Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Writer Interview: Sarah Scheele!

For this week's Writer Interview, we have with us Sarah Scheele, from Texas!

 Thanks so much for answering the call, Sarah! We're so glad to have you here this time, and we hope to get you back for a reader interview sometime later.

Sarah S: You’re welcome, Elizabeth! It’s my pleasure to be here.

E: So, let's get started.  Tell us a little about yourself and what you've written.
S: Well, I grew up homeschooled, surrounded by great books, so I fell in love with literature early. When I was tiny, I would listen as my mom read poetry aloud, and I started writing as soon as I could use a pen. Three years ago, I published a collection of sci-fi/fantasy novellas, Facets of Fantasy.  One of those stories, “Millhaven Castle,” has grown into a full novel—with the potential for sequels—and I’m hoping to expand on the others as well.

E. What's your favorite genre/genres, and what do you think really draws you to that/them the most?

S: My favorites are sci-fi/fantasy and comedy, no doubt about it. With speculative fiction, I can set up imaginary societies that explore how people interact in our real one. Putting the story in an invented culture like our own enables people to look at our world objectively from the outside. And comedy adds an additional layer of insight about the absurd or faulty within situations.

E: What's your most favorite writing related advice?

S: Strive to write what mirrors life. The difference between a great book and just another novel is that it becomes more than a story. It starts to mean something to people. It leaves the printed page and touches something that readers are dealing with in their real lives. You make that happen by putting in extra effort to observe the world around you.

E:  What is your favorite type of character to write? Why do you think that especially appeals to you?

S: Funny characters! It’s harder to be funny, for one thing—a real challenge for the writing mind. Comedy provides a moral purpose as well. If selfishness, arrogance, and poor reasoning are shown as ridiculous, people will be less likely to do these things. And I simply love making people laugh.

E: Where do you like to get your characters? Do you like to draw off of people you know, other books, or just pull them put of the blue?

S: All three, really. Sometimes I stumble across a stock character (for example, a rich old geezer who thinks he is still attractive) and I think, “Ah, that could be really good in my story!” I also analyze real people quite a bit. But once I’ve assembled a few characters and started writing, new people pop in and these are often my best. :D

E: Some writers talk about their characters getting out of control and things happening that they didn't intend to happen; have you ever had this happen?

S: All the time. A notable example is a character named George Longdogo. He began as a minor comic guest at a ball, but eventually grew into a foreign royal with a role in the plot! You know your characters are getting good when they stop doing what you want. After all, it’s easy to tell a paper doll what to do. It’s much harder to tell your sister or your co-worker. :P

E: How do you write, is it 'start with page one, scene one' and go through it in order; or just "whatever scene pops into your head"
(and that might mean that you have the entire middle of your book written before you even start on the beginning)?

S: Generally I start writing from the beginning. Then I stop without finishing it because a new, unrelated scene has popped into my head. After awhile, I return to my first story and realize it could neatly join with the new ideas I’ve been working on. So I’d say I write stories in chunks of about 1/3 at a time and gradually sew them together.

E: How do you plan your stories' "bones", or do you?

S: I listen to music.  Images like movie trailers flash through my mind. I’ll watch this “trailer” over and over as I listen to the song, even if I don’t quite know how this story will be written. Trailers have to pinpoint the pivotal moments, so they help me form abstract images of what’s central to the work.

E: Have you tried any plotting, outlining, methods; and what works best to your way of thinking?

S: When drafting, I often write by talking rather than by forming an outline. I present a scene to my sisters and as they interact the scene grows and grows. Once I’m very far along in the story, I organize it a bit and calculate how long it will be and how much more I need to write. That’s the only time when outlining comes in.

E: What is your worst writing trouble?

S: Perfectionism. From my early teens on, I wanted to be the best. I read the classics and compared myself to them, constantly trying to improve. I didn’t want to be a complacent, mediocre author. But I was aiming way too high. Even the greats started small and their early work wasn’t that good. I’m trying to let go and accept that there’s no work without faults. That’s an impossible standard.

E:  Good point! It's so hard to hit the balance point of "good enough". But everybody has to start somewhere!
 What is your worst writing fault? How do you identify and rectify its effects?

S: Character growth is hard for me. I’m much more an observer than a reformer, so I’m not really into sending my characters on life-changing experiences. I’ve noticed longer works quickly get stale when characters seem to learn nothing after many pages, so I try to make sure my people aren’t so elemental that they can’t develop.

E: Hey! It's been great having you here! We've so enjoyed learning more about another writer's mental workings! Thanks for participating. 

S: I’ve enjoyed it so much. Thanks for having me. :)

 And folks, Sarah can be kept up with and contacted at these links:
  Her blog, Stardust and Gravel
  ...on Facebook Sarah Scheele
   ...and on Twitter!


Kelsey Bryant said...

This was fascinating! Your view on comedy and comedic characters sounds like Jane Austen's perspective. I like what you said about characters -- "it's easy to tell a paper doll what to do. It's much harder to tell your sister or your co-worker." A very good barometer for measuring characters!
You certainly have a unique way of working. I wish I could see inside your mind as the movie trailer plays. : ) Interesting way of outlining, too. I can see how your sisters would be very helpful. That'd be great if those of us who use notebooks would get that kind of interaction from the notebooks!

Unknown said...

Hi Sarah! ( WAVES) :D :D :D

Unknown said...

I wish people could see the trailers too, Kelsey! They are more vivid than the covers I've been able to make for my books thus far. If I ever have the resources to do a book trailer, then people could have a little idea of what I see in my mind. :)

lol, notebooks sadly aren't very helpful for comic feedback in particular. They tend not to know the difference between what's funny and what's not.

Hi Hannah! Thanks for reading. :D

Joseph said...


"You know your characters are getting good when they stop doing what you want."

I like this comment. You have a gift of character creation, which starts at the level of observation and takes off during the writing process.

Ever get caught staring at someone because your were observing them so intently?

Unknown said...

Thanks for commenting, Joseph! Characters are always at the front of my mind when I create a story, and I do pay a lot of attention to people around me. I don't think I've ever been caught staring at someone. (Hopefully not, anyway!) I tend to listen very closely to the way people are speaking to each other--I only stare at them if they're on TV. :P

E. KaIser Writes said...

Great comments, guys! Thanks for stopping by!
And yes, I like when Sarah said about putting humor in. That is such an effective way to show a truth, (perhaps and unpleasant one!) and at the same time heighten the reader's enjoyment of the story.
Great interview, Sarah!

Unknown said...

It was so fun Elizabeth! I hope your followers enjoy the reader interview too. :D

Ah, glad that rang true! I feel humor is underused as a tool, considering its effectiveness. But then, it's hard to get it just right. It's very easy to be rude--funny, not so much. ;)