Meet the Author

Author Interview: Q and A with Sarah Allen

A photo of the author Sarah Allen and all of her book covers

Warning – possible spoilers! (Tiny ones, though, and I’ll try to avoid even those; I swear I’ll give my best not to ruin it for you… :-))

It is such a pleasure to have Sarah Allen as a guest on NovelOnMyMind today. She is the author who wrote one of my favorite middle grades ever – What Stars Are Made Of.

What Stars Are Made Of is a beautiful, touching #ownvoices story about a girl named Libby Monroe who has Turner Syndrome. It melted my heart, and it is one of the first books I recommend whenever someone asks me about wholesome, uplifting reads.

Here’s how writing this book looked like from Sarah’s perspective, what she loves and doesn’t like about publishing, books she often rereads, a slight turn she takes with her writing…

Author Q&A with Sarah Allen

Where did you get the inspiration for What Stars Are Made Of?

Growing up, I never saw stories about girls like me, in books or tv or movies. I’ve even been to doctors who aren’t familiar with what Turner Syndrome is. I decided to write the story myself! I was nervous at first, not about sharing my experience with Turner Syndrome, but about doing the story justice. I had amazing mentors, teachers, and editors who helped me along the way!

For a girl with a lot on her plate, Libby is incredibly joyful and optimistic?

She is indeed! This was a very important aspect of the story for me. I wanted to do the opposite of wallowing. I’m a firm believer that, most of the time, we are the only things that stop us. And nothing was going to stop Libby!

How much of yourself did you put into her character?

I’d say I put quite a bit of myself into her character, only dialed up to an 11! I’m also a pretty curious, optimistic person. I hope to grow up to be as curious and optimistic as Libby is!

What’s your favorite and least favorite part of publishing?

My favorite part of publishing is the writing itself, working with insanely smart and talented mentors and editors, and meeting readers and other authors. Basically, the cool bookish people! My least favorite part is definitely the waiting. I’m a very impatient person, and publishing basically always means you’re waiting for something—waiting for feedback, waiting on submission, waiting for contracts, all of that. Just the way the business works!

Does writing energize or exhaust you?

Writing itself definitely energizes me. In fact that’s a good gauge for me on whether or not a specific project is worth working on. If the idea energizes me, then I know it’s worth pushing through the hard times.

Which book have you reread most times?

I think I must have read Socks by Beverly Clear a hundred times as a kid! I also read The Witches by Roald Dahl over and over and over.

If you could spend a day with another popular author, whom would you choose?

I would absolutely love to be friends with C.S. Lewis!

What’s the best/funniest/most interesting/surprising thing a reader ever said to you?

I regularly get comments from girls with Turner Syndrome who say they see themselves in Libby. That right there makes all the work more than worth it. Sometimes I get messages from mothers who have lost pregnancies due to Turner Syndrome. My heart goes out to them, and I am so honored they would take the time to share their story with me.

What are the essential characteristics of a hero you can root for?

I am a HUGE sucker for determination and loyalty. I love a character who goes after what they want and doesn’t let anything stop them for long. I also love a character with unbreakable loyalty—so basically I’m a Samwise Gamgee fan for life!

What are you currently working on? What can we expect next?

My next book comes out in August!! It’s called The Nightmare House, and is my entrance into more of the spooky genre. I had an absolute blast writing this book, and I hope fans of Coraline and the Small Spaces books will enjoy it. And there’s as much hope and heart in it as in all my books, so hopefully Stars fans will enjoy it too! The best way to keep up to date on everything is my monthly newsletter! I try to include writing tips and publishing insider info there as well.

#MyFavoriteBookish Tag with Sarah Allen

Favorite trope: The grumpy one is soft for the sunshine one!

Favorite character: Samwise Gamgee or Uncle Iroh

Favorite movie adaptation: Lord of the Rings!

Favorite book cover: Can I say mine? I’ve been so lucky!

Favorite book ending: Persuasion!

Favorite time of the day to read/write: I write best late morning, early afternoon. Afternoon/evening is my favorite reading time!

Favorite place to read/write: I’ve started writing by hand, in part because I love moving around and writing in different places. Parks, bookstores, restaurants, theme parks—I love writing everywhere!

Favorite snacks while reading/writing: I think I must have had yogurt and berries every day for the last decade. With a sprinkle of honey and granola—mmm, nothing better!

Favorite bookish drink: I’m a Fresca girl!

Hardcovers or paperbacks? Hardcovers

Buying or borrowing books? Buying

Bookmarks or dog-ears? Bookmarks

Audiobooks – yay or nay? I LOVE audiobooks, and wish my attention span for them was stronger!

TBR or mood reading? Mood reading!

I’m currently reading: Beanstalkers by Kiersten White!

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