Teen Author Boot Camp 2014: Interview with Sara Larson

(We’re less than a week away from Teen Author Boot Camp and I can’t wait. It seems as if Utah has more YA writers than you can possibly imagine, and they’re all pretty great. Sara Larson is no exception. She did me the honor of agreeing to an interview as she talks about writing and why teaching teen writers is so important to her)

How did you get into writing? 

Writing has always been an integral part of who I am—I honestly can’t remember a time when I didn’t write. I even have notebooks full of my stories from second and third grade to prove it! I actively began trying to get published after my first son was born, but it took me quite a few years to finally achieve my goal. I’m just so thrilled to finally see my book on a shelf, after a lifetime of hoping to someday be a published author!

What does your “writing day” look like? 

With three young children, it is usually…chaotic. I have to carve out time to write wherever I can—naptimes, after they’re in bed for the night, early in the morning, just whenever I can squeeze it in! Sometimes I’ll even resort to taking them to a playland where they can run wild while I sit at a table with my laptop, just to sneak in an extra half an hour of writing.

Tell us about Defy and some of the themes you wanted to explore. 

DEFY is about Alexa Hollen, who is forced to disguise herself as a boy and serve in the king’s army. Alex uses her quick wit and fierce sword-fighting skills to earn a spot on the elite prince’s guard, but soon learns that she’s not the only one with dangerous secrets. There’s sword fighting, magic, political intrigue, romance—basically, all the good stuff! DEFY actually came from a very difficult period in my life, when I lost someone I loved. I was so upset by his death that I couldn’t write anything, but a friend of mine told me to stop trying to write a book and just write what I was feeling. So that’s exactly what I did. When I wrote that first scene I didn’t really have a plan for it to go anywhere—so I didn’t consciously set out to explore any themes. But the characters wouldn’t leave me alone so I quickly became interested in discovering who they were and how they ended up where they were. Though it came from a place of grief, the story really took on its own life. It became a story of survival and moving forward, a story of what true courage and strength is, and a story about love and hope (even in the most desperate of situations) and risking everything for the chance of a better future.

Why are you participating in Teen Author book camp?

I’ve heard such great things about TABC and I am so excited to be a part of it this year! As I said, I’ve always written, and I can’t even imagine how much I would have loved an opportunity to go to a conference like this as a teenager. It’s such a great concept—to give teenagers a chance to begin pursuing their dreams now, instead of waiting until they’re adults (like I did).  And that’s pretty much why I wanted to take part in it, to be able to do what I can for teenagers like me, who love to write and dream of being published someday. I can’t wait for March 8!

What future projects are on your plate? 

I am currently working on the sequel to DEFY with my editor, which will be out early in 2015, plus a couple of other projects. Hopefully you will see many more books from me in the coming years!

Check out Defy in book outlets everywhere….

 

About Jonathan Ryan

Jonathan Ryan is a novelist, blogger and columnist. His novel, 3 Gates of the Dead, published by Open Road Media, is in bookstores everywhere. The sequel, Dark Bride, will be out in April 2015


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