Sarah Henning is author of Young Adult Fantasy and Contemporary Romance.
Her latest book Sea Witch Rising released August 6, 2019.
Hi Sarah! Let’s start by giving us a glimpse of your real life.
My real life is a busy one. I have a full-time day job to go with my full-time writing job. I also have two small children. So, I live and die by my schedule. At every event I do, I like to go through my normal writing schedule because I think it’s important because being an author can look like something very different than Hemingway at his typewriter with a six-toed cat at his feet. On week days, I get up at 4:15, run 6 or 7 miles, turn on my coffee pot and then write until 7 a.m. or whenever my early-bird kids need me. Then, on the weekends, I usually steal a few hours in the afternoon to work, but if I’m on deadline, this could be most of the day. I also have become pretty good at writing at my son’s gymnastics practices (he’s on a competitive team, so I get two-hours or more each time). I have to shoehorn in writing, and it’s difficult but my husband and I make it work. I tell you this not so you can be impressed by my schedule—I’m not trying to show off, I’m trying to demonstrate that it is possible to chase your dreams even with very little time to work with.
What is the easiest and hardest part of publishing?
THE WAITING. For both! The waiting truly is the hardest part but it’s also the time when you’re able to refill your creative well and also give yourself and your writing some space.
How is your writing process? How long does it take you to write a book?
As you can see from answer No. 1, I’m very consistent. I typically prefer to have three months or so to write a first draft but occasionally I have to write faster than that. We also have happened to sell most of my books on proposal, which means I write the first act and a synopsis and then write the rest if we receive an offer. This can mean that it’s hard to gauge exactly how long it took me to write a draft because I may pick something back up a few months later (or more!).
What made you choose to write villain origin story in Sea Witch?
As an adult, I read the actual Hans Christian Andersen tale and felt sort of betrayed by Disney! The original version of The Little Mermaid is actually very different from the story so many of us know of Ariel and Prince Eric. In it, the sea witch isn’t actually a villain as much as she’s a neutral character who looks at this mermaid and says, “Do you want to give up your family and friends and everything you know for a boy who doesn’t even know your name?” and then, despite the dangers, helps her anyway. I wanted to explore who that person was and why she would help. I also think it’s true that villains are the heroes in their own stories and it’s important to keep that in context when you’re reading about a “villain.”
Sea Witch Rising heavily revolves around the theme of a family bond. Why did you choose to feature sibling love instead or romantic love?
I thought it was important to focus on the people who are left behind when someone chooses to take an epic journey. Those people can be your family or friends, and in this case it was all about family. As I mentioned earlier, the whole foundation of Sea Witch is built on what kind of person would help the mermaid despite the fact that death could be in the cards if she failed. With Sea Witch Rising, it’s about the mermaid’s closest family member risking everything because she knows there’s no way her sister will survive and she’d give anything to help her. To me, it was important to drill down on that relationship because it’s important to tell stories that aren’t centered solely on romantic love. Sometimes, the strongest bonds can be between family members who are too alike to see eye-to-eye and too familiar with each other to show anything on a daily basis that looks like love, but actually, when it comes down to it, they love each other the most.
Which of your character do you relate with the most?
Well, I “know” Evie the best over the course of this whole grand trip in publishing. I understand her motivations and her people-pleaser-to-a-fault mentality. She tries to fix things—relationships and circumstances and people—and I understand that tendency. That said, I think there’s always a little bit of the writer in every main character.
If you were a mermaid, what would your appearance be like? Shells or starfishes as the bra?
I mean, I think shells would be more comfortable and sustainable, no?
What are some of your other favorite fairytales? Any plan to take on those?
I really love the tale of King Arthur and Camelot and I’m not planning on taking it on but I am very much looking forward to The Guinevere Deception from Kiersten White in November!
What can we expect from you next?
I’m actually having a crazy run where I have three books scheduled to come out within about a year. So, first there’s Sea Witch Rising on August 6th. Then, on January 7, 2020, I release my first foray into YA contemporary with a sports-tinged romance called Throw Like a Girl. It’s pretty much Friday Night Lights meets A League of Their Own and I love it. I was a sports journalist for a long time, and so this book is close to that part of me. Then, in summer 2020, I have scheduled the first in a new fantasy duology called The Princess Will Save You. It’s basically a gender-swapped Princess Bride, where the princess goes after her stable boy true love when he’s stolen away by pirates blackmailing her into marrying the a neighboring prince after her father dies. An epic journey ensues and it’s sooo much fun.
Before you’re off the hook, let’s do some quickfire questions:
Princess or commoner? Princess who falls for a commoner! (See above!)
Favorite cake flavor? White cake with white frosting and tons of sprinkles!
Vampire infestation or zombie apocalypse? Vampires because at least there’s a lull during the daytime hours.
Last thing that made you cry? Probably a movie but I’m not sure which one (fail!).
Big party or intimate gathering? Intimate gathering, 100 percent.
Thank you for taking your time answering!
Sarah Henning is a recovering journalist who has worked for the Palm Beach Post, Kansas City Star and Associated Press, among others. While in South Florida, Sarah lived and worked through five hurricanes, which gave her an extreme respect for the ocean. When not writing, she runs ultramarathons, hits the playground with her two kids and hangs out with her husband Justin, who doubles as her long-suffering IT department. Sarah lives in Lawrence, Kansas, which, despite being extremely far from the beach, happens to be pretty cool.
Author photo and teaser graphics were taken from the author’s website/social media and used with permission.