Hello, marvels! Today I’m thrilled to host an interview with author 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, SNOW LIKE ASHES, is coming out Fall 2014 from Balzer + Bray. It does not feature her hand-drawn pictures.
✖ Thank you for agreeing to this interview. After reading the bio, we’d like to know more about you! What’s the quirkiest thing about you?
The quirkiest thing about me is my slightly unhealthy obsession with ducks. Where I live is surrounded by a lot of ponds and streams, so there is a very large duck population, and this has somehow turned me into the Crazy Duck Lady. I’m the person who talks to them as I feed them (“You already had some seeds! Wait for your next turn.”) and scares away the small children who try to chase/kick them. Luckily, my fiancé is more than willing to put up with my antics.
✖ Tell us a bit about your book! What inspired SNOW LIKE ASHES or drove you to tell this particular story? What sets it apart from others in its genre?
SNOW LIKE ASHES is the product of more than a decade of inspiration, turmoil, and passion. I wrote the first draft when I was twelve and revised/dreamed/obsessed over this story on and off until last year, when I rewrote it from scratch, changed 90% of it, and sent it to my agent. This has always been THE story for me – the one that stuck in my head and wouldn’t let me go, with characters that grew up with me and a world so vivid I could never get it out of my head. It still makes me all giddy that THIS will be my debut novel – the story and characters that have always meant so much to me, that have been my Dream Book ever since I was a wee authorling.
✖ Do you think you could share your favorite excerpt or tease us with a single quote even?
I’m still in the process of editing SNOW LIKE ASHES, so I can’t in good conscience share a teaser without being horribly afraid I’ll miss a typo/change it, but I will share with you my most favorite quote from the whole book. It’s a quote my main character comes across etched in a cave wall, and it encompasses every feeling I’ve ever had about this book, publishing, and dreams:
I used to tell myself this when things got too hard, I got rejections, my friends got fantastic deals and I was still wallowing in desperation, when I felt like my decade-plus years of trying and failing and trying again to get published wasn’t worth it. Someday it would be worth it. Someday it would be better than I ever imagined it could be.
✖ What was your process for writing SNOW LIKE ASHES? Did you make a story outline, map out scenes with index cards, or did you just go with the flow?
Oh my. I’m a HUGE plotter – obsessively so – but it really helped that I developed SNOW LIKE ASHES over more than a decade. It gave me time to flush out the details of the world, the story, the characters (even if I did end up changing a lot of it), and allowed me time to get just the right angle on every pesky problem.
I’m also a HUGE fan of maps – I can’t for the life of me picture layouts/buildings in my head, so I have to draw maps for everything. Every important building (palaces in particular), every city, every kingdom, every world. I have an inordinate amount of (really poorly drawn) maps that I refer to at least a dozen times a day. And actually, I’m SO bad at picturing layouts in my head that when I read a book that doesn’t have a map, I get hopelessly lost and spend an embarrassing amount of time rereading descriptive passages just so I can figure out where the characters are going.
✖ What advice have you most benefited from? Do you have any words of wisdom you’d like to impart to all the writers still on their journey toward publication?
The best advice I’ve heard is twofold: Keep Moving Forward and “You can always edit a bad page, but you can never edit a blank page.” Keep Moving Forward has helped me put in perspective all of the failure, rejections, and heartache that comes with publishing – that no matter what bad things happen, it’s important not to let yourself dwell on them for too long. Nothing good will come from letting negative things beat you – if you want it badly enough, keep going until you get it. The only way you WILL get it is if you keep moving forward. I started querying the first draft of SNOW LIKE ASHES when I was a preteen – I’m almost 24 now. More than a decade later, and the book I dreamed about seeing published as a child is finally getting its moment. Persistence is rewarded.
And then, “You can always edit a bad page, but you can never edit a blank page.” Drafting is my kryptonite. Editing/revising I can tackle no problem, but drafting? Horribly intimidating, to stare at that blank page and create something out of nothing. But every story starts out BAD. Like shudder-inducing bad, and the only way to make it good is to get the bad story down so you can edit the crap out of it and make it good. I repeat this quote incessantly as I draft to remind myself to just write – and to again keep moving forward, in a different capacity!
✖ If you could visit a fictional setting, what would it be and why? Also, who would you most likely get into a fight with?
Oh, tough question! Is it sad that I’ve never actually thought of this? I feel like they’ll revoke my writer-license!
I’d have to say (even though I know it’s not a book-world) – Warehouse 13 from the SyFy show, Warehouse 13. The endlessly awesome gadgets and artifacts make me giddy with NEED. Plus, I’m pretty sure Claudia and I would be BFFs.
As for who I’d be most likely to get into a fight with…I’m generally a pretty laid-back (*cough lazy cough*) person, and fighting seems like a lot of work to me. I usually avoid conflict simply for that reason – I don’t like expelling a lot of energy on stuff like that. That being said, (again with the TV show references…I read books, I swear!) I don’t think I’d get along very well with Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory. While I am pretty laid-back, I also have a very small amount of patience, and I’m pretty sure he’d use it all up!