Sunday, March 22, 2015

YA Spring Fling: Meet Sarah Dalton!

As part of the YA Spring Fling Interview Blog Hop, we here at Monkey Queen Books are pleased to be hosting an interview with Sarah Dalton, author of the White Hart fantasy series, the Blemished sci-fi dystopia series, and the Mary Hades Gothic horror series! Get to know Sarah better after the cut!

What’s your favourite thing about spring?

Daffodils, longer evenings and the mildness creeping in. Spring is very variable in England, it can rain, snow, be sunny – and that’s just in one week. This year it’s quite cold and grey, but we have days of bright sunshine combined with a wintery nip.

Do you have a least favourite thing about spring?

Probably April showers. The rain can be really bad in April, which feels very tedious after a long winter!

What’s the best thing about being a writer?

The freedom of expression and creating something from scratch. Then, of course, the reaction by readers. Making someone feel emotion is one of the loveliest aspects of it all.

What’s the worst thing about being a writer?

The feeling of being ‘stuck’, of reaching a part in your story that makes you unsure about how to proceed. Sometimes it can feel quite pressurised and I’ve never been able to work well under pressure.

Tell us more about your books.

They are all quite different. The Blemished series is all about fighting back against oppression. White Hart is a coming of age fantasy story about a complicated girl living in a difficult, but enchanting, world. The Mary Hades series is dark and more mature. It’s about mortality, ghosts, and the things that give us nightmares.

Tell us more about yourself.

I’m from Derbyshire, which is central England and probably the furthest you can get from the sea in the UK. As a result, the coast makes me slightly nervous. I love being by the sea, but places with very high cliffs always make me afraid I’m going to trip, fall, and just roll over the edge!

I went to a tiny village primary school and a pretty small secondary school which I think helped me become more creative. The people there were also pretty creative and interesting.

I’m a bit of a TV addict and I just bought my first house with my other half, yay!

Congratulations! Coffee or Tea?

Tea of course. Did I mention that I’m English?

Are there any books involved in the YA Spring Fling that you’re secretly lusting after?

So many of them sound really good. I’ve had the privilege of working with the covers and blurbs to organise the giveaway, and I have to say, there wasn’t a single one I wouldn’t at least ‘look inside’. When I get a spare moment I’m definitely going to try out lots of these books.

What was the last YA book you read?

Well, I’m part way through Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard. It has really caught my attention. The world building is very imaginative.

Why do you write YA?

I’m interested in the issues that teens and young adult people face, and I feel that my style of writing suits YA. I love prose, I love drama, and I love the ‘firsts’ in life, which is a good recipe for writing YA, I think.

Were there any books that you read when you were younger that made you want to become a writer?

I don’t think I ever had that moment where I looked up from a book and thought “hey, I want to do this, I want to be a writer”, but as a very quiet person with a lot to say, writing was a good way to express myself. I think it was inevitable for me to begin writing novels at some point in my life. Actually I used to write stories when very little but I got so much attention from it that I shied away and stopped doing it for a long time.

You're the organizer and driving force behind the YA Spring Fling. (And you have our thanks for it!) Why did you want to take on all this work?

Hmm, good question! Why did I do that? Haha! Really, it’s one of those things that benefits everyone. Readers find new books and new authors, the authors find a few more fans. I get to work with lots of great people, and the giveaway is on my website so it helps me get my name out there, too.

What will you be giving away during the YA Spring Fling?

You know, I think I’m giving away pretty much my entire back catalogue. The only book I’m not giving away is Red Palace, book two in the White Hart series. The complete Blemished series is in there, which is a pulse pounding YA dystopia, and everything in the Mary Hades series so far, which is a spooktastic YA Gothic horror.

What are your top tips for surviving a bad review?

Give yourself a moment to privately vent, and then realise that everyone is entitled to their opinion, and that there isn’t a single book out there not hated by at least one person.

What are your top tips for surviving a zombie apocalypse?

I would be AWFUL in a zombie apocalypse. Terrible. I’d be the one in the group that gets everyone else killed because I’m so useless. My advice would probably be “hide the hell out of sight and wait for all this to blow over”.

What inspires you?

Inspiration is something tricky to pin down. A lot of the time I’m inspired by books and television. Sometimes it’s just the mood of the book/TV show/film. When I get that feeling I often track down the music for the TV show or film and listen to it when I’m writing.

Was there any specific source of inspiration that you had for your White Hart series?

I kept seeing stag inspired art everywhere. For some reason, antlers are very trendy, and I had this idea about a young girl growing up with a stag. I grew up around horses and there is a special bond between human and steed. You become a partnership who look after each other. I really wanted to write that, and White Hart grew from there.

When will the third White Hart book be coming out? (Soon, we hope!)

Soon! I hope too. I’m almost half way through the first draft. It’s always a slog writing the last book in a series. The first is a breeze, the second is a little harder, but the last is the worst and I always have a bit of trouble with it. There is going to be a lot happening in Black Crown, and I want to get it right, so it might be a few months yet!

Do you have any advice for people who want to take the big step and become writers, tell their own stories?

So much advice! Firstly, don’t share your work until you are ready to hear criticism. Write for yourself, write a few different things, leave your work at least a couple of weeks before re-reading. You’ll probably spot a lot that you need to improve. When you’re ready, go out and seek a critique. It could be at a writer group, on a writer forum, or from someone you trust to give an honest opinion. Then just keep writing until you really believe your story is ready to be published.

Oh and read a lot! Learn how to format your document properly. Follow your instincts when it comes to choosing which advice to take. Listen to everything and learn as much as you can. Becoming a writer can take a lot of time and practice.

Where can readers find your books?

All over the place. Check out my website for more info:

Thank you for your time! Best of luck with your future books!

Thanks to Sarah for letting me ask her some follow-up questions, coming up with and organizing the Spring Fling, and being kind to a certain author who kept noticing the extra "e" in his last name. Don't forget that you can sign up for the YA Spring Fling at!ya-spring-fling/ciql through April 3!

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