Interview with Sarah J. Pepper, author of “Death of the Mad Hatter”

A common misconception entwined with authors is that they are socially inept, how true is that?

OMG I have honestly never heard of being socially inept. I mean, I guess I’m a day dreamer and my head is stuck in the clouds a lot… lol, maybe I have never heard of it because I’m on cloud nine.

Do all authors have to be grammar Nazis?

I am sooooo not a grammar Nazis. That’s what editors are for. What I am bringing to the table is my imagination and “interesting writing style.” I leave it up to the editors to translate for readers.

What makes this particular genre you are involved in so special?

I am in love with the idea of being in love. I will say that I am very lucky to have found my prince charming when I was in high school. I’m head over heels for him, but I will say, it’s fun to cuddle up to a good book boyfriend every so often. It is because I’m so passionate about romance that I have to write about it.

How important is research to you when writing a book?

Here’s my formula. 3dr<146^9 = always 🙂 . It is more realistic when you write something that you know about. So I’m totally the wrong person to drill about….brain is going blank, what do I know little about. Oh, drugs! That will work lol. Does research by watching Breaking Bad count? Honestly, if I have a scene or have to reference a topic I don’t know a lot about, I try to research the panties off of it for my readers. I want the info to be realistic, even if I am writing a fantasy.

What works best for you: Typewriters, fountain pen, dictate, computer or longhand?

Computer…and a lot of drafts.

When did it dawn upon you that you wanted to be a writer?

When I was sick of shoveling snow. (this might need a little more explanation huh) I just finished a book about vamps and it was blizzarding out (live in the Midwest) and I had already shoveled the driveway twice and thought it was high time that prince charming of mine did a little work. So instead I decided to try my hand at composition. 4 months later, my first monstrosity of a novel was complete.

What inspires you to write?

Well, yesterday I was on my way to Bagel Boy and got this super awesome idea about this firefighter…

How often do you write?

Writing is like crack. I can’t get enough of it!

Do you have a set schedule for writing, or are you one of those who write only when they feel inspired?

I write when I am inspired. However, I will say that that longer I go between drafting, the harder it is to get into the swing of things.

Do you aim to complete a set number of pages or words each day?

I focus more on character development. I listen to them and if a scene isn’t “just right” I stay with it until I’m satisfied. Anyone can write 10k a day and have it be pure crapola. If I’m going to do this, then I want my words to hold meaning.

Do you think writers have a normal life like others?

I think we have multiple lives.

What, according to you, is the hardest thing about writing?

The first draft. I do no plan out my books. I focus on the characters and they lead me to the ending. So on the second draft, I end up cutting an average of 10-20k per book because the character could take me somewhere I wasn’t intending and some scenes might not make sense anymore.

Over the years, what would you say has improved significantly in your writing?

I remember reading. Wow, haha. No writers forget to actually read sometimes. Anyways, I remember picking up a book at B&N and reading the back of the book and thinking to myself, “self, I need to write better—so much better. I need to write like this. So I thank the Hush-Hush series on improving my craft.

Have you ever left any of your books stew for months on end or even a year?

Lol. YearS!

What is the most important thing about a book in your opinion?

I love romance. So if I am going to read a book about it, I need to believe in the love between the characters. If I don’t buy into it, then the story just doesn’t do it for me.

What is your take on the importance of a good cover and title?

Don’t judge a book by it’s cover and blah blah blah. Well, I do and I know I’m not the only one. There is an art to writing and the great thing about our craft is that we get to collaborate with artists to illustrate what we as writers see in our minds. We’ve been locking ourselves in our writing caves to create this book baby and we want it to shine. Thus, if a writer is not passionate about their cover, I doubt they are as passionate about their words.

Have you ever designed your own book cover?

All the time actually. My latest is the cover for Soulless of the Once Wicked Series. #fairytalelover

Do you believe a book cover plays an important role in the selling process?

Absolutely. I am quite passionate about making my story visually pleasing. How often do you pick up a book and think, “this looks like crapola. I can’t wait to buy it?”

Do you attend literary lunches or events?

Quite often. If you go to my website I have all of my events and public events showcased.

Do you read and reply to the reviews and comments of your readers?

I LIVE off of reviews. I can’t wait to hear what readers think of my work; what I can do to improve my craft, what I may want to do differently, etc.

Does a bad review affect your writing?

Well, my last bad review put me into a Ben & Jerry comatose for a couple hours…okay, okay. It was the whole day. Fine, it totally wrecked my day. The worse reviews are not the ones where readers do not like my books. That’s fine. I can handle that. It is when they are downright rude when my soul is crushed. The truth? I want to know what you did and didn’t like, but I don’t have to hear it in a derogatory tone. I have actual feelings. I am a person. There is no need to make me feel like sh*t.

What did you want to become when you were a kid?

I didn’t know. I just wanted to do something great, be something great. I wasn’t sure how I was going to achieve that, but I wanted it nonetheless. As I grew up, I realized that you don’t have to change the whole world to be that something great to one person. And perhaps just being something great to one individual is all you need to do and there is nothing wrong with that.

Did you ever think you would be unable to finish your first novel?

Lol, nope. Hell or high water I was writing “the end.” I am a little stubborn and mix that with some diabolical confidence and being a little naïve, I knew I could get there.

Do you read any of your own work?

Lol, yes. It depends on how many drafts it takes for my work not to suck 😉

Tell us about your writing style, how is it different from other writers?

I have been told I write very descriptively but not in the traditional scene. Yeah, you figure that out and let me know what it means lol.

Do your novels carry a message?

Everything isn’t black and white.

How much of yourself do you put into your books?

I pour my soul into my words.

How realistic are your books?

Well, I write a lot of paranormal and fantasy. That being said, I believe that those books can be realistic and believable if the characters are true.

Do you have a day job other than being a writer? And do you like it?

I am the digital content strategist for the biggest employer in my state. Lol, so I am quite busy and I LOVE it!

Another misconception is that all writers are independently wealthy, how true is that?

Oh yeah, write a book, sit back and collect the millions. Ha! I was just a nobody with moderate writing skills but a hell of an imagination.

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