Sarah Remy lives in Washington State with plenty of animals and people, both. In her limited spare time she rides horses, rehabs her old home, and supervises a chaotic household. She can talk to you endlessly about Sherlock Holmes, World of Warcraft, and backyard chicken husbandry. Sarah writes fantasy, scifi and romance for herself, for small press, and for HarperCollins.
She can be found at www.sarahremy.com or on Twitter as @sarahremywrites.
Congratulations on the release of your latest book, Stonehill Downs. When did you start writing and what got you into fantasy?
I’ve been writing my entire life. As a child I carried a notebook around full of little stories and character sketches. I majored in creative writing in college. My first published novel, a scifi thriller, was in fact my college thesis. The fantasy genre has always been my favorite to read and to write, ‘fantasy’ feels like home to me.
What is your book about?
Stonehill Downs follows Mal, the last remaining magus in the kingdom of Wilhaiim, and perhaps in the world. When Mal is sent by his monarch to investigate a series of brutal murders in the outlying village of Stonehill, he meets Avani, a foreigner with her own odd and innate magic. Together they learn that they must set aside preconceived notions in order to prevent an old, hungry evil from destroying their world.
Did you have any struggles or difficulties when you started writing?
I think everyone does. It’s difficult to create art of any kind and then put it out there for the world to see, and I think this is as true for the practiced author as it is for the novice. The average author doesn’t become an overnight sensation. There’s a lot of hard work and so many ups and downs. I think when an author first starts out the most difficult thing is understanding that criticism is not the end of the world, or of a writing career. I’m a pretty thick-skinned person, but there were times early on when a critical review made me want to sink the entire ship and give up on writing completely. You can’t do that. You have to keep going.
I’m looking for readers who enjoy a good story but who also want to connect with diverse characters. I try to steer away from the usual fantasy tropes. Mal’s a flawed protagonist, and will become more so as the series continues. Avani’s a stranger in a strange land, yet still confident in her own skills and history. She’s not looking to be saved. She takes what the day throws at her and does her best, whether that’s adopting a needy lad or snuffing out dangerous ghouls.
What do you do when your muse refuses to collaborate?
Whenever I’m really stuck I always get up and do something physical. Sometimes I go to the gym. Sometimes I scrub the bathroom. Sometimes I go for a long walk or tend the garden. I’ve found that the brain does its best work when it’s running as a background app, so to speak. Usually if I take a few hours away from the computer and flex my muscles the muse becomes unstuck.
Do you have a writing schedule? Are you disciplined?
Yes, I have to be very disciplined, otherwise it just doesn’t work. My brain doesn’t really click on until mid afternoon, so I don’t write much in the morning. Usually after lunch I set a timer for two hours. Then I’ll take a break and come back to the computer after dinner for three or four hours. I don’t sit and stare at the screen. I make myself put something on the page even if it’s the worst prose ever. Bad prose can always be fixed later.
What was your publishing process like?
This time around it was a bit of a whirl. On a complete whim I submitted Stonehill to Harper Collins in their 2013 open call. The manuscript, along with a handful of others, was selected out of upwards of 4000 submissions. I signed in June, 2014 for Stonehill plus a follow-up, and things moved very quickly after. The Stonehill edits needed to be put to bed almost immediately, and then I had to move immediately into the new manuscript, Across the Long Sea. It was a bit of a crazy four months, but also terribly exciting. Harper was wonderful, very supportive and professional.
How do you celebrate the completion of a book?
Usually with Mexican food and a shot of tequila. I’m a California transplant who loves her chicken tacos and spicy salsa! I usually also give myself a week or two off to read all the great books I haven’t had a chance to touch whilst writing. And then it’s back to work again.
Where is your book available?
You can find Stonehill Downs in the usual places, online at Amazon and Barnes and Noble and iBooks. Also in brick and mortar stores. But please come and find me at sarahremy.com. I’ve got a number of self published and small press stories available, including the Manhattan Exiles series, which is in fact my special baby.
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