I'm so excited for today's author guest whose DEBUT YA FANTASY-THRILLER is out in just over one week's time! *screams*
Check it out...
SASHA LAURENS grew up in Northern California, where she learned to drive on Highway 1’s switchback turns and got accustomed to the best weather in the world. After studying creative writing and literature at Columbia University, she lived in New York for years and, at various times, in Russia. She currently resides in Michigan, where she is pursuing a PhD in political science. A Wicked Magic is her first novel.
The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina meets The Craft when modern witches must save teens stolen by an ancient demon in this YA fantasy-thriller debut.
Dan and Liss are witches. The Black Book granted them that power. Harnessing that power feels good, especially when everything in their lives makes them feel powerless.
During a spell gone wrong, Liss's boyfriend is snatched away by an evil entity and presumed dead. Dan and Liss's friendship dies that night, too. How can they practice magic after the darkness that they conjured?
Months later, Liss discovers that her boyfriend is alive, trapped underground in the grips of an ancient force. She must save him, and she needs Dan and the power of The Black Book to do so. Dan is quickly sucked back into Liss's orbit and pushes away her best friend, Alexa. But Alexa has some big secrets she's hiding and her own unique magical disaster to deal with.
When another teenager disappears, the girls know it's no coincidence. What greedy magic have they awakened? And what does it want with these teens it has stolen?
Set in the atmospheric wilds of California's northern coast, Sasha Laurens's thrilling debut novel is about the complications of friendship, how to take back power, and how to embrace the darkness that lives within us all.
Release date: 7-28-2020 (Razorbill)
Who are you and what do you write?
I’m Sasha Laurens, and I write YA contemporary fantasy novels. My debut, A WICKED MAGIC, comes out on July 28, 2020, and it’s about two ex-best friends with witchy powers, who accidentally summon a demon that kidnaps one girl's boyfriend. Months later, the girls have a chance to rescue him, but to do it, they need to confront the internal demons that have pushed them both to the breaking point. A WICKED MAGIC is a story about how we choose to love ourselves and let others love us—and how difficult that can be. It’s also about telepathic cats, reckless driving, people who might in fact be birds, and whether or not you can ask for more whipped cream on your mocha when you’ve slurped the initial serving whipped cream off the top.
Where and when and how did the writing life begin for you?
I loved storytelling as a kid, and then In high school I was very into journaling and embarrassing poetry—it’s a rite of passage, okay? I also started taking writing classes at 826 Valencia, which is an amazing center that has outposts all around the country. I took creative writing classes through college, but afterwards it took me a few years to figure out how I wanted writing to be a part of my life. It felt foolish to write without getting published, but getting published felt impossible. Ultimately, NaNoWriMo got me. I’d always wanted to try it, and I had an idea for a commercial YA novel. I realized if I had all that passion, creativity and dedication, maybe publishing wasn’t as impossible as it had seemed.
How has the journey to this point been? Can you give us a basic rundown?
Well, for starters, it took years to get here. That NaNoWriMo was in November 2013 and my debut comes out in July 2020. Had I known how long it would take, I probably never would have begun.
I didn’t get to seriously revise that initial project, First Novel, until 2015, because I’d just started grad school and didn’t have time. Once I did, I got some critique partners and went through more versions than I care to remember. I queried around 50 agents over two years, and Jennifer Udden was literally the last one I was waiting to hear from before I threw in the towel on First Novel entirely. Hers was the only offer I got, but sometimes the system works like it’s supposed to: we make a great team.
Unfortunately, First Novel didn’t get a lot of interest when we sent it out to editors; more accurately, it got zero interest. While that was deeply stressful, I was already working on what would become A WICKED MAGIC. I’d started that project at the end of my querying process, as I prepared to trunk First Novel. Now, I found myself almost hoping First Novel wouldn’t sell, so I wouldn’t have to stop working on A WICKED MAGIC. I knew A WICKED MAGIC was significantly better than First Novel—and I just felt in my gut that it was good enough to get published. Ultimately, I decided to pull First Novel from submission so we could go out with A WICKED MAGIC, and we got lucky almost immediately.
What's been the hardest part of your writing/publishing experience so far? And the most enjoyable?
Publishing sometimes—often?—feels like you’re poking yourself in the eye repeatedly and calling it fun. There have been many times I’ve doubted my decision to do it. Rejection is hard, and as you go further into publishing, the occasions for rejection multiply incomprehensibly. I used to think rejections from agents were difficult, but at least that was predictable. Now every time I go online I might be surprised by a tag in a bad review, or the discovery I wasn’t invited to be on some panel or something or a one-star Goodreads review offered with no explanation. If you’ve having a good day, publishing is ready, standing by, waiting to ruin it for you, oftentimes in ways you’d never imagined!
On the flip side, writing stories is so freaking awesome that it is absolutely worth it. I do not know why making people up and then messing with them is so unbelievably satisfying and fun, but I would keep doing it even if I never got to publish another book. The best thing I ever did for my writing was give myself permission to write about messy, angry, sad girls—like Dan and Liss, the main characters in A WICKED MAGIC—to put them in stories that I wanted to read, and to do it in a style that feels like me. That permission means that even if no one else ever reads my work, I still love it. The fact that I get to share some of that with the world is truly mind-boggling.
Would you go back and change anything?
I would probably not have done the revision while querying First Novel where I added a kind of free verse poem as the prologue. Turns out, no agents were thinking that they’d love to sign me, if only I included a free verse poem right at the beginning.
But otherwise, no. Having a career in writing is more about skill than talent, and skill accumulates through experience, over time. There are no shortcuts.
Where would you like to be in 5 years time? And 10? Or, what are your plans for the future?
Hopefully I’ll get to keep publishing books! In my day job I am getting a PhD in political science, so my goal is to get a job as a professor and keep doing research.
What's one piece of advice you'd give to new writers just starting out?
Every writer, at some point, knew as much as you do, which is not very much! Like I said, writing is a skill that i's a product of experience and time. Read widely and critically. Think about what you like and why it works, or what you don’t and why it fails. Read craft books, or some of the zillion online resources about writing craft. But that’s not enough. You also need to do it, and by “it”, I mean actually write. The writing is the uncomfortable part about being a writer, and there is no amount of craft advice that can cut around it. You’re going to write a lot of bad stuff, but only by writing bad stuff will you learn how to take a janky heap of word-garbage and sculpt it into something that looks like a legible draft, in hope of sending it to a reader who will rip it to shreds and send you back to the writing a lot of bad stuff stage—now with a slightly better idea of what you’re doing. The writing process is truly a gift.
And most importantly...
Ketchup or Mayo? As a Dutch person, I have to pick mayo but ilu too ketchup.
Night or Day? Day
Inside or Outside? Inside
Dogs or Cats? Dogs
Twitter or Facebook? I use both and each gives me its own special kind of anxiety.
Ebook or Paperback? Depends on the book!
Sun or Rain? Both are great in moderation
Keyboard or Pencil & Notebook? Keyboard
Comedy or Drama? Drama
Chips or Chocolate? Chocolate
Want to guest blog or be interviewed? Got a cover reveal or book coming out?
Get in touch today!