Thursday, February 20, 2014
Author Interview with Sarah Beard- The Porcelain Keys
Welcome to this stop on the Porcelain Keys Blog Tour! I was lucky enough to get an interview with the author, Sarah Beard. Enjoy!
It’s about a 17-year-old girl named Aria who dreams of going to Juilliard to become a classical pianist. But when the story begins, she’s living a pretty rough life that makes it impossible for her to pursue her dreams. Enter a boy named Thomas Ashby. He’s cute. He’s smart. He speaks Dutch and paints with wax. And he’s so perceptive that it’s impossible for Aria to keep her secrets from him. So she lets him in, and her life changes. But what she doesn’t realize is that she’s not the only one keeping secrets. And those secrets might just turn her world upside down.
2. Is this your first book? Please tell me about your road to publication?
It is my first book, but technically it could be considered my third book with how many times I’ve rewritten it. I started the first draft about five years ago, and after countless revisions and lots of delays (including having my third baby, renovating a house, and fighting breast cancer), I finally had a finished, polished manuscript. I spent about seven months querying literary agents and got a few manuscript requests, but nothing panned out. Then one day a friend lent me a copy of Geek Girl by Cindy C. Bennett, which was published by Cedar Fort. I loved the book, and since Cedar Fort considers unsolicited manuscript submissions, I decided to print out my manuscript and mail it to them. I didn’t think too much about it after I mailed it, I just kept sending out query letters to agents. Then a couple months later as I was driving my kids home from swimming lessons, an email popped up on my phone from Cedar Fort’s acquisitions editor saying they wanted to publish Porcelain Keys. The rest of that day is sort of a blur, but I think it involved a lot of phone calls and probably some type of celebratory pastry eating.
3. Did you always want to be an author?
I’ve been making up stories since I could speak—dramatic back-yard productions that sometimes starred only me and my imaginary friends. But the first time “write a book” appeared on my bucket list was when I was in jr. high. I wrote my first short story for an English class, and my teacher’s feedback made me feel like I would be a Pulitzer prize winning author before I was old enough to drive (ha). Who knows, maybe she wrote the same thing on all her students’ papers, but it was the first time I’d received praise for my writing, and it made me want to write more. So I did. In high school I was on the literary magazine staff, and in college I took a lot of writing classes for my communications degree (and wrote a lot of depressing poetry and song lyrics). Even though I knew I would write a novel someday, I didn’t attempt it until after college when I was married with a couple kids. Then one magical day, the novelist in me just clicked on. I discovered a couple characters I really cared about who had a story compelling enough to finish. And that was Porcelain Keys. Now the story ideas seem to flow endlessly. I have outlines for five more, and partial drafts for two.
4. What books inspired you the most when you were a kid?
I wasn’t a huge reader in elementary (my love of reading came later), but some of the childhood books that stuck with me were Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell, Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White, the Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis, The Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander, and Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls. The second time I read Where the Red Fern Grows, I stopped in the middle after the hunting competition and said, “This is a good place to end the story” because I couldn’t handle the gut-wrenching ending again. For some reason I always gravitated toward heavy-themed stories that pulled at my heartstrings and left me in tears. While all my friends were reading lighthearted fluff, I was curled up on my bed with a Lurlene McDaniel book, sobbing (and thoroughly relishing it). I also enjoyed a good sci-fi story, like the Tripod Series by John Christopher, or anything by Orson Scott Card.
5. Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
I’m full of writing advice, but to keep everyone’s eyes from glazing over, I’ll just highlight what I feel are the most important things: Learn the craft. You can write a million words and never become a good writer if you don’t take the time to learn how to write well. Take advantage of the many educational resources out there. Books on writing, writing conferences, online articles and blog posts are all inexpensive ways to learn about writing. Join a good critique group. Read a lot. Write a lot. Be patient and get comfortable, because it will be a long journey. In fact, once you decide to be a writer, the journey never really ends.
6. What's your favorite ice-cream flavor?
That’s a tough one—like asking me to name a favorite child. My ice-cream children are Rocky Road, Mint Chocolate Chip, Pralines and Cream, Pumpkin, and Pistachio. And I love them all equally.
7. What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
When I hit my writing wall, I like to compose music on the piano, hang out with my kids at the local pool, read YA fiction, and watch romantic movies. Though I usually have to watch romantic movies alone since I live with four boys. Sometimes I want to adopt a teenage girl just so I’ll have someone to watch all my regencies and rom-coms with. I also like to bake unhealthy treats, then go running to burn off [a small portion of] the calories.
You can find Sarah at http://sarahbeard.com/ or on twitter @authorsarahb