Friday, 16 September 2011

In the beginning...

Edge author Sara Grant talks about humble beginnings and time travel

Today I leave for my home state of Indiana to launch my debut novel Dark Parties! I’ve got a number of book signings and school events planned, but I’m most excited about speaking to the students at Washington High School. I graduated from good ol’ WHS twenty-five years ago. I’ve been thinking a lot about what I want to tell them. It will be my first real school visit since Dark Parties was published. Sure, I’ll talk about writing and publishing. But I think my main message will be – dream big anyway.

I’ve created stories since I was a little girl, imagining epic dramas for my Barbie dolls. I wrote my first short story when I was eight years old. It was titled “A Dream I Wish Was True” and it was a complete rip off of a skit from The Brady Bunch Variety Hour. I dedicated the story to Farrah Fawcett Majors (Yeah, I was unduly influenced by television and a huge fan of Charlie’s Angels.). I think I still have the original copy somewhere. I wrote it in pencil and bound it with three pieces of string I found in the family junk drawer.

WHS - Home of the Hatchets
I wrote my first original story, titled “Adventure in the Bread Drawer,” when I was ten years old. It was about a girl who shrinks and meets a family called the Germs in a stale Twinkie. The story had a surreal and slightly cannibalistic ending where the girl wakes up and her brother has eaten the Twinkle and he’s picking something -- which may or may not be the Germs’ family photo -- from his teeth.

Growing up my creative writing assignments usually were returned covered in red ink with points deducted for spelling errors. I was convinced I could never be a writer because my spelling was appalling. Thank the writing gods for spell check!

I have a drawer full of rejection letters from editors and agents and a brain full of memories of people telling me I was wasting my time or I wasn’t quite good enough.

But now I also have a book with my name on the spine, sitting on a bookstore shelf under a sign that says ‘Top Teen Picks’.

No one is ever going to beg you to write a book. I’m not going to tell you it will be easy. But if it’s your dream, do it anyway. Never stop reading and writing and revising and learning and failing and dusting yourself off and starting all over again.

At the Barnes & Noble in Bloomington, Indiana
I wish I had a time machine so I could travel back to my chubby teenage self and tell her about her future. How she’ll one day – yeah, she’s going to have to wait a long time – live in London, England, and make a living writing books. She won’t believe me. But, hey, I almost can’t believe it myself.

And since I don’t have a time machine, I’ll hope that one day some budding young writer will be sitting in the audience and I can tell her or him to keep the faith!

When did you realize you wanted to be a writer? What was your first story?
Dark Parties -- a dystopian novel for young adults -- will be published by Orion in December 2011. Find out more about Sara and her books at


  1. I don't really know when I decided to become a writer - like many things in my life, I think it just kind of happened when I wasn't looking. I do remember writing a story for school with an "Aha! It was all a dream!" ending that twisted at the last second to reveal that it wasn't a dream at all. I was really proud of that and it probably set the precedent for wilful subversion in my work ever since. Actually, maybe if I just wrote a straight-ahead story for once in my life I'd have less trouble!

    Really good luck with the book tour - I hope both you and the audience have a great time.


  2. Have a wonderful time in the States. You'll be a knockout with the kids!! See you when you get back.
    I've always written, so I think I was born writing and its never left me. There hasn't been a time in my life when I haven't been writing.

  3. Great post, Sara, you'll be an inspiration. Have a great homecoming.

    Nick, don't go changing. I love the sound of 'Aha! It was all a dream', you should use that.

    I don't remember consciously deciding I wanted to be a writer, it was just something I did. I was always writing plays, songs, comics and stories when I was a kid. The first thing I remember writing was a script for Fawlty Towers, which involved Basil being hit over the head with a frying pan – very highbrow!

  4. Have a wonderful time at the book launch, Sara. It will be lovely to go back to your old school as such an inspiration. I can't wait to read Dark Parties.
    I've always wanted to be a writer. The first story I remember writing was about a fifty pence piece who wanted to be a pirate. Slightly surreal! I was six or seven at the time.
    When I was nine my parents were called into school because I was telling ghost stories to the other children in a dark corner of the playground.
    I haven't changed much ...

  5. Sara, you're sure to inspire any school kid who is lucky enough to listen to you. I love your dedication to FFM! She deserved it- after all I think she had the biggest hair.

  6. such an inspiring story - have a great time in indiana ... and congratulations! can't wait to get my hands on Dark Parties!

  7. My school was also a WHS - Wycombe High School, but I haven't managed to go back, although I'm in touch with the librarian who was the librarian when I was there, which was more than 25 years ago! Most of my stories remained inside my head, and the few that were written have long since been lost. It was only in the mid nineties that I thought about writing them down properly...
    Hope you're having a truly wonderful book launch! Enjoy it!

  8. Sara, please do a sequel of this story. I love this book so much, but i thought the ending was a bummer since i didn't get to know what happened in the past, resulting the government to execute such horrible act