A Blogoversary Interview With Sara Letourneau

Happy Blogoversary

Today marks the blog’s 7th birthday!  😀  It seems like forever ago when I signed up for a free WordPress account – and to be honest, I had no idea what I was doing back then when it came to blogging. But since then, this site has evolved so much, and I’ve learned a lot and become a better writer because of it. And now, it’s time to celebrate this special birthday with a post that YOU, the readers, voted for.

Last month, readers selected an interview with yours truly as this year’s blogoversary post. I admit that I was a little nervous about this – but I’m an introvert. Of course, I would be nervous about being interviewed. This turned out to be a lot of fun, though, and I thank everyone who submitted questions. Enjoy!

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On Writing In General

When did you start writing?

I started writing when I was 7 years old. I already loved reading and coloring, so it wasn’t long before I started putting words to paper. I still remember sitting at the kitchen table with crayons, sketch pads, and lined paper; and writing stories about talking animals, strange places, and (of all things) eating pineapple pancakes on a Hawaiian beach. And I had never been to Hawaii before. Go figure, huh?

What was the first story you remember writing?

I mentioned a few of my very first story ideas above. But when I was 13, I started writing (and never finished) what would have been my first true novel. It was basically Beauty and the Beast with vampires instead of a beast, and set in modern times. (No, it wasn’t influenced by the Twilight series, if anyone is wondering.)

2The Hobbit Unexpected JourneyWhere do you get inspiration for your stories?

I get story ideas from just about everywhere. My current WIP (The Keeper’s Curse) was inspired by the first film of Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit Trilogy and the thrill on going on a quest, encountering danger, and not being the same person when you return home. I’ve also gotten other story ideas from places I’ve visited, artwork, nature, music, dancing – like I said, from just about everywhere. And, having a happy, open, and grateful attitude makes it possible to find inspiration wherever you go.

When did you know writing was what you wanted to do in life?

I think my inner child always knew I was meant to be a writer. I’ve done so many different kinds of writing (novels, poetry, journalism) that I guess it shouldn’t surprise me. (Fun Fact: I originally went to college to be a journalist, but that never panned out.)

But when did I know I wanted to be a novelist? About 3 months into writing the first draft of The Keeper’s Curse. That was when I realized that working on the story was more fun, challenging, and fulfilling than anything else I had done before. There was no turning back after that!

Do you think you’ll keep writing YA exclusively? Or do you have some ideas or plans for novels for the adult audience too?

I absolutely plan on writing adult fantasy as well! That’s why I call myself a fantasy writer, not a YA fantasy writer. It just so happens that my current WIP is a better fit for the YA market. Check out the answer to the next question if you’d like to see a couple of my adult fantasy ideas.

What do you see yourself writing in 5 or 6 years from now?

I have a hard time answering questions like “What do you see yourself doing in 5 years?” It’s not that I don’t know what I want to do; it’s more like I’m a “here and now” person. Long-term planning isn’t one of my strengths. I only know what I can do right now in order to work toward my goals, and adjust that approach as time goes on.

That being said, I have LOTS of story ideas. The clearest of them is a YA contemporary fantasy with merfolk that’s set on Cape Cod (hence my upcoming market research project on mermaid novels). That could be what I’m working on in 5 or 6 year’s time. Here are other possibilities (though these aren’t my only ideas):

  • An epic fantasy for adults that pits a man in his early 20s against his father
  • A contemporary YA retelling of The Nutcracker
  • At least one novel from the perspective of Nomaro, one of two protagonists in a novella I’m planning to write when on “beta-reading break” from TKC (most likely for adults)
  • A dark steampunk-ish fantasy set on an archipelago (not sure which “age group” it’s for yet)
If you could have the career of any author, past or present, whose career would you steal?

It’s a lofty choice, but I have to go with Ursula K. Le Guin. Take a look at her back catalog, and you’ll find not only fantasy and science fiction novels, but poetry, short stories, essays… She’s one of the most versatile writers out there. The quality of her writing is second-to-none, too. Her prose is lyrical, concise, and precise; and it flows as smoothly and effortlessly as a stream. Between those two aspects the longevity of her career, and the respect she receives (and deserves to receive) from the SF&F community – I don’t want to steal Ursula’s career from her, but I hope I can achieve one like hers in those ways.

On My Current WIP, The Keeper’s Curse

What led to your decision to write The Keeper’s Curse now, rather than writing any of your other story ideas first?

Actually, I was entertaining another story idea when the spark for TKC came along. The thing is, I was still in “exploration mode” with that one. I knew what kind of fantasy elements I wanted and some bits about the protagonist, but I had no clue what the story was about. With TKC, though, almost everything – the world, the magic, the characters, the plot – was vividly clear from the get-go. So, I took that clarity as a sign that I needed to get on TKC while it was strong and fresh with me, and give the other idea time to grow.

Are there any publishers in particular that you hope might publish The Keeper’s Curse?

I’d be thrilled if Tor / Tor Teen wanted to publish TKC. That’s one of the BIG publishing houses for fantasy and science fiction in North America. However, I’m also a believer in finding the right home for your writing, the right team of people who understand and support your vision and will help you take it to the next level. I don’t know which publisher that might be – and I’ve got plenty other steps in the writing process to take care of first (finishing edits, beta-reading, querying, etc.). So, I want to keep an open mind about my options and not count my chickens before they hatch.

Will The Keeper’s Curse have a sequel?

Maybe… or maybe not. 😉  That will depend on a number of things. Agents typically suggest that a writer’s query letter should state that the book works as a standalone but has series potential. I’ve read this advice online, then had it confirmed in person at last year’s Writer’s Digest Conference. So, while I already know what Eva encounters after TKC and how she continues to grow from there, I also have to be mindful of how I present TKC to prospective agents and publishers.

What or whom do you hope will have your readers most excited, intrigued, or impressed with in The Keeper’s Curse?

Oh, gosh. I don’t know… I just hope people like it! But I also hope readers will be happy that it’s a YA fantasy that “does its own thing” by putting fantasy elements, plot, and characters first instead of following popular tropes or cliches. I also hope they’re moved by Eva’s journey from who she is at the beginning of TKC to who she is at the end.

On Reading

What is the first book you remember reading?Where the Sidewalk Ends

I read the Little Golden Books with my parents when I was little, like Good Night, Little Bear and Roly Poly Puppy. Do they count?  🙂  I also remember reading an anthology of Greek mythology written for kids, as well as Shel Silverstein’s A Light in the Attic and Where the Sidewalk Ends (pictured right), which were poetry books for children.

What is it about fairy / Fey stories that fascinate you?

I wouldn’t say I’m fascinated with fairy or Fey stories. It’s more like I’m catching up on them because I’ve written my own story with fairy characters, and I want to be familiar with what’s already out there in case people ask for comparisons. This “catching up” is part of a market research project I’ve talked about here and there on the blog, as well as this #5onFri post for DIY MFA.

That said, I do find fairies enchanting. I don’t have a favorite “type” of fairy – though when I was little, I wanted to fly like winged fairies could. 🙂 I just love their beauty and the air of magic and mystery around them. They’re an enigma, and one of my favorite fantastical creatures.

A lot of fairy artwork captures those aspects much better than I can describe in words. Some of my favorites were drawn by Jessica Galbreth (click here and here for examples galore). If you like what you see in those links, then check out Jessica’s website for more of her gorgeous creations.

On Life & Other Things

What is the first tea you remember drinking?

The first tea I remember drinking was bagged, decaffeinated black tea. I think I was 7 or 8, and I don’t remember which brand it was (probably Red Rose, Salada, or Lipton). But I’d never had it before, and I asked Mom if I could try a cup. It didn’t leave much of an impression on me, so I didn’t have it again for a long time.

But the first tea I lovetolife-teavanad, and the one that sparked my tea craze as an adult? Teavana’s ToLife® (pictured right), a blend of silver needle white tea, jasmine pearls, rooibos, and fruit and floral accents. I tried it at a friend’s house one night… and ohhhhhh my goodness. Bright, fragrant, and sweet without being too fruity – I had never tasted anything quite like it before. That prompted me to ask what else my friend kept in her tea shelf.

Unfortunately, ToLife® isn’t available from Teavana’s website right now. (I hope they haven’t discontinued it!) But if you want to know more about it, you can check out this review I wrote for A Bibliophile’s Reverie a couple years ago.

What non-writing / reading activities do you do to de-stress and relax? You mentioned in your bio that you cook, do yoga, etc. Could you be more specific? 

It’s weird, because after my day job, writing / editing, and reading, I don’t have much time for other hobbies. This is especially true now that I’ve altered my writing routine so I can work on the WIP on weeknights. But when I do have downtime, I might do one of the following:

  • 30 minutes to 1 hour of yoga, usually at home with new age or relaxing music playing.
  • Color. Right now I’m working on The Big Book of Mandalas Coloring Book for Inner Peace and Inspiration (read more about it here), and each page takes between 30 to 60 minutes to finish. I put on one of my relaxing music CDs, take out my colored pencils, and let the world fall away for a while. It’s fulfilling to see how beautiful each one turns out when I’m done.
  • Go for a walk. I spend my lunch breaks walking (30 to 45 minutes), and have gotten back into the habit of walking first thing on weekend mornings (close to 1 hour). Not only is it great exercise, but I use it as a chance to clear my mind and observe nature. My brain also likes to use walks as “random story or blog idea generation” time.
  • Meditate. I don’t always remember to do this… But I *try* to spend 5 or 10 minutes before I go to bed, and simply be quiet and still.

I don’t cook as much as I used to because of my new writing schedule. But I like making things for friends and family to try, and always offer to bring something homemade to parties. My favorite meals to cook for guests include chicken parmesan, honey-glazed or balsamic-glazed salmon, and my own twist on homemade macaroni and cheese. I’ve also been told I make a mean Greek pasta salad.

I also love baking, especially desserts. Nothing fancy, but if it looks yummy, I’ll try it. People often ask for my chocolate chip cookies, cream cheese brownies, and S’mores bars. I also bake mini pumpkin breads for family and co-workers around Christmastime.

Last but not least, I enjoy spending time with friends and family. It doesn’t matter if we go out to eat, take a day trip somewhere, or just hang out at someone’s house. I simply like being with people when we can work it into our busy schedules.

If you lived in Harry Potter’s world, what Hogwarts house would you be sorted into? And, what would your Patronus be?

My Hogwarts ravenclawhouse would be Ravenclaw! It’s the one that fits me best. I was diligent and academically motivated all the way through college. Plus, Ravenclaws are known for “studious” hobbies and other quirks; and my reading and writing habits, eclectic tastes in movies and music, and love of fantasy would fit that criteria.

As for a Patronus… that’s tough. The animal that results from a Patronus charm often reflects your personality or is one you share a deep affinity with. There are several animals (including insects) I feel that way about: owls, hummingbirds, butterflies, dragonflies, and dolphins. Maybe my Patronus would be one of those, but I’m not sure which one reflects me best.

If you could pass on three pieces of advice to your self 5 years ago, what would they be?
  1. Do what makes you happy. Don’t let other people tell you what you should do with your life. Because most of the time, what they want you to do – and who they want you to be – won’t bring you happiness or fulfillment.
  2. Don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself. It’s OK to do what you believe is right for you and speak your truth. You can’t control about how other people will react – and for someone like you who worries about what others think of you, I know how hard that can be. All you can control is your approach to the situation, your choice of words, and your tone of voice.
  3. Be yourself. You don’t need to be perfect, because no one can achieve perfection. Just be who you are – wonderful, beautiful, creative, genuine, lovable you. That is all you and anyone else will want you to be.

That concludes this blogoversary interview! Thanks again for all of your questions, and I hope you enjoyed getting to know me a little more.  🙂

40 thoughts on “A Blogoversary Interview With Sara Letourneau

  1. Happy 7th blogoversary! 🙂 It was wonderful getting to know you better. That wasn’t so bad for an introvert. 😛
    I liked how you divided the questions up into sections. I really hope Tor picks up TKC. That would be amazing! 😀
    I don’t know how you find the time to do all of what you said and maintain this blog. I’m pretty sure I couldn’t if I were in your shoes. I’m horrible with time management.
    I hope your blog continues to grow with time and delights your readers as it has always. Good luck with all your writing projects! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Nandini! 🙂 And yeah, it really wasn’t so bad. I think I was just nervous of what people would ask, and what they would think of my answers. (The latter is probably the ISFJ in me.)

      I had seen someone else divide their blogoversary interview questions in a similar manner (by topic). It made the post very organized, and I thought it would be helpful for this post as well.

      Like I’ve said in some of the other comments, I’m just glad that people enjoy coming here and reading my posts. It really motivates me to continue blogging and inspires me to keep pushing for my biggest dreams. So, many thanks to YOU and to everyone else for making this blog what it has become. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I had to pause at pineapple pancakes. I like pineapple and I like pancakes. I need to try this pineapple pancake! If only they were real. I love that idea though.
    Was really nice to read this and I’m glad you did it. I appreciate the self advice too.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. First of all, let me wish you a very happy blogaversary! That was such a fun interview. Great to get to know you better and what makes you tick. I just loved your story ideas as a kid. Why don’t you turn them into children’s fantasy tales? After all you are writing for young adults and have plans to write for adults too. So this could be for the young ‘uns, eh?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much, Zephyr! I’m glad you enjoyed reading it. 🙂

      To be honest, the ideas I had when I was little don’t really inspire me now. I find it very hard sometimes to use writing prompts or go back to older ideas that have lost their “spark.” Something has to really resonate with me in order for me to want to write it, or for me to hang onto the idea long enough to write it in the future. Thankfully I have a lot of story ideas waiting in the wings… We’ll just have to see how it all goes, huh?

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I adore your answers! Admittedly, I was most interested in the answer you had to my particular question (I’ll let you guess ;P). But seriously: I love cooking/baking too! I don’t do it often (well, lie: I cooked dinner a lot when I lived at home, either completely giving my mom some “time off” or at least helping her out; currently, it’s so hot in Cruces that I’m trying to cook only once/twice a week and have leftovers because, damn, that oven heats the apartment up good). But I love cooking good meals from scratch. And baking is my favorite thing, but given my healthy-eating kick, I only do it when I can share it with friends.family (or even strangers). Food’s meant to be shared 🙂

    And kudos for finding ways to stay active even in your busy life! My dad does the same thing you do: actually eating his lunch doesn’t typically take long, but he goes for walks that last at least 30 minutes just to get himself out from behind his desk and get some fresh air.

    As for yoga: do you watch videos, or just kind of know the moves?

    As always, I love learning more about you/your writing/etc/, dear. Thanks so much for spending the time answering our questions! xo

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much, Rae. 🙂 Like I said to Sarah, I’m just glad you and other readers enjoy coming here.

      The first thing I thought of when I was reading your cooking / baking comment: Have you moved to your apartment closer to your MFA school?? I remember you saying that was coming soon.

      Cooking from scratch is always wonderful. I always prefer to try it myself and be my own “guinea pig” before giving it to other people. In case… you know. :S Last night I had friends over, and I made rosemary apricot chicken for the first time for company. And I (and they) were very pleased with how it came out.

      I do my best when it comes to staying active. That’s about all I can do, really. (Otherwise, I’d be a lazy bum. :S ) Regarding yoga: I’ve taken classes for a couple years from different instructors. So I know a lot of moves and just let myself “go with the flow” in my practice, whatever my body feels like doing.

      As for the question YOU asked… Hmmmmm… Was it “which author’s career you would steal”?

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Many congratulations – 7 years is really worth celebrating:)). I loved your interview and thought you did a really good job of answering the selection of questions we all asked you. I always appreciate your thoughtful, thorough approach and I’m sure that you will prevail. I wish you all the very best in your writing ambition!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Happy blog birthday! When I did that Harry Potter house quiz I think it sorted me into Hufflepuff…which I thought was BS! Going by your description I think I would be more at home as a Ravenclaw as well, growing up I was (and still am) more of the studious type, into geeky nerdy things 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Mogsy! 🙂 I’ve actually gotten Hufflepuff and Gryffindor before on different Hogwarts house quizzes, too. But Ravenclaw is the answer I’ve gotten most often. Speaking of which: Yay for fellow Ravenclaws!

      Like

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  8. It’s great to get to know you a little better! I’m also a Ravenclaw! And I loooove cooking. ^ ^ I love food and I try to cook as healthy as I can afford. I also read A Light in the Attic. ^ ^ And I loved the Golden Books as a kid. 😀 Happy Bloggoversary, bloggy buddy!

    storitorigrace.blogspot.com

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Happy blogoversary! 🙂
    I loved reading the interview! I’m surprised you remember you first tea (I don’t, but then, back when I was a child in Poland, tea would be given even to 5yos – also, back then there wasn’t much of a tea selection since it was still communism).
    I also look forward to your writing projects, the steampunk one sounds interesting! 🙂 (and some others as well).

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Congratulations, Sara! Wonderful that you’ve kept going when blogging is such a commitment (believe me, I know!) And to continue to have such thoughtful content is a real accomplishment. It’s always surprising to get to know other bloggers and to realize we’re all very similar in some ways, but VERY different in others. Here’s to another 7 years!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Happy Belated Blogoversary! Here’s to many more amazing years and much success with all your future endeavours!
    You are a great inspiration and I consider myself rather fortunate that I discovered you through Twitter!
    I love how you did this interview! It’s been great to discover more about you. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Belated Happy Blogoversary! 🙂 I loved your questions and answers. They covered pretty much everything.

    I’m not good at planning long-term either. I hate it when people ask me what I see myself doing in five years tie. I just think that no one knows the future, so it could be anything. I have goals, but I don’t like to plan.

    And I love your advice to yourself at the end. Advice we could all take on board, I think. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Happy Blogoversary, Sara! ❤
    I like how you organized all of the questions, and your answers are so fun and entertaining to read. Tor and Tor Teen sound like great publishers to try for! Though I'm sure that when the time comes, you'll find the publisher that fits your book best, whether it be Tor or a different publisher. Can't wait to see who will publish TKC! (I impatiently want to read it 🙂 ).

    Ravenclaw, yes! That's me too. 🙂 I was always a studious student.
    I can't recall the first tea I ever drank, but the first I ever liked was Earl Grey. It was over in Italy, so not the typical brands you find here. Much of their tea and coffee was so good, I miss it.

    Great answer to the "what will you be doing 5 years from now." It's not easy for me to think about because, like you said, I prefer focusing on the here and now, and reaching goals I hope for now.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, E.! 😀

      I thought it would make more sense to organize the questions by topic. So I’m glad you and other readers felt the same way.

      Yay for Ravenclaws! And yay for Earl Grey tea, too. I can only imagine how good the European version must have been.

      Yeah, that was a tough question to answer. I know what I want to do, and I have plenty of ideas. But there comes a point when my practical side takes over and says, “No! One thing at a time, Sara!” *lol* So, yeah. Baby steps, one at a time. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      • I really miss European tea and coffee, and even Italy’s thick-as-soup hot chocolate, *yum*. ^_^ I’m sure there are some excellent imported brands here, but they are quite expensive. (none of the hot chocolate though. I’ve yet to find something similar to it here.)
        “Baby steps, baby steps…” Flashback to What About Bob movie. XD It’s so true though! Some days my mind is bursting with ideas, and I have to firmly stomp my mind’s foot and say “Not yet!” lol.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Oh my goodness… that hot cocoa. If I ever go to Italy – no, WHEN I go to Italy – I need to try that.

        Exactly! If all those different plot bunnies keep distracting us, we’ll never get a single story done! *lol* 😉

        Liked by 1 person

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  15. AHH! I finally got to read this!! ^_^ I thoroughly enjoyed reading all your responses. I have to say I absolutely love your inspiration for TKC. 😀 The whole concept of going on an adventure and returning changed… man, that just stirs me. It makes me more excited for your novel when it’s finished. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hee hee, thank you, Brianna. 🙂 I think TKC offers a nod to the story that inspires it, but it really has become its own thing since this crazy journey with it began. And yup, you got the overall jist of it. 😉

      Like

  16. I read this back in a stupor of work exhaustion, and now I’m finally back to comment coherently:
    First off, this was really fun to read! The questions were great, and I loved reading your answers. One of my favorites was about your first story ideas (and I checked out those pineapple pancakes-they look amazing).
    I also love the idea of going on a journey/adventure and coming back a different person or the person you had buried inside you. It’s an interesting concept to explore as a writer. I honestly just love adventure stories (note that Knight of the Blue Surcoat is technically one). I think it’s the armchair traveller in me desperately trying to make it out of the armchair!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks! It was a lot of fun to answer everyone’s questions. 🙂

      I don’t know how I still remember the pineapple pancakes story. Maybe because it was so random, yet fitting since the story ended on a Hawaiian beach. It’s weird, in a good way.

      Adventure stories are awesome, aren’t they? 🙂 I’d call myself an “armchair traveler,” too, since a) I’ve always wanted to visit other places, yet b) my family was never big on traveling far for vacations. So, reading has always been my way of “remedying” that lack of adventure in my own life. Which only highlights the fact that I need to travel more as an adult… But yeah. I’m glad I’m working on a story along that vein.

      Liked by 1 person

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