Angie Azur is a YA Sci-fi Writer.
Writer for PALEO Magazine.
Former Intern at the Andrea Brown Literary Agency.
SCBWI & COWG Member.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Interview with Sandra Waugh - Author of LARK RISING

I met Sandra via email - she reached out for an interview and when I saw the Lark Rising cover, how could I refuse? I absolutely feel this book just from the jacket and can't wait to read it! 

Sandra is a rising star. She's in an awesome critique group with amazing writers. They even helped her land her agent --- I LOVE when writers help writers! 

You'll learn something new from Sandra and you'll learn it in a very lyrical and beautiful way. Watch out world of children's books - Sandra is rising!

Describe LARK RISING in 5 words.

Shy clairvoyant must save earth.

Your childhood sounds like a writer’s dream. How has it molded your writing?
Those years of exploring physical landscapes of fields and woods and seashore are definitely the backbone for fantasy writing.  I was lucky to grow up in such a beautiful environment and yet I think it’s what we make of our environment more than what our environment makes us.  I believe a writer can find a story within a gum wrapper discarded in a gutter.

Why write children’s books?

            They are closest to my heart. 

How does art influence you and your writing?

            Music—fires my imagination, inspires the emotional moods in my stories.

            Fine art—(or things that I find in a museum) are images and imagery to draw from.  A ring from the Byzantine era and the Unicorn Tapestries are both objects I’ve used (directly and indirectly) for my stories.

            Literature—Oh… how can reading NOT influence writing!  Certain voices, stories will catch the ear and heart, will most likely be the basis for finding your own voice.

            Dance—is what I use to decompress—that, and yoga.  I’m not someone who can sit still for hours on end.  So this helps shake out all the writing angst and leaves me open to find new ideas when I feel depleted.

What time do you get up and what do you eat for breakfast?

            On my best days, I am up by 5:30 (admittedly, there are days that I wallow).  Tea is always first (and last, and in-between). Breakfast comes later, which is usually a slice of whole grain toast, ½ a banana, and a spoonful of peanut butter—in varying combinations.

How did you choose your main character’s name, Lark?

            One of my favorite names.  The name came first, the story followed.

What draws you to the fantasy world?

            How can I not be? It is so much more exciting than the everyday!  It is the space where anything is possible.

Where is the best place to steep a cup of tea in your town?

            My house. A good tea bag, boiling water, and some whole milk is all I need! Unfortunately, we have no great tea places here and a half hour to reach a Starbucks (I am a Frappuccino lover).  I did find an amazing antique store, which hides a little coffee bar in the back… so will be checking that out!

Writing is a tough industry to break into:  How did you snag your agent?

            I was extremely fortunate to be recommended. I worked on LARK with a small writers group of published authors savvy to the industry. They suggested certain agents who might be a good fit, and then went so far as to recommend me to said agents.  Two of the three agents offered representation.  I am SO grateful for such friendship and wisdom!  That said, I still had to slog through those standard nail-biting weeks (and weeks) of waiting and wondering!

Would you be willing to share your query with us?

            Lucky not to have had to write one. As you can see from my ‘in 5 words’ descriptions, brevity and wit are not my fortes!

Complete this sentence about the writing and publishing industry:  if I knew then what I know now, I would have…

            understood not to take anything personally!

Which of your characters are you most like?  Least like?

            I am closest to Lark, Evie is runner up.  I am least like a character in Book 2 named Lill.

How long did it take you to write Lark Rising?

            From idea to agent, about two and a half years. 

Who is your biggest cheerleader?

            My husband.  I adore him.

Where did the plot for LARK RISING come from?

            A hawk lit upon my porch railing one morning.  We watched each other for a time and then he flew off.  A friend said that was an “auspicious event” and I sat down and wrote the first pages of LARK based on that moment.  The rest of the story--and series--was formed as I mowed the field behind our house (which borders woods, like Lark’s cottage).  Most of my stories get fleshed out while I push the lawnmower.

Please give newbie writers 3 bullet points of wisdom.

            READ, READ, READ what you love
            WRITE, WRITE, WRITE what you love
            WORK to slay your demons. 

Most authors (me included) are raw to so many insecurities and it is sometimes a daily battle to keep going, to keep believing. But: if you do your homework (see above) and adhere to a firm schedule and deadline, then you have your weapons to fight the insecurity. Progress matters—for when every other emotion paralyzes you, you have achievement to hold onto.  It does not matter the ‘crappy’ ness of the writing.  Once something is on the page, then you have something to build from!

You have amazing dreams—share your favorite with us.

            This is one from when I was very young, maybe 10 or 11.  That’s significant because the dream sounds straight out of a romance novel, except this dream came before I’d read any romances.  I also hold no special affinity for things German or Eastern European, so all of this was new and completely unattached to anything I favor—and yet, even as I dreamt I knew that I already knew this story. It was a replay of something that had already happened.
            Only the scene was set in my dream—A manor house, somewhere deep in a Bavarian-type forest, early nineteenth century feel to all of it.  A drive leading up to the manor house, carving straight between an impossibly tall and dense pine forest. Above, a starry sky. A traveler on horseback was coming up that drive, a man—dark cape, dark horse.  From the great window above the main entrance a girl was watching his approach.  She had long black curls, wore a white, empire-waisted gown, emerald green sash and slippers.  She did not know the man, only that with his presence came the sensation of impatience and curiosity, that this the dawn of an adventure.  And then as I, the dreamer, watched this moment I knew I’d lived this moment before, I knew that the man was going to be the great love of this girl, and that the girl was me.
            So… ask me if I’m a believer in other lives.

You have a second book coming out with Random House Children’s Books in 2015 –FALLING RAIN.  Describe it in 5 words:

            This is Evie’s darker tale.

(note: I’ve just learned Falling Rain may not be the final title! Stay tuned.)

Did you dually write these two books or finish one completely before moving onto the other?

            LARK came first, although ideas for Evie’s story hovered nearby.  There are four books in my head for what is now known as the Guardians of Tarnec series.

Who is your main character Evie molded after?

            I’ve never used someone specific for any character.  But there are pieces of me in Evie, no question.

What are you reading right now?

            Currently: two ARCs: DEAD TO ME by Mary McCoy, and THE FIRE WISH by Amber Lough; a paperback copy of Rae Carson’s THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS; Victoria Schwab’s THE ARCHIVED on my Kindle; and hardcover of Brandon Sanderson’s STEELHEART.  

(I do read adult literature, they’re just not on the tops of the teetering book piles by my bed right now!)

How can my blog readers help you to become an even bigger success?

            Wouldn’t it be great if everyone wanted to read LARK RISING! J If you do and you like it, please spread the word! (Word of mouth works wonders!)  Follow me on Twitter @sandrajwaugh, be my friend on Goodreads…

What are you working on right now?

            Writing synopsis of Book 3 of the Guardians of Tarnec.  Revising a YA contemporary paranormal to be in shape for submission, working on an adventure MG with an author friend of mine for fun.  We’ll see if any, hopefully all, of those come to book life!

 Any big news?

            I’ll be doing a Blog Tour with Rockstar Book Tours just around the release of LARK RISING on September 23—giveaways abound! 

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