About the Author
Sarah Beard is the author of YA novels Porcelain Keys and Beyond the Rising Tide. She earned a degree in communications from the University of Utah and is currently pursuing an MFA in writing from VCFA. When she's not writing, she referees wrestling matches between her three boys and listens to audiobooks while folding self-replicating piles of laundry. She is a breast cancer survivor, a baker of sweets, a seeker of good love stories, a composer of melancholy music, and a traveler who wishes her travel budget was much bigger. She lives with her husband and children in the shadow of the beautiful Wasatch Mountains.
1. How did you get started as an author? What or whom inspired you?
I’ve always enjoyed writing and storytelling. I was involved in the literary magazine in high school as well as a campus magazine in college, and had the goal of writing a novel someday. However, it wasn’t until I was 30 that I actually came up with a story compelling enough to finish. But between having three small kids, getting cancer, and learning how to write, it ended up taking me about five years to finish. During that time, I worked hard to improve my craft by taking fiction writing classes, reading countless books on writing, and dissecting novels like textbooks. I also attended writing conferences and joined an amazing critique group who helped me fine tune my writing style. I finished my first book, Porcelain Keys, in January 2013 and spent many months querying and submitting. That summer, I received a publishing offer from Cedar Fort Publishing. And in February 2014, my first novel was released to the world. I haven’t looked back since, and have many more stories planned!
2. What writing projects are you currently working on? What can you tell us about these projects?
For the first time ever, I’m working on two projects at once because both stories are begging to be told. They’re both YA romance, but one is contemporary and the other is a time travel. I’m also starting a writing MFA program at Vermont College of Fine Arts this summer, so it’s going to be a busy two years!
3. What does your writing process look like?
My first two story ideas began with a single scene rather than a premise, and then I took that scene and developed it into a story by asking questions about the characters and their motivations. But as I’ve been working on my third novel, I’ve turned into more of a planner. This time around, the premise of the story came first. I knew what I wanted my story to be about even before I’d imagined the characters, so I outlined a rough plotline, and then developed characters based around the plot. But it still takes time and a lot of writing for me to really get to know my characters, so I allow my story to be extremely flexible when I’m working on a first draft. Also, I try not to think too much about the quality of writing in my first draft. The goal is just to get the story down. If I worry too much about word choice or sentence structure, I get paralyzed. I keep a sticky note above my computer that says, “Dare to write badly.” Because giving myself permission to write badly is the only way I can get through a first draft. Once I finish a first draft, I go back and rework sentences and paragraphs to make them prettier. Also, because I’m still mostly a discovery writer, there are always plot elements and details I have to go back and change to keep things consistent. As I revise, I begin sharing chapters with my critique partners to get feedback, then implement the suggestions I agree with. Then I read through it again and make more revisions. Then I repeat the process. Then repeat it again. And maybe again for good measure. And once it’s accepted for publication, it goes through more revisions. To paraphrase a quote from author John Irving: writing is mostly rewriting, and it’s not so much talent as it is stamina.
4. What authors/novels that you enjoy would you recommend?
Some of my favorites are Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell, the Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater, Geek Girl by Cindy C. Bennett, Everything Everything by Nicola Yoon, On the Fence by Kasie West (really anything by Kasie West), and Where She Went by Gayle Forman.
5. What period of history interests you the most?
The entire 19th century is fascinating to me because it was a period of discovery, innovation, and exploration. One of the stories I’m working on is partially set in the 19th century, and the research is so fun!
6. What inspired your idea for Beyond the Rising Tide?
The premise of this story was inspired by a lot of different experiences, but it all started a few years ago as I was going through cancer treatments and spending a lot of time thinking about death—examining my own beliefs, but also thinking about all the people who had died before me and crossed over to the other side. Their unseen world felt as real to me as the one I was living in. I think that’s when the seed for this story was planted, but it didn’t actually sprout until a couple years later when I was in my bedroom one afternoon and the sun was shining through the windows and turning a white blanket on my bed radiant. A scene came into my mind in that moment of a girl and a ghost-like boy, and it was so powerful to me that it brought tears to my eyes. I didn’t know at the time who these people were, but I set out writing a story about them to find out. They turned out to be Avery and Kai, and that particular scene ended up in chapter 27.
7. What other hobbies do you enjoy when you are not writing?
To be honest, I used to have a lot of hobbies, but I’ve given most of them up to focus on writing. But when I’m not writing, I enjoy reading, composing music, baking sweets, and spending time with my husband and three sons.
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