Her debut novel, Beautiful Broken Things was released early 2016, but now Sara Barnard is back with her second book, A Quiet Kind Of Thunder. She discusses the characters, how long it takes to write a book and her new novel, A Quiet Kind of Thunder.
When did you know you wanted to become an author, were you always interested in English at school?
I always knew I wanted to be an author! It was my dream from a very young age. I liked English, but what I really loved was just books and words in general, outside of the classroom.
How did you come up with the idea of Beautiful Broken Things?
It came from the characters and built very organically over a number of years. I was thirteen when I wrote the very earliest version, and a lot of what changed from that draft to Beautiful Broken Things is to do with me personally getting older and seeing the characters and the situation differently. So, for example, that first draft was more about trauma itself, whereas Beautiful Broken Things is about the aftermath of trauma and the recovery from it.
It’s a great book with great characters. For people who haven’t read the book, could you tell us a bit about it?
It’s a platonic love story about three sixteen-year-olds called Caddy, Rosie and Suzanne. Caddy and Rosie have been best friends for most of their lives, even though they’ve gone to different schools, and the arrival of Suzanne at the beginning of Year 11 changes things for them both. She’s brought a lot of emotional baggage with her, and it’s about how the three girls change and shape each other’s lives and the consequences of that.
Do you ever have people say to you that your book has helped them in any way to deal with things they’ve been through themselves?
Yes, and that’s the best thing an author can hear. It means so much.
Beautiful Broken Things was set in Brighton, do you find it easier to base your books on real places?
It depends on the book – with Beautiful Broken Things, it felt very natural to set it in Brighton because it suited the story and the characters. With A Quiet Kind of Thunder, the setting wasn’t as important, so I kept it more vague. I knew the characters lived somewhere in Bedfordshire, but that was as specific as it needed to be.
How did you feel getting a book deal?
What was it like appearing in the Zoella Book Club? With a name like Zoella behind it, your book must have reached people that it may not have before?
Amazing! I couldn’t believe it when I found out. It made such a difference to readership (and sales!).
Where do you do your writing?
Anywhere I can, though usually on my sofa. I have an office that I don’t really use very much except for storing my books. I’m also a big fan of writing on trains because there are fewer distractions.
Can you tell us about your new book, A Quiet Kind Of Thunder?
It’s a quiet love story between a girl who doesn’t talk and a boy who can’t hear. Steffi has selective mutism and she meets Rhys, who is deaf, on their first day of sixth form. It’s about the relationship between the two of them and it explores communication, anxiety and first love.
How different was it writing this than Beautiful Broken Things? Was it easier after writing your debut novel?
It was very different because I knew I was writing something that was going to be published, which of course wasn’t the case with Beautiful Broken Things. I don’t know if it made it easier overall or harder, but it was certainly a different experience.
Are you always thinking about new/existing characters and what storylines you would include in future books?
Yes – all the time. The characters tend to stick around even when I’m meant to be done with them, chattering away, wanting new stories. So the new ones are always fighting for space. It has to be a strong idea to win out, which is often how I know it’s the right one.
Do you ever think about your books turned into films, if so, do you have any ideas on who you would like to play each of the main characters?
I do but in the same kind of way that people think about winning the lottery. I’d be very open to casting – a lot of actresses I’ve thought of over the years have got too old to play the characters, anyway!
How long does it take to write a book from start to finish and have you already started your next book?
It takes about a year from start to finish, including edits. I usually finish a first draft in about six months. I’m currently working on edits for my next book and thinking about the next one after that.
If you had any advice for people wanting to become an author, what would it be?
Firstly, to read. Anything and everything, but especially in the genre/market you want to write in. Secondly, to be patient. Publishing takes a long time, but there’s no sell-by date for anyone or any book. Write because you love it, and everything else will follow from that.
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