Check This Out: Keep Calm and Sparkle On!

Hey, everyone! With me on the blog today is the always charming, super splendid Sarah Aronson. She’s here to talk about the second book in her Wish List series, Keep Calm and Sparkle On! (The interview with Sarah about her first book in the series can be found here.) Keep Calm and Sparkle On! was published by Scholastic on December 26. Sarah is represented by Sarah Davies.


Now, grab the pastry of your choice, get comfy, and let’s talk to Sarah!

El Space: Four quick facts about yourself?
Sarah: (1) People think I’m tough, but I’m totally a softie. I cry at the end of almost every book and movie! Forget about standing ovations! I’m a mess!
(2) I once deadlifted 300 pounds. (Just once. And I’ll never do it again.)

El Space: Amazing! 🤗 🤩
Sarah: (3) I started writing on a dare!
(4) After scoring Hamilton tickets, I ran out the door and promptly fell into a sewer! Luckily, my elbow stopped me from going too far. I was so excited about the tickets that I climbed out with no loss of shoes, jumped on my bike, and rode to work, leaving a bloody trail behind me.

El Space: Oh my goodness! 😱 Glad you were okay. . . . And here you are at book 2 of your fairy godmother series. How much of the series did you plan in advance, before you began writing the first book? Did you plan for a certain number of books or were you leaving it open to inspiration?
Sarah: I just sent my editor the draft of the fourth and final book! From the beginning, we knew we wanted four—for four levels of training. I have loved every minute of the process. I thought of the series like a pop song: verse, verse, bridge, verse!

Book 3

This is what I can tell you about writing a series: You have to trust your subconscious! And always leave space for the characters to impose themselves on the story.

Yes, I planned ahead. But I also took Annie Dillard’s advice and “spent it all” in every single book. While revising each book, I had epiphanies. Details found their way into the story—and I didn’t always have time to think them through before starting the next book. As it turned out, those details became the keys to the inevitable and surprising ending of the series. They helped me figure out what I wanted to say in each book.

Book 1

El Space: What was one of the most fun aspects of writing this second book?
Sarah: The DRAMA! Growing up, I loved theater! When I took that dare to write, I teamed up with a musical friend and wrote three plays for my daughter and her friends. One of the plays was called, The Secret of the Magic Wishing Well, so I have been thinking about wishes for a long time. I incorporated some of the details of that play into the story. I also used theater to say something about the pressure many kids feel when they are constantly treated like professionals when they could be just having fun. As a director, I did not do that. I limited my players to ten rehearsals. As a writer, I was happy to use the tension that happens when friends are forced to compete!

El Space: Many authors have playlists of songs that remind them of their characters. Thinking of the characters in your book, what songs would be on your playlist?
Sarah: I may have structured my series like a pop song, but I don’t make playlists. When I need inspiration, I walk by Lake Michigan. Or I doodle. Or ride my bike. I love music from the Beatles to the Cure to classical and jazz, but it’s not really part of my writing process.


El Space: You’ve been given a magic wand, giving you the ability to grant someone a wish. What wish would you grant if you could, and why?
Sarah: If I could make a wish for the world, I would have to start with more wishes! First, I would bring back trust in objectivity—in the truth. Then I would give everyone a feeling of safety and security, and the confidence that comes with those feelings, so that we all can do our best work. Last, I would grant everyone access to the magic of books! When we read, we understand each other. We feel less afraid. We reach for higher goals that make our world better.

El Space: What will you work on next?
Sarah: Pretty soon, I’ll be revising book four! I’m also working on some picture book manuscripts as well as a super secret project that is making me happily ever after. I love having a peach sorbet—a project that is just for me! No one’s waiting for it. No one even knows what it’s about. One of my goals for 2018 is to finish it and show it to my agent and critique group!

Thank you as always, Sarah, for being my guest!

Looking for Sarah? You can find her at her website, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Keep Calm and Sparkle On! can be found at

Barnes and Noble

But one of you will find a copy of this book in your mailbox or on your tablet! Comment below to be entered in the drawing. The winner will be announced on January 15.

Olive the Ostrich believes she would be an excellent recipient of magical wishes. Just putting it out there for any fairy godmothers in the area.

Wish List book covers courtesy of Sarah Aronson. Hamilton image from Lake Michigan photo from Beatles album cover from Magic wand from Olive photo by L. Marie.

48 thoughts on “Check This Out: Keep Calm and Sparkle On!

  1. Thank you for the interview and good luck with all your books, Sarah! I finished a novel last year that I’ve now realized is the first book in a three-book series (but a thematic series, with different setting and characters). I’m now writing the second and thinking about the third, so it’s great to read about how others plan and build their series.

  2. I think I’ll steal your peach sorbet – um – idea, that is!
    Your insight into just writing the story and then seeing if it unfolds into a series rather than micromanaging details for inclusion in #1 to be foreshadowing #2 etc is quite freeing for you I’m sure and I think it works better as an overall story, too.
    L.Marie- what would your answer be if given a magic wand?

    • I also love peach sorbet as the image of a delightful project.

      Besides peace on earth, an end to hunger and homelessness, I would probably wish for more wishes if I could. I would also wish for the return of a certain Someone, which would certainly bring about the peace issue as well as other wonderful things. 😀 😁

      What about you? What would you wish for?

      • While it is tempting to get more wishes by wishing for more wishes…I think I’ll self impose a one-wish limit. I wish to spread the word to people of all generations and places – especially teens, seniors and displaced individuals – “It’s a big world out there and there’s a place for you in it.”
        Maybe the underlying theme of that is hope that each life matters.

        (I’m with you on the return of a certain Someone)

      • My wish is mentioned above to L. Marie…as for my peach sorbet?
        My treat for now is in the thinking-up of what it will be! Thank you for that luscious image/idea, Sarah!

  3. Thank you, Linda, for this interview. I love the questions that you ask your authors! And thank you, Sarah, for sharing your infectious energy and positive spirit. Congrats on the new book and best of luck in revisions on the last!

  4. I love Sarah’s three wishes for the world! If I ever get a magic wand, I’ll lend her it…

    (Please don’t enter me for the draw L Marie. As you know, I’m a child-free zone so it will find a better home elsewhere. 🙂 )

  5. What a fabulous interview, and these books look so delightful. I remember loving getting to hear Sarah read from one at the novel retreat at VCFA once! I especially enjoyed the description of Sarah’s writing process for this kind of series–planning but also “spending it all” and honoring epiphanies. Congrats, Sarah!

  6. Oh, what a great interview and perspectives. Thanks to both of you.
    I love your covers, Sarah, and OUCH to that Hamiltonian fall – which is something I would do. Glad you weren’t seriously hurt.

  7. Pingback: The Courage to Keep Going | El Space–The Blog of L. Marie

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