Interview with Sarah Lark, author of Island of a Thousand Springs
Can you tell us a little about your average writing day?
I use to write in the afternoon, in the morning I use to care for my horses and ride. While I am going out with the horses I think about the book I am actually writing, and how the story will go on. Then, at about three o’clock in the afternoon I switch the computer on, answer my e-mails and after that I start to write. Normally I do ten pages a day, which takes more or less until 8 o’clock.
When you are writing, do you use any celebrities or people you know as inspiration?
I sometimes use people I know – normally as inspiration for the bad characters. But I change their view and their behaviour completely. Up till now none of them was ever recognized.
What is your favourite Women’s Fiction book of all time and why?
‘The mists of Avalon’ by Marion Zimmer Bradley. It has everything: love and hate and secrets and spirituality. And she was a wonderful writer, I loved her style.
What is your writing process? Do you plan first or dive in? How many drafts do you do?
Both of it. I first write an exposé, so the plot is standing, before I start writing. But then I dive in, and sometimes I change a lot. Normally there aren’t any drafts. I write the story down, read it again to correct it, then I have some test-readers, who tell me their opinion. I maybe make some changes, and that was it.
What was your journey to being a published author?
I always wanted to write, I wrote my first poem before knowing all the letters of the ABC. At school I wrote satiric texts about my teachers and romantic stories – and I told everybody that I would be a professional writer, when I’m grown up. At last I studied to be a teacher, but I had not a little bit of talent for the job. So I gave it up and started to work as a texter for a public relations agency. I also wrote for reviews about horses – and that at last helped me to publication! An editor called me and asked me, if I could write a riding manual for children. The book was a great success, I was asked to write more, and so I started with fiction and non-fiction for horsy girls, but also non-fiction for adults about looking after horses, breeding them, working with them and so on. I also wrote a biography of Ada Cole, the founder of the ILPH, and I always looked for a publisher for historic novels. The first ones, published under my real name, were not really successful – I was too famous for being a ‘horse-expert’. So when we started with landscape-novels, we changed my name to ‘Sarah Lark’, and everything went well.
What do you think is the biggest myth about being a novelist?
The thing with the ‘writing blockade’. I never had one, and I never heard about a real good author who had these problems. If You have got fantasy, You will never loose it.
What advice can you give to our readers who want to write a novel of their own?
Find a good agent.
What are you working on at the moment?
I am writing the last part of another trilogy, playing in New Zealand in the late 19.th century. Again it will be a big family-story.
What are your top five writing tips?
1. You need discipline to write every day, but if You really like writing, that should not be too difficult. If writing is hard for You and each time you have to force Yourself to start – find another profession.
2. Write about things, of which You know something. For example: If You like sailing, but You are afraid of horses, your story should take place on a boat – not in a riding stable.
3. Try to keep Your sentences short and write lively dialogues.
4. Always ask Yourself: Are my characters acting like authentic living people? Could my story take place or have taken place in reality?
5. Be open to criticism. Find people, who tell You their real opinion about Your work. You can be sure: If Your test-readers will not understand a part of the story, it will be the same with the people, who have paid money for the book – and next time, they will spent their money for another.