An Interview with Sarah Parke

(Updated October 2016)

  1. What does your writing process look like?

I am a notoriously undisciplined writer. I have a writing desk, a special writing chair–even a writing software program, but I rarely write with any regularity.  With the new novel project in the works, I’m back to the drafting stage, so I try to write (or at least think about what I want to write) every day. Revision counts as writing, too!

  1. What book do you wish you could have written?

I wish I had come up with the concept of Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials. It’s so brilliant and you can read it on many different levels (as a child, young adult, or adult). Yeah, I get author envy every time I re-read that series.

  1. Just as your books inspire authors, what authors have inspired you to write?

Growing up I read a lot of Laura Ingalls Wilder, Anne of Green Gables, and the Dear America series. A lot of historical fiction. My writing is also heavily influenced by Neil Gaiman, Philip Pullman, Susanna Clarke, and Joss Whedon (though technically he’s a screenwriter).

  1. How important are names to you in your books? Do you choose the names based on liking the way it sounds or the meaning? 

Names are very important to my writing process. I often cannot start writing about a character or a place  until I know their/its name. I choose names based on my characters’ background, nationality, whether or not they have a nickname, and their personality. I like to use Baby Name websites or pull from Classic literature (Dickens) to find interesting names.

  1. Are you a plotter or a pantster?

A bit of both. It helps me to plan out the major “beats” of a story or novel, such as ‘what is going to be the catalyst that makes the character change?’ If I have a very basic structure, I then like to give myself the space to play with the characters and see where they take me. Sometimes they end up where they need to be, and other times they find an even better way to tell the story.

  1. What is your least favorite part of the publishing / writing process?

Querying. Enough said. 🙂

  1. Is there a certain type of scene that’s harder for you to write than others? Love? Action? Racy?

I struggle with high-intensity emotional scenes. Because of my personality, my tendency is to inject humor into scenes where it doesn’t belong. Unless your character is a sociopath, try to avoid using humor in scenes that need to be tense and uncomfortable.

  1. What literary character is most like you?

Elizabeth Bennett from Pride & Prejudice. I’d like to say Jane Eyre, but I know I wouldn’t have had the guts to leave Rochester.

  1. Do you dream? Do you have any recurring dreams/nightmares?

Yes. For several months I’ve been having the same/similar dream that I am back in high school and I’ve forgotten to write/complete/turn-in a term paper for my English class. Also, I can’t remember where my locker is. It makes me very upset/anxious because then I can’t graduate. Any idea what this might signify?

  1. What are you working on now? What is your next project? While I wait to hear back about queries, I am working on my next novel project, a historical fantasy about an alternative history where Napoleon won the war using dark magic.
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