Interview with Sarah Marie Graye, author of The Second Cup
Everyone has a ‘first novel’, even if many of them are a rough draft relegated to the bottom and back of your desk drawer (or your external harddrive!). Have you been able to reshape yours, or have you abandoned it for good?
My first novel was an attempt at ‘chicklit’. It was awful because I couldn’t write happy characters so they came off as fake. Two of the characters I created for that novel were developed into characters for The Second Cup though, so the process was worth it. I also completed my chicklit novel, so I knew I could finish one – which was a great psychological stepping stone.
Some authors are able to pump out a novel a year and still be filled with inspiration. Is this the case for you, or do you like to let an idea percolate for a couple of years in order to get a beautiful novel?
I would love to write that quickly! It just takes me longer to get my ideas on paper. I hope to get faster with each novel as I become more accomplished as a writer.
I have heard of writers that could only write in one place – then that cafe closed down and they could no longer write! Where do you find yourself writing most often, and on what medium (pen/paper or digital)?
I have ADHD, so my approach to writing is a little unusual. I write snippets at they occur to me and then piece them together afterwards. I use an app called Evernote for my snippets – which I sometimes record as me speaking rather than writing. I also use it for images that inspire my ideas. About once a week I go through Evernote and paste different snippets into my manuscript. I build chapters up from these snippets as they start to connect to each other, which seems to happen naturally, so I guess that’s my subconscious working on my ideas.
Before going on to hire an editor, most authors use beta-readers. How do you recruit your beta-readers, and choose an editor? Are you lucky enough to have loving family members who can read and comment on your novel?
I studied an MA Creative Writing in order to write The Second Cup so I had my own personal beta reader in my supervisor! Since being published, I’ve formed friendships with other writers whose work I respect who offer editorial services. My plan for my second novel is to have three or four “editorial beta readers” before the final edit. I admit there’s a temptation to ask bloggers who loved my first novel to beta read my second, but I’d rather ask them to read and review the final version.
If you could be one of your characters, which one would it be?
This is really difficult because each of my four main characters in The Second Cup is a representation of me in some way. The one least like me is Olivia, but she goes through the most positive transformation, so I’ll choose her!
Did you discover anything about yourself while you were writing your novel?
I believe I’ve become more empathetic. I created four characters that sometimes behave in ways I don’t personally find acceptable (for example, cheating on a partner). But it was important to understand the “why” of their behaviours in order to paint rounded characters. Looking into why someone behaves in a way I wouldn’t opened up all sorts of questions about my moral framework – and I realised I can’t judge other people by it; it’s a framework for me.
I walk past bookshops and am drawn in by the smell of the books – ebooks simply don’t have the same attraction for me. Does this happen to you, and do you have a favourite bookshop? Or perhaps you are an e-reader fan… where do you source most of your material from?
I’m a fan of real books – my preference is for paperbacks as hardbacks can be too heavy! But the ebook revolution has allowed so many more writers to be heard, which is amazing. I think ebooks are useful if you’re trying out new authors – but I buy a paperback version of any ebooks I really enjoy.
I used to find myself buying books in only one genre (fantasy) before I started writing this blog. What is your favourite genre, and do you have a favourite author who sticks in your mind?
I read a lot of what has recently been named “uplit” – uplifting literature where the characters go though a mental or emotional transformation. I think many authors have been writing these sorts of stories long before the term came along, but it is making it easier for me to discover new ones now the term exists! Maggie O’Farrell is a perfect example of such an author – her flawed characters are so beautifully drawn that you love them for everything they are.
Social media is a big thing, much to my disgust! I never have enough time myself to do what I feel is a good job If you manage your own profile, please tell me as much as you are comfortable with in regards to your preferred platform and an estimate of time you spend doing it [and whether you like doing it!].
I find the marketing side of social media hard work. I like to use it to chat to other writers and share ideas, but pushing my novel onto people makes me feel uncomfortable. My preferred platform is Twitter because I think it’s the best for getting involved in random conversations that can trigger ideas. It’s also where I look for bloggers who might be interested in reading and reviewing my novel.
Answering interview questions can often take a long time! Tell me, are you ever tempted to recycle your answers from one to the next?
Ha ha ha! Even if I’m giving the same answer to the same question I’ve answered before, I try to answer it in a different way. I leave answering these ones until last, so I’ve already found the right tempo for my answers in answering the other questions. (I answered this question first!)