Saturday, May 9, 2020

Sarah Zettel

Sarah Zettel is an award-winning author. She has written more than thirty novels and multiple short stories over the past twenty-five years, in addition to hiking, cooking, stitching all the things, marrying a rocket scientist, and raising a rapidly growing son.

Zettel's latest novel is A Mother's Lie.

My Q&A with the author:

How much work does your title do to take readers into the story?

Hopefully a lot. When we talk about food, the saying goes we eat with our eyes first. It’s the same with a book. The cover and the title are what pique the interest first, especially if the author is new to the reader. So, I plan my titles fairly carefully, usually with a lot of help from my editors.

What's in a name?

Like the title of a book, the name is one of the first impressions the reader is going to get of the character, so, it’s very important. A name can denote race, ethnicity, time period, and class. I take a long time to pick out a character name, and may end up changing it as the draft develops and I get to know the character better.

How surprised would your teenage reader self be by your new novel?

Very. My teenaged self wrote exclusively fantasy, science fiction and horror. She never even considered writing contemporary suspense.

Do you find it harder to write beginnings or endings? Which do you change more?

Actually, the really hard part is the middle. The middle wanders. It’s the place where all the lovely side thoughts I’ve had try to settle in. I have to keep cutting and redirecting it so I’ve got a straight line between the beginning and end. I do, however, tend to rewrite the beginning more than the end. By the time I actually get to the end, I usually know where I need to be.

Do you see much of yourself in your characters? Do they have any connection to your personality, or are they a world apart?

I expect all my characters have a connection to me, whether I see it or not. But they are from the same brain that shaped the rest of my life, so nothing I create can be seen as fully separate from the experiences that helped shape me. The question is, which part of me do they come from? It could be from hopes, fears, aspirations, or memories, but probably, for most of them, it’s probably some combination of all of these. Some times I’ll recognize it, sometimes I won’t.

What non-literary inspirations have influenced your writing?

Travel, definitely. The people I meet and talk to. Reality is always going to be weirder and more amazing than anything an author can imagine. Music. Current events, or attempts to hide from current events. History.
Visit Sarah Zettel's website.

--Marshal Zeringue