Regency England, romance, murder, and a young woman’s debutant season…all of these themes entwine in first-time novelist Sarah MacLean’s THE SEASON. Sarah stopped by The 5 Randoms to talk about her book, her writing process, and why her second book deal was even more thrilling than her first.
1) What is your typical writing day like?
I have a day job, so my writing days are more like writing nights. I try to write every day, at least a few words, but my goal is 1000 words a day. I write longhand, whenever I can find the time. Living in NYC helps because I’m on the subway most days for about 45 minutes to an hour, and I can usually get some good first drafting done before I actually sit down to type in the evening.
I have a desk, but I actually do most of my work at my dining room table, classical music playing, my husband and dog living their lives around me.
I write most evenings from 8-11pm, and that’s usually enough for me to get 1000-1500 words out, assuming I’m on a roll.
2) What made you want to write THE SEASON?
A love of the romance genre, a connection with YA as a concept and an obsession with Regency England. When you have those three things in you, it’s hard to imagine writing any other book than THE SEASON. That, and the fact that Alexandra came into my head clear-as-crystal, like an avenging queen . . . I had to write her out of there.
3) What is the biggest surprise you’ve experienced when it comes to book publishing?
I used to work in literary PR, so I thought I knew just what to expect. Yeah. Right. The truth is, the world looks very different when you’re looking at it through the eyes of an author. Everything is so much more personal!
The biggest surprise is how long it takes. I mean, I knew it took a long time. And, in my head, if I’d really mapped out the timing, I probably could have come up with 2 years start to finish, but MY GOD it feels like forever. Just get here already, launch date, will you???
4) Do you ever have any “dark days,” when you wonder why you’re a writer? What are those like, and how to you get through them?
Uhm. Does anyone NOT have these days? I actually have them all the time. It’s less about why I’m a writer and more about whether I really can do this. And then I see that sentence written—“whether I really can do this”—and I think, Geez, Sarah, it’s not like you’re dismantling atomic bombs or landing people on the moon or curing cancer. But writing isn’t always fun . . . or friendly . . . or easy. Sometimes 10 words is a win. No one but writers really understands that. How do I get through them? I write through them. It’s the only way. Because it’s also the case that no one but writers really understands the immense sense of triumph that comes with overcoming those demons of doubt.
5) Authors talk about “the call.” Usually, it has to deal with getting an agent or getting published or getting an accolade. What was the best “call” you ever received in terms of your writing, and how did it go down?
The second call was the best one for me. That’s not to say that selling THE SEASON wasn’t awesome, but it always lived in my head as something of a fluke. Maybe that one editor was the only other person in the world who believed in my writing. Maybe she didn’t really know whether or not the book was good, or that I was talented. It’s funny how doubt settles in even in moments of elation.
But when I sold NINE RULES TO BREAK in a three-book deal to Avon, that was INCREDIBLE. I mean, leaving aside the fact that we weren’t expecting a three-book deal and that it was the house and the editor I had wanted to work with from the moment I started working on an adult romance, it was amazing because that made it two people who liked my voice, believed in my writing and wanted to be a part of my career.
I was no longer on this crazy ride with one other person. Now I have a posse.
Visit Sarah at www.macleanspace.com for more on THE SEASON, now available in bookstores.