Sarah started her obsession with reading at an early age. She was the girl who got in trouble for sneaking BabySitter Club and Nancy Drew books into math class. She read any fiction book she could get her hands on and knew it was an addiction when instead of getting grounded from TV or music her mom would take away all her books. (The Horror!). Her love for all things paranormal came from a great friend, Laurie, who convinced her that book with vampires, witches, and all things shifter were amazing. After a little reluctance, she gave it a shot with the Sookie Stackhouse books. She LOVED them which meant Laurie was right. Sarah had become obsessed and the rest is history!
Sarah debute with her novel Awaken. Here’s the stellar blurb:
Lucy Donovan was supposed to have a weekend of fun in the sun, celebrating her upcoming graduation from college. In a split second, everything changed. A drunk driver ended Lucy’s mortal life. Lucy opens her eyes to a world she never imagined possible and a new destiny: as a Patronus, a guardian of spirits. Adjusting to her new role and abilities while negotiating this confusing realm will test her limits and push her further than she ever dreamed she would go. From wayward spirits who don’t want her help to soul stealing vampires, and even a stuck-up British royal, Lucy must brave them all to save one spirit she can’t bear to lose. Further complicating her confusing life is an inexplicable yet growing connection she feels to a member of her team, Max, whose mysterious behavior leaves her both confused and intrigued. Waking up dead was just the beginning of her problems. Lucy’s death is about to become the greatest adventure of her life.
Now, I’m going to turn my blog over to Sarah. She has some very interesting questions to put to all of us. Let’s take a gander!
All Fantasy is Not Created Equal
When I sat down to write my first novel, Awaken, I imagined a world that was greater than earth, but still had many of the things I loved about it. I created a fantasy realm with fantasy characters that fit my style and imagination. I was in love with this place and enjoyed writing what it would be like to a new visitor. In my story, everyone is dead. And they exist on a separate realm where they guard the souls of those waiting for their final destination. They aren’t angels, nor do they work solely for God. In this world, they have been given back their bodies—just the 2.0 versions. And as Lucy tries to navigate this world, and figure out how to fit in, a lot of things go wrong on her quest.
Fast forward a year. My book is published (yeah!) and lots of people love it (yeah!)! I do happy dances around my living room when I get new sales, or people leave comments telling me they too enjoyed my fantasy world for a few hours. I am hard at work on book 2 of this series, and happily spending my days in the world of the Patronus. Life is grand.
But then there are the haters. As my sister always reminds me, “Haters gonna hate.” I try not to pay attention to them, but I can’t seem to help myself. It’s like a car accident: you can’t help but look. I wanted to see if I could learn from these bad reviews and hopefully improve for the future. I was surprised however that a lot of the criticism I received came from people saying not that my writing was bad, but they didn’t like the world I created. I even had someone tell me that I was going to hell for “misleading people from the truth about God.” I was not expecting that!
I thought about their comments for a long time. It gnawed at me, and I read them over and over. The problem I kept coming back to was that people seemed to desire a perfect afterlife with perfect characters who couldn’t get hurt, make mistakes or be too human. It makes sense to me in a way; people have this image in their heads about what it’ll be like after they die. It doesn’t matter their religion, they want an afterlife without all the crap they had to deal with on earth.
So this got me thinking: do all fantasy worlds have to be perfect for people to get swept up in them or just heavenly worlds? I wonder if I had written my book on a less-than-heavenly realm if people would have the same problems? Would they accept that characters are flawed and that conflicts drive plot? Did Tolkien or Rowling have the same criticism? When people read fantasy novels: do they want their own fantasies, or are they content with those of the author?
This is not a question I can answer. It’s only one I can share with you to debate. I can however tell you this: if you read my fantasy books, I will try to sweep you up into the story and keep the setting as merely a backdrop. The characters will be flawed. And there will be conflict. But it’ll be one heck of a ride!
I don’t know about the rest of you, but I want to be swept up in conflict and flawed characters. Messy Death is set in a time that is not our own but still mirrors 2012 in many ways. It was hard for me to decide how I could make that work, and I realized right away why. I am a character driven teller. Yes, I enjoy building worlds, but it’s the characters that make me happy. I want to go on their journey with them and everything else, like Sarah said, is backdrop. Other writers, focus a lot on their worlds. They know them inside and out, and that is okay, but it doesn’t suit me to be that kind of writer. I figure, I walk this earth. I know that gravity keeps me from floating off into outer space. I know that murdering somebody is against the law. Stealing will land you in jail too. I know many things, but to say I know this world, in its entirity, inside and out is not a fair assessment. Do I believe in ghosts? Yes. Do I know if they are real or not? Not definitively. Do I believe the paranormal exists? Yes. Do I know if they are real or not? Not definitively, but the option is there. Make sense? I like knowing the option is there and that I have not explored so much of this world that I know every nook and cranny down to the last detail. To me, that life would be…boring to lead.
The only thing worse than an ill written novel, in my opinion, is a boring one. Is Heaven all rainbows and gummy bears? Maybe for someone it is, but I believe it’s the mark of a small mind to say a writer is going to hell for creating a world that is a continuation of the struggles that make humans better. Strife, love and sacrifice mold us into greater beings than we started out as. How on Heaven (or Earth) could that be wrong?
Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us, Sarah. You sure got me thinking. If you’d like to see more of Sarah Ross, here are some links where you can do that.
Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/SarahtheAuthor or
Amazon link to her novel Awaken: http://www.amazon.com/Awaken-The-Patronus-ebook/dp/B0070CFHTA/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1335732093&sr=8-1