Hello, everyone! I'm here again with another author interview. This time, I'm chatting (so to speak) with the incredibly talented Sarina Langer. I'm so excited to be a part of the blog tour for her latest book, Wardens of Archos, which only just released this past Monday, October 16th.
S: Thank you so much for having me, Dana!
D: Thank you so much for allowing me to be a part of your newest book baby's introduction to the world. For anyone not familiar with you or your books, can you tell us a little about both?
S: Sure! I published my debut novel Rise of the Sparrows last year in May, and will be writing the final book in this trilogy during NaNo this year. Once that's written and proofing I'll write the prequel novella, and am hoping to publish both late next year. I write in the mornings since I work at a library in the afternoon - I'm surrounded by books all day! High fantasy is and always has been my preferred genre, but I'm also working on a sci-fi novel and might try urban fantasy at some point.
D: And I know you do quite a bit of social media-ing as well, so that's some impressive productivity! For your new book, Wardens of Archos, would you be willing to share anything about what you edited out if it? Was there anything you really wanted to keep but just didn't end up making the final cut?
S: There was one scene in particular that gave me a small headache. Unfortunately, I can't say too much now, either, because the spoilers would be too great! Let's keep it simple: the scene was originally my halfway point, and featured a girl and her fall into darkness. My editor and I debated for a while whether I should leave it to cut it, but I finally decided to take it out. There's another big reveal at the end, and we felt that it worked better without this tiny scene halfway through.
I loved that scene so I kept it in a separate folder, just in case I can reuse it for a different project one day.
D: Very wise to keep your cut bits. Seeing as Wardens of Archos is the second in your series, The Relics of Ar'Zac, how did writing it differ from writing Rise of the Sparrows? What are some difficulties you face with a second book you don't with a first?
S: Oddly enough, I found writing the second one easier! I had no idea what I was doing when I wrote Sparrows, and while this will probably always be true to some extent I had a much clearer plan with Wardens. I knew some of the things that needed to happen which I'd set up in Book 1. I knew that, if I had some holes in my planning, my characters would fill the gaps. I had also learned a lot from writing and editing Sparrows, and wrote the first draft of another book while Wardens was resting, so everything I learned from both of those books went into editing Wardens. It had a bunch of advantages Sparrows didn't.
D: A draft of another book?! There's that incredible productivity again. 😄 Your Relics of Ar'Zac series is an epic fantasy. What is it you enjoy about that genre? And how do you go about building this entirely new world?
S: I've always read epic fantasy, and my first two real attempts at writing a book were high fantasy, too. My world building is the one thing my reviews agree on, including the negative ones - it's a strong point. Ironically, I suck at it. My drafts are full of placeholders where I haven't named countries or capitals, or where I need to come up with language specific swear words or blessings. So a lot of that actually happens later! I know a few basics, like whether Country A is based on a real country, but other than that? Most of it happens while I write.
D: That's a great segue into my next question. Do you have a process for writing? A certain place you go to be alone or any rituals to get you into the right mindset?
S: I actually did create a ritual of sorts last year when I took part in NaNo for the first time! I was worried I'd get stuck, so I had a shirt which I only wore when I was writing. I hoped my brain would realise that it was time to write - shirt goes on, words get written. I did beat NaNo, and you can't convince me that it wasn't because of that shirt! :P I write in the mornings since I work in the afternoons, and do all my plotting and editing then, too. Tea is necessary. Tea is life.
D: I believe in the power of the shirt and tea! So what would you say is the funniest/most curious thing you've ever done for your books (skydived to know what it feels like to fly, acted out a fight scene in your living room, etc.)?
S: I don't think anything I've done qualifies! I've looked up the effects of nightshade on the human body and how many berries are necessary to kill someone, but I think every writer has researched something similar at one point. Come back next year, I'll try to be more interesting.
D: Funny you mention nightshade because me too! Our browser histories must look so suspicious. Let's talk places and travel now. Is there a location, or maybe a set of locations, that you were so inspired by that you had to include it in a book? Where and why?
S: A couple of my locations are inspired by real places. The strongest reference is Midoka, which is loosely based on Japan. I may not be able to go in person, but my characters can have the next best thing!
All of the countries in Darkened Light are loosely based on real places. By the time I realised what a good idea this was Sparrows had already been written, and I didn't want to make any big changes to the countries by that point. While most of them didn't feature in the first book they were mentioned, and I had clear ideas for all of them.
D: When starting the The Relics of Ar'Zac series, did you choose your genre first or did you focus on the story and then figure out the genre?
S: I always knew it would be a high fantasy. Setting a book in our world has never appealed to me as much (which is probably why my crime and fiction writing projects didn't get very far), and I always struggle much more with it when I try. Our world seems so mundane and boring compared to all the worlds I can create from nothing! My books can have distant planets, dragons, magic, and little things like the sei in Midoka. Like many people, I read to escape and see something new, and fantasy makes that easy for me.
D: It does change things when you get to set the rules of the world yourself. So what do you think is the biggest pitfall for writers? To what habits or weakness do we fall prey most often? Conversely, what do you think we can utilize or do to best help ourselves?
S: Publishing too early, and giving up quickly.
Not having an agent or publishing house behind you doesn't mean you can publish the moment your first draft is finished. It's such a shame when I read a book by an indie author and it's essentially a first draft! You need an editor, a cover designer, a cartographer if you've created your own world; you're not done just because you've typed the end, that's why indie authors have such a bad reputation.
I know my first book had some errors, but I did everything I could to make it better, and the five star reviews tell me that I've done quite a few things right. I'd do things differently now, sure, but over a year has passed since I've published it and I've learned a lot since then. Wishing I'd done a couple of things differently now is a good thing - it shows my skill has grown!
You'll never publish the perfect book, whether it's your first or your twentieth, because perfection doesn't exist. No matter how much work you put into it, you'll always think of something you could have done better a year later. All you can do is your best, to give your book the best start it can have. Hitting that publish button because you finished your first draft isn't giving it your everything, it's saying "it'll do", and your book deserves better than that.
Of course, even if you do put your all into it there'll still be some readers who hate it. I've seen too many writers who'd rather not be reviewed if it's below four stars. Reviewers are picky and hard to please, friends - the chance of someone who reviews twenty books or more a month giving your debut novel five stars is low. Not because your book isn't good, but because many reviewers need to be moved to award five stars, and not many books do that. Besides, if someone buys your book and takes the time to read it, they have the right to be disappointed. They owe you nothing, least of all a glowing five star review.
Your one star review doesn't mean your book is bad and you should find a new career. It means your book wasn't right for someone, and that's okay because your book can't possibly be right for everyone. That's a lot of people you'd be trying to please! You've still earned your five and four star reviews, so suck it up and write another book.
The only exception would be if most of your reviews are negative or hated the same thing. If you have fifty reviews and forty say that your character development is weak, maybe they have a point. But that still doesn't mean you should quit, it means you have work to do.
D: Do you think people are born writers or do some people eventually become writers?
S: Having a bit of talent certainly helps, but writing is a craft like any other. If you're willing to put the time and effort into it, you can learn it. Writers aren't god-chosen creatures, we're hard workers who don't back down.
D: What was the best money you've ever spent as a writer?
S: Three things: My editor, my cover designer, and my cartographer. It's the holy trinity of fantasy writing!
D: What would you say is the toughest scene you've ever written (emotionally or otherwise)?
S: I'm still writing it now. My sci-fi WIP hasn't come easy; I started it a couple of years ago and have tried to come back to it here and there, but the two main characters won't talk to me. I eventually decided to leave it - I clearly wasn't ready for it and wouldn't have been able to do it justice - but I'm slowly coming back to it now. My characters will talk when they are ready. I had a small breakthrough a few weeks ago which has sorted some of my issues with it, but I'm nowhere near a complete plot outline.
D: It's so rude when characters refuse to talk to us, isn't it? 😏 Okay, pop quiz time. You're stuck on a deserted island. What three books do you want with you? Nevernight, Six of Crows, and Rise of the Sparrows - Nevernight because my king Jay Kristoff wrote it, Six of Crows because my queen Leigh Bardugo wrote it, and Rise of the Sparrows to remind me that I've achieved harder things than escape from a deserted island.
Coffee or tea? Tea.
One male and one female character you most relate to and why? 840 from Darkened Light, because his vulnerability and curiosity was so easy to write, and Kiana from my trilogy, because she's sarcastic and sassy and I love her.
Bacon. Yea or nay? YASS!
Enemies who become friends or friends who become enemies. Go! Both are excellent in the right setting and story!
Gryphons or Phoenixes? In high fantasy, both are good <3
Unicorns or Pegasi? Pegasi, because unicorns are too girly for me and I'm not that girly.
You’re a student at Hogwarts. What’s your favorite class and why? I don't know, all of them?? I'm in Slytherin, I can give you that much.
And finally, favorite sweet and favorite savory food? Depends on my mood! Some days it needs to be apple and cinnamon popcorn (it tastes of Christmas, friends), other days only doritos will do.
D: Brilliant! Thank you so much, Sarina, for spending this time with me. How can people learn more about you, find you online, and/or help support your writing?
S: You can find me on:
My website: https://sarinalangerwriter.com/
and LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/sarina-langer/
Or you can join my newsletter https://sarinalangerwriter.com/subscribe/ and/or join my Sparrow Review Team https://sarinalangerwriter.com/sparrow-review-team/ ;)
Who is Sarina Langer?
Sarina is obsessed with books and all things stationery, has a proud collection of over twenty notebooks, and squees every time she buys a new notebook, pens (hmmm, fountain pens <3 ) or highlighters. In her free time she reads fantasy and sci-fi novels, plays video games, and researches human sacrifice traditions and the end of the universe.
Follow Along with the Wardens of Archos Blog Tour!
Monday - Faith Rivens shares some of her favourite lines and pretty character aesthetics.
Tuesday - Meka James shares her review and favourite excerpts.
Wednesday - Me! But you already knew that. 😉
Thursday - K. J. Chapman does a mini interview with Sarina and also has a huge reveal regarding Book 3. HUGE! (it may or may not be related to the title of Book 3)
Friday - Rhianne Williams shares her review as well as two excerpts.
Thanks for reading!