Sarah answers my 11-Questions (minus 1). She used to meet with us on Thursday’s gathering of NWA Writers but moved away last year to Oklahoma.
Author name: Sarah Paige Berling
Latest title: Current WIPs: Time’s Eye and Forgive Me If I Sleep
- I’m always interested in the writer’s process. How often do you write? Do you have a daily word count goal? Give me an overview (or detailed if you really want to go there) of your writing life.
I tried setting goals for myself, and then was always disappointed in myself because I never met them. I try to write everyday, or at least several times a week. Usually I write in spurts, whenever the mood overtakes me. I’ve found that forcing myself to sit down and write creates poor results.
I’ve been writing since I was 12 (I’m 24 now). I prefer to write long-hand, because it lets my mind work more steadily. But I create better work when I sit down to type. It just takes a bit longer. Very frustrating.
I’m currently a Creative Writing major at the University of Central Oklahoma. I’ll be graduating in May.
- Do you also work a full-time non-writer job or career?
Sorta. I’m a full-time student and I work about 25 hours a week at two different jobs. But because all my classes this semester are in the evening and the jobs only take up a few days of the week, I still find plenty of time to sit down and write.
- How supportive has your family been of your writing time? Have you ever had to fight for your right to write?
My mother has always been very supportive, as have my husband (Eric) and my best friend (Philip). My father is always interested when I mention it, but he usually forgets about it the next day. My siblings don’t really care and none of my family have ever read anything I’ve written. They’re more abstractedly supportive. Philip and Eric read whatever I ask them to, and give good feedback, which I really appreciate. A writer friend of mine, Danny, helps by pointing out the inconsistencies in my stories, which is a huge help and makes my writing stronger.
- How long did it take to write (from start to finish) your novel?
FMIIS took a little over a year, but that’s because it was a collaborative work. I’ve been working on Time’s Eye, piece by piece, for about 3 years. I believe that, once I finish it, I will have the idea of how to start and end a novel more firmly planted in my head, so the next one will take less time.
- What route to publishing did you take (agent, traditional, self-pub), and how long did it take from finish to publication?
The only piece I’ve had published, a flash fiction piece for a zombie anthology, was sent straight to the editor. When I try to get FMIIS and Time’s Eye published, though, I will try an agent first, and if that fails, I will go straight to the publisher.
- Is there a theme, or premise you’d really like readers to connect with in your latest book?
I haven’t realized a theme in either novel, yet, but maybe I will as I go through and edit them. I have another project that I’m planning on starting this month, and the premise I’m working on is, “We create our own reality.” Or something to that effect.
- Where are you going now, are you working on a sequel, or something entirely different?
I’m not a big fan of sequels. I’m working on something completely different now, something mythologically-based in a post-apocalyptic world. I find that my writing goes through phases: I had an“assassins” phase, where every protagonist was an assassin (this was back during my younger teenage years); then I had a “dragons”phase, where every story needed a dragon (older teenage years); and now I’m in a mythology phase, where I learn as much as I can about other existing mythologies, then go about creating my own. I’m also very interested in the different ways humanity is going to destroy itself.
- Where do you find inspiration for your stories and novels?
A lot of times, dreams. Sometimes, it’s something I think I see somewhere (when really it’s something much more mundane). Like this one time, I was driving home from work at 2 in the morning, and there was a car parked on the side of the road. But because it was so late and I was so tired, I thought it was a tank, which led to a story-creating frenzy in my mind. And I get a lot of ideas by talking to Eric and Philip about things that interest us, like mythology or science.
- With all the focus lately on authors providing a lot of their own self-promotion, what are you doing in this respect?
I have a blog that I update around once a week. The address is
. I use it mostly to post advice to new writers and talk about whatever I happen to be working on at the time. Whenever I learn something really useful and awesome in class, I’ll post it on the blog, as well as when I read a really good/awful book. Because Creative Writing is a subset of an English degree, I have to take quite a few literature courses, so sometimes my posts are more literary-based than writing advice-based.
- Who or what would you say has been the biggest influence on you as a writer?
My insatiable urge to read. I’ll read good books to learn what to do and I’ll read bad books, to learn what not to do. I’ll read different genres (though I prefer to stick to sff), just to see how they’re different. And I love rereading books, years later, just to see whether the authors still touch me in the same way they originally did. A lot of times, I’ll reread a book I loved when I was a teenager, only to think, “Wait, this got published? Man, if this got published, I’m a shoo-in.” Arrogant, I know, but it helps my flagging self-esteem at times.