Saturday, April 25, 2009

Interview with Sarah Oakler

Sarah Oakler is the Author of Twenty Boy Summer, which comes out on June 1st. She is the first author to be on Seven Book Babes and also a part of the 2009 Debutantes. She writes late at night and mostly in her pajamas. She is completely awesome and nice.

1. What is your inspiration for Twenty Boy Summer? Did you ever have a summer like that?
Yikes, I *knew* that title would come back to haunt me! ;-) All right, Sarah, since we share a name and you're one of my favorite YA book bloggers of all time, I'll confess... I *did* have a twenty boy summer of my own, but it wasn't exactly like Anna and Frankie's summer in the book. When I was 15, my BFF and I decided to have a friendly competition to see who could kiss the most boys that summer, and I won, 20 to 17 (please don't tell my mother, as I've spent all year trying to convince her that Twenty Boy Summer is not a memoir!). So that bit of fun summer recklessness was the inspiration for the book title, but not for the actual story.
The story influence itself is much more serious and it's extremely important to me. Though it's not my personal story, the issues Anna and Frankie face throughout the book are very real. I spent several years working for an organization that supports families after a loved one has died and donated organs or tissues. The cause is personal to me as my little brother (you'll recognize him from his cameo appearance in Twenty Boy Summer - Scotty O of Helicopter Pilot fame!) had a lifesaving liver transplant when he was four years old. He wouldn't be alive today, over twenty years later, if not for the generosity of a donor family.
Through my work, I met hundreds of grieving families, many of them teens who'd suffered the death of a loved one or close friend. The stories, memories, horrors, fears, love, and courage these families showed and shared affected me in profound and life-changing ways, and when I set out to write the book, I remembered the teens and siblings and friends I'd met. I wanted to honor them by sharing a little bit of their stories through Anna, Frankie, and Matt. That's how the idea for Twenty Boy Summer was born.

2. What novel are you currently working on?
My second novel is currently in revisions with my editor for a spring/summer 2010 publication, so I'm actually working on a third novel now. Because I'm superstitious about talking up my WIPs too early, it's still kind of secret. I will say that it's another contemporary YA, but this time, it's set during the winter. As soon as I can share more, I will! And as soon as my book 2 revisions are complete, I'll share all the details about that one, too! :-)

3. Other then writing and reading, what activities or hobbies do you enjoy?
I love photography and have started professionally shooting weddings -- capturing people's happy memories and emotions is so fulfilling. I also love to travel, especially road trips with my husband Alex, and have been lucky enough to see most of the United States that way. Camping and hiking are also high on my list! And eating chocolate. Chocolate supplements all of my hobbies. :-)

4. What are some of your favorite YA books?
Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta
The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger
A Separate Peace by John Knowles
The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith (this isn't totally YA, but kind of!)
Red Glass by Laura Resau
The Season by Sarah MacLean
Honey, Baby, Sweetheart by Deb Caletti
Wow, there are just so many. And I keep reading awesome new books that quickly become favorites! It's hard to pick!
5. Why do you prefer working at night time?
Because I'm a vampire. :-) Well, other than the whole blood-sucking thing. I've always been a night person, just like my mom. I can't really sleep at night, and I find my most creative hours are between 10 PM and 3 AM. I've tried to get on a day schedule but I always fail! So now that I write full time, I just try to listen to and go with my natural tendencies and write at night when all the ghosts and werewolves and witches are about. I think my muse must be some kind of supernatural creature who only visits me with good ideas after the sun goes down!

6. What is it like being in the 2009 Debutantes, with the other Debs?
The Debs are awesome! Being part of such a talented group of authors, sharing our ups and downs and advice, cheerleading each other's books... it's been a great experience and so helpful to know that we're not going through this crazy journey alone. The best part, though, is that I've made some amazing friends through the Debs that I've gotten to meet and connect with personally, even beyond our common bond of our 2009 debut books. I look forward to knowing them and supporting their books for many years to come, even when we're all old and wise best-selling authors. ;-)

7. Is there anything that you would like to add?
Well, since no one has offered to send me on that all-expenses paid trip to Egypt I casually mentioned on Khy's blog, I'll have to try another approach. :-) Seriously, I just want to share my thanks and appreciation with you and all of the YA book bloggers out there who love books and work so hard to share them with the world. Meeting all of you online has been one of the best unexpected perks to writing and publishing my novel. So thank you!


  1. Yay Sarah! Love her.

    And sorry about the Egypt thing. Sarah and I will start planning something. xD

  2. Great interview.
    Khy you guys better take me with you on that trip to Egypt.

  3. Sarah O is so nice and funny! :)

    Great interview!

  4. great interview! I LOVED LOVED LOVED 20 Boy Summer


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