Thursday, October 8, 2015

7 Questions For: Author Sarah J. Schmitt

Sarah J. Schmitt is a K-8 school librarian and Youth Service Professional for Teens at a public library who, in addition to planning a variety of events, enjoys opening up the world of books to reluctant readers. She runs a teen writing program that combines Skype visits from well-known authors and screenwriters and critique group style feedback. 

Prior to immersing herself in the world of the written word, Sarah earned her Masters of Science in Higher Education Administration and Student Affairs from Indiana University where she worked with first year college students as they acclimated to college life. Sarah lives outside of Indianapolis with her husband, two kidlets and a cat who might actually be a secret agent. She is an active member of SCBWI, ALA and the Indiana Library Federation and is a regular participant at the Midwest Writer's Workshop. Her debut novel, IT'S A WONDERFUL DEATH, comes out Fall 2015 from Sky Pony Press.

Click here to read my review of It's A Wonderful Death.

And now Sarah J. Schmitt faces the 7 Questions:

Question Seven: What are your top three favorite books?

This is always a tough question. There are so many books. So many to love. I'll go with my favorite series, classic and audiobook, just to keep it exciting. My favorite series of all time is Harry Potter. I have two kidlets who have FINALLY gotten to the age where we can read them as a family and it's such a cool experience to read them together! (Although I have to give a series shout out to Mike Mullin's Ashfall trilogy because holy cow the adrenaline rush!) My favorite classic is Pride and Prejudice. I read the book once a year and watch the BBC mini-series at least three times a year. The script is word for word the book. Finally, my favorite audiobook is hands down Beauty Queens by Libba Bray. Libba does the narration and her voices are spot on with how I read the characters! If you haven't listened to it, you must do so right now. I'll wait.

Question Six: How much time do you spend each week writing? Reading?

The reading part is pretty easy. I would say I spend, on average, about 20 hours reading each week. I wish it were more, but things are kinda crazy right now with my debut getting ready to come out. Writing is completely different because I'm what I like to call a binge writer. I won't write anything for a couple of months and then sit down and hammer out a (very) rough draft in a few weeks. Once the draft is done, I spend about 20 hours a week in edits and revision until I'm ready to share with the rest of the world. (Okay, my crit partners.) It takes a little longer for the rest of the world.

Question Five: What was the path that led you to publication?

It's A Wonderful Death is my first published novel but I completed two other novels before finally getting an agent. I signed with Liza Fleissig of Liza Royce Agency in June and after reworking the manuscript, we went out on submission in August. By November, we had an offer with a UK publisher and had an October 2014 release date. On June 9, 2014, my agent called and I asked if I was sitting down. I said I was but I was driving an F250. Her response, "Pull over." It was then that I found out my publisher was closing. You know that part in the movie when everything goes wonky and the world slows down and gets quiet. When the main character can only hear the sound of their own breath. It would have been like that if I were breathing. But, while I was in the fetal position, Liza did what she does best and by September, I had an offer from Sky Pony Press for an October 2015 release. It wasn't the easiest path, but regardless, I ended up exactly where I belong. 

Question Four: Do you believe writers are born, taught or both? Which was true for you?

I think it's both. Writing is a passion that comes from inside. It's something you HAVE to do. However, I think just having that passion isn't enough. Writers need to learn their craft. They need to study every part of it. And they need to read everything they can so they can develop their own voice. I knew I wanted to be a writer when I was in elementary school. But it took a couple decades for me to hone my craft and figure out what kind of writer I wanted to be. I'm still learning. I heard someone say that being a writer is agreeing to do homework for the rest of your life. I agree with that statement. 

Question Three: What is your favorite thing about writing? What is your least favorite thing?

My favorite part about writing is revision. I love it. I know this might make me a minority among authors, but there's something about taking a rough draft and polishing it until it shines. When I'm writing, it's very individual. Since I normally work with critique partners, revision is the time when I can let my extrovert out. 

My least favorite thing about writing is the blank page. It's like a beacon taunting me. It's also a signal that there are a lot of hours of writing before revisions.

Question Two: What one bit of wisdom would you impart to an aspiring writer? (feel free to include as many other bits of wisdom as you like)

Read. Read. Read. Read. It blows my mind when I meet people who say they want to write books but they don't like to read. 

Question One: If you could have lunch with any writer, living or dead, who would it be? Why?

J.K. Rowling. There's so many things I would want to ask her, but in reality, I would probably just sit and stare, unable to put three words together in a coherent order. In the end, I would just hope some of her literary genius would rub off on me. 

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