Today on THE KATY, I have a very special guest! International best seller, Sarah Noffke!
Read my reviews about her series, The Lucidites here and Book one in The Reverians series here.
Thank you for joining me today! Let’s get this interview going!
How did you start writing? Did something in your life inspire you? Or maybe a book or movie inspired your writing muse?
And before we begin, thanks for the interview and the lovely support. I can’t remember a time in my life that I didn’t write. Since I could string sentences together it seems that I’ve been writing stories. I used to write poetry and plays when I was a child. Then as I got older I gravitated toward novels. But you know, there has been so many inspirations.
The Great Gatsby was the book that started my love affair with literature. After I read that I knew I wanted to write a book someday. Then I read Hunger Games and knew I needed to explore the dystopian genre. And I’m also a huge Doctor Who fan. There was one time I was watching an episode and I thought, “Gosh, I need to entertain people. I need to keep working until I find a way to transport people like this show does.” So those are the inspirations.
What made you choose to self-publish?
I queried over a hundred agents with my first book. I had the very best agents turn me down. That’s not me bragging at all. I had some requests to read fulls and I had one agent come back and tell me that Awoken, my first novel, was good but needed professional editing. I’d been killing myself trying to get this book out to the world and I was just about to give up. But I took their advice and hired an editor. While my fantastic editor was doing what she does best, I learned as much as I could about the book business. At this point no one really knew I was a writer. I’d kept it a secret, afraid that people would have expectations about me or say things like, “Ooooooh, you write. Gooooood for you.” Anyway, once I came out of the writer’s closet I met all these fantastic indie authors. And they weren’t just good authors, they were great authors. And they’d made the choice to go indie. My editor then returned a polished book that might have attracted the eye of more agents, but I had already decided that I was going out on my own. And you know, it’s been better than I could have imagined. I tend to be a control freak, and I like that I don’t answer to a publisher right now. That might change, and very soon, since I’m running out of bandwidth, but doing this independently has been the best thing I’ve ever done.
Are you a plotter or a panster?
My name is Sarah Noffke and I’m a recovering panster. I now plot. With my first series, The Lucidites, I mostly went the panster route. Actually the first book was done completely without an outline. I did sketch out a few ideas for the other books. And you know the most chilling thing to me was there were complex plots that started in the first book and reared up in the final book. It was incredible to me. I had no idea how that happened. That’s the magic of being a writer though. Anyway, although it worked out, now I make outlines. They aren’t detailed, but they do give a framework for a book and the series. I never follow it completely and usually find that a few storylines have appeared out of nowhere, but I prefer the outline method now. The plain fact is that I find it to be more efficient, provides less worry as I write and makes for a better final product. My first novel was rewritten a dozen or so times and I fear that was because I had no idea where I was going as I wrote.
I’m a huge fan of your dream-travelers world that is the common theme in both The Lucidites and The Reverians series. Where did you come up with such a unique idea?
Thank you! I’m thrilled that you enjoy the theme. I remember the hour when it all unfolded in my mind. I also remember thinking, “this is either the best or worst idea I’ve ever had.” Anyway, I’ve always been fascinated with dreams. They’ve inspired me and been powerful navigators in my life since I was a child. I’ve studied lucid dreaming for years. There’s people who report that they read books and attend lectures while dreaming. Some people report that they travel to places in their dreams or meet people they don’t know. And you know the other day my daughter said she had a dream she was shopping at Target and guess what? I’d also had that dream that night. Yep, I use my dream travel time to be a good old fashion consumer with my child. It’s pretty sick.
Back to the question, I wanted to create a book world that was complex, something with rules and exceptions and all sorts of potentials. To me, dreaming was the perfect vehicle for that kind of world. And I knew that creating a race of people would be tricky, but if it was accepted then I could use it in multiple series. And lastly, I hadn’t heard of anything like dream traveling. I knew it was risky to create my own society names and terminology, but it was also the only way to ensure I was doing something unique.
Do you have a certain character you feel the most connected to? Are your characters pieces of yourself or separate from yourself completely?
I’ve fallen in love with all my characters in a way. They are sometimes pieces of me, but usually they are pieces of people I’ve known. I’m always studying people and recording their idiosyncrasies. I’ve put everyone from my childhood neighbors to the high school bully in my books (Misty from Awoken). And I’m not going to surprise anyone by stating that my favorite character is Ren. But the funny thing is I have no basis for his character. I know no one like him. He actually just appeared on the page and started spouting snarky monologues and hasn’t stopped since. I do love him dearly. My friend says that it’s because he’s my alter ego. How come my alter ego is a middle-aged-British-red-head with a bad attitude?
If you could dream travel anywhere (or time), where would you go?
Excellent question! Tough one too. My first inclination is to say I’d go back and see dinosaurs. But… I’m a rule follower and in dream travel world, traveling back that far in time could actually kill a person. Right now, in this moment, I really need a break after a long year of writing and promoting. I think I’d settle for cozying up on the beaches of Bora Bora. I’ve heard it’s the most beautiful place on earth. With a claim like that, I need to see it.
I love “Defects (The Reverians, book one) and how you placed a very dystopian setting in the same world as your dream travelers. Any hints for more future projects that also include dream traveling?
Thank you! I didn’t know at first if I could really write dystopian since my first series was more sci-fi. It turns out that I really enjoy it. I like oppressing characters so they can rebel. After I finished this series I wrote Ren’s book. It’s called The Man Behind the Monster. It will be released in November. Lots of Ren. Lots of dream traveling. Lots of scandals. And I’m currently working on the second book in what will be my third series. Super excited for this one. The series is called The Vagabond Circus Chronicles. It is about a circus that is made up entirely of Dream Travelers. They use their unique skills to wow audiences who all think what they’re seeing is smoke and mirrors. It’s a bit more fantasy then my other books and hopefully will be a fun addition to the Dream Traveler books. I keep saying I’m going to write about something else, but I just love the race too much to abandon it yet.
I see that you usually put your musical inspiration in the thank you section at the front of your novels. What music inspires you lately?
Music is essential to the writing process for me. Before I even create an outline for a book, I make the playlist. Then I listen to it over and over again, on random, until the book is written. In the car, gym, while cooking, and writing. I listen to nothing else. It really helps me to stay immersed in the story until it’s done.
Okay, that’s not what you asked, but that’s what you got. To actually answer your question. I’m a huge fan of indie folk music. Gregory Alan Isakov, Blind Pilot, Greg Laswell. Just to name a few. There always needs to be a few songs on a playlist with that slow rhythm and incredible lyrics. Also, Lana Del Rey has been making reappearances on my playlists. Oh and Snow Patrol, Artic Monkey, James Blunt and Imagine Dragons. Author Christina Rozelle has been keeping me busy with some great music suggestions. We share our playlists on Spotify and that’s how I found the band Above and Beyond whose acoustic album really inspired Defects. Here’s the Spotify playlist that I overplayed during the creation of the series.
Any recent promotions you’d like to share?
The second book in The Reverian series, Rebels, will be coming out on September 15th!
Do you have some advice you’d like to share with aspiring authors?
So I’d say that aspiring authors need to know which people to give a ton of attention to and who to ignore. Let me explain. As writers we are weird. Most writers I know are a little eccentric. Most are too smart for their own good. Their jokes fly over people’s heads. This is a great thing actually. Writers, I think you should be pushed indoors by society’s judgmental eye. Go into your space and write. Channel. Ignore the people who don’t get you and write. Here’s a little inside about me: I wrote my last three books on the treadmill. Yep. It works for me, really gets the juices flowing. Anyway, I walk on a treadmill at a gym with lots of people around me. And usually I’m typing on my phone, babbling to myself, and making random exclamations. I’ve gotten more than a few looks because of abrupt laughter or a gasp. Yes, my writing surprises me sometimes. Anyway, I don’t care what most people think and it keeps me writing and that keeps me sane.
Here’s the other part of this. Ignore what some people think. But you need to pay attention to other people. Pay attention to your editor. If they tell you your script needs work here or there then take it. They know. You’re too close to it. And same goes for your beta readers. No they don’t get everything, because unfortunately they aren’t in your head. But if they’re confused, it’s because you forgot something. So heed their advice. Pay attention to reviews. Not all reviews, but the ones that appear constructive. Learn something and realize that your first book or your first series, isn’t the last one. You can learn something. You can change. You can improve. And then one day, you’ll blow them away…all because you listened.
Anything else you’d like to share with us today?
Just a great big thank you for all your support. Seriously being an author is tough. I’ve wanted to quit a thousand times. But having a fantastic network of supporters has been the biggest help. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!
Thank you, Sarah, for joining me on THE KATY today!
Please join Sarah and me on Band of Dystopian Authors and Fans Facebook page this Saturday from 5-7 PST for an awesome release party! We are celebrating the release of “Defects, The Reverians Book one.” Games, prizes, and fun awaits! I hope to see you there! (PARTY OVER, JOIN US NEXT TIME!)