Interview with Interview With Sara Raasch
Sara Raasch has known she was destined for bookish things since the age of five, when her friends had a lemonade stand and she tagged along to sell her hand-drawn picture books too. Not much has changed since then — her friends still cock concerned eyebrows when she attempts to draw things and her enthusiasm for the written word still drives her to extreme measures. Her debut YA fantasy novel, Snow Like Ashes, is out now. It does not feature her hand-drawn pictures, though.
1) What is the thing you love most about writing? How has writing influenced your life?
I love the outlet that writing offers. Whatever is happening in my life can go into writing— good things, bad things. It helps me process events and emotions, but most of all, it helps me persevere. I can always tell myself, “If Meira can survive a war, I can survive high school/college/this breakup/etc.”
2) Can you tell me a little bit about your writing process, and how your ideas transform to drafts, and the final product?
I always write in the morning—if I get sucked into Twitter/Tumblr first thing, it’s nigh impossible to get me to refocus.
As for my larger writing process, I outline like CRAZY. Excel spreadsheets, character sketches, lists, maps, charts—Microsoft office is my friend.
3) Do you ever encounter obstacles or challenges while you are writing? If so, how do you deal with them? Are you, for example, ever plagued by writer’s block? What kind of practical advice can you give to writers who are facing such challenges?
I enact the “push through it” method. Most of writer’s block, for me at least, stems from laziness. If I feel it creeping up, I dive into inspiration—listen to some music, stare at my Pinterest boards, and, ultimately, force myself to write. Self-discipline is HUGE in being an author. Since this career is solitary, with no boss standing over you, telling you to get your book done, it’s easy to get lax. Being able to self-motivate is invaluable, and it all comes down to telling yourself what’s what!
4) I really enjoyed your book, I truly did, and part of what I loved about it was the heroine of the book and the book’s setting. I will break the question into two. First of all, how did you come to conceive of such a unique and thrilling world because I have noticed that Young Adult Fantasy books tends to be lacking in their setting, and very character focused?
What I love most about fantasy books (well, one of the things) is that settings tend to be just as big of a character as the actual characters. Getting to add culture, traditions, scenery, outfits, food—all of this is so insanely fun!
5) Meira is a very fascinating heroine, and part of what makes her fascinating is the uncertainty that the character personifies. In the book you see her strength and her weakness, her doubts, her faults, and you come to embrace it all. It is easy to relate to her because, just like all of us, she is not perfect. What was the inspiration behind the character, and can you provide us with any information about the path that the character is going to be going down?
Meira is who I wanted to be as a teen—confident, strong, and unrelenting in what she wants. But while all of these things can be beneficial, they also get her in trouble, and so the path she goes down, throughout the next two books is her finding the balance between confidence and detrimental stubbornness.
6) I know that this is probably the most difficult question ever, but I am going to ask it anyway, because it is fun to see and learn the different ways that writers choose not to answer the question. Who is your favourite author and what is your favourite book of all time?
My favourite author is Sharon Shinn, and my favourite book is her series, the Twelve Houses. It’s an adult fantasy that I read as a teen. The world, the characters, the magic system—it all made me fall in love with fantasy, and when I reread it to this day, those books feel like coming home.
7) A character that I actually found very interesting was Conall because he is a bottle of contradictions. His ability to hope and refrain from hope, and the balance that that brings to the story is amazing. Are we going to see more of, or hear more from him, in the second book?
Oh yes! He and his brother, Garrigan, and their sister, Nessa, become very intricate to Meira’s life in both Books two and three. They become her surrogate family, in a way—since Meira has no living blood relatives, Conall and Garrigan become, sort of, her older brothers, and Nessa becomes the sister she never got a chance to have.
8) So, when I read your interview on the Huffington Post, it said that a lot of people are going to die in book two, and I completely freaked out. Can you give us just a little bit more of an insight into book two or do we have to wait till 2015, while we imagine the worst for our favourite characters?
Ha! Yes, sadly, quite a few characters end up kicking the bucket in Book two. BUT there are also a number of new characters that come into play, particularly one of my absolute favourite characters in the whole trilogy: Ceridwen, the princess of Summer. She’s just as stubborn and confident as Meira, only far more jaded and harsh, and she truly embodies the Kingdom of Summer’s fieriness!
9) Apart from the “Snow Like Ashes” series, do you have any other book ideas that you are currently exploring?
I do! I’m currently working on a YA sci-fi for my next project, but I won’t get to that for a while, yet—my major focus at the moment is drafting Book three.
10) What other advice do you have for aspiring writers out there?
Keep moving forward (and watch Meet the Robinsons as often as possible). This industry hinges on perseverance. The only difference between a published author and an unpublished author is that the former didn’t give up!