"Who in their right mind wouldn't want to read a book by Mark Barry!" (Mary Quallo, St Louis)

"Who in their right mind wouldn't want to read a book by Mark Barry!"  (Mary Quallo, St Louis)
Coming next week - Carla Eatherington

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Forgetting Sarah Wallace

In the third of (what will come to be known as the Matt Posner interviews), sci-fi fantasist and humanist writer, Sarah Wallace, talks to me about her latest work - and other stuff. 

I contacted her on the Wizphone over the weekend as she cooked grilled chicken and pasta. Perhaps due to pressure of work, lack of sleep, or the legacy of a night spent watching chick flicks with my invisible wizard friends around the Cauldron plasma, initially, I referred to Sarah as Sarah Marshall, from the cult Hawaiian break up chick flick. Hence the blog title. 

Luckily, Sarah saw the funny side, gently reminded me of the error of my ways, and didn't take offence.  I've agreed to watch 24 hours of classic Katherine Heigl comedy "27 Dresses" as a penance.

(Luckily, I quite like that film. It's a Cauldron favourite. And so do all my invisible wizard pals! hehehehehheheh...sneaky Wiz)

Anyway,enough of this tomfoolery. Here's what Sarah had to say about her work that sunny Sunday afternoon somewhere in America.

Somewhere here, in the middle bit, the green bit,
not quite as dark as the dark green at the top, lurks a SciFi author

Tell us about your latest work, Sarah.

Retrospection is a novella I’ve been working on for quite some time. I had the idea for it and wrote some notes as well as one chapter, years ago. Then, I set it aside until I had time to focus on it. What was interesting for me in writing Retrospection, was that other than the Chicago, IL 2001 sections, I wrote it completely out of order, and then put it together like a puzzle. 

You have written four books – which is your favourite? 

I’d have to go with Heart of Humanity as my favourite, with Retrospection coming in at a close second. 

It’s my favourite because not only is it a stand alone novel, but it’s also the completion of my Reliance on Citizens trilogy. By that time, I’d really gotten to know my characters on a very personal level. I knew their histories, their experiences, their quirks. It was fun to watch how it all played out. Of course, I knew what some of the major concluding events would be (no spoilers here), but I didn’t exactly know how it would unfold. That’s one of the aspects I most enjoy when writing.

Sarah's wonderful companion and muse

I read a review of “Canvas Skies” (one of 10 5*) which compares the book to “1984” by Orwell. Is that accurate? Who or what influences you as a writer?

I’m honoured that a reader would compare me to Orwell, and I absolutely love 1984. However, I wasn’t thinking of 1984 or any other story when I wrote my trilogy. I rarely have vivid dreams, but when I do, I like to write down the ideas that spring from them. I also pull in a lot of my own experiences of places, events and feelings, but I do not create characters specifically around anyone I’ve personally known. And I also ask big questions and wonder how they could be answered. Then I let my imagination take over. 

How important is community to an Indie writer?

I think community is extremely important to all writers, not just Indies. 

Classic Chicago community  - the Shameless USA gang

No one writes exactly the same way. There are no tricks that work for everyone. Traditional publishing works very well for some authors and novels, and Indie publishing is better for others. The beauty of writing communities, whether online or face to face, is that writers find other people who are willing to share ideas, helpful tips and resources. We can then use or disregard what we’ve learned. Either way, it’s helpful to know what works for others, and if something doesn’t work for us, we can sometimes tweak things to find the right fit.

You seem very critical of the bullying culture in Independent Literature. Have you been a target? What can be done about it?

Yes, I have been a target. Online bullying is completely uncalled for and unprofessional, and I honestly don’t understand why people do it. There are a number of ways to respond to online bullies. I've stood up against some, spoken out against certain individuals and blocked some people on Facebook. I recently signed an online petition against online 
bullying at Goodreads. However, if I’m being bullied at Goodreads, I wouldn’t know it. I have an author page there, I post reviews and respond occasionally in threads there, but other than that, I don’t pay it much attention. I’ve also left hostile forums, and I’ve even had to change my phone number. 

What are the major challenges facing an Indie writer?  Would you recommend the activity to a friend?

For me, the biggest challenge is marketing and promotion. For others, it may be editing or formatting. If you chose the Indie route, you have to do everything yourself. 

No danger of pimp burnout with top sales and marketing hound, Gareth

You can also work with other Indies who have the skills you lack or pay for specific services depending on your needs and your financial situation. But if you love to write, and you want to make your stories and thoughts available to the public, by all means do. On the other hand, if you think it’s a quick way to make money, it’s not.

Buy all Sarah Wallace's books HERE:

You are captured while walking on a sea front by a mob of Droogs in their bowler hats and boiler suits. They throw you in a locked bathing cabin. Mungton, a kindly, but spectacularly dim-witted Droog, leaves behind a curious hemp sack. In it, you discover three books, two CDs and one DVD.   What would you like them to be?

 To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

American Gods by Neil Gaiman,

 The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon (pop-up version) by Stephen King

 The Very Best of Buddy Holly and the Crickets

Aliotta, Haynes, Jeremiah Lake Shore Drive (the 25th anniversary 2-CD set)

...and the Stardust DVD

What has been the best moment of your life so far?

When I heard my daughter’s first cry.

Share with us your favourite aphorism or motivational statement.

“Tomorrow is always fresh, with no mistakes in it.” (Lucy Maud Montgomery)

What main course would dinner guests have to look forward to at your pad?

LOL, there’s no room at our place for dinner guests! But if I lived somewhere else, I would prepare grilled chicken with a special pasta dish including parsley, red peppers, Parmesan cheese,etc. that I learned from a friend who is a chef. 

And what do fans of Sarah Wallace have to look forward to in the coming year.

They can watch for blog posts. I’m trying to keep to a schedule now. I’m planning to post on the 2nd and 4th Thursdays of every month. They can also read my Indie Horizon reviews and interviews at http://ingenre.com/ hosted on the first Monday of every month. 

And I’m currently working on a two book companion set. One book will be more of a memoir with anecdotes and memories of a spooky nature. The other will take it a step further and will be an anthology of short stories in which I turn those memories into thriller or horror shorts. My target deadline is next fall.

Sarah, it's been a pleasure having you on the show and I'm sure Wizardwatchers will wish you the best of luck. How can they contact you, by the way?

Thanks, Wiz. I can be contacted all over the place! I look forward to meeting some of your fans...

My official author website: http://slwallace.com/

My Crossroads of Humanity blog: http://crossroadsofhumanity.blogspot.com/

Twitter handle: @authorSLWallace https://twitter.com/authorSLWallace



  1. Great interview, especially for bringing awareness to the bullying problem.

  2. I agree, MAB. Online bullying should be confronted immediately, the moment it occurs. I do think Goodreads should clean house too and the Amazon Forum, which can be a nerve wracking place for the new Indie writer. However, I do think that Indie writers (in particular) should learn to take a negative review without reaching automatically for the bullying card. Top fiction writer Scarlett Thomas has several (completely unjustified, imo) 1* reviews on her amazon sheet and she sees it as par for the course. However, for those dark trolls who aim for the jugular, with personal attacks and vicious flaming, there should be no hiding place.

  3. Thank you for a wonderful interview, Mark. I agree with both of you about the bullying issue. I don't think of 1*or 2* reviews as bullying unless the reviewer has clearly not read the book they are reviewing or is pulling a group of people together in order to specifically write negative reviews against an author. In other words, to be considered bullying, I think the behavior needs to be repeated and/or targeted. The group I encountered in the Amazon forums clearly stated that they were trying to run certain people (certain Indie authors) of town, so to speak, and bragged about it whenever they accomplished that feat. First, I spoke out against them, and then I left the forums. I also knew these people on Facebook and promptly blocked them. Then I received repeated FB messages from their sock puppet accounts including a disturbing video from one of the members who admitted in message who he was. That is the type of behavior to which I was referring in my interview. I don't understand why anyone would waste their time like that.

  4. Until the powers that be change their mindset, the bullying issue is not going to go away soon, unfortunately. Hopefully, new rules will be put in place with Goodreads new management. Best of luck, Sarah.


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