Writer Wednesday: Q&A with HARBINGER YA Novelist SARA WILSON ETIENNE

Writer Wednesday: Q&A with HARBINGER YA Novelist SARA WILSON ETIENNE

HARBINGER by Sara Wilson Etienne (Putnam 2012)

Welcome to WRITER WEDNESDAY! Our Writer of the Month for February 2012 is author SARA WILSON ETIENNE, whose debut YA novel HARBINGER (Putnam 2012) launched this month.

In addition to our Q&A with Sara, we are also offering a free signed galley from her. Please comment on this blog or email me at paula at paulayoo dot com to be included in our special galley prize contest drawing. The winner will be announced in a special blog to be posted on Wednesday Feb. 29th! For more info on Sara, check out her website here: http://www.sarawilsonetienne.com/

(Please keep reading after the jump for our Q&A with Sara!)

Meet Sara Wilson Etienne! (Photo credit: Rita Crayon Huang)


Sara Wilson Etienne’s debut YA novel HARBINGER was released this February 2012 from Putnam. The publisher describes the book plot as…

“Girl, Interrupted meets Beautiful Creatures in this fast-paced thriller… When sixteen-year-old Faye arrives at Holbrook Academy, she doesn’t expect to find herself exactly where she needs to be. After years of strange waking visions and nightmares, her only comfort the bones of dead animals, Faye is afraid she’s going crazy. Fast. But her first night at Holbrook, she feels strangely connected to the school and the island it sits on, like she’s come home. She’s even made her first real friends, but odd things keep happening to them. Every morning they wake on the floors of their dorm rooms with their hands stained red. Faye knows she’s the reason, but what does it all mean? The handsome Kel tries to help her unravel the mystery, but Faye is certain she can’t trust him; in fact, he may be trying to kill her – and the rest of the world too. Rich, compelling writing will keep the pages turning in this riveting and tautly told psychological thriller.”

Pretty cool, huh? 🙂

And here’s our Q&A with Sara so you can find out more about how HARBINGER came about and a little peek into Sara’s writing process!

Q: Where is the best place for you to write your books?

A: I write in my office, cup of coffee in front of me, scenic view of the alley out back, same music playing over and over. I find that, for me, it’s the familiar that lets me step into the unknown.

Q:  If you weren’t a writer, what would you be?

A: A very bored scientist. Or lawyer. I’m pretty sure there are parallel-universe Sara’s out there doing those things right now. But I doubt they’re very happy.

Q: Tell us something about yourself that most people don’t know.

A: In high school, I was in show choir. Someday if aliens invade and the only way to save the Earth is an epic Broadway musical number, I can sing and dance with 3 inch heels, big hair, and a sequin dress. Yeah. That just happened.

Q: What was the most unusual job you ever had?

A: I scooped gelato in a store with 75 flavors and almost no customers. I tried a lot of different flavor combos. Worst part…I dreamed about scooping ice cream every night for 6 months. Ugggg.

Q: Tell us about your first published book. What inspired the idea? How long did it take to write? Any fun details about the road to your first book’s publication?

A: Well, I wrote the first draft of Harbinger ten years ago. I was inspired by my college campus, with its wonderfully creepy buildings, right on the edge of the ocean. So I created a story there…that first version had a different POV, almost no dialogue, and Faye was pretty much the only character. It took me most of those ten years, working on Harbinger, other books, and magazine pieces to really learn how to write.

I love Harbinger, because it’s a story I’ve lived with for so long and seeing it get a life of its own, out in the real world, has been incredible.

Q: If you could give one piece of writing advice for aspiring YA novelists, what would it be?

A: Butt-in-chair. The only thing that makes someone a writer is writing.

Though…balancing it with the opposite is vital too. Don’t forget to get out of your writing cave sometimes and talk to other people who are doing what you’re doing. SCBWI conferences, critique groups, coffee shops, anything that reminds you that you have a community of peers cheering you on!


Thanks Sara for the Q&A! For more info, check out her website here: http://www.sarawilsonetienne.com/

CONTEST REMINDER: Please remember to comment on this blog or email me at paula at paulayoo dot com in order to be included in our special contest drawing where a winner will be chosen at random to receive a personally autographed galley of HARBINGER from Sara! The winner will be announced on Wednesday Feb. 29th. 

Until the next blog, as always, HAPPY WRITING! WRITE LIKE YOU MEAN IT! 🙂



15 Responses

  1. Another Awesome Interview! You really DO have a knack for it!


  2. I was pretty curious when I saw on twitter what Saras most unusual job would be lol. I can only imagine dreaming about ice cream every night.

    Haringer sounds like a fantastic novel and Ive read some great reviews from fellow bloggers. I look forward to reading it!

    Thanks for the giveaway and loved the interview!

    • paulayoo says:

      Thanks Kristem! LOL – I too would dream of ice cream every night. 🙂 Your name has been included in the drawing! Good luck!

  3. Aneeqah says:

    Fabulous interview! I’m surprised that Harbinger took 10 years to write, that’s so neat to see that it’s finally getting published! I’m very excited to read Harbinger. =)

    • paulayoo says:

      Thanks Aneeqah – and yes, Sara’s persistence and willingness to learn the craft of writing paid off handsomely in the end. I think writers tend to be impatient – there should be no rush. Everyone should take their time and learn the craft – it will pay off in the long run! 🙂 Good luck in the prize drawing!

  4. Bonnie says:

    Great interview! This book sounds extremely interesting, I’d love to own this. 🙂 Thanks for the giveaway opportunity!

  5. Vivien says:

    Congrats!!! I’m really eager to read this for myself. Sounds absolutely stunning. Patience is key! 10 years….I don’t know if I could do it. Keep it up!

    deadtossedwaves at gmail dot com

  6. BtC Chris says:

    Fantastic Interview! I have been looking forward to reading Harbinger! I would love to win a ARC!

    BtC Chris

  7. Val Muller says:

    Sounds like a great novel. I love the title and that it was inspired by creepy buildings at college. Congratulations 🙂

  8. Jason White says:

    Paula, great interview! Inspirational blogpost. (it reminded me I once had a summer job as a fry cook–the unspoken/unwritten clause in my contract was “and all you can eat.”. I was quite porky by the end of the summer…)

  9. I love the things you find out in a blog interview. Sara and I are kindred spirits. I write with coffee and a lovely view or our trashcans. Plus, playing the same music over and over keeps half my brain busy so the other side is free to write. Thanks for the interview Paula. Wonderful insight on Sara.

  10. Virginia says:

    Haha! Big hair and heels! Too funny… I love the shitory behind the book… TEN YEARS. Holy smackeral. I so can’t wait to read this!!!

  11. I want to scoop gelato too, just to try all the flavors ^^ haha!
    Thanks for the interview and giveaway! 🙂

  12. Kristin says:

    This book looks really good. I recently stumbled across it while searching for book trailers.

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