Sarah E. Fine is the author of the Guards of the Shadowlands YA urban fantasy series (Skyscape/Amazon Children’s Publishing), including Sanctum (October 2012) and Fractured (October 2013). The third and final book in this series comes out in October 2014. She has also co-authored Scan with Walter Jury. Her gothic young adult novel Of Metal and Wishes will be published by McElderry/Simon & Schuster in August 2014. When she’s not writing, she’s psychologizing. Visit her here.
NAW-When did your literary journey begin? At what age did you discover that you wanted to write?
I entered the game quite late, actually. Although I have always been an avid reader, I never took creative writing in high school or college—I was always more into science, and frankly, I was also intimidated. But nearly five years ago, the weekend after my thirty-fifth birthday, I suddenly decided I was going to write a book. I just felt like I had it inside me. It’s been a wild and wonderful ride since then, and now I can’t imagine my life without writing.
NAW- Tell us about your book, ‘Scan.’ How did you get the idea for it? How long did it take to finish the book? Is it difficult to work in collaboration?
My co-author, Walter Jury (AKA Pouya Shahbazian) deserves the credit for the original idea for Scan. He’s in the movie business and wanted to create a fast-paced, grounded sci-fi thriller about what would happen if aliens had invaded (without our knowing it) hundreds of years before humans even invented the airplane.
I’m a rather fast writer, so I finished Scan in less than a month, but I also had a lovely detailed synopsis provided by my co-author! Our collaboration is great; he thinks big picture and I supply details.
NAW- Tell us about your other book series, ‘Guards of The Shadowlands.’ Which is the next release in the series and what is it about?
The Guards of the Shadowlands series begins with Sanctum, in which seventeen-year-old Lela Santos sneaks into a hellish dark city to rescue the soul of her best friend, Nadia, who committed suicide. On her mission, Lela is thwarted then aided by Malachi, the indentured human captain of the Guards. Fractured, the sequel, shows Lela and Malachi coming to grips with the choices they made at the end of Sanctum, as they deal with enemies who are determined to permanently break free from their prison deep inside the Shadowlands.
The third and final book in the series comes out on October 7th of this year (the title is not public yet). I can’t say much about it without spoiling the other books, but I will say that it is the culmination of Lela’s journey, where she must once again decide if she’s willing to walk into hell for someone she loves. She starts out as this angry, traumatized foster kid who’s been abandoned over and over again, and throughout the series, comes to realize her own self-worth and the power of her choices. I’m excited to share Book Three with readers.
NAW- Tell us about your other works.
I have another book coming out on August 5th of this year, completely separate and different from Scan and the Guards of the Shadowlands series. It’s called Of Metal and Wishes, and I like to describe it as a cross between Gaston Leroux’s Phantom of the Opera and Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle. In the book, sixteen-year-old Wen, who moves in with her father, the resident doctor for the town’s slaughterhouse, and discovers the myth of the factory ghost may not be a myth at all.
NAW- Do you carry out any research for developing your characters and your stories? How do you go about it?
I generally do a lot of Internet research for all my stories, and when necessary, I consult with an expert. For example, with Scan, the main character (Tate), is a young man with a lot of scientific knowledge and creativity. He creates a lot of improvised weapons and tools throughout the book as he tries to outrun the aliens and keep his father’s secret invention away from them. I consulted with a chemistry professor and watched a lot of YouTube videos of teenage boys getting up to all sorts of hijinks with stump remover, powdered sugar, water guns, and lighter fluid. It’s kind of scary what you can find online.
NAW- Tell us about yourself. What do you do when you are not writing?
I have a day job! I’m a psychologist, and I direct a set of programs that provide home- and community-based behavioral health services to children and adolescents who are at risk for being removed from their homes and placed in psychiatric or residential treatment facilities. Sometimes it feels like I’m living a strange double-life—I get this hefty dose of reality on the days I’m in the office, and then I spend the rest of my week spinning fantastical tales.
NAW – Tell us about your literary journey. How easy (or difficult) was it to get your first book in print?
I wrote my first book very quickly and began querying it a few months later, but it didn’t take me long to realize it really wasn’t good enough to be published. After that I wrote Sanctum, and immediately I could tell that it had a lot more potential. I was getting requests from agents and feedback when I got rejections. I used that feedback to revise the manuscript, and after about six months of persistent querying, ended up with several offers of representation. I signed with my agent almost exactly a year after I started writing, but it took another several months to actually sell the book. I think my journey is pretty typical. I’ve slogged through nearly two hundred rejections from agents and publishers, but all it takes is one YES.
NAW- What are your upcoming projects?
In 2015, I have two adult paranormal romances coming out; Marked will be published in January, and its sequel is slated for April. In addition, the sequel to Scan, entitled Burn, will be published in May, and the sequel to Of Metal and Wishes will be published in August. It’s going to be a busy year, and I’m really excited about it!