Welcome to our weekly feature,
We introduce you this week to another talented writer from Down Under. Sarah Billington is a young force to be reckoned with in the writing world, and her first book, already available on Smashwords will be out officially on May 15. So, grab a cup of coffee or pour yourself a cold brew — beverages are always on the house — pull up a chair, and enjoy!
Sarah, at what age did you first realize you wanted to write books and how/when did you first share this ambition with “the world”? I was teeny tiny. As soon as I could write, there was paper littered all throughout our house with ideas and half-finished stories and character sketches. I don’t know that I declared my ambition with the world, it was more of a case of people assumed I would be a writer because I was writing all the time. It was a safe assumption.
Who in your life and what authors you read had the most influence over your decision to write? John Marsden is my writing hero. He got me started, he really did. His Tomorrow When the War Began series really sparked my imagination when I was young. Made me believe anything was possible. He came to my school for a school visit and I could NOT talk to him. I worship the man that much.
What influence has your career choice had on your choice of writing subjects – or vice versa? I’m one of those people who has floundered when trying to find their career, because I always wanted my career to be writing, but knew enough that it’s not generally a very lucrative field. I’ve worked in video shops since I was a teen, started as a junior and worked my way up to store manager over the years. I have studied a bunch of different things at University, and realized while I was procrastinating doing my course work, I was spending all my time researching the publishing industry. I always liked critiquing friends work and helping build their confidence and their skills as writers. I find it so rewarding, so that’s what I do now. I’m a freelance editor, working for small presses and indie authors. I have a Diploma of Professional Writing and Editing and am 1 unit away from finishing my Bachelor of Writing & Publishing.
You are writing for a Young Adult (YA) audience. What is it that attracts you about writing for this age group? When I hit about twenty or so, I started writing stories for grownups, but it just didn’t FEEL right. But I was a grownup, so I shouldn’t be writing about high school, should I? I had to write something literary! Something poetic, something that MEANT something!
That’s really not me. I write comedy. I try to entertain, and I’m constantly fascinated, permanently fascinated with new experiences and the different ways people handle them. Adolescence is a time of so many firsts, of feeling uncomfortable in your skin, of feeling awkward, of saying and doing the wrong thing. It is also a time of feeling like a complete ROCK STAR and getting more excited and passionate about things than any other time in your life. It appeals to me. So I write it.
Please talk about your soon-to-be-released YA e-book and also about any works in progress. The Kiss Off is OFFICIALLY out May 15 but it’s on Smashwords already. It tells the story of sixteen-year-old Poppy Douglas who writes a song about her ex-boyfriend Cam and ex-friend Nikki — but has no idea that her heartbreak is about to go global. It’s getting such great reviews so far, I’m flabbergasted. No, that’s not the word. I really like the book but it’s always so rewarding when perfect strangers like it too! And some of the bloggers on my tour are liking it HARD. It makes me giddy.
Coming up next for Sarah Billington after The Kiss Off is an as-yet-untitled short story about one of those perfect bubble relationships. Have you ever had one of those, where you make a friend somewhere, and it’s like they GET you, you click instantly, but even if you never see them again it’s okay. Nothing can ruin that friendship, ever. That person, that day will remain perfect in your memory, forever. Well it’s about that.
AFTER that is a collection of ten interconnected stories that take place on one night at this one very eventful party, from the start of The Kiss Off. THEN next year there will be a Kiss Off 2. Phew!
Are there other YA authors you admire and what is it about their writing that you like? I am a Brent Crawford fan-girl. I tell everyone this. He writes boy comedy YA and his Carter books are so funny, and his characters so real. There are no boys you want to swoon over, here! These mates hit each other in the nuts simply because they can. Just like real boys. They’re awesome. I also love Louise Rennison and her Georgia Nicolson and Tallulah Casey books. Her characters are completely mental, and Louise’s writing style is so distinctive, you could never mistake her books for someone else’s.
I admire Suzanne Collins for how brave she is in her writing, some readers hated her for what she did to some of her characters in Mockingjay particularly, but I applauded her because she successfully made every reader FEEL things, which is the aim of writing. She just made people feel BAD things. I also admire James Dashner – I learnt a lot about writing when reading The Maze Runner. Every time I was sure I knew what was coming, he turned the whole plot up on its head.
Often, it takes a lot of encouragement for young readers to pick up a book and read. Do you think that e-publishing is a good way to break down youth’s resistance to reading? I’m going to have sit on the fence about this one at the moment, as at present, it doesn’t appear young people are embracing e-books in as big a way as adults. I don’t think e-books would truly make that much of a difference to print books when it comes to reading resistance, as reading is still reading, on an electronic device or on paper. I hope to be proven wrong!
You’ve also published a number of short stories for both YA and adult audiences. Which do you prefer more — writing book-length or short stories – and why? I like writing novels best because you can make them so much more complicated and give them greater depth than can be achieved in a short story. That said, I am a time-poor person. I have a humongous pile of books, both print and e-books, indie authors and traditionally published ones that I think sound amazing, but most of them are full length, and I just don’t tend to make it all the way through these days because I want to be reading that other one as well RIGHT NOW. I write short stories for time-poor people like me, so that they get to enjoy a complete story, and move on to the next. I also write shorter novels – between 50-80,000 words for the same reason. They’re the type you can breeze through without as big a commitment.
Is there another genre you’d like to try and what attracts you about that genre? There aren’t genres I WANT to try – I’m trying them! So as not to confuse readers of my light, fun girly YA books, I also write under a pseudonym, Edwina Ray. So far I have only published short stories, but there is a thriller (The Runaway), zombie (I, Zombie), murder mystery (Guilty Until Proven Innocent), supernatural YA (The Witch’s Curse) and soon to be a slipstream plague short story as well. I am 45,000 words into a YA zombie dark comedy as well, which though funny at times, is pretty gruesome. I don’t know which writing name to use for that.
If you could pick another’s character and use him or her as a character in a novel, who would that be and in what type of setting would you write about him or her? I don’t know that she would fit in in any of my books, but I absolutely love Lula from Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series. She’s hysterical and completely unapologetic. She knows she’s the shit. Maybe she could be an aunt to a character in one of my books. She comes to visit and Lula-shaped hijinx ensue.
You poll your readers and ask them to list five words that best describe your novels. What top five words do they list? Fresh, funny, light, real, gossipy
Are you a dog person or cat person and what kind of canine or feline assistance with your writing do you receive, if any? Dog all the way! Alas, my dog (a blue heeler, the smartest, loveliest dog in the world) has been living with my parents for a couple of years and calls it home now. Plus they have a dog too who is her best friend. I can’t have a dog in my rental property, but I get to go and visit every 3-6 weeks or so and they both will either lie next to me on the bed, or sit on my feet if I’m at the computer or on the couch. So in answer to your question: they give a lot of assistance.
Are there any “secrets about Sarah” that you’d like your readers to know? Ooh. Good question, one I’ve never really considered. Um… Have you read on the internet posts about the top reasons the zombie apocalypse could ACTUALLY happen? One of the reasons is a disease called Toxoplasmosis, which is a bit of a mind control deal. Rats with toxoplasma tend to love cats for some reason, and want to hang out with them. And those cats love the rats too. They love them FOR DINNER.
So my big secret? I totally have toxoplasmosis. I was born with it and we THINK the only way it’s affected me is I have a scar on my left retina, so no central vision there. But it IS also in my brain, so if I were you I’d steer clear of me if the zombie apocalypse starts. Just a heads up.
E-Pub PUB sidenote: We were able to share with Sarah that our daughter, now age 27, was diagnosed at birth with toxoplasmosis and that, thus far, we have experienced nothing of a zombie apocalpyse — although we still watch for signs 😉
Where can we find you and your books and short stories? Please share your links.
Facebook Fan Page: www.Facebook.com/SarahBillingtonBooks
BUY SARAH’S BOOKS:
Pre-order The Kiss Off and get it FIRST! http://www.sarahbillington.weebly.com
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Sarah-Billington/e/B004WQVGTC
Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/c/sarah-billington
Smashwords Author Page: http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/SarahBillington
Author Biography, Sarah Billington: Sarah Billington is an Australian writer and editor who likes to write stories with love, laughs, suspense and zombies. Sometimes all in the same story. Her favouritest thing to write about are those horrendously awkward moments that come with being a teenager. Or a human being. Sarah was extremely accident-prone and klutzy as a kid and teen, so her cup runneth over with experiences of horrendously awkward moments to draw from in her writing. Thankfully, she has grown out of her klutziness. Mostly. She is, however, still an embarrassment.
She loves a variety of random things, which include doggies (hers as well as yours), Swing Dancing, Ice Hockey, Roller Derby and she is a bit obsessive about paranormal investigation shows and channel E!. She writes light-hearted works under Sarah Billington, and darker, scarier and more torturous stories under her pen name, Edwina Ray.
She also runs an editing, cover design and ebook formatting company Billington Media.
The E-Pub PUB appreciates Sarah taking time out of her busy life to spend some time with us and we wish her much success with The Kiss Off as well as with all her upcoming projects!