I am beyond excited to present this month’s featured author, Sarah Ladd. We met at the ACFW conference in Indianapolis a few years ago and I’ve had the joy of celebrating the contract and publication of her debut novel, The Heiress of Winterwood, with her.
Ladies and gentlemen, Sarah Ladd:
1. Tell us a little about yourself. Thank you for having me on your blog! I am so pleased to be here with you today. I live in Indiana with my husband, daughter, and Golden Retriever. In addition to writing, I have worked in marketing and brand management for more than 10 years.
2. When/Why did you start writing? I guess you could say that I have been writing all my life. As a child I was always scribbling away at a short story or poem, and since starting my career in marketing I have done a great deal of promotional writing. But it wasn’t until a little more recently that I starting writing novels. I had the idea for The Heiress of Winterwood, my first book, about 9 or 10 years ago. At the time I developed the plot and even wrote a few chapters, but I didn’t actually begin seriously writing it until 2010.
3. How did you select your genre? I write books set in Regency England. For as long as I can remember, I have been a fan of British literature (especially Austen, Bronte, and the Romantic poets). These works really brought this time period and culture to life for me, and as a result, I love writing in this particular genre.
4.What is your writing day like? Every day is a little different, but regardless of what is going on, I write (or edit) every day. I do most of my writing either early in the morning or at night, but I always have a notebook and pen with me in case of an idea or snippet of dialogue comes to me when I away from my computer.
5. How do you organize your writing? (outlines/note cards/post-its) Typically, I start organizing a book by writing a complete synopsis. Then, I make a list of all the plot points (scenes) in the synopsis, order them in an excel spreadsheet, and assign a POV. As I write, I modify the spreadsheet to accommodate for any plot changes I make while writing. Of course, this spreadsheet is a constant work in progress and changes frequently, but it is a system that works for me.
6. What’s the most surprising thing a character has “told you”? Since I am a plotter, I generally have a good idea of what my characters are going to do when I sit down to write. But there have been several times when I started a scene and realized that what I had planned didn’t “suit” a character. Often a character will morph and develop as a write them, so I have to adjust the story to accommodate for these shifts. But this is a fun part of the writing process … keeps me on my toes.
7. Do you have a list of characters that you’re saving for future use? What kind of information do you keep on these characters? Sometimes I will hear of a character trait or habit that is a bit unusual, and when I do I jot it down for future reference. Or sometimes I will see a picture of a person that looks like an interesting character, and I will file that picture away for inspiration when I need it.
8. What does your work space/office look like? I have an office in my home where I do the majority of my writing. I have all of my reference books on bookshelves by my desk, and there is a large window so the room is always full of natural light. I do, however, like to write at coffee shops for the occasional change of scenery.
9. What is your go-to snack when writing? COFFEE…And lots of it!
10. If you could only recommend one NOVEL, what would it be? Why? I would have to say Jane Eyre. I read it when I was young, and of all the fiction novels I have read, it has had the greatest influence on my writing. And even if you are not a writer, the story is simply amazing. 🙂
11. If you could only recommend one CRAFT book (writing, no crocheting), what would it be? Why? This question is very easy for me to answer … I would recommend The Moral Premise by Dr. Stanley D. Williams. This book was recommended to me by an agent when I first started writing, and later I had the privilege of hearing Dr. Williams speak at an American Christian Fiction Writing conference. Of all the craft books I have read, this one has influenced me the most. It challenges writers to dig deep and identify what their book is REALLY about (the moral premise), and then it discusses how to build the plot around that main idea. It is a weighty book … I have read it a couple of times, and each time I do I take something new away.
12. Is there anything else you’d like to add? Thank you so much for welcoming me to your blog!