Welcome to Sarah Daltry
Please tell us a little about yourself. This is a little like being on a job interview and you never know what to say. I’m sort of a boring person. I tend to share more of myself through my work than I do in real life, but mostly because I don’t think people in real life care much about my story! I’m fairly uninteresting. I went to college, then grad school. I floundered a while trying to find a career (not a job – had those, but they didn’t really click) first in accounting, then in counselling, and eventually in teaching. I liked parts of each, but still felt unfinished. Although I suppose that isn’t true about counselling; I left that to pursue teaching since I had an English degree. I think that’s where I most want to go back – counselling.
Please tell us a little about your writing – for example genre, title, etc. I write erotica and romance, although sort of a strange mix of romance. The erotica is really basic erotica, and right now, it’s caught in this mess with Amazon. I don’t write and I definitely don’t condone illegal activity, but the process has been random, it seems.
My romance novels include Bitter Fruits, which was self-published for a couple weeks before being picked up by Escape/Harlequin. It will be back out in December (preorders starting soon). Bitter Fruits is a New Adult paranormal romance/urban fantasy tied to Biblical and vampire mythology. This is the first in a planned trilogy called Eden’s Fall. It will definitely be three books, because three is a symbolic number in religious mythology and plays a big role in the series as well.
I have also chosen to self-publish my second series, Flowering, which includes Forget Me Not and Lily of the Valley. They are technically New Adult romance/coming of age, but they’re a little mashup of several things more than traditional romance. I really like YA and I write YA under my real name. I always saw NA as an extension of YA, but with the freedom of adding more erotic elements. College is a time of experimentation, especially sexually. So I think they are kind of smutty YA for actual young adults – people 17 -23 going through these life changes – or for people who still relate to that period in their lives. Forget Me Not is Lily’s story of finding Jack, and also about growing up and figuring out who she is, outside of her parents, her high school boyfriend, etc. Lily of the Valley is Jack’s story, and how he learns to let the past go and open up to someone. The series will continue after these two.
Who or what are your inspirations/influences? Hemingway and Salinger. They both wrote the way I wish I wrote. I try, but I will never compare to either of them. I like the simplicity in their styles, the way they find the true nature of humanity and expose it. Neither was interested in marketability and, in fact, both ended up getting dragged through the press for doing something different, but without them, modern literature would not be what it is. I also prefer first person writing, although I am not the kind of person to NOT read something in third. It’s just a preference. They both do it exceptionally well. The Sun Also Rises and The Catcher in the Rye are my favourite novels of all time. In fact, another author and teacher told me Jack reminded her a little of Holden. Some people may hate that, but it meant the world to me. If only I could write a character that well!
Research can be important in world-building, how much do you need to do for your books? Do you enjoy this aspect of creating a novel and what are your favourite resources? I did a lot more for Bitter Fruits, mostly to confirm some myths I had read previously. It’s more work because the myth is part based on other myths and part a fictionalized story. But I wanted to make sure I got certain stuff correct. I majored in English and studied mythology extensively. In addition, I grew up intrigued by theology and I’ve read the Bible several times. All of it. So most was already something I knew. I just needed clarification. In writing contemporary romance, I didn’t stray much from what I know either personally or through people I know.
When I was in my writing seminars in college and grad school, the mantra “write what you know” was always the primary focus. I think people sometimes confuse this with writing your own life. My characters are not me, or any one person in particular. They are, however, pieces of me, pieces of people I know, pieces of other influences. But I spent a lot of my life in school so I write college, because it’s what I know. I write places I know (all my titles so far are based in New England). I think it’s important to keep some truth in your writing. I’ve never been to Australia, so it would be silly to write about it. Sure I could research it and look at pictures, ask questions, but really? My soul would be missing from it, because it wasn’t true to me. And going back to Hemingway, I feel like truth is the basis of storytelling. You start with truth and thus comes fiction.
In what formats are your books available? (E-books, print, large print audio) Are you intending to expand these? (if applicable). Flowering is available in ebook and paperback. Bitter Fruits will be in ebook only with a very, very limited personal print run I’m using for giveaways and signings. I have no plans to do audio, although Harlequin owns the print rights for Bitter Fruits if print is a worthy investment on their part. However, for now, it will be digital only.
Do you self-edit? If so why is that the case? Do you believe a book suffers without being professionally edited? Well, I’m biased since I’m also an editor. So, yes, you should have someone edit your book – like me! 😉 But really, I do think another set of eyes helps. Even though I have plenty of background in writing and am more than qualified to edit my own work, I don’t only self-edit. I revise and edit obviously, but I then send it to an editor and a few other people for comments. Often it’s a matter of missing something that another person notices or, if I’m lucky, a typo that usually, inevitably, doesn’t get caught no matter how many people look at it.
I think a lot of people confuse editing with proofreading. That’s a huge part of it and I’m shocked by how many books are published without even basic proofreading. I’m not talking a few typos; I mean, serious glaring POV switches, tense shifts, misuse of your/you’re, etc. And not just once. Typos happen even in the biggest publishing houses. But it shouldn’t be endless. However, editing is more than that, too. Your character is 20 on page 8 and 23 on page 75. But time hasn’t passed. When you’re writing, you are thinking about the big picture and often miss these things. Someone else not used to seeing it for months on end picks up on it right away.
What are your opinions about authors commenting on reviews? I do it sometimes, but only on good ones. I’ve thanked reviewers, told them when the next book comes out, and even clarified. I’ve had five star reviews where I just wanted to clarify something. The person obviously liked the book and I didn’t do it to be a jerk. I think dialogue is nice, as a reader. I love when my favourite writers talk to me. I love knowing they read my comments and reviews – and that they appreciate them.
As far as comments on bad reviews, just don’t. No one benefits. The person will not change their mind and you look silly. It’s hard because sometimes people are just so far off target. You want to tell them they missed the point, that that’s not even what the book was about, but really? They don’t care. They either didn’t read it, skimmed it, feel like being a miserable troll, are genuinely dumb, or just don’t like your book. There is nothing you can do to fix that. They’re not going to read it if they didn’t. If they’re a horrible person who likes to be a jerk, they’re going to use it as fodder to be more awful. If they’re stupid, well, you can’t fix stupid! J And if they don’t like your book, they don’t like your book. I don’t like every book. Personally, I tend to focus on what I do like and I don’t leave negative reviews, because there is too much good to focus on, but to each his own.
Do you listen to music or watch TV whilst you write? I hate noise when I’m writing EXCEPT music. Music does inspire and motivate me and if I remember or if it’s not too late or I can find my headphones, I listen to music.
What experiences can a book provide that a movie or video game cannot? As someone who loves movies and video games, I think it’s simply a matter of delivery. However, a novel like The Catcher in the Rye only works as a book. It’s personal, intimate, a private conversation between Holden and the reader. I’m not one to say you can’t be emotionally moved by movies or games; I have been. I majored in English and taught English. I love books. I love the classics. But I think it’s a different medium. That’s all. Each does something well. Books tend to be, like I said, more intimate, and maybe that’s why I prefer first person. A movie can’t be that personal. You can watch a movie, but you’re like an omniscient narrator – detached. In a first person novel, you are right there, while your new friend tells you the story. A video game is often that way, but games are bigger and usually involve action. A book takes nothing of you; it only gives.
What advice would you give new writers? Publishing and marketing are horrible. They will make you hate writing. Before you start out, make a note of why you like your stories. What it is about books and writing that inspire you. Because a year down the road, you will need it.
I grew up with books. They were my best friends, sometimes my only friends. I always counted on books when I was sad, lonely, sick, etc. to be my place to escape. I don’t read only happy books and I can escape into a sad story just as well, but I discovered through books that other people thought like I did. Even living in a small town where I felt like everyone around me was different than me, that I was some kind of weirdo, I knew because of books that other people were thinking the same things.
Now, after doing this for a while, I’ve started to hate books. I see the industry as nothing more than a random marketing campaign. The writing doesn’t matter. The story doesn’t matter. If you market yourself well and get the press and publicity you want (easier if you have lots of money), you will do well. There are great novels out there right, both indie and traditional, that no one is reading. But those writers didn’t market themselves to the right people. And it depresses me. When I get down about it, though, I reread “Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard” and think of all the “mute, inglorious Miltons.” How many hundreds of years ago was that written? But nothing has changed.
What are your best marketing/networking tips? Clearly, I do not have any! There is no one I will not talk to or help out, though, so I suppose that’s my tip. Be available and be nice.
Most authors also like to read, what books do you enjoy? I mostly read classics and YA. I don’t like a lot of romance, I have to admit, because it’s too easy. I like a story that breaks me in places, even if it heals me up again. I want to see life in the story. I want to relate. I don’t read to escape in the same way others do. I don’t read a lot of fantasy, either, unless it’s tied to reality. My favorite contemporary writer is Courtney Summers, because she refuses to play fair to her characters. Life isn’t fair. Life hurts and sometimes, things don’t work out. I like some hope in a book, although it isn’t necessary. I just want to put a book down and feel like I was emotionally affected. The classics do that the most, and realistic YA. And realistic. Not just angsty with drama that is over the top and beyond most people’s experiences. Tell me the truth about life.
Can you give us a silly fact about yourself? I love math and I’m OCD. When I get really stressed out, I do equations to relax.
Book links, website/blog and author links: