It’s Author Interview Thursday and I’m happy you’ve joined me for another exciting adventure with our special guest. I got introduced to our featured author by Sharon Ledwith. Now let it be known that any author friend of Sharon is a friend of mine. It’s been an absolute pleasure getting to know our guest on the hot seat over the last few months. I believe she’s living proof that you don’t need to go to a deserted island with 3-eyed aliens and clouds made of candy floss to get ideas. The idea for your next book could be right under your nose or maybe a few feet above your head. She writes in different genres and has so much to share with us. So please join me in welcoming Sara Shafer.
Can you tell us about the first time someone complemented you on something you had written?
As a kid, I used to write a family newsletter for my relatives, and my grandma would share it with her friends. So, I was receiving compliments on my writing by the time I was ten, although the sources were completely biased! But whether I received praise or not, I simply loved to be writing, and I still do!
What can a reader expect when they pick up a book written by Sara Shafer?
A reader can expect to find a fun, engaging story about a character (human or animal) they can identify with and root for. My books always have happy endings that will make the reader believe they too can succeed despite the odds as long as they are brave enough to try.
You have three published books in a series about the bravest squirrel. Was it a conscious decision to write a series and what led you to do it?
I originally intended The Bravest Squirrel Ever as a single book. In fact, the original title was “Stuck in the Attic,” because—yep—we had squirrels stuck in our attic! But then Pippi had two siblings who needed their own stories, so I had to write sequels. Now that Pippi, Max and Lana are legends of bravery, their cousins and neighbourhood squirrels all feel the need to prove their bravery too, so I definitely have a series on my hands.
Not many people may know this Sara but you write in different genres. Can you tell us of any major challenge this situation presents and how you overcome it?
The biggest challenge is that my reading audiences are completely difference. My Sara Daniel romances are adult books. Most of those readers read my books on their digital devices. And I can reach them through social media, my blog and newsletter. My Sara Shafer books are for kids, most of whom are still exclusively reading print books. This spring, I made The Bravest Squirrel series available in print in an effort to better meet the needs of my young readers, and I will do this with each new book in the series going forward.
Do you believe in writer’s block and what do you do to overcome it?
Writer’s block for me occurs when something is not going right with my plot. So, when I’m stuck and can’t make the story move forward, it’s a signal to me to back up and see where I got off track and figure out how to fix it.
What is your definition of success as an author?
Success is being able to do what I love every day, which is write, as well as connecting readers with my books. Money, literary awards, and hitting the best sellers lists are all fabulous things that I wouldn’t turn down, but success to me is a much more personal and self-fulfilling goal.
What have you found to be a successful way to market your books?
I have found that giving away a gift card is always a popular way to get people’s attention, so I’ll be sharing a Rafflecopter form below where you can enter to win a $10 Amazon gift card. Word of mouth is so important, so I do give away books for people to take a chance on and then hope they will love the stories enough to recommend them to their friends and family.
What were some of your favourite books as a child?
I adored Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House on the Prairie series, and I read the books over and over until my copies were ragged.
What book or film has the best dialogue that inspires you to be a better writer and why?
Any book where I’m picturing the characters speak the words, rather than “seeing” the words on the page shows that the author is handling the dialogue right. Judy Blume’s dialogue in Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing always made me feel like I was living each scene with Peter and his little brother Fudge.
Toy Story or Shrek?
Toy Story: I love the sense of family, the emotional growth of the characters and their thrilling, ridiculous, and memorable adventures—with humour that both children and adults will enjoy!
Can you tell us something most people don’t know about squirrels?
Squirrels have four toes on their front paws and five toes on their back paws, so they have eighteen toes all together. Who knew? I didn’t, until I started researching for The Bravest Squirrel in the Forest. You can read some other interesting facts here: http://www.sarashafer.com/Squirrel_Fun.html
What three things should a first time visitor to your home town do?
I live near Chicago, and there are so many possibilities. First, take an architectural tour of the city. Seriously, I did this on high school field trip, and if teenagers can be impressed by architecture (and still remember it more than twenty years later), it’s got to be good! Go take your picture by the “Bean” in Millennium Park, and you’ll have the entire Chicago skyline in the reflection. If you’re into baseball, catch a game at Wrigley Field. This year is the stadium’s hundred year anniversary. And of course, you can always walk or jog or just people-watch along the lake front. I think that’s more than three!
What can we expect from Sara Shafer in the next 12 months?
I plan to have another Bravest Squirrel book out this fall. Chaz is absolutely dying to prove how brave he is! Ideally, I’d like to follow up with another brave squirrel adventure by the end of the year, but it always seems like I have more ideas than time, so we’ll see!
Where can readers and fans connect with you?
Facebook profile: https://www.facebook.com/SaraShaferDaniel
Facebook fan page: https://www.facebook.com/SaraDanielSaraShafer
Amazon page: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B005PPEDSU
Any advice for authors out there who are either just starting out or getting frustrated with the industry?
You have the power to take your career in your own hands. If you don’t like the direction you’re headed, in today’s publishing environment, you can make things happen on your own if you don’t have a publisher willing to support you. But be prepared for a lot of work and a lot of responsibility. An author in today’s world does so much more than simply write. You’re running your own business.
Thanks for ending on such a powerful note Sara. I believe every author regardless of if they’re traditionally or self published have to roll their sleeves up and take an active interest in every aspect of the publication and marketing of their books. Be sure to connect with Sara at one of the links she provided and you can also enter to win a $10 Amazon Gift Card by entering the competition below.
Thanks so much for hosting me, David. Isn’t Sharon wonderful? I was going to suggest a group hug, but we should probably send her some single malt scotch instead. 😉
It’s been wonderful getting to know you too. And if you do go to a deserted island with 3-eyed aliens and candy floss clouds, let me know so I can visit you. My head might explode with all the story possibilities!
Sharon is a star!
It was a pleasure having you today Sara and I’ll definitely get in touch if and when I discover that Island with 3-eyed aliens with clouds made of candy floss. It’d be nice to chew on some candy floss while writing kidlit 🙂
Wonderful interview, David and Sara! Love how you ended with what an author has to do nowadays. It is frustrating at times, but so fulfilling. Cheers and love your definition of success, Sara!
Thanks for the intro once again Sharon/
I loved the fact that Sara was inspired by what some would consider an insignificant occurrence and it formed the springboard for a wonderful set of stories. Will definitely look at a squirrel in a different light the next time I see one running up a tree.