Writer Wednesday – Sara M. Harvey

[[Heya, everyone… Here’s a bonus interview for you! Happy Birthday, Sara!]]

Let’s start with the basics. Who are you?
Sara M. Harvey, aka Saraphina Marie (online handle)

Tell us (briefly) about you…
I’m originally from California, I’ve lived all over the country and made costumes for Disney and the Renaissance Faires in California and Wisconsin. I’m a history nerd, I love Steampunk, Star Trek, and musicals. I currently live in Nashville and I have a lot of large, trouble-making dogs (ok three, but it feels like many more than that!). My husband is amazing and geeky and handsome as all get-out and I think I may have the world’s cutest and smartest three-year-old (but really, what mom doesn’t think that?).

…and a bit about what you’ve written…
My debut novel was the romantic urban fantasy A YEAR AND A DAY, recently picked up as an ebook from Baen. I also have a romantic/sexy historical fantasy about Japan called SEVEN TIMES A WOMAN. And a not-sexy Steampunk series called THE BLOOD OF ANGELS (which features THE CONVENT OF THE PURE, THE LABYRINTH OF THE DEAD, and THE TOWER OF THE FORGOTTEN).
I like to read and write fantasy the best, but I tend to spice it up with other genre elements like romance, erotica, and horror (but not at the same time…usually). I have a few short stories out there as well, “Six Seeds” can be found at BENEATH CEASELESS SKIES, “Deep Underground” is my Lovecraft homage and is in Apex Publication’s MOUNTAIN DEAD anthology, and my romantic lesbian Steampunk short originally published in the STEAM-POWERED anthology is being picked up for a reprint in THE MAMMOTH BOOK OF GASLIT ROMANCE.
Some people call that creative ADD, I prefer to think of it as range.

…and what you’re working on right now.
My latest novel is MUSIC CITY, an urban fantasy about a banshee that comes to Nashville and ends up with a record deal. It is currently in the edit phase as I prep it to be self-published! (More about that in my Kickstarter: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/musiccity/making-music-city-sing)
In the same musical vein, I am writing a pseudo-Italian Renaissance story about opera singers (which is a big part of the “pseudo” element as the Italian Renaissance is 15th and 16th century and opera doesn’t come along for a couple hundred years later, yay for cafeteria-style history!)

What are your earliest book-related memories?
Funny you should ask that, my mom and grandmother just brought me 4 boxes of my childhood books that has been stored in the garage. Memories, wow! SO. MANY. FAIRY. TALES. Also Stephen Cosgrove Serendipity books. We did not find my hardcover of the Grimm’s Fairy Tales my aunt gave me when I was eight, however. Getting that book was probably my fondest childhood memory of reading. That and the amazing WWI time travel story CHARLOTTE SOMETIMES, of which John Smith of The Cure is also a big fan!

What are your three favorite books?
Umm, AMERICAN GODS by Neil Gaiman, KUSHIEL’S LEGACY TRILOGY by Jacqueline Carey (so I cheated there), and the original collected Grimm’s Fairy Tales.

How many books to do you read at any given time?
One at a time and ONLY one at a time. Always.

What are you reading now?
Cherie Priest’s FIDDLEHEAD, and it’s awesome!!!!

Finish this sentence; when I curl up with a book, I ___
…forget the rest of the universe exists.

To re-read or not to re-read that is the question.
Nope. Rare exceptions: AMERICAN GODS 10th ANNIVERSARY EDITION, some anthologies (in bits and pieces), Grimm’s.

How likely are you to read a book that’s been recommended to you?
It depends who is doing the recommending! But usually, I am pretty likely to want to experience a book someone else is really passionate about.

How likely are you to recommend a book (that isn’t yours)?
100% likely. I am a big advocate of books I LOVE. I will talk your ear off about books I love. I will go and buy you your own copies of books I love.

What do you look for in a good book?
Writing with texture. I come from a theatre background so I look for the things that make a good play or movie: setting, character, dialogue, costuming. I am way willing to overlook some plot issues or pacing if I can really tumble into the world of the book and get lost there.

Why do you write?
So my brains don’t explode.

If you couldn’t be a writer, what would you be?
Costume designer (lucky for me, I do both!)

Where do you draw your inspiration from?
History. Truth is truly stranger than fiction!

What has writing taught you about yourself?
Perseverance. I had no idea how tough it would be. And not the writing part, but the business part. Writing is like having 2 or 3 full time jobs at once, not counting my dayjob, freelance work, being a mom, or being a wife. it’s madness but somehow I navigate it daily and (so far as I can tell) I am still sane!
Who knew??

How do the people in your life seem to view your writing career?
Everyone thinks is it really cool. I have a wonderful group of supportive people behind me from my family, my in-laws, my friends, my co-workers, and all my people on twitter and facebook. It’s amazing how many wonderful people I’ve found to include in my life because I decided to try and publish the stuff I wrote.

Are there any stereotypes about writers that you don’t think are true?
I don’t know…I like to write in coffee shops, I talk to myself, I have multiple tracks of thought going on at the same time and sometimes forget where I am (and who I am). I think the first-time novelist writing “The Great American Novel” and landing some ridiculously sweet deal gets old. I know it happens, but that people still think every author is destined to be a New York Times bestseller is rough. I appreciate the vote of confidence but that doesn’t really work out that way for most people!

What do you see as the biggest challenge today for writers starting out?
The market keeps changing. Almost 10 years ago when I first started to try and sell my debut work, it was already getting fast and loose and now, it’s hard to keep track. Mergers at the top of the scale and a flood of small and indie presses at the bottom, plus ebooks and self-publishing. It’s a crazy and ever-changing world out there. I can’t imagine trying to start out now in 2014. It was hard enough in 2005!

Have you made any writing mistakes that seem obvious in retrospect but weren’t at the time?
“Head-hopping,” where you change the perspective from which the story is told usually within a paragraph (or even in a sentence). Sure, you tell yourself it’s fine, it’s a third person omniscient, but you’re writing it like a third person limited perspective and you don’t seem to know it. While you’re going along, no problem, but once you go back to read it…ugh! I am now very glad that SEVEN TIMES A WOMAN took a little longer to find a home. It seriously needed some editing after I had grown and learned more as an author.

Is there a particular project you would love to be involved with?
A collaboration with Neil Gaiman or Jacqueline Carey. If we’re going whole hog in this land of I-Wish, a collaboration with Jacqueline Carey on a Terre D’Ange book (which ain’t EVER happening… but I can dream, right?)
How do you deal with your fan base?
I love them.
Really, they are awesome. I get great emails and Facebook messages. Having fans is probably the best fringe benefit of this whole shindig. I have a list of reviews and emails that I read when I am feeling blue.

Finish this sentence; my fans would be surprised to know ___ about me.
It’s funny, the thing that seems to surprise my fans (and also students and co-workers) the most is that I drive a really big pickup truck. That is surprises them surprises me! I guess I don’t seem like a truck-girl from outward appearances! But I loves me a good pick-up! (And since I travel a lot and tour with books and costumes, it has always been my most practical option!)

Anything else we should know?
The funding period for the MUSIC CITY Kickstarter is running through March 18th! Help me bring banshees to Nashville!


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