Picture drawn by Maggie Stiefvater, 2009. Header made by S.F. Robertson, 2010.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Fresh New Voice of YA- Interview with Sara Bennett Wealer

1) How did you get the idea for Rival?

Singing has always been a big part of my life, and when I started RIVAL I was deep into a busy season of rehearsals with the May Festival Chorus, the choir that sings with the Cincinnati Symphony. So I had music on the brain! I also remembered how it felt to be in high school, competing with other singers for parts in the school musical, show choir and elite Chamber Choir. That was such a complicated time, and there are things I definitely wish I'd done differently in terms of how I handled friendships, etc. I figured a rivalry, set against a musical backdrop, would make a great story conflict, plus I really enjoyed exploring the various sides of a competitive relationship.

2) Tell us all about The Call/The Email for publication! Where were you when you got it? Did you do anything to celebrate the sale?

By the time I got The Call, I'd already had some false starts and some almost-sales and put in a lot of hard work on revisions, so it wasn't really that fairy tale moment that some authors experience, where the phone rings out of the blue and you get this amazing news. Yes, the news was amazing, and it felt great, but I was so, so ready for it that my reaction was more, "Oh, cool. Yay! It's about time!" I actually got The Call late in the late afternoon while hanging out in my basement watching TV with my daughter. My agent gave me the details, I said, "Oh, cool. Yay! etc." and then I went upstairs to make dinner since it was a school night. I emailed a few of my author friends, called my mom to tell her it was official, then I celebrated a few nights later by going out with my husband.

3) What are you working on now? Can you tell us anything about it?

I've got a book finished that I really love - it's set during sorority rush week, and I've got fingers crossed for it even though it's in that "college book" category (Note from Book Chic: COLLEGE BOOKS ROCK!), which seems a little tough. I'm working on another YA that's got what I would consider a supernatural theme, though it's not about ghosts or zombies or creatures of any kind. I'm afraid to reveal the concept because just naming it could reveal too much. Let's just say I'm really excited about it!

4) In your bio, you mention having more cats than a family should have and to that I say, pshaw! There can never be too many cats, as long as they can be properly taken care of (when you get to hoarding levels and they're suffering, that's a problem). Anyway, tell us about your cats!

Ah, I am a sucker for stray cats! We have four, and we plan to keep it at that number or fewer because four feels like plenty! Here's the Wealer kitty roll call:

First there's Schroeder, the old ginger tabby cat. He was my very first pet when I went out on my own, which means he's pushing 15 years. I got him from the shelter and he's my best buddy.

Next there's Gertie, the little gray tiger striped girl. I used to live in a university neighborhood where kids would get pets then abandon them when they'd move to apartments with stricter landlords. Gertie was one of those strays, and she was so cute and cheeky I just had to take her in.

When we moved to Cincinnati, a feral black cat had kittens under a rosebush in our yard. We found homes for all of the babies and kept one for ourselves - his name is Ike (named after the baby in South Park), and now he's this huge lug of a gray striped tabby. He can be a real crabby patty sometimes, but we love him!

And finally, there's Lucky, the fluffy orange baby of the group. I found him by the side of the road in the rain while driving home from a meeting a couple of years ago. I didn't think twice, just popped him into my car, fleas and all. I wanted to name him Cheeto, but my daughter insisted on Lucky - and he definitely is. He's also extremely adorable.

5) What is your favorite Jelly Belly jelly bean flavor (or flavors, if you're so inclined)?

I love good old-fashioned cherry - or watermelon, or green apple. Dang, now I want Jelly Bellies!!

6) You're part of the YA Contemps, a group of authors with contemporary novels being released over the course of a year, which started a few months ago. How did you get involved with that, and how has it helped you prepare for the release of your book?

Lisa Schroeder, who started the Contemps, put the word out with some author groups I belong to, and I sent her information about my book. I'm really honored to have been selected for the group! We've got a great range of authors, from debuts to seasoned pros, and we're able to offer each other support and advice. Plus, when it comes to getting the word out about your book, there's power in numbers. We're trying to shine a spotlight on contemporary fiction, and it helps to have a good number of authors with books on a variety of topics.

7) What book(s) are you reading right now, or are about to start? Any ones you're looking forward to reading later in 2011?

I have pretty much every Elevensie in my "to be read" or "to buy" list. Seriously, all of those books sound amazing! I usually have a few going at once, and my "in progress" list includes THE MOCKINGBIRDS, MATCHED, PARANORMALCY, BOY HEAVEN and THE DUFF.


  1. Great interview! I'm looking forward to reading Rival

  2. It's so cool that Sara is a singer herself. It made Rival so much more detailed and believable.
    I loved hearing about the cats, too! You're totally right--you can never have too many! :)

    Also, finally an author who likes plain ol' cherry jelly bellies! *cherry fan*