Interview With Author Sarah Kennedy
Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.
Secretly wishing for my own wings to fly, I instead spill my heart upon the page. I have been writing for nearly as long as I can remember and each word is a beat of my heart. My first book was written and illustrated when I was four, and was then “published” by my mother, complete with a red, construction paper cover and a yellow yarn binding. I have since given upon on illustrating my work. Anyway, my name is Sarah Kennedy. I was born into an amazing family. I am the fourth of five children; at the same time I am the middle of three children, and the youngest and the only living of three. Tricky, huh? My brother and sister by blood died in infancy before I was even born. I never got to know them, but I did get to know another brother and sister. My siblings may not share my blood but blood alone does not make a family. I have taken courses with the Institute of Children’s Literature and Long Ridge Writers Group (now known as the Institute for Writers). I live firmly planted to earth in a small town in Pennsylvania with my family, including a fabulous clowder of cats, while giving wings to the imaginary friends in my head. My published works are all part of the ongoing fantasy series known as The Prophecy of Hope Saga. There are four of them so far. Sgarrwrath, Prequel to the Prophecy of Hope; Arising, Prophecy of Hope Book 1; Mhorag, Prophecy of Hope Book 2 and Bleeding Light, Prophecy of Hope Book 3. The series is epic fantasy with elements of science fiction that has a depth and complexity of character and story spanning multiple books, which make up a whole. No stand alone books. There are more books planned for the series.
When not writing, I love to solve a good mystery box, play games or watch a movie with my family, and a good book is never far away. I also play four instruments, do embroidery, and Irish Dance.
What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
My most recent book, Bleeding Light, Prophecy of Hope Book 3 has just been released!
A lost has changed since that first construction cover book of my childhood.
When I wrote that first book at the age of four, I didn’t know writing would be my lifeline in years to come as the brother I knew and loved began to slip away. In some ways, my personal story is ripped from today’s headlines. Many of you, I am certain, have heard and read about the United States’ Opioid Crisis. Some of you, like me, have even been touched by the far-reaching effects of addiction.
Before the headlines, my family experienced the Opioid Crisis firsthand. My family never saw it coming. Me least of all.
I won’t mince words. My brother was an addict, living in a little insignificant town that we came to learn was the drug capitol of Pennsylvania. My family was swept into a downward spiral of darkness, desperation, fear, pain, and silence. By the time I was sixteen I was suicidal. Writing was a gift to me, a treasure of darkness. It became my sanity, my escape, my survival. I didn’t know then that what started in innocence and continued in desperation would grow into something amazing.
I had always thought that writing was just for me. By the time I graduated from high school, I planned on being an elementary school teacher. I stopped writing and went to college. About a year and a half later, in a creative writing class that was part of my major, I started writing again and couldn’t stop. Writing became my full focus to the point I knew that a choice had to be made. I began to embrace the belief that I was born to write and so another step in my journey as an author began. It wasn’t easy but I knew I was on the right path.
In the meantime, my brother had fathered a beautiful little boy; he had become an electrician and was holding down a good job. He had left our little town and was about seven months clean. There was no warning, nothing could have prepared us for the news we received that fateful morning. My brother was dead, from a reaction to the fentanyl laced into the heroin. How does a family go on from this? How do you come to terms with such a loss? Well, I believe the answer is best summed up in a single word, Hope. Trust that moments of pain can truly be redeemed, that in the right hands they can be turned into opportunities for something greater. I can look back now and can say with all honesty that nothing has touched my life, nothing has touched my family that was not meant ultimately for our good. But in that moment, when the hurt was so great that there was nothing left, again writing became the balm to festering wounds. Again, I received its treasure from darkness. Characters created years before as a means of survival were old friends to help me through the journey of healing. It was not an easy journey but out of it came the beginning of a story that would become the Prophecy of Hope Saga, featuring those old friends and new. In published form, series debuted with the release of my first novel, Sgarrwrath, Prequel to the Prophecy of Hope. Sgarrwrath was the result of that on-going healing process and I have often said that without my brother, without this painful history, Sgarrwrath, would never have found his voice. Our story, the story of siblings who were very close and then torn apart, by the troubles I have shared here, is really how this series began and it has really made me the woman and author I am today.
The series came about after that and Bleeding Light is simply the next part of the planned series of interconnected stories.
Do you have any unusual writing habits?
Well, I don’t know how unusual this might be, but I always keep a pen and notebook or something close by for those random sparks of inspiration when I am not actively working on the computer. I must start my writing sessions with a large, hot cuppa Irish tea. If I’m in a funk, I enjoy going on the NaNoWriMo site and working through a good writing crawl/ challenge. I make musical playlists for each of my works in progress and listen to them as I write. Sometimes certain characters end up with theme songs. I also make inspiration/storyboards for each project on Pinterest, and in my office I have a large white board on which I do rough outline/story arc/ character arc notes, and update it as I progress through the writing process.
What authors, or books have influenced you?
I am a big reader. It is not easy to name a single author or genre that most influenced me. It’s mostly about the story for me. Recent favorites have included: J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, James Butcher’s, The Aeronauts Windlass, Sara Douglass’, The Wayfarer Redemption series, and Sarah J. Maas’ Throne of Glass Series, to name just a few. Old favorites include J.R.R. Tolkien’s Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, and J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan. The list could go on across genres. My favorite genres are fantasy and mystery but tell me a good story and genre doesn’t matter either. Overall, I would say the greatest inspiration to my writing is not of a literary nature. The greatest inspiration is a personal one and is in fact three-fold. First, I write because doing so is a vital part of who I am. I was shy as a child—and today I remain a private person—so writing has always been my way of expressing myself while still protecting my essential nature. I write fantasy because that is what comes most natural. My personal history has driven me to build walls, to protect my heart. When I write, those walls come down. I have found there is so much freedom in writing fantasy, yet there is truth too if I am willing to let it out, seek out, or merely embrace it and really that is the most important part. By writing these stories, I learn about myself; I deal with things on the page in fiction so that I can also deal with life. Sometimes when I write, I let it all out on the page and move on. Sometimes it is just another step toward gaining a different perspective. I still write what comes naturally to me. I don’t write to hit it big, though if it happens it happens and that would be awesome! I’m just saying that is not the focus, or the purpose, or the driving factor behind my work. I write for me first and foremost. I write because I must be true to myself. That being said, I would love if others loved these stories as much as I do! The second influence on my writing is none other than my mother. It was she who first introduced me to the fantastic as a young child by reading to me. She read all kinds of books even what many would view as above my level of comprehension. She awoke in me a love of story, a love of reading, and a love of writing too. My mother always encouraged my talent and has supported this artist’s life of mine, which is difficult for many parents to do and I thank her for that unwavering support from my very first “book” at the age of four. Thirdly, I would have to name my brother, Isaac, as a vital inspiration. Without him, my character Sgarrwrath would have literally never found his voice and therefore my debut novel, Sgarrwrath, Prequel to the Prophecy of Hope would have never been written and published, nor would it have since received three Honorable Mentions, nor would the Prophecy of Hope Saga be ongoing.
What are you working on now?
As I mentioned, Bleeding Light, Prophecy of Hope Book 3 has just released. I am currently in between projects but that is not to say my mind isn’t full of story ideas. The Prophecy of Hope Saga will continue with The Harrowing of Heaven, Prophecy of Hope Book 4.
What is your best method or website when it comes to promoting your books?
Word of mouth!
My website. https://www.sgarrwrath.com
Sites like this with many followers
Do you have any advice for new authors?
Firstly, be aware that the greatest challenge to you as a writer is you. For me, my figurative walls and my very tangible fears have always been a source of struggle. My decision to give up guaranteed success, while supported by my immediate family, was one that few others thought was right. This can really wear a person down, and when you work and work and work and see nothing happening, well those doubts can really begin to creep in. I have really struggled with self-doubt and depression and to be blatantly honest I really started to believe I had made a mistake, but instead of giving up I held on, barely, and not by my own strength. The stories just refused to die. I had to write. It wasn’t easy. It still isn’t sometimes. I still struggle; I still have to deal with doubts and fears, but what it boils down to is that even on the lowest day I have this confidence that even though I can’t see it now there is a purpose for this work and it helps me hold on…to hope… So don’t give up! And secondly be true to your story. Tell it the way you want or need to tell it. Trust your characters. And have fun with it! Lastly, I’d say don’t let the heart be lost for the whims of others. This is your story!
What is the best advice you have ever heard?
What are you reading now?
I usually read two or three books at a time. I have just started reading through the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas. I am on Throne of Glass. I am also finishing my first ever read through of the Harry Potter Series. I am almost finished Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Once I finish the Harry Potter book, I plan to start reading Cursed by Marissa Meyer
What’s next for you as a writer?
I will be continuing the Prophecy of Hope Saga with The Harrowing of Heaven, Prophecy of Hope Book 4. I am also toying with an idea for a Celtic Fantasy; an idea for a Steampunk; and a Fantasy/Fairytale Murder Mystery. So, we’ll see.
If you were going to be stranded on a desert island and allowed to take 3 or 4 books with you what books would you bring?
AH! Only 3 or 4 book? How can a girl choose? Can’t I magically shrink my hugs TO READ pile into three or four truly massive books? If not, and I have to choose, first would be The Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas because that is the one I am currently reading. Second would be Cursed by Marissa Meyer because I have been waiting to read that one. Third, I would select Wayfarer Redemption by Sara Douglas because I am planning to read that one again soon. And fourth, oh it is an impossible choice! Fourth would be
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