Friday, May 28, 2010

Author Interview: Sarah M. Eden

***ATTENTION: Giveaway Below!***

It's no secret that Sarah M. Eden is my new favorite novelist. I've read four of her books (only one is in print currently, neener, neener), and after the first one, Seeking Persephone, I knew I had to meet her. That book was a Whitney Award finalist for Best Romance, so at the Whitney gala that year, I ran around frantically afterward asking people who Sarah was and where she was sitting. I'd never seen a picture.

Turns out my rush to bow at the feet of her greatness was a slight inconvenience; Sarah had been rather urgently waiting for the end of the gala to make a discrete trip to the ladies' room. Then this crazy woman hurdles tables in a mad dash and hijacks Sarah to gush about her work. (I think she likes me anyway.)

Since then, Sarah's moved to Utah so I get to see her a lot. She's now part of my critique group. This means I get to read her work before anyone else. (I know what story she's working on now and what characters from Courting Miss Lancaster are in it! Bwahahahhaaaa.)

I just had to do an interview with Sarah. If you haven't been on her blog, be sure to visit, especially on Fridays, when she interviews people. (Click on the "I Need Friends Friday" button in my sidebar for the interview with me. Then read her others, including my favorite: the one with Jacob Black. Favorite line: "I'm pretty sure I wouldn't date a Happy Meal.")

Without further ado, here's a bit about Sarah, with my commentary in between, because you know me; I can't shut up!

List at least 5 unusual things about you that cannot be found on your website or book bio.

1) I received my Bachelor's degree in social science research, which makes me a complete and total nerd. [See why we're friends? Total nerds rule the world!]

2) I took a class in college that covered the complete works of Shakespeare. It was taught by Professor William Shakespeare. His actual name. And, yes, he was related to the original William Shakespeare. [Cool points for both of us! I grew up one street away from that very William Shakespeare. His son went to my high school and, as was family tradition, he also carried the name. The dad went by Bill, and the son, a great actor in his own right who appeared in Shakespeare plays, went by Will. Their license plate was, "THE BARD."]

3) My shoe size is 4 ½. For those of you keeping track, that size is found in the girls' section and not the women's. My shoe selection is often limited to Barbie and Dora. [*Taking notes.* Next time I'm out shopping for my daughters' shoes, I'll grab something classy and adult-looking . . . if I find anything like that.]

4) One of my goals in life was to reach 5-feet tall. I didn't make it. [But your heart is the size of Manhattan, so it all evens out.]

5) My great-grandmother paid for me to take dance classes starting when I was 4 because I was so incredibly shy that the entire family was worried about me and hoped the forced interaction would boost my confidence a little. Most people wouldn't guess it, but I still am pretty introverted. Okay. Stop laughing. I really am in some ways. Once I know someone, or if they approach me first, I'm a social kind of gal. But I tend to keep to myself when I don't know people. No really. Stop laughing. [I'm extremely shy myself, so I totally get this. People, stop laughing at both of us.]

What drew you to write specifically about the Regency period?

I first started reading Jane Austen in elementary school, because I'm not normal. I loved it. I didn't completely understand it all being only 11 years old, but what I understood I loved. Over the years I continued reading her works as well as Georgette Heyer, who wrote a mind-boggling number of novels set in the Regency era, and I simply fell in love with this time period.

Over the years I have absolutely consumed books from and about this era in English history and the more I learn the more fascinated I am. The differences between this time period and our own are intriguing, but so are the similarities—war, economic turmoil, divisiveness in politics, obsession with celebrity, etc.

I started writing romances set in this time period when I got fed up with the lack of good, clean Regency era romances. Once upon a time this sub-genre of romance was a safe haven for those with basic moral standards, but not any longer. Tired of not being able to find novels I wanted to read, I opted to write my own.

[What amazes me is how FAST you learned to write WELL. If I didn't love your guts, that alone might be grounds for hating you.]

Do you have any writer quirks? (I know, writers ARE giant quirks. But is there anything you need to get into the groove? Any rituals? Stuff that absolutely guarantees writer's block?)

In reverse order of importance:

  • Something to drink. And by something, I mean water. Obsessed with water.
  • A restroom nearby. Mostly because of the above obsession.
  • Music. I can't write in silence. The sound of my own breathing annoys me. The music has to match the tone of what I'm writing and not have lyrics, or else I catch myself typing the lyrics instead of my own thoughts. That is also annoying.
  • Cheetos.
  • No children.

[No children around and having Cheetos are most important. Check. Aspiring writers, take note.]

What's your favorite part of the writing process?

I love when I'm writing and the pieces fall into place accidentally. That sounds weird, probably, but it happens. For example, I look back at what I've written and realize that I've set up something that hadn't occurred to me before but is a perfect fit. Or I discover something that actually happened in history that will add some extra punch to the story I'm writing. It doesn't happen all the time, but when it does, I flip out. In a good way.

I love that feeling!

[Me, too! And it doesn't sound weird; it's happened to me lots of times. Non-writers may think we've lost our marbles, though.]

Least favorite part of writing?

Editing. Hands down. I like creating and discovering the story. Nit-picking each word and sentence drives me crazy. Or crazier, anyway.

[Writing always involves some level of crazy, for sure. I don't mind editing until the end, when I'm so sick of a book I don't CARE where the comma goes; just BURN the thing.]

Favorite board game?

Backgammon. I always get funny looks when I tell people that. C'mon. It's not that weird. And it's a great game.

[Another note, this one for our summer to-do list: "Sarah must teach Annette how to play Backgammon."]

Name a scar you have and briefly tell the story behind it.

I have a huge scar on my right knee—it was once mistaken for an earthworm. I was at camp one summer when I was 14, I think. Even then I had a reputation for being accident prone. I had just finished the hatchet and ax class, in which I was only allowed to explain how I would use said hatchet and ax were they to allow me to use them (which they didn't) because every adult present was afraid I would sever something vital were I given a sharp object.

I hurried over the the lashing class, figuring that rope was dull enough to prevent injury. However, I misjudged my proximity to the large piece of rebar serving as a stake for the canopy under which the class was taking place. Life lesson learned that day: When flesh and rebar get into a tug-of-war, flesh always loses.

[Of course you weren't cut by the ax. That would have made far too much sense.]

Favorite childhood toy?

I loved my Lite-Brite. Nothing says hours of childhood fun like a light bulb and teeny, tiny colored plastic sticks jammed into a black peg board. Aah. Those were the days.

[Lite-Brite! I loved those! Never had my own, but I coveted my cousins' and used theirs any time we visited. My kids inherited one from their cousins. Nightmare to clean up after, so I secretly threw it away. I'm evil.]

If you could have a super power, what would it be--and why?

Flying. I have always wanted to be able to fly. Not only would it be fun, but talk about convenient!


Dream car?

1965 Austin Healey 3000 MkIII, deep green, retractable leather top. Why? Because that is one hot-momma car and I'd look pretty swanky driving that baby.

[Super cool. This is the best image I could find:]

Name one literary pet peeve.

Author intrusion. I go absolutely bonkers every time I'm reading a book and something happens or is said or is stuck in the description that immediately screams “Hello, reader. This is the author. I interrupt this story to do one of the following things: 1. tell you something I think you should know but would rather not got to the bother of figuring out a more natural way of including it, 2. conveniently drop in a plot point that I like but that wasn't working out on its own, or 3. throw in some writing that is here purely for my own gratification and to show off my writing ability.”

Wow. I'm feeling annoyed just thinking about it.

[I'm twitching. Clear sign that it's one of my peeves too.]

Favorite Sesame Street character? (Because we need to cover the really important stuff.)

Cookie Monster. “C is for Cookie. That's good enough for me.” Me, too, Cookie. Me, too.

[For me, he ties with Grover. I guess I have a thing for blue Muppets.)

What writers influence your work the most? In what ways?

Of course, Jane Austen. I love that she always allowed her characters to drive the story. She didn't need crazy plot twists or tons of subplots to keep her novels going. She gave us characters we could relate to, and because the tension always arose from their own flaws and misconceptions, we get it even hundreds of years later because it parallels the struggles of all of us. That's what I try to do in my books—character-driven plots and issues that modern readers can relate to and understand even though the setting is 200 years earlier.

I have often said that Georgette Heyer is the author I want to be when I grow up. She wrote in the early part of the 20th century and was positively prolific. Her books were, like Austen's, very much character-driven. Despite writing dozens and dozens of books, each is original and unique—no carbon copy plots for Georgette Heyer. Her grasp of the Regency-era language was flawless. And her comic sense was spot on. Georgette Heyer is, far and away, my historical-romance super hero!

[Confession: I've never read Georgette Heyer. She is hereby on my TBR list.]

What did you do to celebrate your first book's acceptance?

I did the Dance of Joy in my living room. Here, I'll demo. *dance, dance, dance* That was awesome, huh?

I also went out to eat with my family.

Then I started working on my next book.

A little boring, but I enjoyed it.

[Only boring for those who don't know the Dance of Joy, don't enjoy food, and don't enjoy writing.]

Aside from Regency romance, what genres are your favorite to read? Favorite authors?

I love romance in all its varieties—except the morally-decrepit variety. I am also a fan of fantasy, to a degree. Not hard-core fantasy, but books with a fantasy element. And not dark fantasy. I also enjoy me a little steam punk, which seems like an odd fit, but there you go.

Favorite authors:

  • Harper Lee—To Kill a Mockingbird is my all-time favorite book.
  • I'm also an enormous fan of Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game.
  • Of course Jane Austen, Persuasion being my favorite of hers.
  • And Georgette Heyer!
[We share several favorites!]

There you have it! Be sure to check out Sarah's new book, Courting Miss Lancaster.

So far, it's my favorite 2010 release by an LDS publisher, hands down. (Not counting anything published by authors with the initials AL . . .) I've already sent in my Whitney nomination for CML. I'm going to assume they'll be flooded with nominations (a book needs 5 to be official).

CML really rocks. We were both on the DB site's top 10 in General Fiction for several weeks. I got up to about #7, but she eventually knocked me down to #11 and kept the #10 slot.

(She deserved it.)

******GIVEAWAY TIME!******
I have a signed copy of Courting Miss Lancaster that ONE lucky person gets to win. (It's not my personal copy; that one NO ONE gets to touch.)

To enter, simply comment on this post.

For extra entries:
(1 each. Be sure comment on each so I can give you credit!)
-Tweet about the giveaway (one tweet per day)
-Mention the giveaway on your FB status
-Follow my blog
-Follow Sarah's blog
-Follow me on Twitter
-Follow Sarah on Twitter
-In a SEPARATE comment, tell me YOUR favorite Sesame Street character

(Important note: Be sure I can contact you via e-mail. Either include your address in a comment or be sure your e-mail is activated on your profile.)

The winner will drawn announced in a week, on Friday, June 4th.

Good luck!


Amanda D said...

I'm always up for reading a new book. Thanks for the chance to win!

Amanda D said...

My favorite Seasame Street character is Big Bird. Really, can you like anyone else more?

Elizabeth Morgan said...

I love the interview. I think her book is awesome.

Elizabeth Morgan said...

I follow both your blog and Sarah's.

Elizabeth Morgan said...

My favorite Seasame Street Character is Oscar the grouch. I love the way he is but underneath it all he is some times nice.

T.J. said...

I get points for following your blog, Sarah's blog, following you on Twitter,but you still don't follow me :( , and following Sarah on Twitter (she follows me.)

T.J. said...

Sesame Street character: tie between Snuffy and Cookie Monster. Probably Cookie Monster.

In important news, I suggest you read my blog today timtypes [dot] wordpress [dot] com

Kimberly Vanderhorst said...

Can I say I have a wee bitty friend crush on Sarah without being creepy? Probably not, eh? This was such a fun read that I think I'm going to read it again now. Also, I may drug my husband and force him to agree to move to Utah...

I follow both you and Sarah on Twitter, follow your blog (and I've just added hers to my feed reader). Have also just tweeted about it.

And now I will pray that I win. This feels like cheating, trying to get Heavenly Father on my side and all, but I am unscrupulous.

Sarah M Eden said...

Is everyone drooling over that swank car, or is it just me? Anyone? Anyone?

Rebecca Irvine said...

This is a great book--I admit I already read it. But winning an autographed copy would be fabulous!

Angie said...

Great interview! I follow both your blogs and now I'm following you both on Twitter (don't know why I wasn't before).

Angie said...

My favorite Sesame Street character? Hmmmm. I think I'll have to go with Cookie Monster too.

Angie said...

Okay, I missed the separate comment thing. I am following both your blogs.

Angie said...

And I am following you both on Twitter. I hope I haven't annoyed you to badly now.

Melissa Cunningham said...

What a fun interview! Loved it! Here's one point! I'll mention this on fb. That's 2 and I'll comment again with my Sesame Street char. That's 3. I seldom do twitter. It irritates me for some reason. One of these days I'll have to get over that.

Sadie said...

This book is actually in my TBR pile!! How cool would it be to win it!! And I really thought I was the only person who loved Georgette Heyer!! She is the best!

Sadie said...

I'm a follower!

Sadie said...

Favorite Sesame Street character? Honestly I don't have one. I never watched it as a kid and my kids have never watched. Do I get disqualified from the contest for that? Please say no...

Sadie said...

I follow sarah's blog

Jessica G. said...

Free books! Woot! And I would like to just hang out in the corner and eavesdrop in on some of your conversations.

And my favorite Sesame Street Character is Speedy, Oscar the Grouch's pet worm.

Jessica G. said...

And I follow your blog to the point of stalking you.

Jessica G. said...

AND I also stalk Sarah via Goggle Reader.

LisAway said...

Awesome! A few things: William Shakespeare the younger married a friend of mine named Jill. They are Jill and Will Shakespeare. (Jill's dad teaches English at BYU Idaho)

Also, I think author intrusion is hated by most. In some cases they might as well just say "You are dumb" and in others I wish they would just be honest and say, "I don't really know how to work this in so: blah, blah, blah." The hardest book I ever read had this problem and constantly mentioned how dashing the guy was and how clever the heroine was (aren't they always?), in those words. With very little dialogue or other content giving you a sense of that. I found it to be the least romantic book that was supposed to be romantic that I've ever read. (but you know I'm a reader of the classics, where true romance lies).

I hope by some magical twist of fate I win this! (Not sure why fate would have to be twisted, but whatever).

LisAway said...

Hmmmm. I think I'll have to be unoriginal and say I love Elmo. But really they can all be hilarious which, of course, is why Sesame Street ROCKS.

Summer said...

I would certainly like to win this. I'm a huge fan of regency era novels. I started reading Pride and Prejudice when I was 12 and was immediately hooked on both the author and the genre.

Summer said...

As for Sesame Street, Cookie has always been my favorite. I dressed up as Cookie one Halloween when I was a girl. He still makes me giggle when I watch Sesame Street with my daughter.

Teri's Blog said...

Annette-You were never a nerd! My favorite SS character was always the weird aliens that visited Bert and Ernie.

Krista said...

Hey, I have visited this post 3 times now and have been pulled away before I get to comment, so before I dash off to a graduation party, let me say (deep gulp of air):
I tweeted the contest yesterday.
I follow both your blogs.
I follow both your tweets.
My address is active in my blogger account.

Krista said...

My favorite Sesame Street character is Grover. In particular, Super Grover, though I also loved Grover the Waiter. Thanks for asking!

Lexie@BookBug said...

I can't wait to read Sarah's new book! And I love reading her Fridays Friend Interviews!!

Lexie@BookBug said...

And my favorite Sesame Street character is Elmo (ok, ok, that is my 2 year old son's favorite!!)
Oh and I follow your blog and Sarah's.

Jami said...

I retweeted the giveaway.

I hope I win--I am a regency junkie. It's also kinda fun to know I am not the only one who likes Persuasion best.

Gwen said...

I just recently discovered Jane A. Love love love it. Hope I win :)

Cluttered Brain said...

Ooh. I don't have that book yet. My sister in law does but I don't.
Count me in. :)

*PS It was great to eat lunch with you at CBC10.*

Cluttered Brain said...

i follow Sarah Eden on twitter already. :)

Cluttered Brain said...

Yes, of course i follow YOU on TWitter. Silly Annette. :))

Cluttered Brain said...

Yes, I follow Sarah's blog as well.
:) Along with yours, just in case you didn't already know.

Cluttered Brain said...

Fave sesame character is Big bird and Snuffleupagus.

i like pretend animals.
And Big Bird is just funny. And a bit forgetful like me. :)

Cluttered Brain said...

Tweeted this giveaway!
:) Mentioned YOU and Sarah in the giveaway link so you should be able to see it. :)

Cluttered Brain said...

I shared this with ALL my facebook friends. :)

Cluttered Brain said...

Do I follow you?
Of course I follow you! (might follow you to the point of stalking you though.) Hope you don't mind. LOL.

I'm so GLAD i got to see you again at CBC!
You are just so COOL Annette. Can't WAIT for that chocolate cookbook to come out. YUM! :)

Cluttered Brain said...

@ Sarah The car was pretty hot.
It's a mustang isn't it?

i wish you lived closer to me Sarah. We could have some fun lunches and outings.

Yeah you me and Annette. *sigh*

i don't like the cold. You two come to St. George UT for a book signing K?
I'll be there if you do. :)

Cluttered Brain said...

That car is pretty smoking hawt!
Nice image Annette!

Cluttered Brain said...

Sorry I didn't see that other comment up there. *sigh*

Sometimes they take SO LONG to show up on the blog.

Need to have more patience.

Not a mustang. Not sure what model, but I likey the car.

Ruth said...

I would love to win, because I have started reading more lately. I totally enjoy it and find it relaxing.

I am now a follower of your blog.

Ruth said...

Favorite character from Sesame Street would have to be Slimy!

Charlie Moore said...

I haven't read Sarah M. Eden, not yet, but I am reading Band of Sisters. I am enjoying your story, Annette. When I was in the Air Force I was still single and didn't leave a wife and children behind. I did leave a mother and three brothers and the concern was still there even though I served, luckily, in between conflicts.

BTW, I totally think yours and others support of veterans and their families is so awesome.


Annette Lyon said...

Charlie thank you so much!

Cluttered Brain said...

Second day- Tweeted again!
i gotta get a good summer read in, Right?

Cluttered Brain said...

Hey, I totally remember SLimy from Sesame street! He was that inchy worm..He was a cool character!!!
:) Hey, You got a new follower on your blog cause of me, Ruth IS my friend---YOU just ROCK Annette! :)

Sarah M Eden said...

@One Cluttered Brain - It's a 1965 Austin Healey. British car. And totally hot!

Christy said...

I didn't get to meet you or Sarah at the conference this year. Definately on my to do list! You guys are great. I'd love to read Sarah's book, include me in the giveaway.

Oh and I am followers of you both!

CountessLaurie said...

What a fun interview. I would love to read Sarah's work!

thanks for the chance to win!

l.moore.j (at)

CountessLaurie said...

I follow your blog!

CountessLaurie said...

Following you now on Twitter - @CountessLaurie

CountessLaurie said...

My favorite sesame street character Grover... I can so relate to him ... he was such a dope and so am I :-)

Tanya Parker Mills said...

Fun interview (but how could it not be, given the source?), great car, and I like the new look of your blog, Annette.

Evie said...

I just facebooked about this. (I reeeeeeeally want to win!)

Nishant said...

follow both your blog and Sarah's.
Adsense Alternative

Cluttered Brain said...

Another tweet!! :)

I also want to read her first book Seeking Persephone. You are SO LUCKY Annette!

TisforTonya said...

an author as short as I am?? My friends always said they'd throw me a huge shindig when I finally hit five feet tall... no party, ever. bummer! but hey, my feet are a half size larger or I'd offer to swap Barbie shoes :)

TisforTonya said...

and I follow your blog

TisforTonya said...

and I'm a little embarrassed to admit that my fave Sesame Street character is Oscar... I'm sure that doesn't shock anyone I know - which is why it's embarrassing.

Stephanie Lowe said...

I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to win a copy of her book! Did I mention I would LOVE it??? I'm really going to have to hunt down Seeking Persephone as well!!!


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