Interview with Award-Winning Author Sarah Prineas

Get to know Sarah…

Sarah Prineas is the author of middle-grade fantasy novels The Magic Thief (HarperCollins, 2008), The Magic Thief: Lost (HarperCollins, 2009), and The Magic Thief: Found (HarperCollins 2010).  Foreign rights to the series have been sold in 19 languages, and audio versions are available in English, German, and Dutch.  On its release, The Magic Thief received three starred reviews, and was a Booksense Top Ten Pick for spring/summer 2008.  In addition, the book was a 2009 E.B. White Read-aloud Award honor book, was on the 2008 New York Public Library’s 100 Books for Reading and Sharing list, was a 2009 National Council of Teachers of English Notable Book in the Language Arts, was a Booklist Top Ten Debut Novels for Youth 2008, and was a 2008 Cybils Award finalist in the middle-grade fantasy category.  The Magic Thief  is on 13 state reading lists and is Beehive Award winning children’s novel of the year in Utah.  Forthcoming books from Harper Collins include Winterling (2012), its sequel, The Summerkin, and one yet-to-be-named book.  Sarah has a PhD in English literature and has taught classes at the University of Iowa and Cornell College.  Sarah lives in Iowa City with her mad scientist husband, two odd children, two perfectly normal cats, and the best dog in the world.

Let the conversation begin!

What is the best writing advice you’ve ever received?

The best writing advice was from my friend and fellow author Greg van Eekhout, who said, “NEVER SURRENDER!”  Writing is hard, and getting published is even harder, and you have to be determined to overcome the challenges.    

Daily word count? 

There’s never a set amount.  Sometimes I write 3000 words, and sometimes I write 0 words. I’m not a very disciplined writer.  But I’ve never missed a deadline! 

Outliner or a seat-of-the-pants? 

Oh, very much a pantser. The reason I wrote The Magic Thief was that I’d written the first chapter as a short story and I had no idea what was going to happen next.  I had to write the whole novel in order to find out! 

Ever let anyone read your work-in-progress?

Because I’m not a planner, I have to do a lot of rewriting and rearranging as I go, so nobody reads my work as I’m writing it.  Once it’s done I have a couple of trusted friends, all of whom are writers, read it over.  They’re great critiquers, so I revise according to their suggestions and then send the book to my agent, who is a brutal editor and sees everything before it goes to my actual editor at HarperCollins.    

What initially drew you to writing?

I started writing because babies are boring.  Really!  My family was living in Germany at the time, and I had a newborn. I didn’t speak very good German, and I was very lonely and bored.  So I started writing to have something to do while my baby napped (he was a very good napper), and something clicked.  I realized that writing was something I was meant to do–that I had to do. The boring baby is now eleven years old, and the second Magic Thief book is dedicated to him.  

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