Book Nerd Interview
Sarah is a champion cupcake eater, coffee drinker, night person, and bookworm. When she's not writing or reading at home in Colorado, she enjoys taking pictures, hugging trees, and road-tripping through the country with her husband, Alex.
Why is storytelling so important for all of us?
Simply put, storytelling reminds us that we’re not alone. We all struggle to make sense of life, to experience its highs and lows, to reflect and grow, to love and be loved, and to find our way on this crazy journey. Storytelling – the soul of it – connects us in a deep, universal way.
What’s one thing that readers would be surprised to find out about you?
Not many people know that I read and study Tarot. I started learning from my aunt, who’s an amazing reader, when I was writing Fixing Delilah in 2008 (Delilah’s Aunt Rachel reads cards, so I had to research!). I got hooked!
Beyond your own work (of course), what is your all-time favorite book and why? And what is your favorite book outside of your genre?
My answer to this question is always evolving, but at the moment, my favorite book is Maggie Steifvater’s THE RAVEN BOYS. That book captured me in the opening pages when Blue, one of the main characters, started talking about her family reading Tarot (of course!). So, first I fell in love with the magical realism elements – Tarot, ghosts, premonitions. The characters came next – they came to life so vividly for me. The story is told from multiple points of view, and each of the characters felt so well-drawn and distinct. Each was pulled into the central mystery of the story for different reasons and by different forces, and I loved slowly discovering the those intersections. I was immersed in their world, riding alongside them as they pieced together the story puzzle. And the writing was just gorgeous! I marked that book to use as a writing guide in my own work – that’s how much I loved it.
Outside of YA, my favorite book is On The Road by Jack Kerouac. It came into my life at just the right time and inspired me to travel and make my own adventures, both on the road and off.
What was the greatest thing you learned at school?
Wow, this is a tough question! Obviously, education is so important. Without it, I wouldn’t be writing, or reading, and I wouldn’t have had many of the opportunities in my life that have helped me along the way. But something even more important that I learned at school is this, as funny as it may sound: life’s greatest and most important lessons really can’t be learned in school. You can learn something great by listening to birds or swimming in the ocean or falling in love or trying a new food or singing a song or walking in the woods. The important thing is to just be open to the idea that there’s always something to learn from every person and every experience (both on the road and off)!
What is the best piece of advice you ever received from another author?
Despite sales numbers and advances and tours and reviews and online drama – good and bad – the most important thing an author can do for her career and her sanity is to… wait for it… write! To keep focusing on writing the best book possible, and do it again, again, again. Storytelling, see? That’s the most important thing!
Can you tell us when you started Bittersweet, how that came about?
The idea for Bittersweet was like a perfect storm of several different forces. When I first started coming up with the idea, I’d just moved back to Buffalo (where I’m from). It was almost winter, and it didn’t take long before I was totally freezing, holed up at home, listening to the snow and wind blowing around outside, feeling totally trapped… and that’s how the setting and general “OMG I have to get out of this place” goal got started. But along with that need for escape, I was thinking about all the little hidden gems and special things that make a place home. Having Hudson explore that was really important to me, since I was going through a similar exploration myself. No place is all bad or all good, but sometimes you have to look a little (or a lot!) harder to find the beauty.
Summer finally arrived, and Twenty Boy Summer hit the shelves. I baked about 200 heart-shaped cupcakes for my launch party, each one hand-decorated to look like the sea glass heart on the book cover. Suffice it to say I had a lot of cupcakes left over, and I was pretty much eating them at every meal for weeks! That got me thinking about cupcakes and baking, so, with cupcakes on the brain, I started writing that element in.
Finally, being back in Buffalo reminded me of my college days there, when I worked as a waitress while going to school. Enter the waitressing element.
As for the cute hockey boys? That was just an added bonus. ;-)
It’s funny how stories originate – all the little bits and pieces of life that become inspirations. Of course, after that, I moved back to Colorado (sunshine! Yay!), and my next two books are set here in the summer! I think I had enough of winter with Buffalo and Bittersweet. J
What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating Will?
That he had a really good heart underneath his too-cool-for-school exterior. I never intended for him to be one-dimensional by any means, but his character arc surprised me a little. I didn’t think he’d be so open to learning and growing from his mistakes and from getting to know and love Hudson.
If you could introduce Josh to any character from another book, who would it be and why?
Gansey from The Raven Boys, because even though Josh is adorable and super sweet, he could use a little guidance on how to be more direct and honest about what he wants!
For those who are unfamiliar with Hudson, how would you introduce her?
Hudson is stubborn and sometimes difficult, but if you give her a chance, you’ll see that she has a good heart, capable of great love and loyal friendship. Plus, she’s an awesome cupcake baker.
You have the chance to give one piece of advice to your readers. What would it be?
If you have a dream in your heart, you have to find a way to make it happen, despite the obstacles, the dream-squishers, and all the “logical” reasons that tell you to do something else.
When asked, what’s the one question you always answer with a lie?
This one. I know, you had to think about that twice, right? ;-)
Where is the best place in the world you’ve been?
That’s such a tough question! I can’t even answer it, really, because every place has its own magic and beauty – kind of like what I was saying about Hudson and Buffalo. Oceans, forests, mountains, cities… there are so many amazing places. I don’t know about best, but one of my favorite places is Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado. Seriously, just leave me on a hiking trail up the side of a mountain and I’m happy!
What's the most memorable summer job you've ever had?
When I was 17, I spent the summer babysitting my little cousin, and it was pretty much the best ever, because my aunt and uncle were way cooler than my parents. Plus they lived near the beach, and I loved taking my cousin beachcombing. She was always down for anything!
When was the last time you told someone you loved them?
Oooh… that’s personal. ;-)
What would be harder for you, to tell someone you love them or that you do not love them back?
Oooh… see above. ;-)
When was the last time you cried?
During the series finale of Buffy and I don’t want to talk about it! Oh, sadness! Seriously, I think I need therapy after that one. I’m never going to get over it.
What decade during the last century would you have chosen to be a teenager?
Probably the sixties. The music alone would be worth the trip.
What's the loveliest thing you have ever seen?
So many lovelies! But one that immediately comes to mind is watching the sun rise over the Grand Canyon.
Where can readers stalk you?
I’m most active online at http://twitter.com/sarahockler and http://sarahockler.tumblr.com/ . Readers can also visit me at http://sarahockler.com
So when things start looking up and she has another shot at her dreams, Hudson is equal parts hopeful and terrified. Of course, this is also the moment a cute, sweet guy walks into her life... and starts serving up some seriously mixed signals. She’s got a lot on her plate, and for a girl who’s been burned before, risking it all is easier said than done.
It’s time for Hudson to ask herself what she really wants, and how much she’s willing to sacrifice to get it. Because in a place where opportunities are fleeting, she knows this chance may very well be her last...
This book is a warm-hearted story about the rush one feels when they fall in love for the first time. For Hudson, her love life is bit more complex. Her dreams were crushed and her journey to overcome it is exactly what the title suggests, bittersweet. In between, she struggles to find another dream and even finding moments in her life to enjoy. But no matter how many storms and knock downs she endures, her hopes and dreams never faded as she kept pushing, trying and wanting.
Readers will enjoy the fun characters in this story. All the friends that Hudson has like Kara, Dani and the boys were nice additions. Each moment with them were special and it made readers wanting to know more about each of them. Hudson’s love interest had this shyness about him that at times I was asking myself, “What’s the hold-up?” However, the story already had a strong grip from the beginning that I waited patiently for both of them to figure out each other’s feelings.
Bittersweet is a lovely story that has everything that makes a reader smile. There’s drama to stir up interests and humor that just makes you feel good. Life presents us with the toughest questions we will ever have to face and Sarah delivers a clever and fun story about how one girl deals with them.