Author Interview : Sarah Chorn : Seraphina’s Lament (The Bloodlands #1)

Posted On 6 April 2019

Filed under Book Reviews

Comments Dropped 8 responses

Today I’m very pleased to welcome Sarah Chorn to my blog.  Sarah has published her first book, Seraphina’s Lament which is enjoying some amazing reviews and is a book that I look forward to picking up soon.  Check out the lovely cover:

Seraphina'slament

Hi Sarah, 

Firstly, can you tell readers a little bit about yourself, something not directly available on your ‘about me’ page?  

Hmm. This one is tricky for me because there really isn’t much to me. So, here’s a thing that people don’t know. I am an avid, obsessive piano player. I’ve been playing for 27 years now. I used to play in concerts and stuff, but now I just play in my house. It relaxes me. When I’m really stressed out, or trying to untangle some problem with my writing, I turn to my piano. I can (and have) lost track of time playing, only to realize I’ve spent six hours on it.

I’m pea green with envy – I would love to be able to play the piano!  Chopsticks is about the only thing I can manage.

 

Your new book Seraphina’s Lament is receiving some very impressive reviews already and I’m really looking forward to picking a copy up myself. If you were to have a random conversation about your book with a complete stranger, what is the ‘hook’ that you would use to tempt them into picking it up?

Usually it goes something like this:

Them: You wrote a book? Is it romance?

Me: No… it’s dark fantasy. Like, really dark.

Them: Not romance?

Me: Nope. It’s actually based on the Holodomor, which was Stalin’s starvation of Ukraine, up to ten million people died in the years of 1932-1933. It was brutal.

How strange is it that I was not aware of this at all, in fact I don’t think I’ve ever heard of the Holodomor before – I will definitely go and look into this and it makes me even more excited to pick up this book as I love works of fiction that are based around true events.

 

You’ve been a blogger for many years now and also edit and beta read books. Would you say that reviewing books on such a regular basis has helped you to have a more critical view of your own writing?

Very much so. Being a reviewer and editor has taught me a lot about stories, how they flow, how the plot should work, how to hook readers and use words in the most powerful ways. I think it’s so important to read a lot if you are a writer, but as a reviewer and editor, I wasn’t just reading. I really had to dig into the books, see what made them work and why. I’ve learned from every book I’ve read and edited. I think it’s made me a much better writer.

 

And, now that you’re on the opposite side in terms of receiving reviews for your book – what does that experience feel like? 

Well, first of all, I’ve never really given much thought to how terrifying reviewers were until I was trying to get reviewers to read my book. I never really gave it much thought. As a reviewer, I kind of just shrugged and thought, “Why would anyone worry about what I think?” but as an author, dear lord I’m terrified. These are people I have reviewed alongside for years. Many of them are my friends. I’ve traded Christmas cards with some of them, and now they are going to read my book and JUDGE IT. It’s… really something else.

And I will say the same thing about editing. As an editor, I am very careful about how I say what I need to say to the authors I work with, but being edited has really given me the appreciation of waiting for those edits to come back, and it’s really helped me understand that CONSTRUCTIVE criticism is much better than just criticism, and working with my authors, establishing a relationship, seems to ease the mind of both parties.

 

‘You must break before you can become’ – this is an interesting idea that comes through in your book. How much of your own personal experiences have fed into this? And, was that difficult to write about?

Seraphina’s story is, in a lot of ways, autobiographical. She has my spine and leg injury. She’s limited by chronic pain and difficulty walking, like me. She has to deal with this. She has to come to terms with her body and how it now functions and it’s hard. I very much felt everything she deals with, and writing that was incredibly therapeutic, but also difficult. Before I had my spine injury, I was an athlete. Now I’m not allowed to walk faster than “slow” and I have two canes, a walker, and a wheelchair for my bad days. Going from able-bodied to disabled has been very difficult, physically and emotionally.

I wanted to put that in my book, though. I wanted very much to see myself in a book, and so I decided to write parts of myself into this one. I also wanted to show people a glimpse of the complex emotions that underscore chronic pain, disabilities, and the like.

“You must break before you can become” was a line I thought up when I was in the hospital doing cancer treatment stuff. I felt broken. I felt like nothing could ever get worse than this right now, and I was surrounded by other people who felt the same way. It was hard. It was brutal, but I remember sitting there thinking about how broken I felt, and then thinking about how much my life would change afterward, how sometimes people have to break so they can make room for whatever it is that they are meant to become next.

 

I’ve read in a couple of interviews that you’re a ‘pantser’ not a ‘plotter’. Why does this approach work so well for you, are there any pitfalls that you can highlight for other potential new writers?

I’ve tried so hard to plot and it just falls flat on its face. For some reason, plotting kind of kills the element of discovery I feel as I write and it just sucks the joy out of writing in general. (Please give me a head start before you throw things at me.) I generally go into a book with an idea, a starting point and an ending point, and thoughts of a few things I want to touch on as I go, and then I just dive in. I get to know the characters, I get to understand their motivations, and the journey from start to end is just a whole lot of fun. And I get these moments where I have to sit back and say, “Holy shit, I did NOT expect that” and it’s those moments that really make the entire journey of writing so worth it for me.

Sure, the editing is a bit more difficult than it would be if I plotted, but for me at least, it’s worth it.

 

What’s next in the series? Can you give us a few tidbits of information??

An Elegy for Hope is book two, and I’m currently writing it. The third and final book is called A Requiem for Fate, and I have most of that one mapped out in my head already.

An Elegy for Hope is going to be a lot of nation building. I do an absolute ton of research before I write books in this series, because so much is based on history, so I’ll drop some clues on you. I’ve been reading a lot of books about the siege of Leningrad. Operation Barbarossa, and the history of the Kremlin, dating back to the 1000’s, as well as “little Stalin’s” that popped up after World War II in various countries, most notably Bulgaria, Hungary, and Poland.

Sounds fascinating stuff indeed.

 

Apart from reading, writing, editing and reviewing books, and of course life in general and a young family – do you actually have any time for other hobbies?

Ha! Sometimes I feel like I don’t have time to breathe. Everything basically sits on the back burner while I’m writing and editing for clients. Reviewing has taken a huge hit. I just don’t have as much time to review books these days, and I really don’t like reading books in the same genre as the ones I’m writing and editing so I don’t cross streams. When I write and edit, I read a ton of nonfiction (I’m on a bit of a whodunnit – true crime—kick right now.).

I love to cook, and I meal plan each week so I usually get to tinker with recipes and ideas for dinners all week, which is great.

I don’t do as much photography anymore, but I still am an avid photographer. Photography has always been a bit of zen for me. It forces me to focus on the small details, to notice beauty where I don’t expect it. Ultimately, photography is what I do when I have health issues cropping up. It forces me to remember that the world is a big place, and it’s beautiful despite my drama.

I also have an absolutely gigantic garden, and in spring, summer, and autumn, my kids and I spend most of our time outside picking fruits and vegetables.

That sounds amazing – I do enjoy gardening and cooking and using your own fruit and veg sounds ideal.

 

Thanks to Sarah for visiting my blog.  I’ve left more information below about the book and other places that you can visit Sarah.

On a side note, Sarah has had undergone surgery in the past couple of days, I hope all has gone well and the road to recovery is an easy one.

 

Seraphina’s Lament

The world is dying.

The Sunset Lands are broken, torn apart by a war of ideology paid for with the lives of the peasants. Drought holds the east as famine ravages the farmlands. In the west, borders slam shut in the face of waves of refugees, dooming all of those trying to flee to slow starvation, or a future in forced labor camps. There is no salvation.

In the city of Lord’s Reach, Seraphina, a slave with unique talents, sets in motion a series of events that will change everything. In a fight for the soul of the nation, everyone is a player. But something ominous is calling people to Lord’s Reach and the very nature of magic itself is changing. Paths will converge, the battle for the Sunset Lands has shifted, and now humanity itself is at stake.

First, you must break before you can become.

SarahChorn
Born : The United States
Twitter : BookwormBlues

 

8 Responses to “Author Interview : Sarah Chorn : Seraphina’s Lament (The Bloodlands #1)”

  1. Tammy

    Lovely interview, this is my first time hearing about this book, but it sounds good and wow, that cover!

    • @lynnsbooks

      Yeah, the cover is amazing and it’s been receiving some very favourable first impressions.
      Lynn 😀

  2. maddalena@spaceandsorcery

    What a fascinating – if quite grim – premise!
    Thank you so much for sharing this!
    (and I’ll second Tammy’s comment about that amazing cover…)

    • @lynnsbooks

      Yes, this is definitely a book that falls into the grimdark genre. It really is a great cover.
      Lynn 😀

  3. waytoofantasy

    Great interview! I am in love with that book cover.

  4. Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

    Oh man, the Holodomor. One of the worst human-caused famines under a Communist regime, the other one being the Great Chinese Famine. This one would be a tough read for me.

    • @lynnsbooks

      Yes, I believe it is very dark indeed. Definitely not for everyone.
      Lynn 😀

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