Today Sarah Aronson is in the hizz-ouse. She is an author, teacher, mentor, and all around awesome person. She wears a ton of hats, some I haven’t even mentioned! She’s here to talk about book 1 in her Wish List middle grade series, The Worst Fairy Godmother Ever! which was published by Scholastic with covers illustrated by Heather Burns.
Sarah has written these young adult novels . . .
. . . and is represented by Sarah Davies. Now, please give it up for Sarah!
El Space: Four quick facts about yourself?
Sarah: I am the oldest of three sisters, but was no Clotilda!
My first favorite book was The Carrot Seed. I am still an effort girl—not so much into momentum.
I met my husband when I mistook him for someone else, and before I could stop myself, kissed him on the cheek.
I am very fond of shoes! And handbags!
El Space: This book is very different from your other novels. What inspired you to write it?
Sarah: A lot of people have been asking me that. The short answer is, I wrote this for myself. For fun! The idea made me laugh. I like the idea of fairy godmothers, and I wanted to see if they still fit into my feminist mindset. When I thought about them, I realized: they didn’t do that much! And that today’s princess needed a godmother with more skills. Training was imperative!
But I also wrote it because I had come to a turning point in my writing life. Up until September 2014, I was a writer who grappled with tough topics. I went for it all—unlikable characters, themes filled with conflicts, questionable morals, provocative endings. Although I found these books grueling to write, I told myself that the work was worth it—these characters and ideas were calling me. And up until then I felt pretty good about it. I had a great agent. There were editors willing to read my next WIP. My family might have been confused about why I wrote such dark, sad books, but they supported me. 100%. I was not deterred by the mixed reception my last novel received.
That changed, when I got some bad news that had followed other bad news: the editor who loved my newest WIP—a story I had taken two years to write—could not get it past the acquisitions committee. The novel needed to go in a drawer. I began to doubt myself. I don’t know a writer who hasn’t experienced doubt and fear, and yet, when it happened to me, I felt unprepared. I wondered if perhaps my writing career was coming to a close.
Lucky for me, I was at the Highlights Whole Novel Workshop, and I was surrounded by friends. I also had the best kind of work to do—writers to counsel—writers who trusted me to help them work on their novels. I had to get over myself fast. I had to stop worrying about my ego. Product. News. All those obstacles. I had to embrace creativity the way I had when I first started writing.
So right there, I gave myself a challenge: For the next six months, I was going to PLAY. I was going to reclaim my intuitive voice. I wasn’t going to worry at all about finishing anything.
My only goal was to work on projects that made me happy—books that my ego had convinced me I couldn’t/shouldn’t write: picture books, humor, essays, an adult novel, poetry, and most important, my peach sorbet: a chapter book about a very bad fairy godmother. For six months, I was going to write fast. I was not going to edit myself. I was going to focus on accessing my subconscious with drawing and writing and listening to new music and having fun. If I liked an idea, I was going to try it. I was going to eat dessert first. In other words: think less. Smile more.
In my newsletter, i wrote about this a lot. How freeing it was. How happy I felt to be writing for the sake of story and nothing else.
When I was done, I had written a lot of terrible manuscripts. But some held promise. I dipped back into the revision cave. When i was done, The Worst Fairy Godmother Ever sold. So did a picture book biography about Rube Goldberg. And I was once again a writer with a lot of energy and ideas.
El Space: Please tell us about the girlgoyles—what they are, and how you came up with them.
Sarah: The girlgoyles came from a great moment of inspiration. Isabelle’s safe space—her cozy spot—is up at the top of Grandmomma’s tower. I pictured that tower like the churches of France and England—with ornate architecture. And gargoyles. Of course, this was a world of all women and girls. I couldn’t believe it—they weren’t gargoyles. They were girlgoyles!!! Even they don’t talk—they can’t, they’re made of rock—they are Isabelle’s friends. They’re really good listeners.
Illustrations by Heather Burns
El Space: How is Isabelle, your fairy godmother protagonist, like you? Different from you?
Sarah: Oh, my mom would love to answer this one!!! But since she’s not here, I’ll tell you: I was not the best student. I still have a hard time paying attention and I never read the fine print. I learn more by doing. Just like Isabelle, I can be a bit impulsive. And just like Nora, I can take things WAY too seriously!
El Space: In a Psychology Today article, “Why We All Need a Fairy Godmother,” the author gave some characteristics for the ideal fairy godmother:
The fairy godmother (or “guidemother”—or, for that matter,“guidefather”) that I have in mind here is one that would encompass a broad array of caring, nurturant qualities: such as empathy, compassion, understanding, trustworthiness, and respect.
I couldn’t help thinking of the list on the synopsis for your book. Why do you think fairy godmothers are such nurturing icons in literature?
Sarah: In theory, I think we all love the idea of a fairy godmother, a nurturing character that makes us happy and wants nothing else in return. But the truth is, there is nothing more satisfying than making the world better! Already, I have spoken to readers who want to be real-life fairy godmothers. I made a Wish Wall for families and classrooms who want to establish “Be a Fairy Godmother” programs.
I believe that today’s fairy godmother needs compassion and kindness, but also gusto! A big, big heart is essential, too. When you think about it, it’s sort of like writing a book!
El Space: What do you hope your readers will take away from this book?
Sarah: First, I hope they laugh! I laughed a lot writing it. But to be serious, I hope they’re excited about sharing the sparkle and helping each other!!! Today’s world needs fairy godmothers. Empathy makes us all happily ever after. Right?
El Space: Yup! What will you work on next?
Sarah: Well, we just released the cover of book two, Keep Calm and Sparkle On! I’m getting ready to revise book three, and book four is not far away. I’ve also got a picture book biography to finish and a brand new peach sorbet to play with. For now, that’s a secret!
Thank you, Sarah, for being such an inspiring guest!
Want to find Sarah online? Check out her website, Facebook, Twitter.
The Worst Fairy Godmother Ever! can be found at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Indiebound.
But I will be a fairy godmother to one of you! Poof! You’ll find a copy of The Worst Fairy Godmother Ever! at your home! But first, you have to comment to be entered in the drawing! Winner to be announced on June 19.
Lippy Lulu and Kirstea are excited about Sarah’s series. They’re wondering how they can get a fairy godmother.
Author photo and Wish List series covers courtesy of the author. Other book covers Goodreads. Fairy godmother from clipsarts.co. Magic wand from clker.com. Creativity image from weerbaarheidlimburg.nl. Peach sorbet photo from dessertbulletblog.com. Shopkins Shoppie dolls Kirstea and Lippy Lulu by Moose Toys. Photo by L. Marie.
Great interview, ladies! I love the story of how you met your husband, Sarah. I’m sure he was caught off guard. Congratulations on your series. Writing for fun is the best way to write!
Yes it is!!! (He surprised me, too. He said, “Now that we’ve embraced, shall we have coffee?”)
I like that! 😀
Thanks, Jill! I so agree. When an author has fun, a reader will too! 😀
I really enjoyed this interview! Kudos, Linda and Sarah! And, Sarah, this is best bit of advice I’ve read in a long time: “I had to embrace creativity the way I had when I first started writing.”
It sure was, Marie! I’m so glad Sarah was able to do that. The results speak volumes. And this is where I am too. 😀
Writing without expectations–embracing creativity–has given me so much new energy! I think we focus too much on intellect! We need to harness the intuition, too! xo
I am a beneficiary of Sarah’s advice to play. I can tell you it works! Wonderful, positive, inspired interview 😘
Thanks for stopping by, Linda. I agree with Sarah’s advice. I’m glad that playtime has resulted in a fun series for kids and adults who love children’s books. 😀
YAY!!!!!! I love hearing this!!!!! Sparkle on!!!!
Life is so much better when we immerse ourselves in things we ENJOY doing.
Congrats on giving yourself the freedom to engage in creative play, which allowed you to access your inner voice and intuition . . . and, perhaps, your inner fairy godmother!
@ L. Marie ~ thanks for hosting another great giveaway. I’m halfway through The World’s Greatest Detective and am enjoying channeling my inner Nancy Drew. 😀
I totally agree, Nancy!
Yay! So glad you’re enjoying it! 😀
Sounds really fun!
It really is, Dorothy! 😀
Great interview and I love the idea of girlgoyles – an inspired idea!
(Please don’t enter me, L. Marie – as a child free zone, it would be wasted on me… 🙂 )
Child free zone–You make me laugh! 😀
Thanks, FF! I also love the girlgoyles!
I love Sarah’s response to her difficult period.
Me too, Andy. So proactive! She kept moving forward and discovered some great stories!
Thank you for this interview, Linda and Sarah! I need this advice as well, because while I love to write about tough topics (and just started a historical novel that begins with a suicide), I’ve been trying to write some fun books drawing from my Lego obsession. I just hope the publishing world appreciates the fun, but if not, there’s always my blog and Instagram.
I am proof that a writer can write more than one kind of book. And I think this world is REALLY READY for books that offer humor, kindness, and empathy for others. Tough topics will never be out, but sincerity is IN–especially for emerging and MG readers!
Lyn, I’m glad you’re writing a book about LEGO. I hope you’ll keep writing it! You’ll be great!
Girlgoyles and Fairy Godmothers: why not?
Thanks for making me smile, Sarah.
And thanks to you, Linda, for another spot-on interview!
EMBRACE THE SPARKLE!!!!!!
I greatly enjoy them, Laura. Thanks, as always, for dropping by. 😀
Super interview. Girlgoyles!!! LOVE IT. 😀
Isn’t that awesome?! Such a great idea! 😀 I love that out of sorrow came a pearl like this.
Girlgoyles! I love it and thoroughly enjoyed this interview. Thank you. L. Marie and good wishes for The Worst Fairy Godmother Ever! – and more sherbet.
Aha! Hit send too quickly.
. . . good wishes to Sarah for The Worst Fairy Godmother Ever! – and more sherbet.
Thanks, Penny. Yes, more! Thinking of the time Sarah spent writing so many books, I can’t help thinking of Pixar and how during one retreat, they came up with some of their most iconic movies.
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