An Interview with Sara Elizabeth Santana
Congratulations to Sara E. Santana for finishing her Awakened Duology!
I remember when The Awakened first came out and how excited I was to see what this debut author had to offer. Now she has a new book out (The Sanctuary), and I'm roaring to go read it!
More about The Sanctuary can be found here (synopsis, ordering links, excerpts, etc.):
With her new release, Sara was gracious enough to allow us to interview her. She's such an amazing person and a talented author! Enjoy!
Are there any real life inspirations for your characters?
Yes and no. I don’t purposefully base characters off of real people but often times, real people super influence those characters. I noticed while writing The Survivor that Liam was taking on some qualities of my best friend, Daniel, because Liam is that kind of friend to Zoey. I also noticed that Astrid, who is a new character introduced in The Sanctuary, took on some characteristics that remind me of my youngest sister. But I don’t think I could ever truly base a character off of someone I knew. Its too weird.
What was the difference for you in writing a sequel compared to writing a debut novel?
Expectations. LOL. That is most definitely the big one. When I wrote The Awakened, it was my first time writing outside of the contemporary romance genre so it was new and it seemed sort of…eh, if this works, cool. If not, no big deal. I would have never thought that it would be the book to get published. But it did and I never really expected people to like it or anything. I thought it’d get published and disappear. But people read it and they enjoyed it and got excited for the sequel. So suddenly, I have an audience to think about it and you kind of have to turn that off and just write the book for yourself, the way I did when I wrote The Awakened.
Plus sequels are just hard!
Is there a particular message in either of your books that you want readers to personally connect with?
Not that I’ve consciously thought of. I don’t really write my books with a message in mind. I’m just looking to tell the story. I guess the closest thing I can think of is…all of my characters are incredibly flawed. They make mistakes, they do the wrong thing, they act like brats at times (I’m looking at you, Zoey and Ash) but they’re teens stuck in this horrible situation and they’re not perfect and I think that’s my thing. It’s totally okay to be flawed.
Did you always want to be an author? / Did you ever see yourself following a completely different career path?
I did and didn’t. My 4th grade teacher told me I was a fantastic writer and I loved doing it and I always wanted to do it but it felt like a dream, like becoming a rock star or an astronaut or something. It felt like an out of reach thing so I tried other things, like journalism and history and all of that. But once I got involved with the book community with my blog, I became friends with a lot of authors and realized, these are normal people who worked their butts off to accomplish this dream and they did it. So can I, and that’s when I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.
Do you have an interesting writing quirk?
I binge watch shows while I write. People look at me like I’m totally insane when they find that out. I hate silence. I have five younger siblings and I’ve always lived in a crowded household. I’ll definitely listen to music at times but I tend to find something on Netflix and put it on and just WRITE.
Do you follow a specific method to complete your writing (for example, you write in a certain environment or listen to a certain band, such as Set It Off)?
I don’t really have a set way that I do things, mostly because writing is my second job and I’ve always had another job to sort of “get in the way” of that. I do tend to handwrite out the entire summary of the book, to give myself at least a rocky path to write. It often changes a bunch. But usually I just sit in front of the computer, and write as much as I can. I have to have noise, either the TV or music. I listen to a lot of Set It Off and Issues and Our Last Night usually, though Hamilton was a big one for this particular book.
Do you have any advice for those who wish to follow your career path?
It sounds cheesy as hell, but honestly, don’t give up. Don’t stop writing. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do it. Maybe its not book one that gets you published, maybe its book two, or three, or seven, or ten. Just keep doing it. This is not an easy path to take but its so worth it when you make it so just work your butt off and get there. Do not give up.
Were there any books that influenced you growing up or that you currently enjoy?
So many. I am insanely immersed in the YA community. There are so many authors that have and will continue to inspire me. When I was younger though, and really starting to figure out that writing was my thing: JK Rowling, Tamora Pierce, Meg Cabot, Sarah Dessen, those were the big ones. It’s changed as my writing has changed and those ones still remain huge ones and I just continue to add to the list as I read more and more incredible authors.
Why did you begin to write?
In my family, sports was always the thing, you know? You gotta be good at sports and I’m god awful at sports. I can barely walk without hurting myself and I tried really hard to be athletic and I just wasn’t. I felt like I wasn’t really good at anything until people started telling me that I was good at writing. It was really the first time that someone said I was good at something and I just ran with it, and eventually it became my passion.
Do you have a favorite quote?
I have a lot of favorites. I have a lot of tattoos and I tend to cover myself with words. “Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home.” “It was books that made me feel that perhaps I wasn’t completely alone.” I love quotes. But my favorite is from a book series by Cora Carmack, and its simple, “No easy days”. It’s tattooed on my right forearm and it just…it reminds me how hard we have to work every day but how its so worth it.
Now that The Awakened Duology is coming to a close, will there be another series from you for your fans to look forward to? Also, will you be branching out into any new genres?
Yes! I’m working on something new! It’s in the super early stages so I don’t want to say too much in case it doesn’t work out and I end up working on something completely different but I’m venturing into my favorite genre: fantasy and I’m tackling my favorite creatures, dragons. I’m a little nervous but excited and the plan is to do another duology so we’ll see!
What are your favorite fandoms (anime, Harry Potter, Star Wars, etc), and what was your biggest fangirl moment?
Harry Potter, Star Wars, The Mortal Instruments, Studio Ghibli and Doctor Who are my big five, hands down. I have a ton more but those are definitely the big ones.
My biggest one is especially relevant now with her passing just a few weeks ago. I met Carrie Fisher, who plays Princess Leia in the Star Wars movies, amongst a bunch of other awesome, and she was just awesome. She’s just so unapologetically herself and I’ve looked up to her, on and off screen, since I was about five years old. She was so great, let me kiss her on the cheek for the photo op and pointed out that I had big boobs, and just…it was awesome haha. There’s no other word to describe that moment. She was just the best. I am so grateful that I had that moment with her.
I’ll also say, being the third person to walk into The Wizarding World of Harry Potter Hollywood on opening day was also definitely up there on my list.
Thanks so much Sara for being on our blog!