Merry Christmas and happy holidays!
Every time we release a book, we’ll post an interview with its author during the week the book becomes available for preorder. This week is the preorder launch of Hunter’s Moon, our second book—a real page-turner—and we are interviewing Sarah Awa (who also happens to be our COO).
When did you know that you wanted to be a writer?
I think it was in third grade, the teacher gave us blank books to write a story in. I wrote about my gerbils escaping their cage and having an adventure while my family and I were out of the house (this was before Toy Story and The Secret Life of Pets, so the idea was original). I loved that assignment so much, I kept writing. Or perhaps I already had been writing my series of short, simple books about a girl named Jessica and her family—that was around the same time.
I also produced a family newsletter when I was in elementary and middle school. I have a lot of cousins, aunts, and uncles, and many of them live close enough that we’re able to have parties every month or so. Family is very important to me, and I like to incorporate familial themes in my writing. One of my aunts is a writer and encouraged me in my endeavors.
Where did you get the inspiration for Hunter’s Moon?
Hunter’s Moon started out (with a different title) as Harry Potter fanfiction. No, I am not telling my username or the title of the story! Hehe. It wasn’t that great and never got more than a few chapters long. After deciding I wanted this project to be entirely my own, I eliminated everything of J.K. Rowling’s, kept the same basic premise (girl gets bitten by werewolf), but had to change a lot of plot points since the main character was no longer a Hogwarts student. So she aged a few years, got a different name, and became an American college student.
Rowling’s portrayal of werewolves in the wizarding world (how they’re shunned, and their pain and suffering) speaks to a deep place in my heart. I know what it’s like to be an outcast and in a great deal of pain. I was bullied every day from Kindergarten through 12th grade, and I have an incurable illness, an autoimmune disease, so my own body has been attacking me for 13+ years. That can be pretty monstrous to live with.
What have been your main obstacles to getting published?
I’m not sure. I queried fifty agents—half of whom ignored me, and the other half sent either form rejections or “It’s great, but not for me.” Well, who doesn’t want to publish something they describe as great? Quality aside, plenty of people still read werewolf books, or so it seems from my personal observation. Also, Hunter’s Moon is different from the typical werewolf novel published nowadays, so it’s not just another “face in the crowd.”
Who is your biggest writing inspiration?
I have to mention J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, two of my absolute favorite authors, although my book isn’t like theirs, nor have I tried to write like them. But they’ve really informed my imagination. The first fantasy book I remember reading as a young child is No Flying in the House by Betty Brock; that and the Chronicles of Narnia hooked me on the genre. J.K. Rowling inspired my book/trilogy much more directly, as I mentioned above. I’ve also been influenced by Clare Dunkle’s By These Ten Bones, which is a delightfully spooky, atmospheric novel with the same sort of werewolves as mine, and I want to use a similar theme later in the trilogy when it fits in.
Tell us one weird, interesting tidbit about yourself.
In high school, a couple of friends and I created a cartoon in PowerPoint starring ourselves as superheroes. I was the PUNisher, and I captured bad guys by slinging puns, which sent them into a stupor and allowed them to be apprehended. You can read a blog post about that on my website. I have a lifelong love affair with puns, and there are a bunch of them hiding—or out in the open—in Hunter’s Moon. Including some chapter titles. I also tweet puns for Thinklings! It’s the best!
What does your writing space look like?
An absolute mess! Haha. Kind of. My laptop sits on a big desk I inherited that has shelves and everything, and I’m surrounded by soothing lilac walls, overstuffed bookcases, Pikachu toys, and other anime paraphernalia. It’s organized chaos—papers, books, CDs, gizmos, office supplies, and sticky notes everywhere. But I know where everything is, and the arrangement makes sense to me. My lair, I mean office, is at the back of my house, the coldest room in it, so when it’s not summer, I’ve always got a hot mug of either coffee, tea, or water—did you know drinking plain hot water helps fight inflammation? Ancient Chinese “secret.”
How long did it take you to write this book?
Do I really have to say? I came up with the idea in 2004, in college. I haven’t worked on it all the time since then, though—I was floating in The Void of depression for about half my twenties, and I wasn’t really writing at all then, or doing much of anything. Stuck in a horrible dead-end job, sick, broke, and isolated. Nasty medicines did a number on my body and psyche and drove me almost to suicide. How I came out of that is a long story; maybe I’ll write a memoir sometime, to encourage others and give them hope. My life is completely opposite now from what it was then! My job with Thinklings is everything I never knew I wanted! Helping other writers gives me purpose, motivation, and deep satisfaction.
Which character in your book do you identify most with?
I suppose that would be Melanie since she’s the female going through all the crap. She’s not modeled after me, exactly; nor is Pam after a specific friend of mine—though I had a lot of music-major friends in college. Only one character is based on a specific person. (I’d best not say who since it’s not flattering!) All my characters do have a little piece of my soul in them. Erickson is probably my depression and isolation.
I don’t want to end this on a melancholy note, so here’s a pun:
How do you support a werewolf’s YouTube channel?
Wait, you can support Thinklings in that way, too! ;)
Hope you're all having wonderful holidays!