to stop?
Though it is a nightmarish, worst-case scenario, no—at risk of giving away too much of the ending of the book, when I invented the present day plot thread in which Olivia searches for Daniel at the beach, I had a pretty good idea of where I was headed. That whole present day frame narrative presented itself in 2011, toward the end of the writing process. I certainly shared Olivia’s terror, but also her...[read on]
The Page 69 Test: What I Had Before I Had You.