I've met a lot of writers through blogging, but one who continues to amaze me is Sarah Fine, author of SANCTUM (Amazon Children's Publishing 2012), SCAN (Putnam & Sons/Penguin 2013), and FACTORY GHOST (McElderry/Simon & Schuster).
Sarah, you have to be one of the most prolific writers I know. During the 2012 calendar year, how many new books did you write? How many books received editorial revisions? Copy-editing and proof-reading? Any novellas or short stories on the side?
Whew! I didn’t write as many new books as I’d planned in 2012, but I think I did okay. Let’s see:
New books: 2
Books revised: 4
Copy-edited/final pass pages: 1
Short stories: 3
(Not as many books as she planned???)
(Not as many books as she planned???)
You’re a child psychologist as well as an author. How many hours a week do you spend at the “day job” and when do you write?
When SCAN sold, I went from 4 days/week of psychology to 3 days/week. After FACTORY GHOST sold in June, I realized I couldn’t even keep up with that, and so now I do that job 2 days/week and am working at home, writing, the other 3 days. And I still feel like I never have enough time. But: I’m grateful to be able to have dedicated days for writing, and I do treat it like a job. On writing days, it’s an intense 8am-5pm. So intense that sometimes I forget to eat.
Are you an outliner, a pantster, or something in between?
Something in between. I write out a synopsis for every project but rarely go back to it. When I write, I always outline the next 2-3 chapters, with the events that mark the end of each chapter, so I know where I need to go.
You once said on your blog that you have so many upcoming projects, your agent made you a color-coded schedule for what to work on when. Can you tell us a little about that? (And have you ever had to rebel and work on something else because your muse had hold of you?)
She gives me a schedule coded with revision due dates, submission dates for new projects, and pub dates. It requires constant revision because things are always getting shuffled around. AND because, if there’s a delay in an editorial letter or something, I do have a tendency to wander off and write a book while I’m waiting. That’s happened a few times. Kathleen is very patient with me.
You co-authored SCAN, your upcoming YA thriller with Walter Jury. Can you share a little about that collaboration process?
Walter is the coolest. He writes the synopses—like, 20-30 page synopses—and I write the book. We work together on revisions and discuss issues that come up along the way. It’s been a pleasure because he’s always willing to hop on the phone and talk through a scene or a world building issue if I need it, and because he’s totally flexible in integrating my ideas into the story.
You are currently under contract with three different publishing houses. What is that like?
It’s lovely (especially because I have a color-coded schedule and an agent who looks out for me like nobody’s business). I feel like I’m learning a lot, and in a few years, I’ll have a very well-informed understanding of this business. I’m working with Amazon Children’s Publishing, Putnam/Penguin, and McElderry/Simon & Schuster, and each of them has different timetables and styles. One thing they have in common: super-smart and dedicated editors who help me make my books better in ways I could never anticipate. It’s a privilege to work with each of them.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with us, about SANCTUM (available now) or any of your upcoming books?
Thanks, Sarah, for sharing your incredible journey with us. I think you are an inspiration to a lot of us! If you don't already follow Sarah at her blog, The Strangest Situation, you really should.