Friday, January 13, 2012

Sara Wilson Etienne Author Interview

Photo Content from Sara Wilson Etienne

Sara Wilson Etienne went to school to become a marine biologist... but when her research transformed itself into a novel, she realized she loved fantasy more than fact. Now she enjoys combining both to create stories that ask "What if?"

Sara writes in Seattle alongside her artist husband and her two dogs. Her favorite days are spent disappearing into different universes, whether it's traveling with Dr. Who, popping into a parallel world with Diana Wynne Jones or Terry Pratchett, or writing her own stories. Or sometimes just taking a nap.

Sara is the author of HARBINGER and LOTUS AND THORN.


How would you describe yourself in three words?
Writer wears stripeysocks.
Okay, that was a cheat…but as a writer I’m allowed to make up words, right?

What do you normally eat for breakfast?
I go through obsessions. It used to be cheese and lattes, now it’s yogurt, granola, and tea.

What inspired you to pen your first novel?
Well…I was supposed to be doing my final thesis for college. I was studying biology, so technically I should’ve done a population study of giant marine snails or something. But I just couldn’t bear the thought of all those statistics. So instead, I planned to do a study of ecotourism, with a picture book as a component. I put pen to paper, or rather, fingers to keyboard and just couldn’t stop. 6 months later I had a middle grade novel. I must also add that thankfully this piece of literature has never seen the light of day. But it was then I knew what I wanted to do with my life.

What is the hardest part of writing?
Sitting down at your desk and staying there. I first heard Jane Yolen use the acronym, BIC, butt-in-chair. Staying with your writing when it gets hard is a little like the horrible part of running, right before you get that runner’s high. It’s painful to put one foot in front of the other, one finger in front the other, but it’s worth it!

What were your feelings when your first novel was accepted?
Intense and overwhelming relief. Followed by joy. Followed by disbelief. Followed by shouting!

What was one of the most surprising things you learned in writing Harbinger?
That our characters help us through our own emotional journeys. Even the “bad” characters. That as long as you can go back to the page, as long as you can meet yourself there in the story, you can work through anything.

How did you come up with the title and cover design?
The cover design was all the work of the talented designers at Putnam! They did take some inspiration from the single picture in my book…an illustration of tarot cards drawn by my amazingly talented husband. The title evolved the same way…from the tarot cards.

If you gave some of your characters an opportunity to speak for themselves, what would they say?
Actually, I hope they do speak for themselves inHarbinger. There’s always an unknown element in writing…parts of the story that just sneak in there, from the ether. I like to think that’s my characters speaking.

Do you have plans for a new book? Is Harbinger part of a series?
I’m currently revising my new book, Unworthy.Harbinger doesn’t have a sequel… it stands on its own two feet.

What’s one thing that readers would be surprised to find out about Faye?
She doesn’t get an opportunity to do this at Holbrook… but she’s a big coffee drinker. Not a big shocker for an insomniac, I guess.

If you could introduce one of your characters to any character from another book, who would it be and why?
I love this question. I’d probably introduce her to Meg from A Wrinkle in Time. Meg is one of my all time favorite characters and a misfit in her own right. So I think they’d get along nicely!

What chapter was the most memorable to write?
In one of the early scenes, Faye is up on the roof of the Holbrook dorms. It’s the first time she feels connected to this place and the scene’s been with me since I started writing the book. For a long time, readers found the scene confusing and I tried again and again to do justice to what I imagined in my mind. I finally succeeded and now I feel like my vision is there on the page. That makes the scene very important to me. Plus I love that moment.

What was a time in your life when you were really scared?
Honestly, most of the fear in my life is tied up in my writing. Will I be good enough? Will I be able to translate what is in my head onto paper? And the age old question…will people like me? The way I deal with these fears is to keep my head down and work. Writing my stories is the only thing I have control over, so I just have to do my best and let the world take it or leave it. Though I have to admit, it’s still nice when people like the story I’m telling!

Do you ever come up with anything so wild that you scare yourself, that leaves you wondering where that came from?
Always. But it’s not just in my writing. I seem to see the world through a filter of horrible possibilities. No, that’s not quite right. Extreme possibilities. In every situation, I see the best and worst ways things might turn out. Let’s just say, sometimes it’s hard to get to sleep at night.

What question are you never asked in interviews but wish you were?
I want people to ask me about Wonder Woman. Why? Because she’s awesome.

When asked, what’s the one question you always answer with a lie?
Do you have superpowers?

If you could have written one book in history, what book would that be?
Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. Hands down.

Which author would you love to co-author a book with?
I’m gonna go with Libba Bray, because she’s hilarious and writes awesome dialogue.

What is your most memorable travel experience?
I spent a semester in the Australian rainforest during college. Literally, in the rainforest. One night while I was walking from the main building to my cabin, my flashlight ran out of batteries. I was left standing alone in the pitch dark. I was on a trail that ran along a ravine, so I was scared to go forwards or backwards, worried I’d fall down the steep hill. I had no idea how I was going to get to my cabin…but little by little my eyes adjusted and the world around me started glowing. There was phosphorescent fungus on all the trees and none on the path. It was so beautiful and I let the glowing forest light my way home.

If you could be any mythology creature, what would you be?
A griffin. I’d want to be fierce and I’d definitely want to fly.

What is your favorite food?
Coffee. No, chocolate. No. Chocolate coffee!

Girl, Interrupted meets Beautiful Creatures in this fast-paced thriller

When sixteen-year-old Faye arrives at Holbrook Academy, she doesn't expect to find herself exactly where she needs to be. After years of strange waking visions and nightmares, her only comfort the bones of dead animals, Faye is afraid she's going crazy. Fast.

But her first night at Holbrook, she feels strangely connected to the school and the island it sits on, like she's come home. She's even made her first real friends, but odd things keep happening to them. Every morning they wake on the floors of their dorm rooms with their hands stained red.

Faye knows she's the reason, but what does it all mean? The handsome Kel tries to help her unravel the mystery, but Faye is certain she can't trust him; in fact, he may be trying to kill her - and the rest of the world too.

Rich, compelling writing will keep the pages turning in this riveting and tautly told psychological thriller.

Harbinger truly carried a complex storyline. I was enthralled from the first turn of the page to the very last. It was full of adventures, action, and mystery that I had a hard time stepping away from the story.

Sara Wilson Etienne brilliantly created a one-of-a-kind setting that is justly beautiful in every way. The characters are unforgettable and had real sincerity. Each character had distinct eccentricity that helped build up the story.

There are many twists and turns in the story, in particular, at the end. Many things that I thought were for sure turned out to be the exact opposite. Etienne’s writing style of revealing the twists were wonderful. She made a very unique and complex storyline easy to understand. A definite read that will satisfy any reading desire.

I think the cover is simply wonderful and beautiful. I am sure it will draw a lot of wandering eyes once it hits the bookshelves.
You can purchase Harbinger at these retailers:

And now, The Giveaway.
Thank you SARA WILSON ETIENNE for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a Signed ARC Copy of Harbinger by Sara Wilson Etienne.


  1. this book sounds amazing. thank you for the wonderful interveiw, i always love learning more about authors. thank you for the wonderful giveaway :)

  2. Thank you for another awesome giveaway, Jean! Loved the interview and the book trailer for this book is amazing!

  3. This book sounds really interesting. Thank you for this giveaway Jean! Great interview as well :)

    Good luck everyone!!

  4. Wow, this one sounds really great!, I love the book trailer too! Thanks for this giveaway!

  5. What an awesome giveaway! I loved the interview too. I think the author is very interesting and the book sounds amazing. I can't wait to read this! Thanks for the giveaway!


  6. WOW book looks good and love the interview girls!;))) always thanks for the giveaway!!!;)))


  7. Wow, I just saw the trailer for this recently - Intense! Immediately added to my TBR list <3! Thanks for the interview & giveaway!

  8. Thanks for the giveaway! I am eager to read Harbinger.

  9. I LOVE the cover!!!! It's gorgeous!! Thanks for the giveaway Jean!!!

  10. Thank you sooo much for this chance! :D

  11. Girl, Interrupted meets Beautiful Creatures? Sounds awesome already! Love the interview and your Australian experience sounds scary and beautiful:)